Tiny-Games the first!

30 Second Story

This game is a very short interactive story. It’s silly, it takes barely any time to play and the aesthetic is cartoony and a bit janky. Still, it’s my first published game and that means something.

Get it now on Itch.io, playable in the browser for free or download and keep the file for only $2.

This Game’s Focus:

Text choices, scriptable objects, creating dynamic backgrounds. I think a achieved what I was going for. I need much more practice in some areas but I am happy with the result of this. I scoped well and only went over my projected finish by a few days. 

Let’s Break it Down

I scoped 14 days for this project and went over by 3. In fairness 14 days wasn’t really based on anything other than not wanting to spend that much longer on it, so only being out by 3 days is pretty good going I feel.

This was more challenging that I thought as well. My initial ideas of a story about loss were good, and plans are on the horizon to make a game that does them justice. However for this project, the core idea of making something in only a couple of weeks just to get a feel and a grasp of one or 2 skills, it was too much. The ideas grew and bloated and gained complexity, which would be great- I know they can make a fantastic game in the months to come- but it wasn’t what I was going for.

I also didn’t want to quit before I started. Maybe you’ll be thinking ‘if there’s a better game coming out of this, something more focused with a change to really BE something then why not drop the scrappy half baked ‘learning challenge’ on the floor? But that’s just it. Doing the learning challenge, really making my self start it, do it, finish it, will produce better, more consistent game in the long run.

All The Good:

I’m super happy I finished this. Maybe for some people that’s a low bar but I’m calling it an achievement. There are starters, finishers, and maintainers… I am very much a starter. Part of the reason I forced myself to stick to this very small time constraint was to get it done, and even then it was almost too long to keep my interest (more on that soon.)

I’m glad I reigned it back. The better, more evolved game would have taken me months and my current level I don’t know that I have the skills necessary to finish it. I have a cut story and adorable characters and I’m happy that it captures the essence of what I wanted. It’s basically a proof of concept.

I learned loads. most of the coding I was doing was pretty basic and I’d done similar things before, however configuring the buttons and using scriptable objects was something fairly new. I’m not sure I used them to the best of their capabilities but it’s a start. I understand their benefit enough to use them again fairly comfortably. Building the games for the different platforms was also something new, and while each one took a little time I now understand what is and isn’t needed for each platform and how the files come out. Building my next project will be much quicker and easier simply because I know what to expect this time.

Debugging skills. Being able to understand error codes, and know where to start to fix things, is a huge help when coding. I am able to read what Unity is telling me far easier than when I started, and a lot of the time I’m able to fix errors myself with a couple of tweaks. (Plus always remember debugging 101: semicolons, brackets, spelling).

The next game! I am very excited about the next project. I’m unsure of quite what to do with it but I have a milanote project with plenty of ideas to choose from.

And all of the Bad:

So many little things were frustrating about this project, usually getting stuck on portions of code that wouldn’t work the way I wanted, but that’s to be expected of course. Even the most professional game makers make coding errors, the difference is they know what to look for to fix it. Those things didn’t bother me so much as they are to be expected, aside from the times when something was an easy fix but I didn’t have the coding or the unity knowledge to know that. Those moments got incredibly frustrating and had me on discord and google seeking answers.

The art style is not quite what I envisioned to begin with. I’ve grown to quite like it as I think it fits the simple story, and could work really well with some more polish. However I did notice myself becoming lazy about some aspects of it which I forced myself to sort out. The biggest takeaways from this are that my poor little Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet that I’ve had for over 10 years is in desperate need of replacing… or if I can’t manage that I need to look into some better artistic software as what I used didn’t really allow me to do what I wanted in several places leading to extreme frustration.

There’s no accessibility support in my game. At all. I know that things like jam games aren’t expected to go above and beyond, and these tiny project are well within the scope of a jam but I’m still disappointed I could do more. Time was bloating and it would be yet another skill from scratch added to this game alone which is too much. I needed to cut off somewhere, and when the accessibility game comes I will pour my soul into learning as much about those options and how to implement them as I can manage. For now something had to give. If my game is unplayable to you for any reason then I am truly sorry.

One of the roughest moments was last week, a few days before the end. I knew I was going to go over my time limit, and there were a thousand tiny things to do like moving the sprites a little to the right, or changing the colour of the text. I got to the point where I didn’t care and just wanted to be done with it and move one. If you’re someone who thought that doing the bigger project with more weight to it would have been better than these little coding practices, well this is exactly why I needed to force myself to do the little ones. As soon as something went wrong with the larger project I would have crumbled and done less and less until it ended up as another abandoned good idea. I need to make these small games, one by one until finishing them isn’t a trial any more. Until moving 10 sprites a few pixels to the right is annoying, but doesn’t bring about the thought of ‘well I just won’t bother. Let them hang of the page, no one will care’ only for it to eat away at me after I was done. I got complacent and bored and wanted to drop it and move on… Now you see why finishing the project is my top achievement.

Check your spelling… again… seriously. Check it, then go to bed. Check it again the next day when what you’ve read and what you THINK the words should be isn’t fresh in your mind. I checked mine a few times but I still had to rebuild my game on every platform because of spelling errors.

Next Tiny-Game

I’m not completely sure what I’ll do next. To be honest I only finished building the game about an hour ago, put it straight on Itch.io and then came to update this. I haven’t really given myself time to relax or process this completion yet before I start moving on. However I do know some of the things I want to learn or improve as I go forward. I’m looking forward to some artsy stuff, maybe shaders and lighting. I want to learn about localisation and text-to-speach or speach-to-text. I also have an idea for playing with inheritence and possibly more scriptable objects… Maybe that’ll be next. I’ll decide tomorrow.

Right now I am going to publish this web page and then sit back and relax for the rest of the evening. No more game stuff, no more promotion or discussion or coding or planning. I have finished my first game. I am proud of that, and I am letting myself rest now.

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