Indie game developers wear a lot of hats when making game. Particularly when working on a solo project. You become the lead programmer, artist, designer, music composer, producer and PR guy. You are expected to be (or at least encouraged to be) good at most of those thing. Sometimes I wish my creative outlet was something easier like photography ( no offence to photographers, I have no idea how hard it is ot be a photographer :) ). Over the past year or so I have spent a few hours every day working on everything I consider my weak areas in game development, particularly art and design. I followed tuns of great artist and most importantly sat down and drew at least one thing every day. I also created a creative bank account a term I learned from Jake Parker, a talented Illustrator. It is inspiring to look through when I am running low on things to create.
Design on the other hand is a bit harder to “improve” on, at least it is harder to quantify. I can’t say for sure that I am a better designer than I was last year just because I read a few books and played more games. I think I understand the theories better at least. What I can quantify however, is how quickly I can now make decisions on what is a “bad” or “good” gameplay mechanic or design. I find myself being more critical of games I play and my own games as well.
A Pico-8 project I started recently is shaping up quickly and is an exercise in everything I have learned about design over the last few months. It has a tiny scope a few solid mechanics and most importantly leans on my current resources and past experiences.
The game itself draws heavily from three of my favorite games for the 80s:
- The original Mario Bros. (Clear the screen of enemies)
- Super Mario Brothers ( Fireballs and head stomps )
- Super Mario Brothers 2 ( Pickup and throw )
I also pulled the bomb mechanics from Bomb Brawl. A fun game we made at Halfbot a few years ago. This project has lots of work needed but it is nice to be working on something creative again.