Published on March 31, 2011

category: software-development

Oh, so this blog is also about software development! Let’s talk about this link:

My Year as an Amateur Android Game Developer

I am starting to work on a Flash game, and I feel like this guy's experience could be my experience in a nutshell. Like, this guy spent a year doing development work at night, after his day job, to put together a simple puzzle game. There are already versions of said game out there, of varying quality.

I think he made a lot of mistakes though. He owns up to the big ones - first of all, in typical programmer fashion, he spent plenty of time writing all the code etc...yet he cranked out the graphics in one night, and his sound effects were...him with a microphone. Graphics and sound are my weak point for sure, as I’ve never really done them before, but holyshit they are sooo important! Seriously, so many programmers spend a ton of time writing ‘perfect code’ instead of concentrating on the user experience. You absolutely need to be able to put yourself in the eyes of a user. And not just a ‘gamer’ – if you’re making an Android game, your users will be casual gamers, grandmas etc..

But there are a couple things he doesn’t address, and he gets defensive about it in the comments. The game doesn’t look very fun. He just didn’t create a compelling game experience. There are a ton of things that are important to making a good game that I don’t think he considered, like making the game addictive, having a ‘reward’ system, etc. Also he didn’t add anything to the game to make it better than any other version out there; it’s a game that’s been done to death.

I heard some advice about writing recently; that people are looking for an excuse, any excuse to stop reading your article/story. The same applies to games, especially casual smartphone games where I could switch over to Fruit Ninja in about 10 seconds. I feel like the graphics would be a great reason to quit playing immediately; I personally would get pissed off at a long, wordy tutorial.

Also it kind of sounds like he was expecting to make bank on this game. This part was a wake-up call to me. Won’t be quitting my day job any time soon! But really if you are designing art in order to make money, you are doing it wrong and you probably won’t be motivated to do a good job anyway – you’ll be motivated to do the bare minimum.

So those are my thoughts. Not to rag on this guy; I think there should be more people writing things like this and sharing their experiences! It is really hard to take an objective look at your work, and it’s hard not to take criticism personally when you've invested so much of yourself in a project. Also, no matter how much effort you put into your first game, it's still just your first game. One day you'll look back and laugh. I found this article to be pretty insightful, and I’m sure game developers have a lot in common as far as dealing with these issues go.