Finishing a game is difficult. Whether it’s an unfinished prototype done in a day, or an abandoned project that has been dragging on for months and eventually falls victim to feature creep. I keep on doing all this work, but still have nothing to show for it.
That’s why I decided to join the One Game A Month Challenge. I think it’s a really great idea to set yourself deadlines to not lose your goals out of sight and stay motivated to push forward. The games don’t have to take a month to complete. Some will be made within a few days for a game jam, other times I will finally complete a half-finished prototype that’s been lying around for months. The challenge is to complete a game by the end of the month, no matter how I get there.
Dealing with Failure
I often toyed with the thought of joining the challenge, but this time it’s serious. Starting with July I vowed to make a game every month. That’s right, it’s already August. Of course I start off by missing the first deadline. I’m still unsure how to handle the failure situation with this challenge.
- If I just postpone it to next month’s challenge, it’s no real deadline, and it will keep on growing the same way as always.
- If I just stop working on it by the end of the month, it will stay an unfinished game like all the other prototypes.
- If I just release it unfinished, well… then it’s not a finished game, and that’s not point of this challenge either. (Still, trying to reach an unachievable “perfect” state has to be avoided.)
This time I decided to go with option 1. I keep on working on it for another week, because that’s what I felt was still needed. Meaning tomorrow I should have it “finished”. But this approach is with its pitfalls, because I caught silly me trying to add in more features as I felt the pressure of the deadline moving away, although the features already present weren’t finished yet!
Starting this month I will try the following approach: If by the end of the month, the game I’m working on still isn’t finished. I stop working on it, and I’m not allowed to work on it again, before I haven’t finished another (preferably smaller) game the following month.
Worst case scenario: I’ll keep adding to my heap of unfinished prototypes, rather than working for months on projects that lead nowhere. Best case scenario: I’ll actually start to finish games.
Documenting the process
I plan to write at least one blog post about every month’s challenge, about the game itself, the things that went well, the stuff that didn’t go well and lessons learned. No matter if I actually finish the game or if I fail.
I’m also planning on taking an active part in the community. The Gamedev community doesn’t seem to live anywhere in particular but Twitter seems like a good starting point to share progress and post announcements to and such.
The goals I want to accomplish by joining this challenge:
- Learn how to tackle larger games, by finishing smaller ones first.
- Learn how to create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to actually finish games.
- Learn to fail faster.
- Learn to effectively fight Feature Creep.
- Learn to accurately estimate Scope and Effort of planned Projects and their Features.
Next steps include setting up a twitter account and deciding where I’m gonna host my monthly games. (Itch.io and Gamejolt have been great so far, but maybe Newgrounds could be the right place?)
This actually turned out waaaay longer than I expected.