2020 sure was a different year to what’s considered normal. I actually ended up with a lot more free time than usual, and made a lot more video games than I would have normally had time for. Here I’ll look over all I’ve done this year, and some things I haven’t done.
What I didn’t do
Here’s a few unfinished or abandoned projects I sort of worked on:
A typing game – I’m actually hoping to finish this for Finally Finish Something 2021. FFS is a game jam that takes place in January where we finally finish off a project! This was going to be a pure typing game, drawing from public domain poetry and stories for the typing material. I already spent one month on this game before deciding it was taking too long and leaving it in a almost-finished state.
Social distancing – I made a really small game in April called Social Distancing. People were ignoring social distancing guidelines because they wanted to go to the coffee shop so you had to shoot them. It took me about 10 minutes to make and it’s not very good.
Text adventure game – I started a text adventure game about being at a bar with an annoying friend who you secretly hate. You have to find a way to escape the bar. Anyway, turns out a game being text-based doesn’t make it easier to make – it makes it harder. And making a text adventure in Gamemaker isn’t a great idea either.
ScReD – This was my first foray into the world of collabs. I was so excited for this at first, thinking I could spend maybe an hour a day on it. Then maybe one day a week. I was still working a lot though and spending most of my dev time on Other Minds. So this kind of faded into the background. Maybe one day, I haven’t forgotten.
Teletext Horror – I just thought this would be a cool game – a game where you explored teletext pages to reveal a sinister story. All I have is a title screen and some ideas written down though. I actually saw a game on itch io recently called Telusfax which is similar, although without the horror element. They probably did a much better job than I could’ve done – go check it out, it’s really cool.
What I did do – blogs and game jams
For starters, I started this blog! I wrote my first post on Digging Day back in February (good game, go check it out). Admittedly I’ve somewhat slowed down since then, but with some long term commitments out of the way I might focus on this some more.
This year I discovered the joys of game jams. They made me realise how much I enjoyed working on shorter projects and lead to a lot of distractions from working on Other Minds.
Here’s the jams I participated in:
I can’t draw but want to make a game (again) – this was my first game jam and I spent about a week working on a game for it. I made Silent Bill, a point and click adventure/horror about being stalked by evil ducks. It was a fun game that allowed me to let go of the feeling that I need everything to look good.
I can’t write but want to make a story – this was my second game jam and my first venture into story-writing. I made Remember Mary, a game where you walked around, talked to people and looked at things, with little focus on meaningful gameplay. I instead focussed on an ongoing narrative with dialogue changing based on your decisions. I actually felt some crazy anxiety over sharing this game because I didn’t know how my story-writing or themes of the game would be receieved. But ultimately, a lot of people really liked it and it’s grown into one of my favourite projects.
Game Maker’s Toolkit 2020 Jam – I was really feeling the game jams until this one. It takes place over 48 hours and when those 48 hours actually came, I had no ideas or motivation. I ended up making Bad Control Game, a game where you control the character indirectly by dashing and flipping the level. It’s okay.
Game Breaker’s Toolkit (various) – These jams parody Game Maker’s Toolkit in that instead of making a good game with unique mechanics, you make a bad game with terrible mechanics. It’s a good way to let loose. So I present to you; my very good game (a terrible platformer), Stoner Stevie in Asstown (collect all the dank weed) and 🅱roken game for game 🅱reakers toolkit (a game that literally just crashes).
Ben Was Assimilated – this was an impromtu game I made in about two weeks. I was browsing public domain assets and decided to make a game out of some that I liked. This was a good step towards making me realise that it’s okay to use public domain and licenced art, I don’t have to make everything myself. Ben Was Assimilated is a turn based and grid based hacky/slashy RPG where you run around getting assimilated by ever more powerful enemies.
Justin Wall’s Cooking Simulator – this was a light-ARG game with the worst graphics I could muster up. So far only 2 people have finished the full 5 parts of the game. Not many people have even got past the first part, infact. So it was pretty much a failed game. Oh well. I had fun.
Tennis Tower – a collab between myself and Adrien Dittrick using “game dev tennis” where one person adds a level and a mechanic then sends it back so the next person can add a level and a mechanic, etc, etc. Tennis Tower is a crazy dungeon crawler with tennis-based mechanics.
Fall Guys But Someone Else Made It In 1 Hour And I Just Changed Some Things Which Probably Made It Worse – a terrible mod of Adrien’s Fall Guys But I Only Had 1 Hour, you have to be the last guy remaining in a stupid battle royale.
This year I discovered a tool called Bitsy. It’s an in-browser game engine that let’s you make games where you can walk around, collect things and talk to people. I decided to further some of my story-writing experience by making some Bitsys.
I have started a small series of games called Falling to Bitsy which draws from real life experience to make interactive stories or poems. I find these very therepuetic to write about and a lot of people find them relatable, so it’s nice to know you’re not so alone. I have a ton of ideas for these, so hopefully more coming this year.
I made a couple of other Bitsys this year:
It’s Not Easy Being Green – a story about Edgar the Goblin and his friends who get fed up with the dwarves always being oppressive and horrible to the goblins.
Trapped Inside My Own Head – made for Bitsy Essay Jam. A commentary on sense of self, the paradox of caring about others and how nobody is important, life is pointless and we’ll all be forgotten.
Other Minds and future plans
You might know me for making this platform game called Other Minds. I’ve been working on it since May 2019. Well I finally wrapped it up into a releaseable game and published in in November 2020.
I made the classic mistake of overscoping (massively) and so I never was able to explore a lot of the story I had planned. The game is left in a state where it is complete, but I can also work on it more in future. It took up too much of my time and left me feeling I didn’t have time for other things.
Immediate future plans include:
- Working on Cat in Space – a Gameboy game I’m making for CatJam.
- Finally Finish Something Jam – finish off that typing game
- Finish a digital booklet to accompany Other Minds
But other than that, I’m hoping to step back from game development this year and work on other things.