I spoke with software developer Calaelen (@Gamedevcala) about his journey into game development after developing business/retail software for 20+ years…
When and why did you start making games?
I am a software developer for business- and retail-software for over 20 years now. Beside that I am a vivid gamer and fascinated about how games are made. Looking for side projects I always thought about making small games as they combine a lot of different skills.
What game engine (probably UE4) and tools do you use the most and why?
After a little orientation phase, I chose Unreal Engine 4 as my main game engine. The licence terms are fair for ambitious beginners, because Epic just wants a fair share of your gross sales over $3000 per quarter. If I ever reach that mark, I am happy to pay back for the great engine and tutorials around it 🙂 Beside that I am mostly using Photoshop, Blender and the Substance Indie Pack which includes Designer, Painter and Bitmap2Material.
What is the most important aspect of a game to you and why?
Gameplay mechanics, if it doesn’t feel responsive and intuitive, I mostly lose interest very quickly. As well as the introduction. The first 10-20 mins are very important. Can a game teach me the basic controls, goals and background-story without a big wall of text? If I have to read tutorials or long introduction/pre-stories, I rather quit and try something else.
What goes into your process of deciding your next project?
My new projects mostly generate themselves out of the knowledge I gained during researching other problems. I try to build something new within the scope I think I can handle.
What has been some of your major pitfalls and how have you adapted?
Time, dedication and the urge to start over with new ideas. The best way for me to adapt seems to be the daily one hour gamedev challenge.
— theMeatly (@themeatly) July 18, 2014
What are some of the biggest lessons learned in your game development journey?
“You know nothing, Jon Snow”
The more you know, the more you realize how much more you need to know to build your ideas into a game. But that’s the fascinating part: you have to learn on a daily basis and EVERYTHING is hard at first. My background as software developer taught me to break down every problem into small chunks and solve each of them step by step. Need to learn something else to solve the smallest chunk? Just go back one more step and try to learn more basics. Get involved with the community, share your experiences and try to learn from others.
What inspired you to do the #onehourgamedev challenge and what were the results/lessons learned?
The inspiration came from a motivational tweet and an article I read some time ago about how you can achieve your dreams by working just a tiny bit towards your goals – every day. Finding time and motivation for a side project is hard and distractions are great, so setting myself in a challenge helped me to push myself forward. A great experience!
- Great start into the day, getting up thinking about your game!
- I made more progress in December with this side project than months before that combined.
- One hour forces me to think about just one problem to solve without distraction.
- Jotting down all other problems and ideas that come up during this hour.
What are your future game development plans?
Trying out new stuff, build prototypes and gain knowledge in all parts necessary to build a game (design, sound, backend, marketing) and share these on my blog. I will try to finish my prototypes and follow the mantra to build some sort of minimal viable product and fail often!
I want to stick to the #onehourgamev more often and maybe stream that on twitch.tv to add some more meaning and pressure onto myself. I would be happy to motivate other gamedevs with this to get some steps closer to their goals 🙂