On March 14th, 2018, I created a new project in Godot with the title “Powerup.” Less than two weeks later, on the 26th, I released a tiny little game called Captain Cosmo. It hasn’t been a wild ride. I haven’t poured my all into this project. I barely risked anything and I haven’t exactly gained anything either. Despite that, I feel more accomplishment with this tiny little game than I felt with any of the other projects I tried to make.
A Brief History
When I redownloaded the Godot engine for what felt like the twentieth time, I didn’t really have a plan. After suddenly discovering a passion for programming and game development (almost) two years ago during my senior year of high school, I had desperately attempted to find my stride and begin building games for people. As time went on, however and I failed to produce results, I wavered. I turned away from games and began investigating other industries. I wanted to ease the financial worries of my girlfriend, and thought that perhaps I needed to be in an industry that wasn’t considered so volatile. Nothing took.
I didn’t give up any of these endeavors because I didn’t think I could do it. That’s not to say that nothing was beyond me. Within game development, I had given up projects because I realized (for instance) that my incredible idea for an MMORPG required too many different skills and too much manpower and that I’d never be able to finish such a project alone in my lifetime. I mean to say that I had given up on projects in the past because I thought I couldn’t do them, but there was never a time where I thought “I can’t do game development.” Even as I went about trying to learn other types of programming like web development, I still thought (or even knew) that I could still eventually make games as my career. When it came down to it, I had changed course because I was worried about volatility, not because I was worried about skill. Looking back, I think that was a mistake.
My initial return to game development wasn’t planned to be a return. I had thought of it as a break. I didn’t want to make anything in particular, I just wanted to write code for something I actually found interesting. I don’t remember what sparked the interest, but I wanted to actually do something in Godot. I had downloaded it in the past (multiple times) but never learned enough to do much with it on my own. Today, I decided, I would do something completely basic with it and then go back to “serious” work.
I started about as harmlessly as possible. To begin with, I put the default Godot logo asset onto the screen. I taught it how to fly around the screen based on player input. Nothing too groundbreaking. Around an hour in, when I had gotten the big Godot head to shoot little Godot head bullets, I realized that I should’ve never given up game development.
The little project didn’t change much between that first night and release two weeks later. By that, I mean it didn’t gain too many new features. You basically just shoot stuff and fly around. With just that basic list of features, however, I finally feel I’ve found my stride in game development. I’ve created the very first project that I’m proud of. And when I say “Proud” I mean it in a way where I’ll never look back on this work and want to hide it.
In the past, when I released games, they were either incredibly sparse tech demos, or garbage. Over the course of a weekend, I had made an incredibly simplistic one-touch timing based game. The game was basically unplayable on phones, and even when you could play it, it was too hard and just shoddy overall. I had felt pride for making a game in two days, but I hadn’t felt pride in the game. Today, I’ve hidden it from view. I’ll dig it out of my Unity project archives and post it again someday.
My one other successful game release was actually part of a college assignment. It was a janky little Zelda clone built in Gamemaker 8.1. Again, upon release, I wasn’t proud of the game, but I was proud of my work on it. I had conquered laziness (my arch-nemesis) and managed to work on the game with almost all my spare time for two straight days. I was proud of the modicum of discipline that I had enforced on myself.
Captain Cosmo is the first game I’ve created that I would consider both fun and whole. Don’t get me wrong, I see its limitations. The game is the size of a peanut. If you download and play it, you might enjoy yourself for 5 minutes at most. But during those 5 minutes, you’re playing a game that is whole. There aren’t any pieces missing. Everything is there.
It’s like a little piece of chocolate. It’s tiny, you’re going to forget about it quickly, and you might want more of it, but it’s still an enjoyable little thing with nothing discernibly wrong with it. I’m proud of that.
I’m not sure what’s coming next. I still have a lot of ideas for things that could be added to this game, so I may keep building on the foundation I’ve put together. But I also may set it aside for the time being to focus on something else. We will see.