Oh... a new year has come and it's time for a view back on the year past from a Spell of Play perspective.
2009 was a social year for me. TWTPB launched late 2008 and much of my energy went into marketing and getting the word out there about twtpb, hUb and Spell of Play in general. This was also the time when I discovered twitter and I quickly took it to my heart... probably a bit too much There is even a way for you to connect your spell of play profile and twitter profile, via our twitter app Game Twtr
Via twitter we got a bunch of followers and visitors to our website, I tried doing twitter contests, blogging contests, appeared on some pod-casts and also a web show featured the spell of play homepage. We then decided to host a small game development gathering called SoPCon in Gothenburg. We also managed to end up on a list of Swedens hottest small game developers resulting in some local radio and tv-interviews. Things where looking good!
However, as it seems reality catches up sooner or later and I've felt quite uninspired, burnt out, call it what you want after summer. The end result was that I did not manage to pull through the latter half of 2009 and the result is that the number of visitors to the site is at an all time low Not much is happening and I've not been able to do much about it.
I also have not been able to get a real start on any new game projects this year. I'm torn between continuing working on TWTPB (I have some ideas for an expansion), Project L and some new ideas I have been experimenting with lately.
So what is my vision for 2010? What I would like to happen is to get the online community working and have some proper integration with our games. I want the homepage to feel more alive and kicking than ever! I would also like to at least start a new game project. I also have a number of improvements to the hUb backend that I would like to get on.
What will definitely happen is that we'll push our games to appear on Gamers Gate and also a port of TWTPB to XNA -> XBox is more or less done. So I hope we'll get accepted by Microsoft.
I will try to play more games 2010
I hope your 2009 was good and that 2010 will be even better for you!
Sat, 01/02/2010 - 14:31
16/12, 17:29 we got a beautiful baby girl! All is well and mom and baby will be home soon.
As you probably understand I'll put my Spell of Play stuff on the back burner until we get settled.
Wed, 12/17/2008 - 22:31
A few weeks ago a fellow game developer asked me how on earth I can be so productive, having a kid, wife, house, cars, daytime job, etc. I actually did not reflect much on it and I don't feel like I'm some productivity guru. On the other hand I do have picked up some good(?) habits along the way, and I guess making 25 releases of a game in a 50 weeks is somewhat productive. So these are my tips on productivity, they are of course biased towards on making indie computer games in general and programming in particular.
Making a PC game is not a 100m dash. At least not if your goal is to release it as shareware and have some people buy it. Making a PC game is more like a marathon, or maybe an ultra marathon. Be prepared for about a year in development time, and the hard part is actually to stay motivated and not jump to another seemingly more exiting project.
For me, key to staying motivated is iterative game development. For years I also kept on developing games, but not making any public releases. Needless to say none of the projects where remotely finished.
You need to find a way to cultivate your burning desire so that you don't spend it all the first month.
Get a Good Laptop
Good tools are a must to stay motivated and there are great productivity enhancing tools out there. I experienced a productivity boost when I got myself a good laptop. It's a high end one, with a full keyboard (including the numpad), good gpu and such. Using it I can stay productive during tv-commercials, 10-minute breaks, when traveling etc.
Leverage Your Compiler
My main tool is my compiler, and I tend to use it as much as possible. Over the years I have developed a style of coding that is intended to produce compiler or linker errors, instead of hard to find runtime errors. I tend to compile and compile for every line I write and having a bunch of compiler errors to fix is an automatic to do list. When I make a code change I want the compiler or linker to tell me where the code is broken, and not have some strange bug show up in some super-generic object oriented piece of over engineered game code.
I also tend to reject script languages for the fact that I don't want another source of bugs. If I need some code, I can simply make it in C++, use the compiler to my advantage and that's it.
To keep productive you need to have a backlog of tasks, and they need to be small. You simply cannot have huge tasks when you get 10 or 20 minutes of coding every now and then. Having a pool of small, micro tasks, that you can just pick up and finish one off is a great productivity enhancer. Also all big tasks can definitely be broken down into many smaller ones.
You should of course use a tool to track and manage your task.
Don't Finish Tasks
You should of course finish tasks, but I have found that the timing when finishing them can increase your productivity.
I have noticed myself is that I have a hard time to start fresh on a new task. It seems as taking those first steps is the hardest part. You can probably get passed this by just using discipline. But I have found that if I don't finish a task completely, (leaving the code broken with some compiler/linker errors) I tend to have a much easier time of picking up the pace. Then I make sure that I start a new task, which now is much easier since I'm already into development mode, before stopping and leaving the code broken for the next time I find a few minutes for development.
Use Source Control
You need to have all files, and I mean all, under some version control. Even if you are the only developer. This also goes for artists creating content and don't forget the original versions of the game assets. Having an optimized, resized texture in source control is actually less important than having the original, huge, layered psd original file under control.
Have a Normal Life
Finally you really need to have an ordinary life, with family, friends, exercise, healthy good food and non development related stuff. You really really need this to not burn out on your first project. I have seen great developers burning out on game projects, leaving their passion for games behind, starting a whole new career.
Making games is at times painful, dreary work, at the same time it can be wonderful, creative, passionate and exiting.
Would be cool to know if you have any similar experiences, or do you have some other productivity tip to share?
Mon, 11/10/2008 - 10:04