Damn the Torpedoes, Full Zebulon Ahead

Game development is definitely taking longer than I’d thought.  I’m not even talking about sourcing visual and audio assets, or fighting with the SDK or debugging code; it’s the endless hours that disappear into getting the right working system in place. Coding patterns for is-a subclasses and has-a relationships, interactions and messaging between systems.. and the refactoring everything because it wasn’t the right approach.

And there’s the top-level conceptual questions, ranging from: “is this game even fun?” to “should I keep a few dozen objects in one screen area, or will we have a giant view area you pinch and swipe across?”


Do you accumulate a currency of “power units” or whatever to spend, or are you just struggling to build objects? Should the player control where each object goes, or do they have a mind of their own?

How should we display the build-status of a planet? The energy-status? As two arcs?


Or should energy be a glow (pulse?) that builds up?

I was feeling pretty down last week (which was week #3). My friends gave me a much-appreciated pep talk, and suggested that I do something I should have done when I started: read Ryan and Chris Campbell’s excellent ongoing narrative about their friendly competition to build two games. (Disclaimer: I had the pleasure of meeting these guys while we were at SurveyMonkey).

Beyond the tips and breakdowns they give for their problems and approach,  it’s such a comfort to see that I’m not alone in this, and yes, it’s hard.

So. As I enter week #4, what should I do?

At this point in time, I need to stop refactoring, I need to stop trying out different gameplay ideas. I just need to finish a working first-draft of the game I had originally set out to build: a graph based tower defense game where units are built and then have an autonomous life of their own. Which works on iPhones (4s and newer) and iPads.

I’m sure I’ll have tons of changes and new ideas after this MVP is wrapped up. But rather than constantly building up and tearing down a myriad of ideas and explorations, I should stay the course.

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