Early this year I decided to dive more into game development and I released my first game, Night of the Loving Dead, in late March. Now that the game has been out in the wild for a few months, I decided to reflect on the experience and share what Iíve learned throughout the process. I hope this information is helpful to someone or at least entertaining.
If you want to try the game, you can check it out here; I'd really appreciate any feedback you may have! The premise is you play as a skeleton that must find various parts of his body to become whole again and reunite with the love left behind upon death.
Flixel - I had never made a game using Flixel prior to this project, but after talking to some friends and doing a bit of research, it seemed like a good way to go: it was. Flixel is a fantastic game engine written in ActionScript 3. It handles nearly all of the really hard parts about creating a game including physics and collision and since it renders via blitting, its incredibly fast. I highly recommend checking it out if youíre looking to make a platform game.
SFXR - This little program is awesome. Itís a fantastic way to generate retro-style sound effects for games. One of the biggest pains in game development (for me) is searching the internet for royalty-free sound effects so SFXR was a welcomed surprise.
MochiMedia - The good thing about writing a game in Flash is the massive distribution avenues available. There are countless Flash portals out there allowing you to get your game in front of a very large audience. So far, Iíve gotten the best results using MochiMedia which has out-performed Kongregate by 600%.
Music - Finding music for the game was a pain. Iíd suggest starting this early in the process. Finding music that fits and getting permission to use it can take a long time. I saved this for last thinking it would be simple and ended up sitting on an otherwise finished game for weeks while waiting for replies on music.
Art - Iím a developer, not an artist. Making the art and animations for the game took a LONG time. At the end of the day, Iím happy with what I was able to produce, but I will definitely be looking to improve my pixel art abilities. I severely underestimated how long it would take to create even seemingly simple items. This also gave me a better appreciation for the work artists do. After trying it firsthand, Iím even more amazed by some of the great pixel art Iíve seen on the web.
Staying Motivated - When working on a game project, it can be hard to stay motivated. In order to make sure I got the game finished, I tried every day to work on it at least a little. I didnít succeed every day, but I came pretty close. As long as you keep working on it, even if one day all you do is add a button, it is progress. The biggest danger in taking a day off is that it can quickly become 2 days off, which becomes 3 and so on.
Another way I stayed motivated was by sharing the game with friends. I had buddies play the game early and often. The positive reinforcement gained from that went a long way in keeping me interested in the project.
You Canít Please Everyone - It is important to take the feedback of your players seriously, but it is equally important to realize that not everyone is going to like your game. Initially, a lot of people complained that the game was too easy so I added a new enemy (the floating eyeball) and then people complained that it was too difficult. In response to this, I gave the player more health to begin with. I actually liked the game better without the eye, but it seemed like less complaints came in so I left it at that.
Currently I am hard at work on my next game and have so many ideas for others that it is sometimes hard to stay focused! Anyway, that's pretty much it; I hope this wasn't a waste of your time.