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  • Devlog 0: How I Got Started

    - Aaron Maus

  • The Process

    Step 1: Ideation

    Before I sat down at the keyboard to hack out small concept prototypes, I spent a couple days brainstorming. Some of this process was coming up with new ideas, and some was fleshing out old ones I found in my notebook. I also dug up a few recent game-jam games. To all of these I applied the above criteria, not in a particularly in-depth way, more of just looking for a reason to NOT make them.

    Step 2: Rapid Prototyping

    I read somewhere I can't remember (and so cannot link to) that a prototype for the core of a game should equal 10% of the total time it would take to make the game. I, being stupid, really wanted to get something finished in a year, meaning 5 weeks for a prototype. I kept to that for the main final prototype I moved on with, but preliminarily I spent 3 weeks making 3 separate, very bare-bones rapid prototypes. I added to this 2 other prototypes I had made in the previous year (one for a jam, one for giggles), which I also fleshed out a little more for parity.

    Step 3: Evaluation of Prototypes

    I've tried to keep the evaluation of each game prototype concise, with just a sentence or two per bullet point. The criteria I've struck through ones I consider negatives or potential blockers.

    Spear Hunter

    (That's a bear if you can't tell)

    The idea for this game was an action RPG, set in prehistoric times, where the player would play a series of cave-persons. Instead of increasing in direct power (stats, equipment, HP, etc.) the character would gain, per enemy based on number and type of encounter, additional telegraphs and markers for weak points and openings.

    • Budget: Probably too high. Even with a low number of environments, and low numbers of enemies it all adds up quickly, and then there are the necessary animations, etc.
    • Timeframe: Uncertain. This was a big sticking point.
    • Technical expertise: Low. There wasn't anything planned I didn't think I couldn't build.
    • Familiarity: Pretty good from a player's perspective. I play a lot of action games, both 2D and 3D. Poor from a development perspective. This was the primary reason I didn't choose this game. I have way too little experience making polished, good feeling combat.
    • Flexibility: Without some base, fixed number of enemies and locations the game would feel too empty.
    • Desire: This was the evolution of an idea I'd been kicking around for a long time. I think it would be great to play a game like this.
    • Vision: I had a pretty strong sense of what I wanted for the world and the systems, but was a little vague on the feeling of the moment-to-moment gameplay.
    • Is it actually a game: Yes, actually! The gameplay loop in the prototype was pretty neat.
    • Audience: Seemed fairly good based on a quick survey.
    • Competition: Quite a bit, unfortunately.
    • Originality: I wasn't able to find any good examples of the type of indirect progression I had envisioned, so potentially original.
    • Improvement: Similar to my assessment of my familiarity, I don't think I have the experience necessary to improve much on existing similar games.
    • Pricing: The price I would want to set would be in-line with the genre and scale of the game.

    Even though I still really like the concept for the game, and the prototype was fun, my lack of experience in creating action games lead me to shelve this one.


    (the "woooo" is something I left on for debug purposes. I no longer know why.)

    This was a prototype I had started nearly a year prior, which I fleshed out more in order to properly evaluate. The concept was a top-down spell casting action game, where the spells were obscenely powerful but laborious to cast and had to be done in real time.

    • Budget: Way too high for the amount of content (enemies, spells, environments) that would be necessary.
    • Timeframe: I estimated this would take 2-3 times as long as I wanted for my first release project.
    • Technical expertise: In order for the spells/magic to feel good, they would need to look good, and I am not good enough at building effects.
    • Familiarity: I've played plenty of spell casting games.
    • Flexibility: Very inflexible. The whole point of the game was to be a sandbox for a huge catalog of spells.
    • Desire: Fairly strong. I am still in love with the idea.
    • Vision: Strong enough that I could tell the prototype wasn't it!
    • Is it actually a game: Sadly, no. At least I couldn't make it work. It sounded like a neat idea but the fun just never materialized.
    • Audience: Just fine.
    • Competition: Probably too much.
    • Originality: Not super original, but at least I haven't seen this exact spell casting system done before.
    • Improvement: If it worked and was fun, it would have been a step forward.
    • Pricing: I don't think the low price I would need to set would justify the effort.

    Overall the game I wanted to make was too large, and more importantly I never really found the spark in the gameplay.


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