I don’t have a header for this project. I should probably come up with one sometime here, but that’s a low priority in the greater scheme of things.

I’m not feeling too great today, so here’s where the project’s at:

  • Basic board rendering all works
  • Piece logic and player movement is all in place and, as far as I can tell testing so far, works properly
  • Highlighting tiles based on whether the player can move there or not and other factors
  • Click-based player movement
  • Undoing of moves and resetting the board to initial state

Doing the programming here is a bit more time consuming than I had originally thought. There’s still a few tasks left before I can move on entirely to content creation:

  • Menu system (might be able to use EverEnding code here)
  • Movement confirmation (Probably not necessary on PC, but may be so on tablets and should easy enough to implement)
  • Text/Dialogue display (for tutorials and incidental messages) and supporting data system
  • Level flow (making one level load into the next)

Also, a nice-to-have would be a level editor. I think I have a pretty good idea of how to make a quick and dirty low-impact one, so this shouldn’t be too big an impact.

So, as things stand — I’m a bit behind schedule, but not too bad. It feels really weird to be working on something besides EverEnding, and I keep having crises of confidence, being uncertain if this will live up to my standards of quality. I have to remember, day by day, that nothing is ever really perfect, and sometimes those imperfects are what make something special. Just keep moving forward, and see what this thing I am making ends up becoming.

EveHeader

This is a weird one.

Well, first let’s talk about where I’m at with the detail editor. The behavior editor is getting close to finished now: It’s kind of ugly, but it doesn’t have to look nice, and all of the components are in place and mostly working. Here’s what it looks like right now:

EveDetailEditor07

Having said that, I now have to make a kind of weird announcement: I’ll be putting development on hiatus for a month.

Here’s the situation: I decided to participate in Ludum Dare again, partially because I wanted a distraction from all of the insane shit that’s been going on. However, when the date rolled around, though I came up with an idea I liked, an idea I was pretty sure I could execute adequately within the deadline, I just didn’t care that much. I didn’t feel like trying to make something in 48 hours, I didn’t feel like I needed or wanted to prove I could work fast or anything like that.

I wanted to either make a good game, ideally a great game – or to just keep on working on Everending.

So here’s the question I’ve been wrestling with today: Would I rather take some time off, build this simpler game and get it out there, possibly raise a little bit of money? Or would I prefer to keep hammering my head against Everending, pushing it by fractions of inches closer to completion each day?

It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, and the only reason I was able to reconcile myself to it was by deciding that I would stick fairly closely to a production schedule. I do believe that it will be good for me, emotionally, professionally, and financially, to have a finished and fun game project of my own design out and about. So here’s the plan:

Week 1: Programming. I’ve got a lot of the basic functional programming done already for LD, but I want to spend some extra time on graphics programming making sure everything looks nice before I move forward. I also need to use this time to create some decent menus, a save/load system, and some simple audio code. I honestly don’t think this will take a week, since I intend to get most of the hard stuff done tomorrow, but that’s how I’m blocking things out. Any spare time left over from this phase will be used on…

Week 2 & 3: Content. This is going to be a puzzle game, and puzzle games aren’t much fun without puzzles to solve, so this will be the production period for the puzzles. I’ll start off aiming for 10 or so a day while I do the simple tutorial puzzles, and slow down to 2 or so at the end when the puzzles have to be tight and intricate and challenging. I also will need to write story and tutorial text during this phase.

Week 4: Polish and Testing. I’ll send the game out to friends and family for testing while I create music and final art to replace whatever programmer art I use.

So all-told it will take a little bit less than a month, if I can hit these milestones.

Wish me luck. I’ll be replacing the EverEnding weekly devblog for the duration of this project with a similar devblog for the project itself. Title and details will follow next week, since it will obviously  be difficult to talk about what I’m doing without them.

Molo

Over the last week or so, I’ve been sitting here and watching the world go crazy.

Well, that’s not accurate. The world’s been crazy all along, and there have been plenty of examples of that popping up all over the place, but I’ve been watching it happen closer to home, and seen just how little most people seem to care that their country has zero regard for the lives or rights of its citizens. I’ve been trying to rearrange my life, settle into a work habit, and these distractions make it difficult, and at the same time it seems like everything is falling apart, and I don’t know who I’m supposed to be creating art for any more.

I’ve also been trying to pick up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive off and on, whenever I feel like I need to do something with my mind and my hands or I’ll go crazy but I don’t feel like I can maintain coherent enough thought to get any actual work done. It’s strange, being put into those boots, that armor, given rifles that look a lot like the ones I see police carrying in my news feeds, being told in loading screens that SWAT teams are called in to control riots.

It’s a curious game. It’s a weird brand of pragmatism, having to allocate a budget for the weapons I will get next battle based on how many lives I take in this one, and whether I manage to keep my own. It’s a war simulated by a series of battles, except they’re the same battle over and over again, like a recurring dream, a groundhog day battlefield where each life and death is irrelevant on its own yet hugely important in the greater scheme of things.

I like that in games we never need to think about anything outside of what we’re shown. I do anyways, as a matter of temperament, but I don’t have to worry that if I fail to look deep enough that people will be brutalized and beaten behind the door I failed to open. I don’t have to worry that there’s a hidden history under what I’ve been told, that my basic understanding is incorrect. The terrorists are the terrorists. The counter-terrorists counter them. It’s simple. And, though games often pretend to complexity, sophistication, to hidden depths, there’s never a truth within them that isn’t constrained within their binary carcass.

Now I don’t feel like I’ll ever know – who are the terrorists attacking, who are the counter-terrorists protecting? None of these look like civilian targets, all of the bystanders have been evacuated, there’s no one left here but Us and Them and occasionally a hostage and for some reason a lot of chickens. Destruction isn’t an intrinsically evil act any more than creation is intrinsically good: I have no idea what the bomb I’m planting will destroy, no idea whether I’m taking lives or saving them. I have no idea what I’m here to protect, whether it’s a peaceful way of life or a system of violence and degradation that has existed for centuries.

