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New Year's Project, 12 Games in 12 Months

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ManTis

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1) INTRO




Hello there. The year is ending, and it's time for a new challenge. I'll be making 12 Games in 12 Months, over the next year. \o/

Since I've turned 30 years old couple days ago, and have a kid on the way, it's high time for me to stop loafing around and go for the goal I always aimed at - create awesome games that will be played all over the world. If you've seen my previous challenge, '7 Games in 7 Days', this may strike you as suspiciously lacking ambition. On the contrary. My goal, like with 7G7D, is to expand my skills and prepare for something bigger after I finish it. To be precise:

  • Create 12 full games, with all basic features of a commercial game (menu, help, intro, or whatever applies)

    I think that best way to prepare for finally releasing commercial level games from home is to create games that meet that requirement. 1 month should be long enough to help me whip up full games, and doing that couple times will reinforce my resolve to help me work on even longer projects in the following years. I also think that if any of the game will show promise of being profitable, I'm going to put it to App Store and Android Market, maybe some other places.

    • Have all games be high quality. no temporary leftover art after the month is finished.

      This has a lot to do with previous and next points. I want to make the games look good, So that they can stand proudly among their peers. I will either be making the graphics myself, and learning a lot, or have a friend, who is a wonderful artist help. Hey, maybe we'll turn into a full time indie studio one day? ;)

      • Learn to plan my work schedule in longer term projects

        12G12M isn't my final goal, it's one of the first steps. I want to make commercial games in the following years, and to do that I need to be able to have as good planning skill as possible. If I will take on the indie job full time (I'm now doing it only after hours), I need to be able to estimate how long a given project will take, so I can secure enough money to provide for my family up front (and have some buffer, obviously). Learn to design games that can be implemented within confines of the schedule, minimize cutting of features. With my previous challenge it was all about doing as much as possible within time limit. This time it's all about finishing polished games.

        • Get better with my tools, and improve on the workflow.

          This goes both for programming tools - that is Unity3D (getting to know the engine itself and write shared library of scripts for situations I visit often), and for art tools. Yeah, there is a chance that I will have a help of a professional artist, but it's always good to have some fallback plans.

          2) DETAILS



          This time the games will progress slower than full release once a day, so it may be that I'll be updating only once a week or so, but with bigger amount of news. If I won't have help of my friend, I'll be aiming to be as close as possible to developing in following cycle:

          • 2 weeks programming
          • 1 week of gfx/audio
          • 1 week of polishing

            During the 7G7D I've noticed that I did about the amount of work I'd be able to do in relaxed work week, ~2-4 hours of work after time, with free weekends for recovery. Since I'm aiming for whole year of development, I really can't overwork myself, and have to keep a sane schedule. This split allows me for about 3-4 more time per game than I had for my Strategy, without the danger of burnout. Of course I'll be monitoring the state of my health both mental and physical (and making sure I have enough time for my family), and if anything seems off, I'll adjust.

            Last time I had a list of genres of the games I want to make, and although I can see that over the course of whole year I may have some brilliant ideas for games that may be made in month's time and bring MILLIONS, I've whipped up a temporary list, which will be at least true for first month ;). So, in no particular order:

            • 1 - Shooter

              The asteroids clone I did for 7G7D was bit too limited, as I was just beginning to experiment with Unity3D back then. I want to tackle something bigger, but I so far I don't think it'll be a standard top-down shmup, but rather a mix between Super Stardust and Quake. Enjoy the first ever design drawing (yeah, I'm cheating by starting already, but I reckon I'll be thinking about next games during development as well).

              shmup.jpg

              • 2 - Arcade

                If any genre is going to take over my list, it's this one. I'm going to make at least one action/arcade game, in the like of Q*bert or Marble Madness, and possibly more. Ideas for this kind of games pops into my head most often, so if I'll find any worthy of implementing, expect some other genre to be pulled down.

                • 3 - Puzzle

                  What can I say, my girl likes puzzle games, and I want to make something for her. I'm not sure if I'll do action/puzzle game in the vein of Bejeweled Blitz, or rather something akin to all those memory/logic games

                  • 4 - Management sim

                    Inspired by Theme Park and the like, I want to make a game about a restaurant, maybe with educational bit, and real recipes? We'll see.

