Remaking History Survey: First Projects (Part 1 of 2)

Aug 31, 2014

For Twitter Community entries I crowd source the entry content. Normally I just post a question as @HobbyGameDev and collect replies to share here.

For today’s two part entry I’m experimenting with taking that idea further: instead of tweet-sized replies to one tweet-sized prompt, I posted a Google Forms survey about beginning game development.

My first question just sought to figure out a bit about who these other responses came from. Given that the Twitter account people are interacting with is “HobbyGameDev,” it’s not surprising that many responses are from hobbyists. As shown here though a non-trivial fraction of responders are experimenting with commercializing their work, or already making games as a career.

To be totally clear: I want to stress that this is simply the 50 people that happened to reply while the survey was briefly up, and is not necessarily indicative of larger trends or crowd numbers. It tells us a bit about the real people who provided the responses found in this post, but no more than that. It’s not a statistically significant sample.

My next question was to determine which fraction of these people got their start by first developing a simple or classic remake:

About 4 out of 5. Most! But which kinds of games?

For this question people were able to offer as many replies as applied to them – so if someone indicated Frogger, Tetris, and Asteroids each of those games got more representation in the graph. My interest here was just in figuring out which kinds of games were most frequently remade.

What types of original projects did these early practice remakes lead to?

What I found interesting here is something that may be less apparent to folks who are just starting out: these people first making games like Pong, Breakout, and Asteroids are not primarily interested in those types of games. These are just relatively quick ways to get practice with input and graphics, and the overall process of putting a full game together. The developers then moved toward platformers, maze games, and puzzle games.

This trajectory also reiterates the historical progression that I often encourage people when learning: first a game or two of 1970’s complexity, then a genre or two of early 1980’s complexity, and so on. It’s a handy way to get some momentum and practical experience with the fundamentals before diving into larger and more complex types of games.

Speaking of larger and more complex games: this survey also included some open-ended written questions about the role of taking on overly ambitious projects when getting started. Far opposite of the 1970’s and 1980’s remakes for practice, these questions inquire about people’s experiences with the large, more modern, and often more original games that people sometimes take on too early to finish.

Do people regret it? Did they consider it valuable learning? Find out in Part 2! It also includes advice for beginners collected from the many people surveyed.

Huge thanks to these people who provided responses to this survey:

@retrojetfighter, @nickybshow, @S01LW4R3, @jonathan_roosa, @grimfang4, @Kawaburd, @alchiggins, @matt_ridley, @atomic_swerve, @deleter8, @AyAMrau, @Owyoow, @DeveloperDamien, @McTeddyGames, @yanneyanen, @MatthewGuz, @GameDiviner, @schwiggy, @foolmoron, @jon_a_barone, @SpadXIII, Snail_Man, Kelly Snyder, Will, Johan, Andre Giron,, Infinite Possibility Games

(The credit field was 100% optional – these are only a subset of people that replied.)

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