June Update: Core Mechanics

Alright, let’s talk about my current game project. But first, here is a video from right around the time of my last blog post of my dog playing with a toy duck.

So, it’s been about 6 months since I’ve touched this website, mostly because there was a lot of floundering for the past year at least, but I think I’ve finally reached some headway where I want to talk about my current game project.

In the development on “Debris” there was a point where both Thomas and I realized that our hearts weren’t really in the project anymore. Maybe we’ll go back to it someday, who knows? In the meantime we’ve both moved on to other projects and work and such.

For the past while I’ve been working on a new game project, which I will talk about more now. (In my last blog post I posted a thing from the first prototype of it, but I’ll talk more here.

In the broadest terms I would describe the game thusly:

A point-and-click murder mystery adventure game where the player finds clues and draws connections between them to solve the case of a missing woman. Inspired by classic film noire and pretty much every detective movie and show out there ever.

I’ve been working on the core mechanics, walking around, picking up clues, etc., but a large amount of time lately has been spent on what I would consider the CORE mechanic of the game. The “Board”. Well, that and replacing my thrown together dialog system with something based off of Yarn, using Yarn Spinner.

(Also, a note: all the gifs and images I post of the game here and on twitter look not great. Everything is placeholder graphics, eventually down the road the goal is to hire artists and make the game actually look like a game.)

So, the board. You know how pretty much every detective movie and show out there has a board? Like, a cork board where they hang up pictures of clues and people and try to piece it all together? Usually using some form of yarn or twine? So, I had the idea that I wanted to turn that into a game mechanic. The idea was that you would have all the clues the player pick up appear on the board and allow them to literally draw connections between clues, people, etc.

The stated goal of this is to allow the player to feel like they are the ones solving the case, rather than just watching the character do it for them. That’s where I’ve been spending most of my development time on this game in recent weeks and I’ve been making progress, though slowly. I did have to re-write most of what I had recently, decided it was cleaner to use uGui rather than what I was using before, so there is that.

Next I’ll be finishing up the ability to draw connections between items on the board.

New Year – 2016

I’m not overly sentimental when it comes to New Years and whatnot. Most of the time it’s just another day, plus it’s in the middle of winter and I really, really hate winter. So, resolutions are not really my thing, but I feel I should at least post some updates.

2015 was certainly a year! All snark aside, it wasn’t the greatest, but not the worst either. I spent most of it in a shitty job that I hated, and just trying to make it from one day to the next. I started up and dropped a project or two, and unfortunately haven’t made all that much progress on any games that I am trying to work on. Though, it’s not all bad.

In October I started working at a much better job, making more money and hopefully going forward I will have a lot more energy to work on personal projects. I also got a dog around the same time:

Seasonal depression be damned, I’m determined to get some stuff done this year. Recently Thomas and I did a weekend dev session and started working on a point-and-click murder mystery prototype. The art is placeholder from an open game art site and looks awful, but that aside I have posted a few things from that prototype:

I’ve got most of the systems designed, but there is quite a bit of implementation stuff left to code.

A rare behind-the-scenes look
A rare behind-the-scenes look

In the meantime I am hoping to get some more work done on the Twine prototype of Fear Him, and maybe other things will come up this year. In any case, this is goodbye to 2015, and hello to a new year.

on burnout and other life things

So, I haven’t worked on Debris for a while. At first I thought it was related to other life and health issues, but even as those have been resolved, I find it’s hard to keep working on the project. I guess I’ve gotten kind of burned out on it. At least, I thought it was burnout, but even then, there were always things about the project that would excite me and get me out of my burnout, and back into game development, but it has just been a constant struggle for quite a while.

I think that I had forgotten a key element of these kinds of endeavors: Fail Faster. As Extra Credits taught:

At this point I’m just not sure if the project is sustainable in it’s current state and in my current state of mind, so I need to shelve it for a while, and turn myself to other ideas that I can approach and iterate on much faster. As Thomas put it, I guess I’ve been hit by the idea fairy.

So, for now Debris is on the shelf, I may return to it some day, but I think I need to turn my attention back to Fear Him. My plan is to start by prototyping the story and progression paths using Twine, which will allow me to plan basically the entire game outside of the gating puzzles, as well as get a feel for the ways players might approach the mystery I intend to present them with. Additionally, it means that when I get down to building the actual game in 3D space I will already have my path planned and my script written.

So, that’s where I am at, and hopefully going forward I will make more progress, and update this site on a semi-regular basis.

April Update: Slow Going

This month has been slow when it comes to game development.  One major source of that has been the fact that work has been really busy.  We’ve been prepping to release the product that I’ve been working on, so there’s that.

However, there has been some progress made on debris this month.  Thomas and I continue to get the groundwork set in place, basic controls are mostly done, you can attack and kill enemies now (though it’s a placeholder autokill attack, which will be replaced soon with weapon attacks) and we’ve been making some UI modifications to make the game more readable (even with our placeholder art).

In other news I bought tickets this month to attend both PAX dev and PAX prime at the end of August this year.

March update: I should learn to listen to myself

New goal: at minimum monthly project updates.

The past week or so has mostly been spent on a nasty refactor. The biggest reason is because I didn’t listen to myself. A few months ago Thomas and I had a long discussion about the design we were going to use in a certain portion of our code, and in the end, what we came up with seemed like a really good design.

Fast forward a few months, and I had been working (slowly) on adding to that class, which is one of the main pieces of driver code for Debris. I had been working in a way that pretty much ignored the design we initially laid out.

So, the better part of a week’s worth of short development sessions later, and I’m back on track. When we originally set down that design I had even left a long comment to myself to explain why. I felt I needed to amend that comment after the refactor was done.

So, after that was done, I was able to finally add the new feature that I originally intended to add. Today I got that portion done, so now you are able to switch characters by clicking on other party members.

(Note: the music I was listening to in the background is a little loud in the clip, so you may want to turn down your volume. It is from the Shovel Knight OST, by the way.)