The Road Not Taken

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. (Well, that's probably quite hyperbolic, but it feels right.)

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.