This week I took part in the One Lone Coder 2019 game jam. The theme of this was “destruction”… My entry was started Friday, a mere 48 hours before the deadline. Yes, a week long jam where I had a whole seven days to come up with an idea was started 48h before the end…
Have a good idea
The main issue I had this time was thinking up an idea that felt good enough to be a game. I had a bunch of half-ideas, but none of them seemed that great. Since the theme was quite broad, I could have knocked out any kind of generic shooting game, stuck on some pretty explosions and called it done. It didn’t feel like a particularly exciting game idea though so I ditched those kinds of ideas and looked around for some better inspiration.
I did, at one point, try to think up some sort of clever game based on topical world events. There’s governments in both the US and UK trying their best to damage their respective countries and crazy weather is trying to wipe out what’s left. I just couldn’t think up something that was a game though - or a game I could make. A game where you’re Boris Johnson and you have to drive your shiny red Brexit bus off the cliffs of Dover sounds amusing, but it’s not a game and my ability to draw is terrible.
In the end I happened across a very simple two player game that involves trying to trap your opponent by removing tiles from the game board. It’s loosely within the theme and simple enough to create with the time remaining. Remembering my general plan for making games, rather than just cloning an existing game, I modified it slightly. Instead of making the game based on a grid, I chose a hex grid. More games need to be on hex grids, they completely remove the abiguity of whether you can move diagonally or not.
Know your tools
Creating this game was pretty straight forward. I’m getting familiar with Godot to the point I now know what words to type into Google, or I have something from before I can just open and look at. It makes development much quicker, and reduces the friction between having an idea and seeing it working. I hope that in the future this will let me try out half-baked ideas and turn them into proper games.
I really need to work on my ability to create assets though. Free art assets are great, but I’d prefer my games to have their own style.
Always ship something
At multiple times this week I was considering just giving up, not having an idea is frustrating. Nobody would have noticed or cared that much if I had stopped. However what I later discovered is that once I’ve started a project, if there’s a definite deadline, I am quite driven to finish the thing off. I need to have a workable idea in my head that isn’t too large and involved though. If it feels too big, I’m starting to learn it probably is.
I think my next game should probably be a bit more interactive though. So far I’ve made a pool game with one ball, a tile matching game and a puzzle game with two pieces. The next game needs to have levels, or some sort of reaction to the player.