When you're an artist who wants to make a game


1. Scope

I knew that I’d be solo-developing this game, and as an artist that isn’t that programmer-savvy, I knew I’d just have to work around my limitations somehow. So first of all I’d just have to come to terms with that whatever game I’m making, it’ll probably be a logic-light game.

Having said that, I didn’t really feel like I was sacrificing much. I loved Florence, and I love Gone Home, and I love Dear Esther; all these games had focus on art and story, and I didn’t feel like they were any less enjoyable experiences than anything else. If anything, I could enjoy them more because I felt they had a clear focus in them.

So, I’ve gotten down a story-driven game that will focus on art and simplicity. Now it was time to choose my engine. Since I have much more experience in Unity, that would be my go-to, but I was pretty aware even at this point that even if I tried to steer away from scripting and programming, I’d eventually have to delve into the area in some capacity eventually. And believe me, even in Unity I tried to do the smallest scripts and I failed miserable. So then of course Unreal became much more palatable for me, being able to use Blueprints to complement my lack of programming and scripting would aid me in my development.

Since I’ve been in game development before, I also knew that whatever time you imagine the project will take, multiply it by ten and then you might be in a sensible timeframe. So I knew I’d maybe limit myself to 4-5 scenes, and then I’d just have the scenes focus on whatever I wanted to tell.

I found some great templates on the Unreal Market, and eventually I decided to go with KaiWerder’s First-Person Explorer Kit. It provided some logic for being able to read things, hold things, open doors, etc.

2. Learning Blueprints

One thing I do enjoy with Unreal, is that there are so many resources out there. So little by little I was able to crawl my way through the hurdles I had, getting a piece for one part here, another piece over there. While sitting in Blueprints for a long time, I was also finally able to understand some of it more and more. I think it was when I was able to make the Blueprints with texts appearing and disappearing as the player walked into them I realized that even with this I could make a smaller game.

3. Admitting my shortcomings

This will more and more sound like a broken record but I need to reiterate that I really can’t script. Up to the point where even with KaiWerder’s great template of picking things up, I thought I’d at least be able to make a small puzzle of just “putting the green item in the green box” or the something alike, but I just wasn’t able to wrap my head around how I’d go about to do that. After a grueling month of trying to make it work and feeling frustrated that I wasn’t progressing, I chose to just cut it. I’d just adapt to whatever simpler solution I had; the focus was after all the story and art, and at this rate, I knew that I would just let the project die unfinished if I didn’t make a decision.

4. Appreciating what I have

In the end, I was able to finish a product. I’ve dropped so many unfinished products in my life, I’m happy I’m trying to see things through now. It isn’t much, but I somehow was able to pull together something that I was able to release. In Sweden we have this cartoon about a cat with a cut off tail, and the intro goes "Nobody has everything, but everyone has something, we can always wag with whatever we've been given". And that's how I feel about it as well, do your best, someone will appreciate your effort. 

Having Unreal help you so much and having the market place is a great start, but for the next few projects I have in mind I think I just have to be able to script something. If that does happen, then maybe I’d be okay switching back to Unity, I do enjoy that Unity has a bit... tidier working space.

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The Night When He Left (64-bit).zip 260 MB
46 days ago

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