thoughts The Road Not Taken

Monday, Dec 4, 2017 — 666 words

When I was a kid, my parents picked up a game/app for the Commodore 64 called the Arcade Game Construction Kit. Thanks to that, I spent almost as much time making video games as I did playing them[1].

I can’t even tell you how many games I made that year. I’ve forgotten a lot of them. Some of the ones I do remember are a platform game starring Alf where you throw baguettes as weapons and chase cats, a series of Mario-esque platform games starring my brother and I (MacBros I think it was called). I made a weird top-down Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game where you walk around collecting pizzas and throw nunchucks. I know I made a lot more, but all I have are random memories of various level designs and animations. I’m sure they were all terrible. But man were they fun to make.

When I was a younger programmer and would learn a new language, one of the first projects I’d attempt was a port this old text-based strategy game called Galactic Empire.


Usually I’d try to update the graphics as best as I could for whatever platform I was working on. In fact, I may have thrown the curve a bit in my CS 101 class by rewriting that game in Turbo Pascal for extra credit – Yeah, when I went to college they were teaching Turbo Pascal. To be fair, the school was behind the times even then, I mean, I’m not that old. (shaddup)

Speaking of school… I took classes in Computer Science, Digital Audio, Design, and Animation. It’s like I was crafting my own video game curriculum. Only I didn’t really do it on purpose. I was just choosing classes that I thought would be fun. And they were too.

I’ve been thinking about all this for the last few weeks. Growing up with this momentum leading towards game creation, here I am. A professional software designer with 20+ years experience. And I never went into games. My work has been 98% web app dev (and a little desktop in there too). I don’t regret it, but I do wonder if I missed my calling.

That’s why I decided to make a quick Halloween themed game. To see if it was still as fun to make games today as it was when I was a kid. And I have to say, it really is. (Although now I wish I took some music theory classes too.)


Since it was so much fun, I’ve been thinking about making a few more games. Just as a hobby at this point, in the evenings and weekends. Making a living creating indie games seems like a difficult proposition. But for now that doesn’t matter. I don’t need to make a living from them. I can just have fun making them and, hopefully, entertain those I share them with. Although making a few bucks off of them would be a bit satisfying…

I read an article recently about getting experienced at failure (it’s not as depressing as it sounds, honestly). He suggests developing a game a week to get a lot of experience quickly. I’d like to give that a go. Well, a modified version. I think I’ll go for a game a month. I’ll make them as good and polished as I can in that time. With any luck, each one should be a little better than the one before.

So that’s the goal. A game a month for… I don’t know. Six months, maybe? Work and holidays permitting (Oops, already hedging, eh?). Then I’ll probably start taking a little longer to make some bigger games.

Boo-oom is my game for October. I hope you enjoy it!

I already have ideas for other games to make. The next one may be… Controversial. But it’ll definitely be therapeutic (for me, anyway). Stay tuned.

  1. Well, that’s probably quite hyperbolic, but it feels right. ↩︎