I’ve been experimenting with new ways to help people get into hobby videogame development. One of the directions that I’m most excited about is directly working together.
At intermediate level and above, practical experience is easily one of the best ways to make progress as a developer, designer, or content creator.
In the recent entry about my animations for Swing It I tried to give some sense of how things go in our collaborative online forum projects. The gist: we (and in this case “we” can literally include you) are working together seasonally to create some noncommercial games.
It’s development practice. It’s networking. It’s fun and enriching.
Commercial indie game development can’t help but be a little competitive. Besides the literal competitions, there’s only limited space to be featured in different digital download stores, jealousy sometimes creeps into the scene due to disparity between the handful of runaway hits and the innumerable struggling titles, and there is of course an inherent battle over customer attention and dollars.
Hobby videogame development, by contrast, is truly and totally co-op. We’re just making games that we want to make because we want to make them, and because we want to make the code and content for them. The success at hobby scale isn’t measured by dollars or total plays, it’s instead just up to whether each team member is satisfied with their craftsmanship and contributions.
Along those lines I’ve recently pitched Light Hook. Our early video can be seen here:
For more details, or if you’d like to join our small team check out my pitch write-up for this early work-in-progress.
Like all Summer Collaboration projects in the forum, our target is to have the game wrapped up by the end of August.
One of the Herd
If that project’s not your style, the lead developer from Swing It has also recently pitched One of the Herd, a nifty sheep herding game, as a way to practice with flocking AI and a different sort of level design.
Take a look, for example, at his recent Sheep Soccer (!) stage in the herding prototype:
Especially if you’re up for chipping in on the art, audio, or levels, let Tim know in a One of the Herd update thread.
Or Lead Your Own Game
If neither of those games fits your interests, you can still pitch a different noncommercial videogame project to lead, so long as what you’re pitching is something you’re capable of completing entirely on your own (in at least some minimum form) over the summer.
Of course, the idea isn’t for project leads to actually wind up doing it alone – at some point during your weekly updates someone else is likely to hop onboard, and if nothing else I’ll join in. However this overall approach helps give contributing members higher confidence that the project can be completed no matter who else does or doesn’t join or stick around, it gives the project a clear way to move forward and gain momentum before a full team fills in, and it also ensures that the project lead is prepared to integrate all parts that get contributed into a coherent whole.
If you do decide to lead a project – especially if you’re new to posting in the community – including links to some of your past work as part of your pitch can help folks decide whether what you’re planning seems like a realistic voyage for them to join you on. Most strangers will want at least a little evidence to reassure them that if they create some work for the game it won’t wind up lost in an incomplete project.
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