The internet is riddled with the decaying corpses of amateur development groups who set out to amaze the world with their projects but after a period of time stagnation set in, development slowed and ultimately died. I, to my increasing shame, am a high ranking official of this “Unfinished Project” group and it is something I want to step away from.
Over the past years I have started many spare time hobby projects and am delighted that they were all allot of fun to work on and hugely beneficial for my development and skills as a software developer but they all failed in their main purpose which was to be finished and released. When trying to build a portfolio of products having a source repository full of unfinished alpha’s isn’t much use. Rather than continue on the same path I took some time to consider what the common denominator for these projects is and set about rectifying my approach.
During consideration 2 things popped up for most of my projects,
- The projects were 2 large for me, an amateur game developer with no commercial experience, to work on in my spare time.
- Once development started my selection of stories for the sprints was incorrect. Early in the development cycle I was working on advanced features for the final product rather than getting a minimum set which would allow a usable/testable product to be developed early. Eye candy is fun to work on and for a developer it sparkles like gems to a magpie but without a solid game at its foundation its pretty worthless.
It is these two points that are at the foundation of “Game in a Week”. As the name states, with “Game in a Week” I have 1 week, working part time, in which to develop a playable version of my game idea. This crazily short time will ensure that I select projects which are small in scope and more befitting the time I can work on them. It also ensures that I cut the crap and get straight to the core of the game. With only a few hours of development time I need every second available to work on the game dynamic.
At the end of the week I hope to have a playable version of my game. It can be very rough, no menus, place holder graphics, a very basic test levels but it should be playable by others and allow them get a feel for your game idea. This approach will allow you find issues with your design very early in the development process and also allow you constantly release and test new versions of the game. My “Game in a Week” diaries are available from the menu above.