As with every new venture, the first year of SRG has been extremely educational. I’ve learned a ton on new techs, on time management, development estimation, writing, and a plethora of other things. However, there is one lesson that stands out above all others: Ship.
This isn’t a crucial lesson for everyone, but it is for me.
As of today, I’ve spent just shy of 700 hours just implementing Lyceum. That isn’t much, by many metrics. It’s a lot to me, especially for what I had intended to be a “less than a month” project.
The crux of my problem is that like many indie devs, I aim high. Even when trying to aim low – Lyceum was literally the smallest project out of ~30 I had fleshed out – we aim high. I have cut and culled features ruthlessly and yet it’s still far too large as an initial project.
Nobody sets sail in an unfamiliar industry to make mediocre products. We do it because we think we have something unique to offer. But the biggest thing standing in the way of offering that product, for many of us, is an excess of ambition. I don’t want to ship something that I am not personally wowed by, but that’s an extremely high bar.
There’s a wonderful quote by Ira Glass about this issue and my intent is to follow his advice, in spirit if not in letter.
I’ve considered several post-Lyceum projects for SRG. Some of my personal favorites so far:
- “Superorganism” game: You control some species of superorganism to solve problems. Maybe something like this video: fire ants making a living raft.
- Rube Goldberg-style tower defense: Incoming enemies are physical objects with various properties. You need to build a contraption that keeps them out.
- Robotrek meets Sims meets roguelike: You build a robot and define its behavior policy (a la Final Fantasy 10’s gambits?), then set it loose in a dungeon environment. Its success enables you to build better/smarter robots and explore other environments.
All fairly ambitious, whether you think they’d be fun or not.
Instead, my plan is to build games that are so small that I can’t help but finish them. I also don’t care if they’re profitable, or even likely to be. Hell, I’m not even all that concerned with them being fun. I care most that they are done.
To that end, the next game I have in mind is based on this looping GIF. I don’t know who originally made it, but the basic idea as a game is to allow players to adjust the arc and angle for each cup in order to create a “path” for the ball to travel.
Because I think this would be quite hard to actually play successfully, I’m thinking that play does not have a ball limit – they just keep spawning, and you keep trying to tweak the path to get them further and further along. Perhaps there would be bonus points for certain types of paths that are tricky?
Anyways, it’s a small game with small goals.