Why You’re Failing [Theory]

If you want the TL;DR version of this article, read only the words in bold and look at the pictures.

If you’re a game developer at any level, I’m sure you’re aware of the following scenario (I will be using the analogy of a brick wall to explain building a game)


You scope out this large (it’s going to be amazing) game. Then, as one person, you try to complete the whole thing. Sure, when you start to build the wall, you think you have have a lot of bricks. You work on making that one corner super polished. Perhaps the character controller is really detailed even if there’s not actually any levels. I think you’ve been there. That moment when you start polishing two hours into the process.

As you probably know, this method fails in general. This method does work for some people though, queue next scenario:


This is a triple A studio. They have a lot of money, a lot of wall builders, and a lot of bricks. They can build a wall of that size because even if one person burns out 10 more people are waiting to take that guy’s place.

You are not a triple-A studio.

Don’t act like one. Don’t have huge project ambitions unless you have a huge team and a huge wallet to back it up. one of the number one things that will kill your game is a scope that is too large. Take your hands off the microfiber cloth and stop polishing! Screen shake is not necessary, and it will eat into the time you could be developing other things.

You will feel less motivated the longer your project takes, so treat your development time like a fuse and use every second for only what’s most important.

Some indies already know this though. Like the one below:


So eventually, you learn to scale your game down, but it’s still not enough.


You decide to make a Dungeon Crawler with simple polygon graphics where you face enemies in Unity. Sound easy enough? So you start with making the character controller. You go in depth with it and make it able to sprint, jump and roll out of the way. Then you make the character in 3D and use Mecanim to animate him in Unity.

Next, you want to make the enemies. You manage to make a cube that moves towards the player, the player has so many cool moves compared to the enemy that it feels unbalanced. Not only that, but in your scene, you’re fighting on a white plane and it looks like junk. Not at all what you had imagined. Then you get an idea for another game, and abandon your Dungeon Crawler.

You may have been there before. The problem here is that you’re front loading development. You’re putting so much effort into how the game should start and into a select few mechanics that everything else must scale in proportion and you drain all your motivation.

This is where my theory comes in:


My approach is one of incremental development. At a base, the idea is that if you get the game into a state where you can play it from start to end as soon as possible, then you can always back fill content later.

Let’s take the example from earlier and see how we could apply it:

You decide to make a Dungeon Crawler with simple polygon graphics where you face enemies in Unity. Sound easy enough? Before you start, you theorize what you need for a minimum playable game. you decide the minimum game looks like this:

  1. Enter start room of dungeon
  2. Go into room with enemies
  3. Defeat enemies
  4. Go into room with exit
  5. Exit game

So you start with making the character controller. You only make it move. No jumping or anything. You only create what you need to work at a minimum. Now, as soon as possible, you create the exit. When you hit play, you can now walk from the start room to the end room and exit the game. You now have a minimum playable game, the essence of this theory.

Next, you back fill. You make enemies spawn and make them hurt the player with a simple melee. Next, you make the player hurt the enemies with a ranged attack. You do not polish anything, you only put in what the game needs to function. This means no image effects, screen shake, or animations.

Now, you have completed all goals. Test the game with people to see how they like the mechanics. Then, polish! 😀

This is just a theory, one that I am trying to incorporate into my current game, Firewall. so far it has been working amazingly! 🙂

Maybe this theory can work with your game too!


Back online!

Hello loyal readers,

It probably seems strange to be writing to you after this long, but I would like to get back into blogging and this is a restart! 🙂

here’s what’s changed since I was last mainstream blogging

  1. There has been a ton of hits on Unity Spaceship Tutorial… Who knew that would be so popular? Thanks guys 😉
  2. I am now in college studying Computer Science (so the blogging may not be that frequent because, well, college) 😛
  3. I’m now a part of Timeshock Games, an independent game development studio at my college.
  4. I have the Windows 10
  5. I have twitter now Link

A lot of these sound like great ideas for future posts, and I’m sure I have more to catch you guys up on (there’s been quite a few game development failures as well!) But this post is just letting you know I’m back online as Stopsecret.

