Game Dev-ing in the Open

A van covered with baggage drives though a forest at night, with the headlights illuminating the way.Smashing Maga
I’ve had the inklings of an idea for a story for a long, long time. For as long as I’ve had this idea, I’ve wanted to publish it out there for everyone, ideally as a webcomic. However, when I first got the idea, my skill-set wasn’t great and I knew even then that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Later, as I got better, I realized that maybe the format of webcomic just wasn’t right for this story. Maybe it needed to be animated? Interactive? MSPA-style? Plain prose? At the same time, the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew and spread and I didn’t know which parts were a different story, or unrelated to the original idea in the first place. Was the original idea even that good? Maybe I should follow this branch instead…

Last week it hit me. The problem had nothing to do with the idea or the ideas it spawned. Nothing about the format or whether I have the right skills. The problem was hiding in the corner all along: procrastination.

So let’s just throw out all that idea waffling and just start making something. I still don’t have any fully fleshed-out story ready to go yet, but the idea that all the other ideas have been hanging off of is one big fictional setting. So let’s start with that.

Next up, how to publish a setting in an engaging way, without necessarily having a story ready to go yet? How about an exploration game sandbox? It can just be a room or a building to start, then it can be added to with characters, places, mechanics. Who knows, maybe actual fun gameplay. Making a game or getting into game development was always an item on my bucket list anyway.

Usually the first question that comes up when you start talking about game development is “which engine?” Without going into details, I won’t use one of the major ones. I’m going to try and stick with the web browser as my engine. Good old HTML/CSS/JavaScript. This might be making things unnecessarily hard on myself, but I don’t know what I don’t know, you know? As least JavaScript and the DOM have a lot of good tools that wasn’t there not too long ago (intersection observers, web components, mutation observers, gamepad and pointer APIs, etc), so we’ll see how well it serves.

In the interest of just getting this ball rolling and stopping procrastination in its tracks, I’m going to start right away, on this site. I’ll document my journey as well, hopefully this helps someone else looking to try web game dev, learning some more complicated coding, or just getting out of a procrastination rut. So what’s the first step?

A prototype.