In part 1, I explored the motivations behind and the beginnings of Game a Week. As I plan on releasing weekly recaps of how my current Game a Week game went, I figured I might as well recap the first 11 games.
Idea: I tried to start small with my first idea. It was a game where you had to simultaneously control a number of circles and place them in a certain area to score points. I had no real direction in my head for this, it was just something “easy” that I thought could be “fun”.
What went well: Almost nothing. However, it was my very first game a week game and I definitely made something. I made something that you could theoretically interact with and had a very loose connection with the original idea.
What went wrong: I started WAY too late in the week. I think I started this game on Friday (honestly can’t remember, I just know it was way later in the week than it should have been). I also didn’t think my idea through before hand. I had a concept, didn’t put much thought into how to interact with it, and just made it.
What I learned: I need to start working on my game a lot earlier if I want to give myself ample time to properly explore the current week’s idea.
Idea: I personally really enjoy the idea of local multiplayer games and games that force a physical interaction. Some good examples of what I’m talking about are Game Oven’s Fingle, Kaho Abe’s Hit Me!, and Doug Wilson’s J.S. Joust. This was my little contribution to that movement. It’s a two player game where each player can potentially have to press any key on the keyboard. The goal is to be the first person to destroy all of your blocks.
What went well: I started this game as soon as I finished week 1. Taking my lesson from the previous week, I was able to really give myself ample time to explore this idea. The final product turned out almost exactly like I pictured in my head, and I finished it on time.
What went wrong: It wasn’t a super fun game like I had hoped. I didn’t really take into account how unbalanced the physical part of this game could be. Testing it with someone stronger and much larger than I am felt extremely unfair, as it was easy for him to bash on the keyboard and keep me away from my keys. Though that was somewhat the point of it, it became very not fun for me very quickly.
What I learned: The physically interactive games that I like tend to not be easily skewed based on size and strength – they’re more easily manipulated by skill and technique.
Idea: This game turned out frustratingly bad. I’ve always had an affinity towards how music can affect a person’s feelings and experiences, and this was meant to emulate that. I saw CHVRCHES in concert at the Boston House of Blues a few months ago, and the opening act, xxyyxx, consisted of one guy on stage with his macbook pro making wonderful musical experiences. This game was meant to be my interpretation of what that would feel like to do. I wanted to create an experience on the iPad where the player would interact with events on the screen in time with the music in order to feel like you were creating the musical experience yourself. Sort of a DJ-simulator meets Fantasia: Music Evolved.
What went well: Almost nothing. This game turned out nothing like I envisioned and was one of the ideas that I had poured over for a long time in my head. It’s hard to to see an idea that you’re super excited about die a horrible horrible death.
What went wrong: I did not take into account how difficult it was so craft an experience exactly like it is in your head.
What I learned: Ideas should be explored as soon as possible. I need to stop building up an idea in my head as a wonderful concept if I have no real proof that it will be an experience that I’m able to create.
Idea: This week had an extra constraint of trying to create a direct interaction with the game. The first three weeks had very indirect interactions, and it clearly wasn’t working well for me. I wanted to make a puzzle game based controlling two different characters. Sort of a one player Ilomilo meets Flow.
What went well: I was able to create a direct interaction with the game like I had set out to do. I also learned how to create music directly inside of Unity. I focused a bit more than normal on the game feel for this and was able to get a nice thing going for the game
What went wrong: I only made one puzzle and the music was very jarring.
What I learned: I am not very good at creating puzzles. I struggled even creating the one puzzle level that made it into the game.
Idea: One of my favorite games so far. This game is based on creating a tower as high as you can, while not letting it tip over. This idea is another one that I had in my head for a while. I like the idea of a simple balancing game (inspired by Eyezmaze’s Vanilla), and have been wanting to try my hand at something like this for a while.
What went well: I really enjoyed how this game turned out. It worked almost exactly like I had pictured in my head and most of the things that I had to change from my original vision were things that I was able to critically think about and produce in a way that actually had thought-out game design and purpose.
What went wrong: A few of my solutions for design issues were cheap. To stop the player from simply building straight up forever, I made it so that you couldn’t build on blocks in the center. There’s no reason for that other than a cheap solution to a bad design problem.
What I learned: Simple ideas are easy to explore. I need to stick with one mechanic/one idea and explore that one thing fully instead of focusing on an entire experience. It helps to talk through the reasons behind design decisions and to ask yourself “why” you chose to create the interaction that you’re creating.
My first failure. I started my game this week based on a memory of an old game from my childhood. I ended the week with zero interaction complete – just a sprite of a pegasus on a backdrop of pixel clouds.
What went well: I thought a lot about a game that I have fond memories of.
What went wrong: Well, I didn’t finish a game this week. After spending a few months in the Netherlands, I was faced with flying back to the US and couldn’t bring myself to work on anything because I was too busy moping around.
What I learned: I need to not let my emotions get in the way of my development. There was no reason to mope around and not create a game. Not creating a game didn’t stop me from having to fly back to the US, and instead just made me feel worse. It was a lose-lose situation all around.
Click here for Part 3 where I recap games 7 through 11.