When I saw that the Playcrafting Boston Winter Expo (an open-form demo night coming up in Feb. '15) was still taking submissions, I decided to enter. The question then became: what game do I submit?
I have a number of projects that I'm working on at any given time, most of them excellent ideas that are far too large in scope and destined to be forever unfinished. I knew the chance to show off a game to a largish number of people would be an excellent motivator to get some real work done on it beforehand, but what game to choose?
My first person sledding simulator I'd been working on for a few days? One of the several untitled, bare-bones prototypes that I started making for friends in the holiday season? My long-abandoned third-person action-adventure, Spider the Fox? My well-received, but unpolished and tedious, 7DFPS entry, a "first-person-strategizer" called Strange Gravity? You can play the current version of it here, if you're so inclined.
- It is playable from start to finish, which, while not strictly necessary for a demo night, means that it has functional gameplay that I could actually use feedback on, and ...
- A YouTuber who did a playthrough was very complimentary (though I can't remember which one :) ), and said he hopes I turn it into a full game. In my mind, it already was a full game, but I took that as meaning that there was room for expansion.
I submitted it a week ago and heard back that I got a table a few days ago. Over the course of the three-day weekend (thanks to a snow day from work), I have done, gosh, maybe 25 solid hours of work on the game - not including the feverish brainstorming I always seem to do for a half hour or so every night after I turn off my bedside lamp.
With these hours, I've been able to completely rewrite a lot of the inefficient code underlying the main gameplay, including leaving room to insert local multiplayer functionality and the groundwork for a considerably more varied main campaign (with multiple opponents and several game styles). I'm thrilled with the work that I've done, and I still have several weeks to continue improving.
And if I'd chosen a different game for the demo night? Would I have gotten the same amount of work done had it been accepted?
Probably, but I have a distinct advantage against my own inefficient work ethic in this case: because the game was already functional and, in my opinion, rather pretty, I've been able to stop myself from pouring hours into needless beautification and ACTUALLY work on improving the gameplay and structure.
- Showing off a game is a great way to actually make yourself work on it beforehand.
- Keep an eye out for local demo nights and meetups in your area. They're a great way to network and show off work, and who knows - your 'only okay' game might have a chance against other submissions.
- Know thyself (and how much you procrastinate - working on a project with a few steps done already is great way to bypass some slacking)
- If you go back to an old project, be prepared to re-write most of your old code. At least, if you're like me and rapidly improving your coding skills, you'll look back and cringe at your old scripts, if you can even read them at all. It can be painful, so be prepared.
But, of course, here I am giving advice, and I haven't even been to my first demo night yet. Here's hoping it goes well!
Have you shown off your game at demo nights before? Other venues? How did you prepare?