So I'm currently working on several projects but I thought I would describe the process for both, incase any budding Game Developers run across the same thing that I do.
Case 1: Xbox Live game
- So I started off working on an xbox live game as my first game. Not a huge problem, I have an engine that ports directly over to my xbox 360 for testing (no need for a dev kit) and when all is said and done, I can just package for 360 distribution (thank you visual studio express + xna!) and all is good to go... right? Well not so much!
I have been a 2D game developer for a long time. And I assumed that this would be a quick and easy game for me to make, I planned features that with other engines that I'm more familiar with would have taken me a manner of hours to get a prototype working. Instead after wrangling with the engine I realized I was in over my head. Not one to give up I decided to reprioritize what needed to be in the game, and focus more on what made this game fun. Once I finally had that all settled it made the game a whole lot easier to deal with.
I hit a bit of a wall when GarageGames changed their website (couldn't access the developer network for a little bit), but I was able to continue to plan out what was happening with each level on paper, optomizing my time as best I could. I continued working when TDN was avaible again, but hit a snag, when I realized I needed Torque X 3.0 (which supports XNA 3 and community games), I of course only had Torque X 2. I was forced to shelf the game idea until TX 3 gets released. So sometimes, even the best plans still fall off the track, even with the best planning, and a will to adjust to the environment. I'm currently waiting for the release of TX3 daily, and working on my new game...
Case 2: Casual game
- I never was much of a casual game fan. I like a little more action in my games usually, but I thought it might be an interesting change of pace. So I broke out an engine that I've very comfortable with and decided to make a 2D PC game to tide me over while waiting for TX3.
I started work on my game, and in just a day had a working prototype (i've been using this engine since I was 7). It was fun to play, and I felt that could carry alot of it. But I also knew that one of the most daunting task I could do was add alot of levels. So naturally thats exactly what I did! I planned to put in 50 levels so someone who buys this game, really gets their moneys worth. I knew that if I was going to try and actually make this that long of a game, I was going to have to develop a way to just iterate levels at a faster pace. So i developed my storyline around something that would support that, and I was very happy with it.
I ended up with the Story of a young ship Captain (Boomie), working for Buildet Construction. Buildet is a company that makes it money by terraforming land into whatever its owner wants. Do you want a tropical island in the middle of an ocean, you've got it! Do you want a Barron waste land filled with a little sun, they are on it! But Boomie runs into a little mishap while heading out on his very first day, and his ship starts to malfunction. After a firm verbal beating from his superior Boomie is forced to make do with a malfunctioning ship and make the people of Calfor 6 happy, as long as his ship doesn't get him fired!
Keeping Boomie is the deployment section of his ship and working with a malfunctioning machine allowed me to have multiple combinations of levels, but still, reasonably, reuse the art, because his location is stagnant. I think this is going to be a fun game, and I'm going to look and have this guy published on BigFish as early as Feb 24th!
All and all I've realized that you just need to always have ideas on hand. If something is blocking your way and you just can't get around it, its ok, grab a new ride and go over it, you can always go back when the time comes.
Moral of the story: Use engines you are familar with, or get someone who does! =)