Ruts & Tuts

Ruts & Tuts

I’ve been in a rut for a while. About nine months ago I stopped making games as my day job. First time in nearly 14 years that I’ve not been a full-time game developer. I didn’t really think about it much. But the other day it struck me: can I call myself a game maker if I don’t actually, you know, make games?

I mean, it says it right there in my bio: I make games.

Sure, I’ve been dabbling with ideas here and there. Mostly on paper. A few rough, rough prototypes, but mostly technical exercises, no real gameplay to speak of. I was stuck in a rut.

So, I decided to just follow a tutorial. I didn’t even say, “hey, I’ll make a real simple game!” Nope. Not allowed. I was going to follow a tutorial, step-by-step, no more, no less.

To be honest, it’s been wonderful so far. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s like doing game developer calisthenics. It’s helping me get out of the rut because I get to shut off the “what if” part of my brain and just follow orders. Just make something without allowing myself to sidetrack myself trying to make something else.

I recommend it wholeheartedly. If you’re stuck in a rut, try a tut!

Here’s the one I’m working through right now. It’s excellent:

It even has a slightly-drunk video companion:

After you follow the tutorial (every step, all the way to the end!), you can reward yourself by tweaking it. Drop in new artwork. Change the constants. Implement all those ideas that occurred to you while you were going through the tutorial.

Then publish it. Throw it up on Tweet it. Get it out into the world. No one will probably play it. But make yourself go from blank slate to published thing.

Now you’re out of the rut. (If not, do it again! Find another tutorial! Repeat until you clear all the ruts!)