Mon 11 Apr 2011
I was asked about how I have finished Adalyn, Ever Blue, and Rubi in time for their contests. Adalyn was in a 3 month contest (however, I joined in extremely late and had a week), Ever Blue was done in a month, and Rubi in 3 days. I will for this focus on a one month game. I find it weird that you get a bunch of people who sign up for a contest, then in the end only 1 or 2 people submit.
What you want to consider: In a month, try doing something you pretty much KNOW you can do. You can experiment a bit but doing something too much out of your knowledge means you’re gonna be spending too much time figuring out how it works rather than implementing the game. If you’re knowledgeable enough on the program/code you’re using, this is less of an issue, but still take some care in what you want to do. In the case of Rubi, I had previously made Action RPG type systems in RPG Maker. So when I got around to making it, I already knew how to do it, I just made some changes based on my ideas.
You’ll want to keep the game short. And I mean SHORT. It is easy to plan for something and think it is reasonable, but it may be possible that the game may not be longer than half hour. You might think your game plan is easy enough. It might even still be a bit too long for the time period. Try planning for a development time of half of what you think you have, and then expanding from there if needed later on. Unless you already have the systems set up for you, then you’ll have to take time to do that first, which may take a fair amount of your development time away. This is also why game sequels based on the same engine tend to be longer: They already have the basic tools needed and they don’t have to learn them or create it.
Having premade and graphics ready to go would be very helpful, but if you must, make the graphics simple, cut down on the graphical use (Perhaps just one type of NPC, few enemy types), and levels as well. Think like you’re making a small teaser demo.
This part is important: Back up your work. Not just once, but multiple times. A month isn’t too long a time for development but if 2 or 3 weeks in, your computer explodes, you’ll have a backup so you can just resume working on it rather than give up and quit the contest. Even if you can recreate what you lost, it’s still demotivating. As there’s flash drives, external hard drives, giving files to friends, uploading it via a host, there’s plenty of ways to back up your work. Take the few minutes to do so!
Take note of who your target audience is. While RPG Makers might be totally okay with the concept of using rips and all, in different communities you may feel “required” to make your own resources. You can still use free resources but if a community really looks down on stealing, then avoid the drama and don’t use resources that aren’t free/yours. Again, it is very possible to make the graphics to a short game in a month, (as I have done with Ever Blue, in a month while going to school and work), but it needs to be simple.
Ever Blue has 4 different levels, about 12 different sprites, and only 2 had animations. I made about 6 songs for it.
Newgrounds or sites with original midis or songs can be good to use as long as they say it’s available for use. Give credit!
Then just realize that in such a short time, it’s not always possible to make it as polished as you might like. Leave some time for beta-testing, but remember that even then there may be some bugs and issues. Don’t drop out because of it (unless it’s so major that it is literally unplayable). People will understand, just do your best to fix it.
Don’t be lazy, and work on it as hard as you can. It is a very short development time so you can’t really expect commercial game standards when you have 1/50th their development time, 1 person instead of 100′s, for example. But you may want to stay off of MSN or IRC for a bit, or possibly work offline. Not all the time definitely, but at least a few days/hours so you can dedicate it to working on stuff. I would try to do most of the work in the first 2 weeks rather than thinking you have plenty of time and leave it until later.
For motivation, I would recommend having a friend around that you can show screenshots and discuss ideas with. One person motivating you and perhaps even helping you can really help motivate you.
It can still be a very good idea to join a contest. You can have some more finished games in your belt, you might even be able to win, and you’ll learn from it and possibly try out new ideas that you’ve been meaning to use.