                    • 5 - Platformer

                      Like with the shooter, 7G7D version of platformer was severely lacking. And I don't mean just bug-wise. I didn't find any time to put some nice levels in, and I didn't have the time to figure out how to create cool procedural level generated platformer that wasn't a clone of Spelunky. Of course after that I just made a bad clone of Robot Unicorn Attack. This time I would really like to create cinematic platformer (like Another World or Flashback), if time allows.

                      • 6 - RTS

                        Again, I have a cute game for which design sat idly in my drawer over long time ( first time I mention trying to implement it was over 4 years ago). When I was bored I reworked the details, but never found the drive to actually write it. Since it seems I'm actually making games this time, I think I'll give the idea a shot.

                        • 7 - Space sim

                          I haven't yet decided on which route do i want to go - combat or otherwise, with both Freespace and Elite being great inspirations. Will see how this will progress as I'll decide to work on it.

                          • 8 - Beat'em'up

                            I always was a huge fan of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Punisher, and other Coin-ops (and I've wasted plenty of lunch money in arcades as a kid on them). This seems like a perfect opportunity to write one myself, and see how I fare.

                            • 9 - RPG

                              The game in 7G7D I've played the most was easily the RPG. It was simple, broken at times, offered no level progression or items, but I just enjoyed it so much. I really want to make it into a complete game, possibly one that feels like one of those huge roguelikes. If I'll manage to do it, I definitely want to put it out on iPhone/Android. Even if I'm the only one playing, having a roguelike on the go will be sweet smile.png

                              • 10 - Sports game/Racing game

                                I'm thinking about creating something with arcade control scheme - something like Skidmarks, Micro Machines or Ironman's Off Road back in the Amiga days. Just fun for couple friends, with no unnecessary complications.

                                • 11 - Point and click adventure

                                  There is a big 'if' here. If I will feel I'll manage to write a complete game, if my gfx artist friend will be willing to take this on, and if by the time I'm developing it I'll have enough scripts for basic functionality that I may focus on the story for the most of the development part, then I'll go for it. Writing the text adventure game for 7G7D was really fun, as it allowed me to cram tons of jokes in, and made me really happy. Add to that the fact that adventure games were always (ever since I played Leisure Suit Larry in '89. yep, I was 7 years old then. good times.) my favourite genre, and you'll have something I really want to do. But, like stated, don't know if I will be able to. We will see.

                                  • 12 - Music game

                                    Yet another game I designed ages ago (this one in 2004, nearly a decade ago) when I was working at my first gamedev company and wanted to impress bosses by showing them a new IP. Of course they didn't want it, and (no doubt as the result of that) the company fell. Now I have the chance to re-make the game, and earn BILLIONS! Basically, first design it was something similar to Lumines, with music playing key role in tetris-like gameplay. I'll obviously be revising that idea, and hopefully something good will come out of it. Here's a picture of the first version running on NDS emulator:

                                    spiritofbard.JPG






                                    3) OTHER



                                    I know that I may not be able to finish all of those games. There's full year ahead of me, I have a full time job that I need to keep to feed my family, and my kid will be born around June, probably causing severe stress and lack of time. I want to do this though, because it's something that may help us in the future. Also, making games for yourself is FUN biggrin.png

                                    After deciding on this challenge I have noticed that there's a website by one of Ludum Dare guys, OneGameAMonth, for people who basically attempt to do same thing I want to do. I immediatly joined. As usual, it's nice to be part of a community.

                                    If you're interested, currently I'm using the following tools:

                                    Unity3D as my game engine.
                                    GraphicsGale and Paint.NET for my 2D graphics.
                                    Blender for my 3D graphics.
                                    SunVox (maybe FL Studio later on) for my music.
                                    BFXR and Audacity for sounds.

                                    This is subject to change, as the time goes by, but I don't predict I'll move away from Unity3D. I feel comfortable with it, it runs on C#, it's on all the platforms I'd like to support, honestly, I can see no good reason for me to not stick to it.

                                    Well, that's about it. I hope you liked this start, and will follow my little project as it goes. And of course when I'll be rich and famous I'll remember people who cheered me early on ;)

                                    -------------------------------------------------------

                                    So far in the series 12 Games In 12 Months:

                                    1. Announcement
                                    2. Game 1: Intro
                                    3. Game 1: Week 1

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If only I had the motivation that you do, maybe reading these will allow some of it to rub off on me! Looking forward to watching this. I'm excited for this new year as i'm approaching kickstarting/finishing my own game.

Good luck with all of your projects!

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