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What’s up devs? This is John Davenport and on today’s episode of Game Dev Journey I’m talking about one of the biggest struggles of a solo developer and how I want to experiment in ways to alleviate this problem in 2021.

What’s the Struggle of a Solo Developer?

So what is this struggle? Well one of the most difficult things as a solo developer is trying to wear all the hats. Not only are you writing code, you’re also testing code, tracking down and fixing bugs. You’re also designing game assets, music, soundfx, animations and much much more. All of this goes into game development. It’s not just about coding a game, but more about being entire game development team.

Personally I’m not an artist. I’m not a musician and I’ve only just begun to learn how to code. This makes it very hard to wear all these hats. However with ZER0ED that is exactly what I did.

What I’ve Done With ZER0ED

The game art for ZER0ED was designed on my iPad using an app called Procreate. I watched a few hours of tutorials on YouTube to learn how to draw at a beginner level specifically using this app.

The soundfx and music where created in Logic Pro on my Mac mainly by ear. Now I did just say I wasn’t a musician, but I did play guitar has a hobby for nearly 20 years. I’m not a professional musician by any means, but I have a rudimentary understanding of music theory.

So I played around with the sample loops and instruments inside Logic Pro to create some background music and soundFX for ZER0ED.

I’m sure if I had more experience with Logic Pro and a better understanding of music theory the sound could be a lot better.

The same goes for the art in ZER0ED, the current iteration of the game gets the point across, but if I had a better understanding of color theory and a better eye for design this came would probably look a lot better.

So as you can see it’s clear that I wore all these hats. I coded, I bug fixed, I drew, I made music and sound effects and having done all of these things I can say that ultimately it’s rewarding, but it’s also very time consuming.

So what is it exactly that I want to change in 2021? Well the biggest thing is I want to utilize my time better.

Where to go for help?

As my game development journey continues to develop I want to look into ways to improve my games in areas where I know I’m weak. Namely art and sound.

It’s not that I don’t want to or can’t learn how to do these things, but rather I have more fun writing code than I do creating art and music. Furthermore for every hour that I spend learning to draw or tinkering with Logic Pro’s sample tracks I could be doing those things I like more. Adding features, fixing bugs, or building more polished game mechanics.

So with my next project I want to seriously dive into different game asset libraries and see if I can find affordable solutions that would work for my concept.

What’s the Ultimate Goal Then?

The idea would be that if I can find affordable assets I can take what I’ve already learned in Procreate and photoshop to modify and customize the assets to fit my need.

The goal is to not start from ground zero – but rather get a head start with something that’s already in the ballpark and then I just have to put the final touches on them.

The same will go for music. If I can find a good quality royalty free music site I’d be able to take these files into Logic Pro and use the skills I already do have to fit the tracks to the feel that I want.

That’s going to be the biggest challenge of this entire endeavor though. By using stock sites for royalty free assets I’m not able to get custom designs. The customization is still going to come from me as the only person fully invested into this game’s development. The big take away here is that I’m looking to jumpstart the design aspect of my next projects, but still create a final product with a cohesive and custom look and sound. We’ll see if it works.

There’s nothing wrong with being a Solo Developer

Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with solo game development. In fact I think it’s fantastic if you can do it all yourself.

I learned a lot wearing all the hats building ZER0ED. As I said I enjoyed writing the code the most, but that’s not to say that I hated the other aspects of the process. I actually really enjoyed creating the art on my iPad and feel like the skills that I learned in Procreate will stay with me for years to come.

There’s also something to be said about how sometimes your brain needs to switch tasks. I know that when I would get stuck on a particularly difficult problem in the code I would pick up my iPad and start drawing. After a day or two of this artistic work I’d go back to the code and often solve the problem in a few minutes.

So it’s all about what you want out of your own game development journey. I want to experiment with other ways to build a game. I want to see if I can build this game in a way that allows me elevate the sound and art above my own current skill level without having to invest years of time to get there.

Sign off

I’d like to thank you for listening this weeks episode if you enjoy what I’m doing here please consider leaving a review on Apple podcasts.

Next weeks episode is on the subjects of motivation and inspiration. Where to find them, how to use them, and when to let go. See you then.

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