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So, I'd been on the fence about One Game A Month for several months, but had been keeping up with it for the sake of at least finishing the full year. This month, however, my girlfriend caught a pretty nasty cold, so I spent the first part of it taking care of her. Then I caught it, and spent the next while trying to recover too.
I'm almost over it; I am still getting coughing fits when I take too deep a breath or try to talk in a full voice for longer than a sentance or two, but all the other symptoms have either gone away or reduced to a level that I can ignore them. Looking at the calender, I see that I have 10 days left to make a game in order to meet the challenge; but if I did, the game would have rushed artwork, likely have bugs, and would not come close to living up to the image I had come up with for it when I came up with the idea at the start of the month.
This month though only puts a spotlight on a problem I'd noticed months ago. The challenge it's self is merely a self imposed challenge. There is no upside to placing an arbitrary "One size fits all" deadline on every single project. When I look back at the games I've made so far this year, the couple that stand out as better than the others had one thing in common; I'd managed to squeeze more than a month's worth of work into them by working on them between finishing one month's game and starting the next.
But boy is there a downside. Three major downsides, in fact. Firstly; being above average is not good enough for anything. I don't think a single one of the games I've made this year had fallen into the bottom half of the games for the month they were released. Most of them either landed on the first or second page of results for the week they were released in, out of an average of 5-6 pages, but to get real visibility you need to score amongst the top games, not just kind of near the top.
I can't help but imagine what might have happened if I had instead released half as many games, but worked twice as long on each of them. I could have spent more time polishing the artwork, creating more interesting medals, and included more content.
The second major downside is that the date you finish the game does not matter, only when you release it. So, it doesn't count if you make one game a month and look for a sponsor while working on the next month's game. Since sponsorships are the primary way you make money on a flash game, giving up the ability to get sponsored for the sake of a self imposed challenge is not a very good deal.
Lastly, I am a one man crew. I have to do the art, code, sound effects, and find public domain or creative commons music that fits the game on my own. I am already working with the handicap that I have nobody to help wear some of the hats you need to make a complete game. Putting a second handicap of a strict, unyeilding time limit on every game just hurts the quality of my games for no reason. I'm sure I've had to answer a suggestion for more content with "I was planning to have more, but I had to cut it short due to the time limit" on at least half of my games this year.
I have right now a record of 9 games out of 9 months. If I wanted to keep going, there is no doubt I would make it to 12/12. I did two ludum dares this year; one of which was finished on time when I started a day late. I think it's pretty clear that I can finish a game pretty easily. The only thing this challenge is doing for me is forcing me to cut my games short on content or quality, or both.
So, I'm going to stop trying to fit every game into a one month deadline. Hopefully with more time to give it some polish, my next game will be better.