Ten years ago I entered my first game jam. I made my first ever Flash game,
"Monster Mash", which involved running around a small RPG map and smashing into
enemies. It wasn't particularly good, but it was playable. The whole game was
created and released in under 48 hours.
Since then I've entered a number of game jams. Some went well (Splodey Boats)
and some did not (Ludum Dare #27). I also tried One Game a Month for a few
years; although they didn't go quite as well as weekend jams, I was still able
to release a couple of fun games.
How many games have I made recently outside of game jams? Zero.
I've written plenty of boilerplate code, and I have prototypes in various stages
of completion, but I haven't released anything playable in years.
The great thing about game jams is that they force me to focus on just a few
things. If I have to find fun in a short space of time, I have to make decisions
quickly. They might not always be the best decisions, but they stop me from
getting distracted in all the side-alleys of development. Parkinson's law tends
to attack most projects I work on, but when time is limited I have to throw out
everything that doesn't contribute to making a playable game.
Would these games be better with extra time to polish? Of course they would! But
the important part is they're actually done and playable. In the eyes of the
universe, a game I work on for years and never release is exactly the same as
something I never created at all.
I've written about a lot of different subjects during my 30 days of blogging
trial, but one thread seems to keep coming up: there are lots of things I want
to do, but I'm not very good at making the time to actually do them.
Forcing myself to create something in a short space of time seems to be the most
effective way to get things done. I don't think it would be sustainable on a
regular basis, but regular(ish) jams may be the best way to get some of these
projects out of my brain and into reality.
I'm still thinking about how this would work for different kinds of projects,
but I think next year's GHD goals will look a little different.