Trying to figure out my next project

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Trying to figure out my next project

Post by Marscaleb » Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:16 pm

I didn't really plan on sharing this here, but, well... I tried to write this stuff down to help me sort it out, and I thought maybe I might share it.
I'm not expecting anyone to solve this for me, but maybe just trying to explain this in a way for others to follow will help me sort this out.

I've been working on a particular project for a number of years now, but I've discovered that it isn't the project I should be working on right now. I've re-evaluated my goals, and what I really want is to finish and sell a game while my dad is still with us. He has Alzheimer's so I don't really know how much time that is, but I don't expect it to be long. The name I am using for my company is derived from the name of the my family's (now defunct) company my dad ran. With that in mind, this also has to be a game that I feel good about attaching to that name. So I'm not going to just make some cheap and crappy jewel-busting game that was built from some kit.
I want to make a game that's good enough that I can feel good about what I've created, but is also as small (or quick to produce) as I can manage, and of course be within the scope of what I personally can create with the tools, resources, and talents at my disposal.
I've been going over some ideas. I've narrowed it down to four ideas for a game that I think meets those requirements.

And to be clear, none of these are planned to be NES games; I'm building this Unity and my plan is to sell the final product on Steam and GOG.

My first idea is to create a scrolling shooter, like Gradius or R-Type.
I had started on this project a few years ago before I got bored with it and moved on, so I already have the basic gameplay and systems programmed, and a high-res model for the player's ship. Also I wouldn't need to create animations for the player nor the enemy ships since they are just spaceships.
But boss fights are really important to these games, and I'd need about half a dozen bosses designed, modeled, and animated. I'd also need to likewise create art for six environments, which wouldn't need to be particularly detailed and fancy, and could utilize some textures/assets from the asset store, but it still needs to be done. There's also designing and programming additional weapon effects, enemy patterns, and other miscellaneous content.

My second idea is to create an NES style RPG.
I was looking into such a project a few years back, and I already have tiles for the world map, and sprites for the characters. I'm quite confident in my ability to create the rest of map tiles I'd need, and I'm thinking I could just hire some pixel artists to make my monsters' battle sprites.
But I don't have any programming done for this game at all, so I'd need to create everything from the ground up. As far as games go it would be relatively simple to program, but it's still a tall order.

My third idea is a very small-scale metroidvania, styled to look like an original Game Boy game (And about as big and expansive as they were as well.)
Since I've been working on a side-scrolling platformer already I have a lot of code that I can re-purpose for this title, and as an added bonus working on this title might help me find improvements to that game when I go back to it.
I would still need to create tiles for four or five environments, plus a handful of enemy sprites, some bosses, the player, and so forth. Trying to make it look like Game Boy art would both be easier and more challenging. I'd probably hire some people to help make the art. There would still be a degree of new programming I would need to write as well.

And my fourth idea is kind-of like a dungeon crawler, but heavily watered-down, so I guess more like a top-down action game with simple combat. I could get away with only having three environments.
I don't have anything already made for this game, but I'd want hand-painted environments, and I can easily find more textures and meshes than I will ever need on the asset store.
I would still need to program everything for this title; most of it would work similarly to what I've done in the past so I'm sure I could pull it off, but it still would require the work. I also still would need to create the player and all the enemy art. It wouldn't be very complicated since even the player wouldn't need more than three animations, and I could easily-enough hire freelancers to help make some of it, even most of it. But even so, it still would need to be done.

I've looked into a few other ideas as well, but they all ultimately clearly required more time.
Of these projects, I'm struggling to determine which I could produce fast enough. They all “seem” like simple-enough projects, or “seem” like they have enough of a head-start, but when I really look at all that needs to be done, they all clearly require a lot of work.
I'm not afraid of doing work, but I'm really under the gun from an unknown (and literal) deadline. I want to apply myself on the project that has the best chance of hitting my goal. I just gotta figure out what project that is.

Well, thanks for caring enough to read my long summary. If you have any thoughts on this matter, I'd love to hear them. But if not, I understand; this is ultimately something I need to decide for myself. I really just wrote this to help me sort out my thoughts.

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Re: Trying to figure out my next project

Post by Bregalad » Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:35 am

Marscaleb wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:16 pm
He has Alzheimer's so I don't really know how much time that is, but I don't expect it to be long.
That sucks hard. :cry:

As for what kind of game takes less time to develop unfortunately I cannot help. I can just say it is very complicated for homebrews not to be discouraged somehow before a project is completed ; at least for my own projects they started at 2005, and progressively stalled arround year 2013 I don't even feel like working on it anymore even though I would have the time.
Useless, lumbering half-wits don't scare us.

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Re: Trying to figure out my next project

Post by klonoa » Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:10 am

I'd go for the scrolling shooter idea.
I think it gives you the most creative freedom and also the ability to quickly add ideas in there,
if that makes sense.

The best of luck to you and your dad!

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Re: Trying to figure out my next project

Post by Marscaleb » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:24 pm

You know, figuring out how to sum up these projects for a post like this really has helped me sort these out a bit.
I have a list I made to try to state every single thing that needs to be done for each project, whether it was a big thing or a little thing. It is a useful list, to be honest. But when I tried to summarize those, focusing on the biggest aspects, some things became clearer.

I'm realizing that the space shooter and the RPG are going to take more time and effort than the other two.
So now I'm just trying to decide between two.
This is still a bit of a tricky decision though. My head is telling me to make the metroidvania, but my heart is telling me to go with the dungeon-crawler-like game.
Part of the problem is that the dungeon crawler is a recent idea. For the last month I've been testing various ideas to figure out what would work, and this idea came up just at the end of that. Just because it is fresh and new I feel a particular interest toward it, just because I'm still refining and establishing ideas.
And *maybe* it's the better option, but I feel excitement toward it just because its new, and *maybe* that's blinding me to how much effort this project would really take, or how much enjoyment I could have from it.

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