This week was a music week. I had naively assumed that, because a lot of the music I’d worked on in the past had gone fairly fast and easy, that this track would be no different – oh, it’s real easy to forget that things go fast after you figure out the basic themes and motifs, after you figure out the instrumentation, after you figure out where the piece is going. Sometimes that part goes fast and sometimes that part goes slow, but generally it gets harder the more specific a feel you want from the piece you’re trying to compose…
And I wanted a very specific feel. Trying to hit a kind of adventurous tone, while not contradicting the more reflective and melancholy tone that describes most of the game’s soundtrack, is a pretty narrow path to walk. I actually ended up embracing something with a much darker sound than I had originally intended, but I think it all worked out pretty well. I’m happy with how the piece turned out.
This is the theme for area 1-2, The Ruins. This is what appears at first to be a land of adventure, inhabited by tribes of child-like creatures in masks – but, as they are defeated, the exotic ruins fade away, and leave behind images of abandoned suburbia. The two versions of the theme here correspond to these two states.
Well, in other news: It’s the 52nd weekly DevBlog, which suggests that I’ve been working on this for a year now.
I’m not sure how to feel about this.
I had originally (naively) hoped that I could complete this project with a year or less of work. Now, partially the scope of the project has expanded, partially I underestimated the requisite amount of work in the first place, but more than anything it just turns out that, left to my own devices, I simply don’t have the motivational wherewithal or the fiscal resources to work 8 hours a day every day on this project. Even if I did, a year would have been a pretty best-case type scenario. Coming to terms with this isn’t fun, but it’s bearable – as long as I make steady forward progress, as long as I can see the game come together, bit by bit, day by day, I can be okay with it.
So: What’s changed over the past year?
Programming: Estimated 65-75% completion
- Graphical details can now be placed in levels, and the results are saved and loaded parallel with the level tile maps
- Particle Effect infrastructure is in place, though they aren’t currently moveable, placeable, or saveable in the editor
- All game graphical resources are now loaded, locked, and freed by a central graphics data memory manager
- Custom Bitmap Animation class created – implemented for character animations
- The map editor is mostly functional, though the buttons are unlabeled and a few important special functions are not yet supported
- In-game menus are functional but have no button labels and look super goddamn ugly
- Overhauled the collision system twice: Current version is still not perfect, but seems like a winner
- Implemented component-style “behavior” system for characters and entities
Design: Estimated 40-60% completion
- Planned out all areas of the game, with most special events and secrets
- Wrote accompanying ‘stories’
- Developed list of enemies with behaviors
Graphics: Estimated 2-4% completion
- Created first area test background
- Created most prototype animations for chapter 1 player character
Music: Estimated 30% completion
- Intro Theme: Falling Angel
- Area 1-1 Theme: Something Old, Something New
- Area 1-2 Theme: Times Past
- Area 1-3 Theme: The Orphan Gardens
Well, overall not as good as I’d hoped, not as bad as I’d feared. I’m seeing lots of solid progress, but seeing it all spread over these disparate areas it becomes clear why it takes so long to get a one-man-project of this scope armed and operational. If I could work full-time on any aspect of this project, I could probably get everything that needed to be done on it done within a year, in many cases possibly just a few months – however, splitting my attention, both between different aspects of the project and between the project and other responsibilities, means that, overall, things are gonna take a while.
At this rate… even two years is probably a little optimistic. Hopefully I’ll be able to hit a rhythm, to figure out a way to work faster on the project with practice and with more concrete and visible tasks, such as level design, as the project moves forward. On the plus side, looking through my old weekly devblogs there were definitely some dead weeks clogging up my work flow: If I can just get better at avoiding those, I should be able to do a lot to assure the overall progress speed of the project.
So, what’s next?
This week, I’m going to be working on establishing a functioning system for entities (enemies, special objects, scripted events, etc). Once this is functional, and I can create test enemies, I’ll begin work on the attack system.
Here’s hoping this year of work will be better than the last!