This isn’t a regular development news so much as a general rambling on my efforts as a game developer. I don’t expect everyone to read every word, so the important parts will be written in bold.
Shipyard was released as a “tech demo” exactly two years ago today. Since then, its development has been a slow, meandering journey wherein I think up new features that would be cool to have, and pile them on haphazardly. I’ve often taken long breaks from development because I wasn’t inspired around any particular feature at the time, and equally often I’ve tried to implement awesome-sounding features before the game is ready for them (cough shuttles cough).
A couple days ago, I was discussing game design with my good friend and fellow game developer Shayne Hayes (www.shaynehayes.net). Even though I’ve been doing this for longer by a couple years, he already has two complete games to my zero, and during that discussion I realized why. When he started his games, he started out with a clear idea of what he wanted those games to be, and all he had to do was implement it. On the other hand, when I started Shipyard, I set out with a grand vision but no concrete plan. As a result, I ended up bumbling around, making stuff up as I went along. If game development were a road trip, then my friend started out with a map and a list of directions, so all he had to do was drive from point A to point B. I, meanwhile, set off with nothing but a sense of adventure, and ended up driving in circles. It’s become clear to me now that this style of development is not going to work if I want to get anywhere as a game developer, and I’ve decided to make some big changes.
After Alpha 1.0, Shipyard is going on indefinite hiatus.
I still have every intention of finishing Shipyard, but after the next big update, I’m going to shelve it until I have a clear plan regarding what I want it to be, and how I’m going to get there. When I finally return to it, development should be much quicker because I’ll have a concrete goal to work towards. I’ll know what I want from the game, I’ll know what I don’t want from the game, and it will just be a matter of making it happen.
In the meantime, I’m shifting focus to smaller, simpler projects.
When I first started Shipyard, I was a novice programmer, and it was that skill that was the bottleneck in development. Now, my coding talent is much more mature, and it’s the lack of design focus that’s holding me back. So, while I take the time to decide what I want from Shipyard, my efforts will be shifted to smaller games–games that I can design, program, and release in a matter of months rather than years. That way, I can build a repertoire of finished projects to show for all my years of development.
I’m going to start selling games.
No true artist wants to charge for their work. In a perfect world, basic needs would be taken care of and we could all do what we love because we love it, and nobody would need to charge for anything. However, this world is far from perfect. I’m starting college in less than a month, and here in America that isn’t cheap. Plus, I can’t mooch off my parents forever. Even if I could in the practical sense, I don’t want to become the stereotypical nerd who lives in his mom’s basement until he’s forty. As stated on my “About” page, it was always my intention of making games as a career, not just a hobby, and I hope to move Brass Watch Games in that direction over the course of the next year. If memory serves, I promised that Shipyard would always be free, and I plan to uphold that. However, any new developments in the foreseeable future will be released for profit.
That’s it for now, folks. I hope you understand the reasoning behind my decisions, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me as a game developer.