My journey into game development 🙂 If you are in a similar experience: the links in the article will lead you to blogs that I wrote during the events, maybe you can relate to them and get something out of it.
I started in 2017 with ‘Find the Gnome’ and was not ready for it. I created this game while working full-time on another job and having a family to attend to. It did burn me out for 1.5 years. But it was no failure but a journey. I learned so much that I think I could not have learned it any other way than through this experience.
In December 2019 I officially started my own company. And started freelancing as a business software developer and spending a small but dedicated amount of time on my game development.
Working on my own title ‘Manage the Universe’ did learn me that I needed to get better at crafting games before making my dream game.
I am currently working part-time on ‘Find the Gnome 2’, a successor to an earlier game. I am open to side projects as a freelance game dev and business software dev.
In November of 2017, I started with creating my first game ‘Find the Gnome’.
Experimenting while building Find the Gnome. Questions like ‘Can I get a base income when I create 3 games in 2 years?’ or ‘Can I use my previous experience in business software development to amplify a start in game development?’.
Release of Find the Gnome, a game build in 500 hours during 7 months besides having a 40 hour workweek and a wife and 2 kids to attend to.
I could not cope well with the stress due to building ‘Find the Gnome’, the dramatic launch and the amount of energy it had drained.
My first game jam, the GlobalGameJam 2019 in Zwolle (external website), was really inspiring to me.
A lot of reality checks got me thinking. Seeing all those people try in the game jam but also on YouTube was a really depressing sight at first. I deemed myself not worthy.
Thankfully I got inspired again by successes on my ‘normal’ job, due to mentoring and personal growth. I finally saw the light and realized that I am a professional software developer with capabilities that are worth money and people want me to fix things for them. I made a few blogs about agile that are (in hindsights) try-outs by me in finding my passion.
But reality is hard, it is incredibly hard finding time and mental peace. I emphasize family life, and thus trying to get game dev from hobby to professional in my free time seems farther away than ever.
November 2019 a few things happened. My wife and I looked at each other and said: lets get things into our own hands. So that’s when I quit my job.
Starting a game dev company is hard, especially if you are from the outside like me and don’t have specific artistic qualities. I tried a few other concepts before settling down on the current path.
Joined the GlobalGameJam 2020 Breda for a 48-hour game jam / hackaton.
Started my own company as a freelancer. Doing part-time work in GameFeelings. But most (32) hours as a freelance C# .Net backend/full-stack software developer.
During the first half of 2020 I have completed 1 consultancy assignment in the business software development that let me pay for the remainder of 2020. Further more I did 2 freelance game dev opportunities.
In the 3rd quarter of 2020 I worked on my own title ‘Manage the Universe’. This was sort-of the dream game I hoped to create. However, the sheer scale brought me into disarray. Also, I tried really hard to create good art but that was a sheer mountain to climb.
This combination of issues led to me picking up my software consultancy work again, and re-evaluating what I liked about game development. Then, December 2021, I decided I needed to give ‘Find the Gnome’ an update. Because the scale was smaller, my idea’s way more refined (after all these years thinking about what had gone wrong and could have been done better), and the art style was more accessible to me.
I started on salvaging what was left of Find the Gnome, but quickly realized I had to create all assets again. The art was too inconsistent, there was no coherency. And I wanted to do low poly because I liked that style.
During the year however I discovered that letting other people work for me was actually very worth the money. So instead of creating all this art myself I had a concept artist work out what I wanted and then used this to instruct modellers to build my game models. This proved to be the silver bullet for my earlier issues with game development: better quality work than I could have done it myself, without having to make it myself and learn that craft.
With more money funneling into this project, and with more artists spending tens to hundreds of hours on the project, I realized that I had the duty to make the best of this game. Not only for me (and the money), but also to appreciate the effort the others put into the game. So that is when I decided I wanted to make ‘Find the Gnome 2’ as a separate game and give it the spotlight it deserved.