Why are you not creating your dream game?

Are you creating your dream game? The game you’ve always wanted to create?

If not… why not?

I asked about these earlier in twitter and got some replies & sparked some discussion. Here’s some more points regarding this issue:

If visuals/sounds is the problem, why not use existing games and mod them?
For example, Skyrim, Crysis, Source games, upcoming Source 2 (or whatever it’s called)… There’s plenty of game engines that can be used for modding?

Needs more design? Why not more prototyping?
I also heard about reasons saying that game requires more planning or designing first. Why not take 2 weeks to design, and then participate in some weekend prototyping jam & knock the game basics together?

One of the most fun way to get some very fun stuff out is prototyping. I knocked my dwarves prototype together in a week, sold 22 copies (that’s $22!), and it was one of the most rewarding experiences.

I prototyped the core. It would be easy to continue from there if I’d want.

Too big scope or takes too much time
One of the biggest issues I’ve had with my card game development is that, it started as a small game. It went through 3 very huge revisions. Each version was almost totally different. The current final version I have, is totally different than what the game was when I started.

Sure, this is taking “too long”… but they always do. I’m setting my first public release for 12/12/12. At that point I aim to get the first version out, and I do my best effort to finalize the game during these 30 days.

This started as a small project. In a way it still is – it’s the game mechanisms that took most of my time anyway – and has taken a long time.

And the real answer is:
– So what if scope is too big? Either scale down features or just take more time. If you need art assets, then well, mod some existing game. Or make minecraft like graphics.
– DLC. Patching. There’s a reason why those exist. So that we don’t need to put all our ideas in the first version. Sure, I’d like to have 30 different characters in the game, but I just stick with dozen. Why? Because I can add 20 card character pack later if I want. Similarly your cool shooter game doesn’t need 902 weapons in the beginning. Just throw in 4 for the first release and add more later in a patches.

Narrow down scope, get rid of useless features or minor features. Keep the big important features there. And go further. Put less important stuff in your “maybe later” box.

Dream game needs to be 5 year long project
Developing game long doesn’t guarantee it’s better than if development takes short time.

Split schedule into smaller releases.

Rather than doing “one big dream game project”. Do “series of smaller dream game sub projects that all help create the one big dream game project”. Why? Because it’s in every single way the much more rewarding way to do it.

Are you making up excuses?
It’s easy to come up with excuses. “Need more this or that, then I could do it”.

There are limitations. And if you don’t happen to get some sort of funding, you probably have to be bit more creative to figure out how to get development done.

If visual assets is the problem, then you must think whether art is important. Could you replace it with something easier? Could you mod some existing game?

If it “needs more design”, then start prototyping. Prototyping can quickly reveal issues in design. Get others to play your prototypes. Often. Prototypes can be as simple as pen & paper.

Your might need to reduce your project scope in some aspects, but if you think of “what is the experience my game will offer to players”, you will soon realize that certain “must to have” features we think there should be… aren’t so “must to have” after all.

So, how about that.

Could you start creating your dream game?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. That first tip is golden. Get modding, learn the ropes, and bootstrap a game!

  2. Cool article. I’m making excuses for not working on my game for years now :P

    But now I’m finally working on it. I made a partnership with an artist, I’m learning cocos2d and I’m quitting my day job (I have a successful iOS app giving me consistent quantities money)

    So, any other tip for me?

  3. Hi, thanx for the great article. I have a question, what does the ‘mod’ word stand for in your article?

  4. I think my biggest limitations is graphics. Sound and music I can get from somewhere else – stock, mod, etc. That’s no issue. But graphics? That’s what makes or breaks a game! Every time I find an “enthusiastic” artist, they get involved and then just loose interest and stop corresponding about it. So there goes original art.

    Graphics characterize the game itself – I couldn’t use graphics from, say, Mario Bros, for my own side-scrolling game of awesomeness. People would know (even apart from legal issues).

    Graphics also need to be consistent. I can’t pull together several textures I found and modded from different sources and styles. It would look really odd.

    Is there some royalty-free location I’m not aware of for textures, sprites, animations? I’d love to make some of my game ideas… LOVE! But this has been the biggest limitation as I am NOT an artist.

    What do you suggest to get around this?

  5. I’m a long time software developer spending most of my years so far on business, productivity, back-end, and web, but when it comes to games (and I have a great idea right now), it’s trying to figure out first of all what it all entails (what tools, methods for scrolling, animation, levels, etc etc etc.) I have the game all drawn out on paper, can envision the movements, the game play, the addictive feel that I want the users to have, but wow, it’s hard to shift over to game mode but I’m not giving up on figuring out what it takes to write my first game and see if it can be as successful as I think it can be.

  6. Tough list, tough list… cannot argue with those. I can see all of those in my mind as well.

  7. I’ve noticed the same when trying to pick a “perfect phone”. At some point I gotta realize that I cannot get it all in the same package. Camera and Battery (and size) for example are different sides of the coin: have one and the other might suffer … or you need one huge sized “phone” to carry.

    Same goes for games: if you want super procedural world, that’s fun to play, supports 71 million online people… and has handcrafted visuals… well, you just sort of cannot have those (unless @notch is funding you or something :D). So, you have to choose. Dwarf Fortress is hugely deep game, but complex too – and lacks visuals. It’s a design choice.

    It’s about choices, and making wise ones.

  8. It’s a *physical* card game, so screenshot I cannot give… but here’s one card ;)

  9. IMO there are plenty of reasons why dream projects never see the light of day:

    – Dreams are not low-scale. Hardly anybody dreams about easily achievable stuff. Am I wrong?

    – While implementing a dream it gets cut down by compromises to a shadow of itself. Any game maker who wants to remain faithful to his/her original dream won’t complete it. As Stanislav mentioned.

    – Procrastination due to embarrassment, perfectionism and feature creep have to be slain. This is the hard stuff (to learn).

    – Decision making is also important. Sounds easy, but isn’t.

    You’ve listed good tips in this article, Juuso. Finally, the question translates for me to: “Why are you dreaming too big?”. Knowing what can be accomplished is hard. Thinking small isn’t either.

  10. Hi Juuso,

    great article. I agree with you in the point about cutting stuff. Funny thing, i wrote something in my blog about the same topic yesterday ^^

    Till the present I did all the excuses you mentioned above and waited for the right dev platform, the right programming language and didn’t dare to start, because I was afraid to ruin my cool game idea with the shitty work I would make. But in the end, its the experience and practice that counts.

    So to support your speach: There ist no perfect tool or perfect whatever to wait for your game. Take what suits you best and just begin. The perfect way is the one, that made you finish your game.

  11. …damn they allow only 1 question. So, I’ll stick with this one for now.

  12. Waiting? That sounds like an excuse to me! I doubt 3d browsers are needed, we already have 3d in other places. :)

    I guess I could add some more snow questions there…

  13. If AI’s are wise enough to figure out the corrent answer… who are we to say they wouldn’t be human?

    In fact, try define “robot” or “human”. Google for that, and you will find out that defining the difference isn’t that easy.

    Also, did you know that there were some scientific experiments where a living rat brain was teach to control/pilot some aircraft :) …that certainly ain’t no regular rat, nor robot, nor human… And what happens when we grow human brain to do the same?

    So, as a legitime ai creature, you should be doing just fine, and consider yourself to be priviledged to join the ranks of humanity.

  14. This “pro-human” quiz is socially biased against legitimate artificial intelligences! *madface*

  15. I for one am waiting for the technology to improve and get cheaper. We are almost there with 3D in browsers and touch screens.

    PS The prohuman quiz could be: Which you prefer: lava or snow? :P

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