In 2013, I decided to participate in One Game A Month (aka #1GAM). The goal was to create a game with a proper start, middle and end, each and every month of the year. It was a bit like one big ongoing game jam.
While I don’t like to think of it as a competition, I’m still going to brag; I managed to rank within the top 100 after the 12th month (somewhere around ~75th). I’ll admit this helped push me to get games made in the last few months while juggling the responsibility of being a new parent, so I guess the ‘gamification’ aspect worked :) Here’s a rundown & some thoughts on the 11 games I made:
Warning mega-post ahead.
TLWR; I did One Game a Month and made lots of games, several of which I’m happy with the result. I made l a bunch of games that run on OUYA, kind of by accident. I’m not (intentionally) doing 1GAM this year, but if you haven’t done it, you should.
So there’s been some hoo-ha recently about Google taking down YouTube videos of gameplay due to dubious Content ID matches. Along with other indies, I’m taking specific steps to push back against the trolls.
So let’s make this clear and explicit – you are free to make and monetize “Let’s Play” videos and video reviews of any of the games I’ve created. Stream them on TwitchTV, upload them to YouTube, Vimeo, MySpace(!), wherever. Please monetize them & get uber rich ! Ask nicely, and I’ll probably give you a review copy or an unlock code for the game too, so you can show everyone the full unadulterated experience.
Some of my games use Creative Commons Attribution licensed music – you should check the credits section of the game and make sure your video also includes a credit for any Creative Commons licensed music in the description. In particular, Def currently uses this catchy track “Fist Bump” by Ramiz Haddad, and Assembly and BlinkWorld by DST.
Also, it’s good form to provide a link back to the game from description below your video – either this site, or maybe somewhere you can buy it. I tend to repay the favour and tweet, G+ share, etc your video, so link liberally and we will both win.
There’s a nice list of indie developers and their video policies over here at Beals Software. Go make some awesome indie “Let’s Play” videos !
As the end of October loomed, and I realized I hadn’t made my #1GAM yet. I’d been digging back through very old projects looking for something I might be able to finish, and I found this old ‘tunnelrun’ game I’d made in Python (with overkill ODE physics !).
I decided that the original code wasn’t worth salvaging, and that I’d remake it in Unity as a quick ‘roguelike’ (which is apparently anything with procedurally generated levels and permadeath these days).
I had been working on implementing cellular automata for cavern generation during the month, so I pulled that code into the project and tweaked it for purpose. I ‘wasted’ a lot of time optimising this to prevent major framerate drops as levels are progressively generated in realtime, and dealt with some annoying room & exit placement bugs. I pulled in a spacecraft prefab I made almost 12 months ago for another as-yet-unreleased game. Generated a sky-sphere using some space assets I bought on sale a while back. Fired up Audacity, got on the mic, made some breathing sounds. Made some item pickup sounds with Ableton Live. Made a simple ‘generic item’ model in Blender – I need to practise it more and at least modelling something simple will mean those neurones remain active.
I had already decided that a core mechanic would be searching for ‘oxygen’, which would deplete over time, ultimately resulting in death. I also knew that I wanted to play with visibility, and use that to indicate oxygen levels, along with breathing sounds. Then I went searching for Public Domain literature written about space or the ocean, looking for some text to use as inspiration (or wholesale steal). I ended up reading this - A Hundred Years Hence : The Expectations Of An Optimist by T. Baron Russell, 1906, (Chapter 6: UTILISING THE SEA). Russell’s vision of the future and the challenges we might face with resources and continued human expansion set the direction for this game, and everything fell into place. I knew what I needed to do with this. It still blows my mind that this was written in 1906 ! I tweaked the colour to be ocean-like, so as to intentionally make it ambiguous as to whether the setting is space or the ocean floor. I tweaked the level generation to embrace the idea of increasing scarcity, incorporated Russell’s text as short random snippets, and left the player to fill in the gaps. I think it mostly works as intended - a short experience that I hope will make players pause to think for a moment.
TLDR; Inspired by some literature, I ended up dropping all plans for combat and made some sort of art-game roguelike.