Man, Zafehouse was not a pretty game. But that's what you get when you build something entirely out of native Windows control, 16 colours (probably less) and a whole lot of text. Even so, people still loved it and somehow, I made a career out of it.
Zafehouse: Diaries, which was officially announced a few weeks ago, is a spiritual successor to this monstrosity. Despite its low-fi credentials, it proved popular with the folks over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, so much so the outlet was kind enough to write an article about it.
It didn't hit me at first -- the concept of making a game people enjoyed playing was incredibly foreign to me. Only when I realised that I had fun making it, despite getting only three minutes of sleep during its creation, did I seriously think about a shift in careers from journalism to game design.
In my original Zafehouse piece for Kotaku, I talked at length about the development process -- a short, insomnia-inducing affair lasting seven days. A lot of what I mention is fairly obvious to me now, but discovering those morsels of simple, yet compelling gameplay through trial and error was a fantastic learning experience.
I've said it before and I'll say it again -- if you have any interest in working in games development, make a game. Do it now. It's the best way to find out if it's the career for you. Like Zafehouse it doesn't need to look good, be complex or use some fancy technology -- Zafehouse was written in VB!
Kotaku AU’s Game A Week 2: Zafehouse, The Zombie Survival Simulator [Kotaku Australia]