I’m just following orders. I am just a cipher, here to pull the trigger, place the bomb, protect the hostage. I don’t need to think about what I am.

I am my cause. I am justice.

EveHeader

It’s all been slow, and keeps on being slow. It takes me too long to wake up and too long to fall asleep and I never feel quite in the right place to get work done. There’s a rhythm to work, hi-ho hi-ho, and I have lost the beat.

I’m not sure what to do about it.

It’s not like I haven’t been doing anything. I still make sure to put in at least 30-60 minutes every day. But now, when my head’s down in it, it’s there for just long enough to do the thing that needs to be done next, and as soon as I can justify it to myself I stop working – not because I would rather be doing something else, but because I would rather be doing nothing. I’m really not sure if it’s bad habit or a slight depression or the weather or the fact that the world seems to be going fucking nuts, but it’s hard.

It will always be hard, in different ways. The stars will never line up in just the perfect way to make everything I do wonderful and easy, and if they do they won’t stay aligned for long. So okay, whatever. I’ll do what I can, and at times what that will be may shift up or down, and I may enjoy it more or less. I’ll survive not caring long enough to care again. I’ll persist through the lows in fond memory of the highs, and even though I don’t know if the golden days will ever get here I’ll just get what I can out of the silver and brass ones.

Part of existing is sometimes you feel like a total fucking chump.

Okay.

So hey about that game I’m making. The particle behavior editor is almost done, but I don’t have a screenshot because I’ve basically built it from the inside out, ensuring that for the entire week I was hammering away at a wall of text without ever seeing any of the compiled fruits of my labors. This is probably not helping my mood. Nevertheless, I think it’s mostly done, and in a day or two I can probably wrap it up. At that point I just need to make it possible to assign graphics to the details/particles – obviously that’s pretty important, and unfortunately will probably take a fair bit of architecture. Or maybe I’ll figure out something clever and it won’t. We shall see.

I’m falling behind in a lot of work right now, don’t think I’ll be able to put together a post this week. I dunno, I feel like in general the amount of attention I’ve been able to put into this has been choked off, and the quality of my work suffering because of it. I’m not sure what to do about that yet. Hopefully a better post next week to make up for it, though.

Not really a fan of this new wordpress interface so far, either.

EveHeader

Apparently a week has passed since the last time I wrote a devblog. Wow. Weird. It feels like it was maybe two or three days. I have come unstuck in time. Poo-tee-weet.

Okay. The basic interface of the detail editor is mostly complete. I keep on forgetting to take a screenshot of what it looks like when it’s running, and it’s currently in-between builds since I made a moderate-to-major change in how particle behaviors work. Even though progress isn’t rapid, it’s regular.

I can’t help but think, sometimes, of how much more quickly I’d be developing this component if it was still my official day job, a job I drove into every day and sat in a nice air-conditioned room with other programmers and had nothing to think about all day but how I would take the next step towards developing this project. It bothers me that I can’t work with the rapidity and dedication as I did then, but – I don’t have an air-conditioned work-space, I don’t have the freedom of a single-minded focus, I don’t have a company supporting me financially so that I can care about just one thing, all the time, 40 hours a week.

It’s not that I liked that life better, but I liked being able to do a job that way.

It’s crazy, though, how much something like air conditioning and a nice work space can help one do good work. I guess I’ll just sit here and think cool thoughts, and try to piece this puzzle together, and someday I will make a goddamn video game.

 

habit

In this world, there are so many things to experience, weird and wonderful and varied and vivid. Most of us will only see a handful of them – basically nothing, when compared with what’s possible. Even just in the realm of art, there are so many films and shows, books and games, plays and songs, that there will never be enough time to experience them all. And, more often than not, we don’t even try.

More often than not, I find myself not trying. More often than not, I find myself returning to the familiar rather than exploring the new, and I keep on wondering what that indicates. Is it because I find myself straining to cope with the scope of the project I’ve chosen for myself, and with the daily struggles of understanding that being an ethical person in a diverse world demand, such that I have little world-understanding energy left over to try new things? Or am I just getting set in my ways? If it’s the former, I wonder about the ‘core gamers’ who seem to feel so threatened by feminism and games informed by it, by ‘non-games’ and ‘walking simulators’ and – is it because they’re constitutionally unable to empathize with other points of view, as so many presume to be the case, or have their empathetic capabilities been stretched, exhausted? Perhaps it isn’t important, and is, either way, one form or another of growing pains.

It’s strange how much one can want something in the abstract and yet find it difficult to approach. I want to try new things, because I usually enjoy it and feel enriched by the experience, but when faced with actually doing something about it I feel a crushing apathy. I have a hundred games I haven’t played in my Steam library, and every day I scroll down through them, peering at them one by one to see if they sound appealing, and end up playing TF2 instead. I’ve uninstalled TF2 several times to try to incentivize myself to play other games, but it usually makes me instead scroll down the list of games, peering at them one by one to see if they sound appealing, and deciding I’d rather take a nap or something.

This inertia is difficult to conquer. I would hate it, except the same habits that make it hard to experience new things also make it possible for me to work consistently every day on the same large and slow project for more than a year. The same sluggishness and stubbornness that enables me to do the same thing day after day also encumbers me when I try to do something different every day.

It’s a difficult conundrum, creating a habit of novelty, particularly on a low budget. This is a big part of the reason I did that experiment with drawing assignments from a jar. And, though that particular experiment didn’t pan out, perhaps the time is approaching to try something similar.

Heck, I’ve already got the jar.

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