I'm in exactly the same boat, working on enterprise web apps where I don't have that much control or say is good money, but it does leave a bit of a creative hole in my soul :D
I found itch.io to be excellent platform to release and share indie stuff on, and also working on few game jams to introduce some form of deadline seems to make it easier to "get it done".
Happy to discuss all the game nerd stuff in private, if you have any questions, probably not that interesting for more work-focused folk on dev.to :)
Anyways, good luck with your venture!
Very cool. I'd love to chat about your thoughts on good resources for learning game design, especially around what makes a good game and what makes it fun for folks to play. Right now I am focusing on making games to play in a web browser, but making a native app that can be released on something like itch.io would be pretty fun.
Lets start with easy answer first - you can upload HTML5 games to itch.io - no hosting costs, plus makes it super easy for people to play your games without hassle of installing untrusted app :)
Design is a bit trickier. There are so many variables it's almost impossible to give good advice, it comes down to your strong and weak skills, the game theme, etc.
One thing I would say tho, don't start with your greatest idea first.
Good way to get started is joining some game jams. Don't start with short 24-48 ones, go for something longer, at least couple of weeks. That gives you time to learn and a deadline to aim for, but nothing too harsh that would make you fail every single time.
While working on a game can be fun process on it's own, you need to aim to release something. Jams are good as in they give you the theme, so you can try silly throwaway things, but also gives other people reason to check out your entries, while if it was original game, it's much harder to convince people to even try a free game.
Because life sometimes gets in the way, it's good idea to get fully playable game up and running for jam entry as quick as possible, don't worry about polishing early on, remember that your goal is to enter fully working game, not super-polished intro cinematic ;)
I start with punch of cards on Trello, and I sort them by priority - from absolutely must have for game to function, to nice to have polish, if there's time. I try to keep Trello board updated, so if I notice an issue, I'll make note of it. Again, it might be just me, but if I don't do that, without list of "open tickets" it's sometimes very hard to have objective big picture overview of what to do next, and you could lose hours of just poking around and not achieving anything.
Once you have few jam entries under your belt and you know your way around in your IDE / engine, you can start adding more polish and effects to your games.
What engine are you using, if any?
That is some great advice. Thanks for that. I like the idea of tracking the project somewhere to know where it is in development. I had thought of that, but not much honestly. I didn't know there were game jams that are a longer form. That is good to know. Something like that will help to make it so that I can fit this project into my life more. :)
I am starting out looking to use ExcaliburJS. It looks like something that is pretty straightforward to work in and isn't going to add a ton of complexity to projects.
There are punch of jams here, all shapes, themes and sizes - itch.io/jams
Never seen Excalibur before, but sure looks interesting.
I started with PhaserJS (phaser.io/), but recently I've been using Game Maker Studio. It costs, but I find it pretty good for my level and it sets up all the import tools behind the scenes so I don't have to worry about all the tech stuff.
That's cool. After I get some work done on my first game I will check out doing a jam. That could be lots of fun. I'm really interested to see what I can do with ExcaliburJS. Thanks again for all your thoughts and suggestions!
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