I’m planning on keeping my blog posts short, and posting more in the future.

Stay tuned!


Subway Project

Hey guys! Long time no post 😉

Here’s a portfolio project I’ve been working on. stretching into the art realm a bit more than usual (I usually do a lot more coding)
It’s set in a totalitarian regime subway. I’ll let you can guess what the flag was influenced by…

Made in Blender3D, textures via Texturer and CGTextures, put together in Unity.

Webplayer Link

At last, an FPS where no one dies

Hi guys!

This game took me maybe four days in total. Whipped up a LAN fps ‘laser tag’ game. No blood, gore, death. When you lose all your ‘health’, your gun just says ‘gg’ (good game) and you can run around the map in a spectator mode. I tried to get it so that it could be played over more than LAN (using a server) but had a hard time with that.


Believe it or not, I work on small games like this a lot, but rarely post my progress online 😉


In London!

Hi all! I’m typing from a tiny screen on a complementary iPhone right now at the place were staying. (Not that the iPhone is free to take, although that would be sweet, but that we Can use it while we’re here.) while navigating on this tiny screen it appears I have also clicked the like buttons on some of the people I’ve followed’s posts. Please note that these were accidental. 😛 anyway, now that I’ve done it, why don’t you go visit the sites? They are as follows:





 two of them are virtual friends and one is a real life friend. go see them and enjoy 😉

its been nice here. The tube (subway) is fun to ride on. We’ve done a lot of walking. the weather has been good too. Anyway, I should be back later this week.


(hope I didn’t make any URL mistakes…)


Off on a trip

Hi guys! Later today I will be heading off to London. I am not bringing my laptop, so if you try to contact me in any way and don’t get a response, you know why 🙂 I may get some chances to respond over there, but may choose not to respond until I get back.

When I get back I want to start being a little more active on my blog again, this place has been pretty quiet recently!


Express Yourself…or Your 3d Model!

Yesterday I decided to model a face. I found a tutorial that showed someone making a face, and made my own. I used my own face as reference (just to let you know, I don’t really look like the face you see in the render). It seemed to come out pretty well. Then I animated it. I was sort of inspired after seeing some video game facial animation.

Here are some of the techniques I used:

  1. Armature head
    1. The head had a simple rig to control head movement
  2. Eye constraints
    1. There was an empty object a ways off
    2. Both eyes were given constraints to track to this object.
  3. Shape keys
    1. Facial expression was controlled by shape keys
    2. Key frames were given to the power of the shape keys
  4. Eyes
    1. The eyes have a modified texture from this post: LINK
    2. Their reflection map is below
Eye reflection (different format)
Eye reflection (different format)

I release the eye reflection under Creative Commons 0.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the video!


How to succeed

Most people may think success simply falls into someone’s lap. That it’s random. That it takes one great idea. There may be freak cases in which someone will have something lucky happen to them (Inheritance of $20 mil) and that may be random. Perhaps some people get that grand idea in their mind and find themselves successful. But I would argue there’s also a different type of success.

I have learned this type while working on Bitdrill. It is the type of success that comes from hard work. your idea is your material, but a pile of metal and screws is far from an assembled airplane. It takes a long time to realize that idea through hard work.  It is the same with Bitdrill, it took a long time to realize the game. Now it’s practically beta.

Inspiration is like Nitro, maybe use some at the start and boost along your project. It’s fun, fast, and exhilarating. But in the same way you wouldn’t run a car purely on nitro, so you should not run a project on inspiration. Because when the nitro fizzles out, the real champions will come forward, the ones who know that Nitro is unreliable and will switch over to the motor of hard work.

Maybe you have an idea. It could be a good idea. The premise could be totally new and original. Try pushing through this time. Don’t let yourself stop. Perhaps this year you could make a resolution to finish. Or you could join the pile of projects (I have a lot of crashed ones in their too) that have stopped after the first mile.