December Ludum Dare

48 hours to make a game. An awesome idea.

I make games for two reasons:

  1. I like programming them.
  2. I like that people play and like my games

For reason #1, is really simple, you sit, program and done. But for the second one, getting people to actually play your game… that is quite difficult. It is even more difficult to get people like your game.

Ludum Dare is perfect for #2 reason. It has a huge audience and if played right, you can get a decent amount of plays in your game. With people playing your game, you get feedback and feedback makes you and your game better.

I started with Ludum Dare 23 using game maker to build a bullet hell(Bathtub Story) and then took a huge break and made a comeback in LD28 with still more game maker and made Monster Interceptor. Then LD29 with javascript programmed Switcher which to my perspective was a huge hit and even got a mention in Indie Statik. And the last one LD30 with Mammoth Monkey Mole (a modest hit) also in javascript.

Every game made in LD has taught me something and that is priceless. Looking forward to LD31.

Bug fixes

Before new features were implemented it was time to solve all the existing bugs and avoid future trouble.

The issues in iOS 7 with Swift were finally solved. A SKNode layer was troublesome by capturing the touch events and the z-ordering was not respected. The downcast issue was also solved by avoiding the cast and work directly with SKNodes instead of SKSpriteNode. They were really a pain to debug, but with those solved I could focus in the gameplay.

Levers and bridges were implemented, as well as the valid movements for the monkey.

iOS Simulator Screen Shot Dec 2, 2014, 9.19.51 PM

Tips for being a full-time developer and a hobby game dev

Game developing is really hard. One would think it is pretty fun, and some times is, but it is also a hard work. Designing the game and brainstorming is always fun and you can creatively dream about games. Actually making it is what gives problems.

In my case, my day job is full-time mobile developer. A 9 to 6 (or 8 to 5) job in which I design iOS apps, sometimes documentation, other times bug fixing. I have had the advantage on working in the full development cycle of many products. This gave me the advantage of knowing that even having all the requirements a product takes a long time to complete. Developing is fun or at least an entertaining task, but what really makes a product shine is the costumer feedback and a bug free software. These last two steps most of the time is boring. Making changes, debugging the code hunting for that line causing all the mess.

Working full time and arriving at home to continue working is a hard task to manage, more if you had a difficult day and are too tired to work some more. So far what has worked for me is:

  1. Draw. I like drawing and experimenting with styles. When I don’t feel like coding I draw animations missing or new concepts. It makes me concentrate in a different task than programming and I don’t get too tired.
  2. Play music. I bought a violin and so far it has been great. Just as drawing, it focus your full attention in a completely different way. You can forget all about programming and just focus on playing tunes.
  3. Do nothing. There are some days you just can’t work. Do not force yourself to work those days. The game development could turn into a punishment and it is supposed to be entertaining at least if like me it’s not my day job.
  4. Publish. Tell the world about your project. Sometimes you may get feedback and that will keep you going.
  5. Follow other game developers and artists. They have valuable experience and it may be useful to you. Many have walked the same path.
  6. Enjoy what you do. For me, I develop games as a hobby not as a business. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to live from making games, but only if I have creative freedom. My first step would be to earn enough money just to cover my tool expenses.

I hope my experience is useful to you.