My goal this year is to make a game that is of "indie quality", namely something that I'd be happy to sell with my name on it. My original yearly plan was to have a test run with a small game in the first few months, then use that experience to build a bigger game in the rest of the year. However, I've been tallying up a list of risks to account for, and one of the chief ones is picking a bad game design. This risk is nasty, because it triggers off some of the other really big ones, such as the risk that the project is too ambitious, and the killer risk that I'll lose interest in the project half-way through. Thinking this through, I've decided that I really need a working prototype of a game idea before I can justify devoting several months of my development time to a project. So I've decided to go with "Plan B" for the year.
Under my new plan, I've decided that instead of one medium sized project over the next few months, I'll spend my time rapidly prototyping a wide variety of game ideas. The rationale is that if I can't capture the essence of a game idea in a two week prototype, then it's probably beyond my scope to implement. I'll also get to play around with a wide variety of different game genres and ideas, to get a better idea of what my strengths and weaknesses are with respect to game concepts. There's also little loss done if I try something a bit risky if it ends up falling flat. Finally, it will also be a good antidote to the tendency to aim for a "perfect" game engine, while still building up my skills.
Given my current crop of horrible game ideas, there's a good chance that nine out of ten of these prototypes will be bad. However, I reckon there's a good chance that I could get at least one simple game idea prototyped in the next few months that could form the basis of a fantastic game. My goal over the next few months is to find that one idea and develop it into something great.
I'll probably still prototype that mountain game first though. It might be easier now I'm not going to be so heart-broken if the idea proves to be faulty.
Additional: Of course, I'm also a bit worried that I keep changing my mind about what's the best way to approach this problem, but I figure that it's probably best to ensure that I'm working on something that I have a pretty good expectation to be great, rather than aim for something that may or may not be. As you might have guessed, I'm a bit confused about the best approach for me to take regarding develpment this year.