In part 1 I took a high level overview of the game. In this part, I’ll get to why I shipped the game if I recognised that it wasn’t that great. Why not try to make it better first?
It is impossible to over-emphasise how important finishing something is for two important reasons. One, the purely practical one of learning what’s involved. Icons, screenshots, videos, descriptions, metadata, marketing—there’s a lot of work and knowing what’s involved lets me plan better for it in future.
Last week I released my new game, Barista! It’s free and available now on the App Store. Today I take a detailed and critical look at what I made and attempt to extract some actionable lessons from the project.
My new game, Barista!, is now available in the App Store!
Barista! is a fast-paced coffee creation game. Can you fulfil all of the orders and get to the end of the day before your Jim fires you?
Orders appear on the blackboard and you’ve got to get ’em made before the time runs out!
With four different types of drinks with various combinations of cups, espresso shots, and mixers, can you harness the power of caffeine to keep track of it all and survive the day or will the pressure grind you up like so many medium roasted beans?
* Four different drink combinations with up to 3 shots per drink to keep you on your toes!
* Bonus Busy Days where you can double your earnings—if you can keep on top of things!
* Up to four orders at once to really test your cool under fire!
* Many levels of coffee-making mayhem!
Created as part of my 100 Hour Game challenge, it ended up taking me around 160 hours to get it to finished product.
This is actually pretty good for me. Usually projects take 2–3 times longer. This only took 60% so…win!
I’m excited to finally get this out there. I’ve learned a lot during this process and I’m eager to take what I’ve learned and get going on my next game.
Which just leaves number 3 on that original list, Barista!
My 100 Hour Game (that has evolved into a 200 hour game) has been on hiatus for the past few months but it is, as the walrus said, time.
This week I finally finished the primary game music, one of the last major blocks. I have also completed the victory and defeat music and started adding the dozens of sound effects.
The main track, now named Dark Roast, is a remix of the music from Tap Tap Power. Tap Tap Power was my first foray into games development, created with my good friend Tom Krones from Till The Money Runs Out.
The music was originally conceived as a chip tune in keeping with the game’s theme, but it has been brought out of the 8-bit world and now completely betrays the fact that I was trained as a drummer.
There’s a saying among game designers: “Your first ten games will suck—so get them out of the way fast.”
Over the New Year I read Jesse Schell’s outstanding Art of Game Design and it is a phenomenal work, full of immense insights about game design and, frankly, creativity in general that are presented in a friendly, approachable way. It doesn’t seek to provide a comprehensive solution to game design—in fact, it argues that there may never be such a thing.
So the 100 hours is up and here’s what I managed to achieve in that time:
Clearly, the game is unfinished (I would like the cartoon exuberance of the title screen to be reflected throughout the game) but I could still release it today and it certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing the App Store has ever seen. However, I would only be doing it to meet this arbitrary deadline I set myself. I can and should make this better.
So even though it won’t be released within the 100 hours, it could. I count that as a success.
But even if it wasn’t ready for the App Store, I would still count it as a success because I have thoroughly enjoyed working on it and I know in my bones that it is something that I am going to see through to the end, however long it takes.
Which is the much more important thing.
Deadlines and Goals
Personal deadlines and goals can often be a good motivational tool to get us started, but they can easily turn in to weapon against our own self esteem. We often underestimate how long things take and overestimate our own abilities, willpower, and motivation to get those things done.
This can lead to these deadlines being missed and the goals unmet, which turn the good work we have done into failure and disappointment. Instead of seeing what we’ve achieved, we only see what we haven’t.
For personal projects, deadlines and goals should be MacGuffins—Randy Pausch head fakes—designed to get the plot of our lives moving towards something bigger without having to pay attention to that bigger (and often paralysing) thing.
The deadlines themselves should serve as moments of reflection, in which we re-evaluate the work we’re doing. Is it everything we thought it would be (the daily grind of a creative life, for example, often doesn’t quite match the romantic expectations of it)? Are we still enjoying the process? What was the larger goal and is that still something we want?
Sometimes, in doing the work, an unexpected aspect of that work might grab our interest and make us re-evaluate what it is we actually want. In that case, do we really want to carry on working to these goals and deadlines that were set before we knew this stimulating new interest we’ve discovered even existed?
The enjoyment of meeting a goal or a deadline or completing a project is fleeting and momentary and hollow. It will never make up for all those spent hours if we hated each one of those hours (of course, we won’t love all of them—ask me about provisioning profiles and certificate signing—but on balance there should be many more good hours than bad).
Finally, we should never feel beholden to our past selves. As soon as we start doing the work they set for us, we gain knowledge about ourselves that they never had.
The game is functionally complete and I have begun to play and tweak and play and tweak. I look at what I’ve made and consider it in two minds: the first is that of the craftsman. I turn it this way and that, feel the weight of the objects beneath my fingers as I slide them around the scene. I watch as everything works as intended, and I’m pleased at what exists.
After the excitement of working on a text adventure game engine, I’ve gone back to Barista while I wait for me and Mike’s schedules to line up and today I have mostly been thinking about: data structures!