Looking back on my first year of game dev

I'll start writing in here for the people that will come back to read this once this game is out....

I started my journey into game dev a year ago... I made 4 little games and decided I should tackle my huge epic game project because I mean what else is there to live for? Its good to do little things to learn stuff but what really gets me excited and makes me feel alive is trying to tackle huge projects- they make you feel overwhelmed- they make you feel like you are being crushed- like your lost and will die a miserable death of failure down in a hole where no one can help you..

To me that is exciting!

Many of  us need battles to fight and these are the battles I choose- my latest battle was learning how to implement behavior trees for my NPC characters- at first I was all DEEEEERP now I can pretty much get the NPC's to do whatever I want- I'm working on my 9th enemy type now for my as of yet unnamed 5th game- well it does have a name and its own mythology and all that but I won't share it until the game is in a presentable state-

"Presentable" state- what does that mean? That means a form that is somewhat polished and playable without me looking over your shoulder telling you what to do- coming from film/animation look/mood/atmosphere is going to be my strength when it comes to making games- but I don't want to lean on that as a crutch- I want to make good games- not mediocre games that look awesome as theres too many of those-

I've been working on this project for about 4 months now spending most all of my time on gameplay/mechanics really trying to find the fun- I've had to fight my instinct to polish all the assets up and make everything look good because I know if I do that I'll fool myself into thinking that its a good game because its looking good- do not want-

Since I'm starting a new career in game dev I want to have my landmark project- my statement piece- you all probably know who I am because of my statement piece in film which was my animated feature We Are The Strange- I intend for the game I'm working on now to be my landmark project in the world of video games.

It has what I think is an awesome theme and story- I'm weaving all that into the gameplay/mechanics as it would be easy and cheap just to have it all in cinematics- Since I grew up playing the NES I'm going to heed the words of Shigeru Miyamoto- the man who designed the games I played and loved as a child- he said this which I have taped to the bottom of my main monitor...
It should be the experience, that is touching. What I strive for is to make the person playing the game the director. All I do is help them feel that, by playing, they’re creating something that only they could create.”
Since I'm used to being the director this seemed weird at first- it was uncomfortable because it was new for me- a new opportunity to learn and grow so I've made it my main emphasis as I develop the game- I'm developing different ways to play the game- different moral choices to make that will %100 affect the outcome of the game in a major way all while slathering everything in thick mystery-

One of my main problems with most games these days is the lack of mystery- you have all these UI's, voices and stuff telling you exactly where to go- what to do- FUCK YOU let me figure it out on my own- LET ME EXPLORE! I know why its done of course- for the "casual" gamer- I didn't make dumbed down films so I'm not going to make dumbed down games-

My first AWESOME gaming memory was when I was I don't know 7-10 years old- somewhere around there- there was this kid named Miguel who I traded NES games with in my neighborhood- I'd take my cartridges over to his house and knock on his door- My first time trading with him I think I traded him my Metal Gear for his Mega Man- another life changing experience ^_^ but one day I went over there and he pulled out this shining GOLDEN cartridge and I was like 0_0 WHAT IS THAT GOLD GAME?! It seemed magical- he told me it was "Zelda" Oh my god "THE LEGEND OF ZELDA" I thought as I'd seen a Tv commercial for it weeks before- I can't remember what I traded for it- probably a few games for his one magical cartridge-

*Old man voice

BACK IN MY DAY there was no Google- no GameFaqs, no gamecheats NONE OF THAT- the only way you learned anything about a game was through word of mouth, the games manual or Nintendo Power magazine which I did have a subscription too but anyway as I got home I think it was getting dark- I had a small color tv in my room that the NES was hooked up to- I put the game in and turned the power on-OOOOOHHH epic music! A cool waterfall! This game was magical! I started playing it-

Now I didn't know anything about this game and most NES games where pretty crap- they were really simple and/or dumb with no mysterious or interesting stuff- so as I was killing stuff with my sword in what I know now was the Overworld I thought it was a good game- I was wandering around encountering weird monsters and killing them getting rupies while epic music was playing- I thought that WAS the game and I thought it was a good game...

Then I came upon this weird looking door- I had come across cave doors before so I expected it to be a shop or a single room THEN the music changed and I was in a different place?! I had stumbled upon my first dungeon- I was like "what is this place" - "how big is this place" - "what is in here" The monsters were different- as I went from room to room I got this excited feeling because I had no idea what was in there or how big it could be-

So it was mysterious which was exciting- So its night time now and I'm huddled in front of this little tv exploring this mysterious dungeon- it was AWESOME- this music, the weird monsters, the mystery, the danger... then I picked up some Bombs for the first time and they were handy killing tough enemies- then on accident as I was killing some enemies with a bomb- this cool sound played and the bomb blew a hole in the wall WHAAAAAAAA- *THIS was my favorite video game moment of all time

I went through the hole and there was another room- I thought to myself "A secret passage?! This dungeon could go on forever?!" I think I spent the next half an hour bombing every wall in the whole dungeon haha

Recently I read an article quoting Miyamoto wherein he said this about the original Zelda
When I was a child, I went hiking and found a lake. It was quite a surprise for me to stumble upon it. When I traveled around the country without a map, trying to find my way, stumbling on amazing things as I went, I realized how it felt to go on an adventure like this.
 This is the exact experience that I had playing the game 0_0

Sooooooooo what I want to do with this game is create a similar feeling for the players of my game- the feeling of mystery and discovery-

Its difficult to find any real mystery in todays games- and I don't like that- so I want to do that for you ^_^

So after one year of game dev I'm SUPER excited as well as super bewildered and lost at times BUT I want to create a unique, awesome experience for you- so that helps keep me on my path- if I was in it to get rich I would have quit long ago and started on something simpler BUT that is boring!

So yeah- I'm working really hard to make the best game I can at this time- I plan to release a playable demo towards the end of the year which I will use to crowdfund the full game-

If you have any ideas for things you'd like to see/do or requests for this game please send them to me by commenting on this blog- or tweeting at me @mdotstrange

Here's the videos of my enemies in progress as I'm still working on their ai at this time