Last week I decided to reassess my whole approach to game development. To summarise my conclusions, I found that I was subconsciously persuing two conflicting goals; to be an indie game developer, and to properly meld interactive storytelling with games in new ways that would deepen what people expect from "story-based" games. I guess I keep trying to achieve both, however that steers me towards thinking about RPG games, and to implement my ideas for interactive storytelling within an RPG is a massive undertaking that really isn't sensible if I want to persue my first goal of making games.
So I've decided to shelve interactive storytelling for the time being, and concentrate purely on the game development side of things. Once I decided to properly plan out my course of action I've found that my original plan at the start of the year is much stronger. I have the gut feeling that I'm almost got the skills I need to make a good quality game myself, however I need polish those skills and work on my weaker areas before tackling a big game. I'm fairly sure that I need to work on my art skills the most, so I'll put a special effort into that. However in general I won't actually know exactly which areas I need to work on unless I actually try to apply them to game making.
This brings me back to the plan making minigames. I think probably the best course of action to rapidly improvement over the next few months is to work on a variety of different small games, each taking no more than about a month. The first few games might be bad internally; full of nasty hacks to get completed. However I can then analyse what went well and what needs improvement, and build on these on the next game. The end goal after the next few months is to have a solid framework that I've used and tested in a variety of games that I can easily use to both prototype and fully develop game ideas. I'll be then prepared for working on games more akin to "Lemmings", "Worms" and "The Incredible Machine", rather than "Secret of Mana".
My first game will be heavily based on the simple engine behind "Pierre and the Fish" to get the ball rolling (although that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be an action side-scroller type game). However, while I've brainstormed a whole bunch of game ideas it's hard to from the whole space of possible game ideas a single one to implement first. So I thought it might be fun to ask if anyone had any one word theme suggestions for a game, similar to what has been set in GameDev competitions in the past (i.e. "collecting", or "carts"). Any nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, emotions etc. would be fine, as long as its not something that would have the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification kicking down my door.