Hello everyone! This is the first installment of the devlog that I will be keeping for the development of my next game, which I am currently calling Project 2021. There will be a new post every Saturday for the duration of its development where I will detail my thoughts, experiences, troubles, and triumphs from the week's work. I have yet to truly begin making the game, so today's log will serve as an introduction to my background, this project, what I hope to accomplish, and some challenges that I expect to face over the course of its development.
For those that don't already know me, my name is Jacob Senecal, also known as Wilucco. In 2018 I completed an Associate's degree in Computer Programming, but couldn't find work with it in my area. Near the end of 2018, I decided to start streaming some games on Twitch so I could try to make a bit of money on my own even if I couldn't find any work, and I ended up falling in love with it. I enjoyed it so much that I spent most of 2019 focused on growing my stream rather than using my degree. I was very happy with my progress on Twitch, but around the start of 2020 I decided that I should find a use for my education even if I couldn't find any development work, so I chose to make my own work.
I set out to make one mobile app or game every month of 2020. I made two simple apps in January and February, then in March decided to take on a slightly more complicated project in the form of a game called Idle Climber. It was simply a game about jumping up a never-ending mountain with a currency system, some items that you could get, and your character would continue climbing while the app was not running. It wasn't a complex idea, so I figured I could get it done relatively quick. Long story short, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, the project ended up taking two months instead of one, and I got really disappointed that it took so long to complete such a simple idea. I decided to take the knowledge and experience that I gained from Idle Climber and try again with a different idea in May. The idea this time was a bit more complex, but still not so bad. It was a game about taking rocks of different shapes and sizes and putting them on a grid to try and fill up the whole grid with every single piece. Even knowing what I did from making Idle Climber, it took six months to complete Box of Rocks, but I was less disappointed this time. I learned a lot more about each facet of making my game when I wasn't in a huge rush to complete it. I had more time to spend getting each piece of art and game-play just right and I believe that Box of Rocks is now a much better game because of it. Box of Rocks ended up being my last project of 2020, so that brings us to now.
It's a new year, so it's time to try a new perspective on game design. My games from 2020 each came from very specific ideas that ended up as very simple mechanics-driven games for mobile devices. They were also both developed under an attempt at a very strict time constraint. This time I'm giving myself much more time; the whole year of 2021. Not only that, but rather than a simple mechanical mobile game, Project 2021 will be a story-driven RPG (with fun mechanics) developed for release on Steam and any other PC platforms that I can publish it on. For now, I don't want to delve into the specifics of the story or mechanics that I intend to include, but as the year goes on I will release more and more information about what you can expect from the game. These releases will come in the form of short stories about the game's world, game-play videos, and even demos as time allows, so keep your eye on this devlog if you want to stay up to date!
Aside from making a good game that many people can enjoy, I have a couple of goals for my own personal growth as a developer that I would like to reach while making this game. The most important one to me is to learn how to effectively use the Unity game engine. My previous games were made in an open source engine called Godot. While many people consider the two engines comparable, I feel totally lost while navigating Unity's UI even after nearly a year of using Godot. I suspect that it will take me most of January to get up to speed on Unity's workflow, so the next few devlogs will likely be focused on my efforts to learn Unity and compare its features with the ones that I already know from Godot. That is my main technical goal. From a design standpoint, I have never tried to tell a story in a game, and therefore, I have never tried to tailor game mechanics into that story or the larger world that it takes place in. As I mentioned earlier, my games were very simple and one mechanic was the whole game. This time around the idea is the story and we are going to need multiple mechanics that fit that story in order to tell it properly in an enjoyable way. It's a very different starting point than the one that I'm used to, but I look forward to seeing how it all works out.
There will no doubt be many challenges ahead in the year ahead. The one that I expect to be most difficult will be the challenge of managing the scope of Project 2021. I had some issues with scope management in my previous games that served to lengthen the development time. Between the knowledge that I gained from working through those scope management issues and the longer development cycle of this game, I hope to mitigate those issues to make an enjoyable game with a compelling story and engaging mechanics without overdoing anything. The key to managing the scope of this project will be in telling a very good story while also finding the right balance between mechanics and story. Mechanics can be very complex and time-consuming to develop, but they are what drives a lot of the fun in video games for a lot people. It's important to include enough interaction with those mechanics to let players have fun, but a story is much less technically complex to develop. If that story is well-told, then it can be just as interesting as actually playing through mechanics, which means that I can spend less time developing more mechanics, and more time fleshing out the story and polishing the game without sacrificing the players' enjoyment. If we can manage all that, then I feel like this game will be a huge success.
Thank you to everyone that has read this far. I hope you enjoyed the post and I look forward to sharing some incredible things with you over the course of the year! YEET!