A Cautionary Tale in Game Developments

Simon Truong
3 min readJan 24, 2024

For the past 3 months I was granted the opportunity to create my own personal project without following the course curriculum. Using my knowledge that I have gained throughout the months of learning I have done, I thought to myself that it was time to put my skills to the test. This journey entry is an short brief review of my experience of these past months working as a solo dev and the issues that have unwillingly fell upon (repeatedly).

The first Issue: Diving too deep

This project started out smoothly with a good solid plan on what the initial concept of the 2.5D game should be. The foundation should have been a basic 2D side scrolling game with 3D environment. As explained in the first journal article here, I had a perfect checkbox of goals that need to be met to achieve what I personally think was completion.

1. Create an own Character Controller from scratch
2. Have custom “walking, jumping, attacking, Idle” animation
3. Create an Unique 3D/2D environment/stage design
4. Have at least 3 to 4 different stages
5. Use the new Unity Input System for Movement
6. Optional (create an Mobile port for Android with touch control)
7. Create collectables and destructible

This list was intended for a 1 month duration, and it seems accomplishable. That was until I added one more condition to the list that I shouldn’t have, and that was learning how to learn Blender (a 3D program) from scratch. While this didn’t seem like a drawback at first, it definitely started to become one much later.

The first issue was diving too deep in character design. What should have been an basic shape for creating and testing the character controller, I went full throttle on the drawing and illustration part.

The player that was designed too early and took too long.

On top of creating and designing the character, I also ended up spending too much time in animating the different character states. Although this was within the list of goals that was written, it was definitely too early for this stage. So while I did have a fully animated and drawn out player, the actual character controller required much more work.

The character controller had issues interacting with the environment. This was especially concerning because the limited environment I had setup wasn’t even fully fleshed out.

The Second Issue: Forcefully Adjusting everything to the Player

Because the player was considered to be completed and so many days and hours has been spend on designing it, I had no choice but to make the environment adjust and adapt to the character itself, usually this would be vice versa. The character size and range of animations limited the creative process for the level design. I also wanted to stay true to how realistic the house level was layout (i.e. placement of furniture and room layouts) but that backfired when it limited the player interactions because issues such as player reach or lack of player interactions.

This eventually snowballed into an never ending self debate if I should stay true to the restrictions of reality or let loose and let the creative fantasy flow through. At the end, this resulted in nothing properly getting done and I was stuck in a deep trench.

Since this was a 2.5D layout, there was a lot of distortions in the level design, such has the shelving and other platforms.

The level design also took an heavy toll on time because I didn’t have a clear vision on where or how the player should progress towards.



Simon Truong

A Designer, an Illustrator and a massive tech geek aspiring to become a professional Unity Developer.