Breaking Radio Silence

It's been a couple weeks since we've written about any of our projects. After the release of Omegapixel, we jammed at Ludum Dare, experimented with new tech stacks, and prototyped a bunch of new ideas. Three of the ideas came out ahead of the others and we put together bigger demos.

A Mysterous Project

The first of these ideas involves this guy:

He just might be a hero. Or a bobbly head doll. Either way, he is part of a bigger project that won't see the light of day for awhile. RPGs take awhile to make. There I said it. I admitted that we are in fact working on an RPG. Anyway, it is a big project and longer term than anything else that we've worked on. We don't plan on going years between releasing projects, so we have a few other projects in the interim.

Would You Like A Puzzle With Your Puzzle

The second idea is a puzzle game that we code named "Stupid Overly Complicated Puzzle Game". It is easy to play with just the right amount of challenge once you understand how to play, but it is difficult to explain. The driving idea behind it was to turn the Game of Life into an actual game by adjusting the rules.

We have released the game to a small audience, received very helpful feedback, and we are working on ways to remove "Stupid Overly Complicated" from the code name.

At least it's pretty:

ZOMG Action!

Just look at these guys:

They just scream "action hero"! They must have been busy saving the world against evil. Or something. I would bet on the "or something" category. Probably something involving tacos.

These two characters are part of a running joke that we have been laughing at for awhile. We decided to share that joke with the world now that we have a game mechanic for them to fit into.

This will be the first of the three ideas that we will release. The visual style and gameplay is different than any of our released titles and we will share more over the coming weeks. For now we leave you with these questions:

  • Who are these guys?
  • What are they up to?
  • Is that blood or Sriracha sauce?
  • Why isn't this about the 80's?

To keep up to date on the latest from Taco Graveyard (or if you just want to harass us), follow us on Twitter.

Managing New Game Mania

While working on a large project it is inevitable that you will have an idea for a new game. The idea will likely strike while you are reworking something for the umpteenth time, applying the 500th layer of polish to your continue screen, or tracking down some heinous bug. The new idea, untouched by the filthy muck of  reality, will seem so exciting and wonderful. If you plan on finishing your current project, it is best that you set aside your new idea and stay focused on the current goal. Trust me, that new idea poops just like the old one.

Given that coming up with new ideas is inevitable, I have a few techniques for managing them and staying focused on the current project:

Write It Down, Move On

Write down a brief description of your idea in a notebook. When you finish your current title you can look through the ideas you came up with and start on an idea that you still care about. Often ideas are most exciting when they are new, but the ones that still have you excited months later likely have staying power. While this is the best choice, it is hard to have the discipline.

Your Own 20 Percent Time

Google provides their employees with "20 percent time". This is time set aside to work on something outside the primary scope of their job. For the indie game dev, this could be a small project to learn a new framework or platform or prototyping a new game idea.

Setting aside some "me" time each week is a great way to keep your skills fresh and your productivity up. Just be careful to keep it to 20%.

Timeboxing

The farther you end up down this list, the more danger you are in danger of losing focus on your current project. Place restrictions on the time you spend prototyping a new idea in advance. If you start working on a new idea without placing restrictions on yourself, then your deadline will keep slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future.

Timeboxing also forces you to cut the scope of your prototype to an MVP and will help keep you focused. Save your polish for your current project. After you finish it you will have plenty of time to come back to the prototype and make it shine.

Try to plan non-dev work for immediately after this block of time. Indie game devs who wear multiple hats shouldn't have a problem with this. Write up a blog post or work on a marketing plan. It will help you clear your head before diving back into your current project.

Look At Your Scars

If all else fails, then take a hard look at all the scars you earned on your current project. You will earn at least as many on your new idea. And don't you want something to show for all your hard work? Remember the pain. Finish that current title.

All of that said, Thanksgiving is almost upon us and for many that means a long weekend. Seems like a great chance to set aside a bit of time and prototype that idea.

Now it's time for me to get back to coding...