indie devblog header image of GreyHole

And so it begins – Dev Blog #1

GreyHole - #DevBlog - And so it begins – Dev Blog #1

 

Hello Internets,
I am wuzzle, a super novice game developer and this is my first blog, first game and overall first approach to a hobby that becomes more serious than I would have ever expected. As I want to have a little documentary on what little progress I make to be able to sift through what I have learned and what has become of my project, I figured, I’d load some WordPress onto my web space to make this documentary shareable as an indie gamedev blog. So, besides me placing my main character as the first image in this (I think longish) first blog post, I will now venture on with summarizing what lead me to this point in time and the current state of the project.

meet Gilbert, main character of GreyHole

It all started when I played Game Dev Tycoon after it was released by Greenheart Games in 2013. It’s basically a Game about being a game developer(!). I played it a lot and thought something in the lines of  “Man, creating games must be fun!” The spark was lit and glowed somewhere in the back of my head. For a few years. In January 2017 I stumbled upon Click Team Fusion(CTF) in a Humble Bundle. It was easy to access, had some quick tutorials online on Youtube and seemed as beginner friendly as it can get.

Clickteam Fusion Project: “JumpingJilly”

I did not even run into CTF’s limits as I realized some simple enemy AI, basic movement and simple player animation and attack. But I ran into my own limits to tolerate me not putting effort into actual scripting. With functions and everything. The whole graphical approach to coding was totally over my head and when I took more than a day off of the project, I got completely lost and forgot what I had done previous sessions in the first place.

Jumping Jilly

So, after -I’d say- a hundred hours spent in the engine/program I moved on and forgot about the whole game development thing as I was clearly not able to produce something resembling a game.

In January 2018, almost another year later, again I stumbled over something. This time it was a random Youtube video suggestion in the sidebar after I watched something unrelated to gamedev: A video tutorial to Gamemaker Studio 2(GM2) by Seth Coster from Butterscotch Shenanigans(the guys behind Crashlands).

After I tested the free version of GM2 alongside that tutorial and since it also was on a sale back then, I hesitated a day or two and then jumped right in and bought the full version for PC. During the tutorial I already altered a few things here and there and slowly came to the realization that this type of game-making was way better suited for me than the CTF-approach. So, I fiddled the sticks a bit, found out that there is a Discord channel for GM2 that is a wondrous place full of helpful gamedevs and people like me who strive to one day call themselves game developers.

My first “own” idea to add to the tutorial (besides different placeholder art for the background and stuff) was to completely remove the “Asteroids” idea and abandon shooting. Instead I created this rotating ball. It rotates around you and you need to line it up with enemies to destroy them. With this as the main mechanic and having quite a bit of fun with it, I started to sense that it may be worth, expanding on that.

super early prototype – a lot of health drops

I sat down and created a few constraints for myself, to not get carried away by the “I WANT TO CREATE THE BEST MMORPG THAT HAS EVER EXISTED!”-idea one often sees as one of the major mistakes actual gamedevs state they did when starting out. Meaning: I’d have to keep the scope neat and small if I actually wanted to finish something. And even then it is still a huge task. So I have set my expectations super low. And that first task was to make something that gets anybody to have some fun with the game I created. And the above example already qualified for that in such an early stage. A friend of mine tested it and played it for almost a whole consecutive hour to try and reach some new high score. I could not really believe it but it had happened. My task was already fulfilled so now I needed to expand on that.

Early version of GreyHole: back then, the project was still called “Butterscotch Tutorial”

Everything got delayed once again. I became dad of a wonderful little son and had to take care of my new little family for round about seven months before I had been able to scrunge out a bit of time for some more game development. I had to tighten up my strategy a bit more.
Thus I adapted my expectations into using this project to learn how to polish things a bit, and how to add a lot of the stuff that makes a game a game. To enable me to create a full game down the line. Game sounds, actual art, controller support, menus, high scores, power ups, save games and so on. I approach them one at a time and try to add more and more content. The sole learning process seems to be turning into a real(!) game that is maybe some day worth releasing. So I again adapted my expectations: a fully released game. Right now I am at a point where things expand more quickly in theory than in the actual game, but I think I can manage. The healthbar alone, after some iterations, ate a few evenings. But I learned a lot about surfaces and drawing events as well as some text processing on the way.

I organized my progress and ToDos in a Trello board, learned a little bit on how to InkSkape(really great open source tool to create vector art) and overall already achieved some of my goals. Like being able to produce some “art” that’s not that much of a filler anymore:

I added so many things I can’t list them all in here and the project is still in it’s early stages. It is crazy how much work such a project eats up, especially when you learn everything from scratch. So big kudos to any indie developer out there who has solo released a game! It is a huge accomplishment and I hope to one day be able to call myself a game developer. And to give myself some motivation I started this gamedev blog. And to be honest, I also want to learn it all and that includes PR, marketing, online visibility and building an actual audience. This whole SEO thing really screws up my head, but I am determined to learn a lot.

In this last part of this very first blog post, I welcome you to join my Journey. The Project name is “GreyHole” and I strive to complete it.
GreyHole will become what I want to call an “Action Mover” where you control a slightly insane grey hole that wants to become a black hole by means of sucking in more and more mass.

Future blog posts won’t be as long as this one and will be mainly focusing on my current progress. Maybe I will be a bit more thorough with the details then. This first post was supposed to sum everything up and give you an overview.
Whoever read this whole indie gamedev blog: thank you, it means a lot to me 🙂

current version of the game

If you like this blog entry you may want to read the follow up post “Feature Summary and Progress on GreyHole”

GreyHole - #DevBlog - And so it begins – Dev Blog #1
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