It's pretty simple - it's a personal challenge where the only rules are as follow:
Most people - probably including you! - want to make games, but struggle to find the time to get started, let alone stay motivated for long periods of time.
So, this challenge focuses on not only honing your skills, but most importantly getting in the routine of working on your game every day. You basically want to avoid relying on motivation, and instead develop good habits and discipline!
And please, don't skip on the post mortem. It's important, not only so you know what you've learned, but also and mainly so that other people can learn from you, too!
Devtober doesn't really have a theme! This is definitely not a contest, and instead of trying to come up with a new game idea, consider instead starting that game you've always wanted to make, pick up that project you put on hiatus months ago, or just make something small. What matters is only making something!
If you really want a theme, consider this: make something small - even smaller than you'd think - and focus instead on releasing it by the end of the month. Make something, polish it, debug it, test it, and push it to market. Make it your objective to make at least one dollar by selling whatever you've made, by the end of october. How does that sound?
All of october! Hence the name, dev-(oc)tober. Start working on october 1st, you complete the challenge if you work a little every day until october 31st.
Devarch? Really? Look, it's arbitrary. October is actually a pretty quiet month - not a lot of game releases, away from both summer and winter vacations... and besides, you're absolutely free to take on the challenge at any time that works best for you.
Nope! It's a personal challenge. No one is judging you and there is no participation prizes, but the satisfaction of improving yourself and/or achieving whatever goals you set. I actually highly recommend that you set your own goals.
Again, it's your choice. I suggest making a very small game from start to finish, so you have something to show for it. But maybe just prototyping something you want to try would be a better fit for you! Or maybe make a vertical slice of that game you really want to make, so maybe you can pitch it to publishers or investors. Or maybe go back to a game you've already released, but fix some bugs, or add content? You set your own goals within your own schedule and free time. Just make sure you set realistic objectives, you don't want it to end up being demoralising!
That being said, as it turns out, Ludum Dare, an extremely popular game jam, starts on October 2nd this year. If you're struggling to find a starting point for Devtober, you could absolutely participate in Ludum Dare, and spend the rest of the month polishing your game for an actual real release!
No no, it doesn't have to! You can definitely keep working on whatever you're doing right now, if you have something. All that matters is being consistent about progress.
I'm going to assume that you're gonna be sad about it. And honestly, that's it. Failure is a very subjective thing. Your goal should just be to work a little every day, it's all about developing good working habits. For my first devtober, what I wanted was to make a game from start to finish. And boy, did I overscope and went way over my head! In that regard, I totally failed... but at the same time, I worked a little on my game every day.
Did I fail? I dunno. Either way, I improved a lot, got better, and learned about myself and how I work. I genuinely believe that's all that matters!
You can check it out here! We've had a whopping 438 people joining the jam on itch.io alone, and I can't imagine how many more participated in their own ways. We got hundreds of people joining the Discord, too - honestly it was overwhelming!
Lots of people shared their progress on twitter or the Discord, and you should be able to see people's Post Mortem on last year's itch page, along with the in built community forums that some of us used as a devlog.
I've written some thoughts and guidelines last year on our twitter account. Check it out right here!