Monthly Update: January 2017

New Year’s Goals:

Balance and fulfillment. This year I am taking a very different approach towards my goals and game development. Instead of seeking commercial success I am seeking fulfillment through the creative process. Much like most who play sports, they play sports for enjoyment and not for compensation. I too asked myself if I never got paid would I still develop video games and create art, and the answer is yes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still plan to try and sell some of my finished work; but I am not tying enjoyment or fulfillment to it. I want to create first and foremost for the sake of creation.

I have also come to know my personality a little bit better over the course of the last several years of game development. I hate sitting still. If I focus too long or too hard on one thing I get burnt out to the point that I lose interest in the thing I was working on. Just like eating peanut butter sandwiches everyday can get old, working on the same thing can get old as well. So this year I have more projects I am focusing on, but each of these projects are smaller in scope and can be worked on in conjunction with one another.

The last thing that has sculpted my goals this year are people. Family, friends, strangers and self, individuals matter. People matter. So while goal setting I have tried to make people a priority. I want to build stronger bonds with my family, friends, those I work with, and I want to meet and get to know more people.

So what are my goals?

1st– Create a game that I can share with others. I don’t want to create a large game, just a simple fun game that I and my friends would enjoy. Yet still large enough that it pushes my skills.

2nd– Create 3D assets to share with others. I have found that working on 3d art not related to the game I am working on helps refresh me, and helps me focus on my game even more.

3rd– Create video tutorials to share online. I am a math teacher by trade, and love instruction. When I was younger I created a lot of tutorial videos for Blender and found it as great way to connect with others and build connections. I didn’t do it for about three years, and I think it is time to start it up once more.

4th – Create a community of friends and peers. I want to follow more developers, and want to reach out to them as a friend. I want to find success in others success. I also want to feel that my development and work are also not just falling on the deaf ears of the large internet.

5th– Balance personal life with development. I don’t want to work too much. I want to spend more time with friends and family. I want to exercise more, and surf less Reddit. (Good luck with that one, right?)

So it has been one month and where am I at?

1st Goal: Create a game that I can share with others.

I have found that I usually work on games backwards. I work on the coding and art simultaneously and then get to a place where the game is either not fun to play, not fun to work on, or both. So this year I have done very very little art for the game/games I am developing and rather have only focused on the game play portion of a few games. I am trying to see what I think is fun and what I think is not fun.

In this process I have come up with multiple games that I developed up to a point and then narrowed it down to what I think is the most fun of them all. In doing this, I have come upon a game that is a single player FPS/Platformer. Much of the game play choices have been inspired by one of my favorite childhood video games “Mega Man”.  It is not a 3D Mega Man clone, or anything like that; but rather draws inspiration from some of the more enjoyable portions of that game. Namely upgrades derived from boss fights, movement, and thematic stage selection.

So for the first month I am quite happy with how far I have gotten. A lot of my time developing this month went towards finding fun gameplay first, so the next few months should now be focused on adapting that fun mechanic to a variety of situations.

2nd Goal: Create 3D assets to share with others.

This one is a mixed bag on whether or not I went in the right direction for the first month. I had a cousin who wanted to do something with me this year so I suggested he learned 3D and made assets with me. It turned out not to be he cup of tea. So instead of forcing him to do something he hates, we have gone a different collaborative direction together. He is going to write stories which he enjoys, I am going to create video games; and we are going to come together once a month and share our creations with each other.

But because of this, I didn’t really create very much 3D art because I was focused on helping him. I still worked towards this goal, but didn’t get as far as I would have liked. This next month I may need to start to wake up a little early to try and get farther than this last month.

3rd Goal: Create video tutorials to share online.

I have done well with this. Video tutorials take a lot of time, and so if I can get 2-3 videos a month, I consider that a success. I was able to get 2 this month, and have already started to gain a following on YouTube.  Granted it is small at this time, but it is growing.

4th – Create a community of friends and peers.

I have done well for the first month, but want to do more. I have reached out on Reddit for like-minded game developers and created a small social network where we are sharing devlogs (such as this one) with one another. My hope is that we can all show genuine interest in one another’s work and strive to help lift each other up with interest, praise, and constructive insight. No man is an island, and all that.

5th– Balance personal life with development.

I have done very well in this regard. I typically only develop when things are settling down for the day. I am spending more time with friends and family, and so when I go into developer mode I can focus solely on that knowing every minute counts. I am wasting less time in general and just seem to be getting more out of every minute of every day.

Onward and Upwards. Plans for February

1st Plan:
I plan to create a single playable stage for my game. I want it to be as complete as possible in terms of game mechanics. I want enemies, obstacles, boss fights, and power ups. Should be fun.

2nd Plan:
I plan to wake up earlier, and get two asset packs out to the world. One being a realistic treasure chest bundle. And the second being a realistic rock bundle.

3rd Plan:
I want to create 3 video tutorials this month. They will mostly revolve around Substance Painter and how to use it.

4th Plan:
I plan to continue to connect via social media with other developers, but also plan to give back to the community to try and build some more connections.

5th Plan:
I plan to exercise almost daily in February. January I was sick for a good 2 weeks, and just lazy for one. This last week has been pretty good but I need to do more. I also plan to keep spending time with my kids and just enjoying people in general. People are cool.

Thanks for reading this. If you are interested here is my Twitter and YouTube channel.

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