I will make a game

2014-02-12

I consider myself a game designer, at least as a hobby. I've designed hundreds of different games in my mind, to varying degree. Some dozen or so are planned in depth; at any given time I have a shortlist of 3 to 6 different games that are feature-complete enough to get started, and fully feasible. I could sit down and start at these at any time. In some cases, I have.

I have enough knowledge of JavaScript, HTML and CSS to do any basic web game. I'm dusting off my decade-old OpenGL knowledge by learning WebGL, and using it; I've been writing my own shaders. On the server side, I have professional knowledge of Perl, advanced Apache and HTTP experience, and moderate MySQL knowledge; this is not even counting the PHP, NoSQL or Erlang I've dabbled in. I used to write C++ semi-professionally, C and Java on the side, and used SDL and peeked into OGRE.

I also have a computer in front of me, with vim and git, and a web server where I could host anything I want, with any database I set up. I have a good internet connection, and enough free time to at least put in a few hours a week. There is really nothing stopping me, nothing anyone could even do to stop me, from writing computer games.

And yet…

And yet in all those years I've been on computers, I haven't managed to finish and release a single game of my own. Not one.

Well, ok, one: I was involved in a point-and-click adventure for RiscOS computers, which actually did see the light of day, 20 years ago. That was together with friends and family, and I was far from the driving force in its making. It was great fun, and it worked, but I wouldn't dare to call it a game "of my own", as I would my ideas mentioned above.

The closest I've been to programming a game of my own was the start of a 2D space game, in Python, on SourceForge. The one before that, the start of a breakout clone in Java, back when such things were written as Java applets. The one before that? A two player UFO-fighting game for the Amiga, which didn't get beyond the basic mechanics.

Before that, a series of text-and-ASCII-art adventures. For the Commodore C128. No, this one was never intended for publication. I was twelve, or something.

In between that, a lot of smaller projects. Some web-gamelets for my kids, a tech demo or two, but just for my own amusement.

Back to the present: I have all these resources, all these ideas, all these plans. I've started to work on some of them, a lot of them really, but nothing ever lasts. Ever. There are plenty of reasons why not: I lose interest, or there's a particular snag or roadblock I can't get over, or another idea pops up which sounds even more fun. And each game and project has so much stuff that could, no should, go into it, so many features, so many cool things, that it's hard to get the basics up and running, everything needs to be prepared for super-scaling greatness, or at least architectural elegance.

It gets even harder: these days, the main reason I don't even get started, at least not beyond a simple summarizing concept document or so, is that I know I won't ever finish it. Talk about self-sustaining prophesies.

So, enough of that. I hereby vow that I will create a web game, and finish it, and publish it on this site. To avoid feature creep, release anxiety, and other ills of the creative process, this will be the simplest and stupidest game I can think of. Really, I will personally dislike it, and I'll be glad it's done and over with, and will not have any desire to improve or withhold it.

But I will have one finished, publically released game of my own to point to. Then the next one should be easier.