The reason for the lack of progress and how it all begins

Even though there isnt many people who are interested in the project but for the few who are anticipating its arrival, i suppose i have some accounting to do (or rather, the entire year). As you would probably have realised, almost no work has been done recently. There are some tweaks and a couple of levels created, but nothing very substantial. There are a couple of reasons for this, which i think game developers are able to empathise with.

1. Lack of experience in level design.
I have to admit that i used to scoff at level designers, back before i actually started working on levels. I was never interested in level design, which explains why i often abandon projects after the engine is completed. I almost never went beyond the coding phase. Perhaps that’s why the only games ive actually finished are minigames.

To me, level designers simply use the engine the programmers painstakingly created and refined, and place tiles and enemies randomly. However, i cant be more wrong. A mario level may seem extremely simplistic, but underlying it is a whole lot of design choices. Placement of tiles and enemies need to be creative, so the players don’t feel that they are simply going through motions. It also has to offer just enough challenge for the players. I just cant make a level that seems fun, thus the amount of time that goes into this aspect.

2. Lack of confidence.
I was never a confident person, and this lack of confidence has somehow affected the project in more ways than one. Take the art of the game for instance, it certainly look better than anything that ive done thus far. However, when placed against other top-selling 2D indie games, it loses out. Any person who look at the screenshot of the game would not find it attractive enough to warrant a purchase.

There are indeed a couple of levels done, but since im the one playing it, I was unsure of my feelings. Am i really finding it fun because it really is, or am i not having fun but is only pretending to because it’s a product of my own creation? I always believe the latter. Therefore, i would sometime hesitate while i was making the game. Is the time spent really worth it in the end? and would the game even be fun once its done?

3. Simply too ambitious.
I was not planning to make it this ambitious, but as i develop the game, my ambition for the game grew to dangerous proportions. Part of it is because the game lacks planning, and mechanics are therefore not restricted to the design document (which of course may not be bad thing). The core mechanics alone (the modding mechanic) is ambitious enough, but playing other games further fuel that ambition. For instance, playing MGS : peace walker has inspired me to adopt a “base” mechanic in the game.

4. Lack of time.
This is undoubtedly the most important reason why the game was delayed so much. About 11 months ago, i started university, and education has taken up majority of my time. Pixel, the developer of the critically acclaimed Cave Story, spent his leisure time in college making the game. It’s indeed possible, but im the type who would spend all my time concentrating on studies – aka a “mugger”, in Singapore slang. Grades just matter to me more than the development of the game. It may be the important period of my life, one that would steer my career and opens up more opportunity in the future. Time wasted here cannot be given back.

In fact, i am concentrating on my studies even in this 2+ months of holidays in preparation for school. I’m that crazy.

 

Having given my reasons for the lack of progress, i will give a little story of how it all begins. It started with physics, yes PHYSICS. During the 6 months waiting for university, i wanted to use my knowledge of physics to create something interesting (i really love physics you see). I thought adding weight to bullets, altering speed and directions, could create some really cool effects.

Add that to a game that i was playing then, Borderlands. I did not even finish the game, but the promise of a great number of guns intrigued me. I thought a deep customisation option would be available for a game that focuses on gun variety, but i was immensely disappointed to learn that modifying the guns obtained was impossible. The game just throws you guns that are randomly generated.

Now wouldn’t it be perfect if you can obtain a great number of guns, and modify them in every way by adding modifiers like weight and speed? The amount of customisation options would be endless! And there it begins, an experiment with physics combined with a disappointment in Borderlands. The first prototype was created in Multimedia Fusion, and i managed to create a few guns and mods. While the experiment was a success, the special effects was horrible. Fire doesn’t look like fire, and ice doesn’t look like ice. Also, combining fire, ice and lightning create something that looks more messy than pretty. I almost ended it back then.

Then i started learning XNA, hopefully to learn some real game programming and get more control over my projects. Since some sprites were already created in the first prototype, i ported them over and started creating a platform engine. I was really just experimenting with XNA… but i can’t stop. I was in love. The amount of control given were perfect, and everything that happens on-screen is exactly what i expected them to be. Moreover, XNA allows the use of additive blending which greatly enhances the special effects which used to be really messy. I just had to continue and see where it takes me.

Then development begins even to this day…

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~ by HW on June 23, 2011.

2 Responses to “The reason for the lack of progress and how it all begins”

  1. Glad to see you still have this project somehow alive, maybe in vegetative state, but still alive after all!

    1.- you can learn or I would be more than glad to help! I understand you don’t get motivated by something you don’t like to do, it happens to all of us…

    2.- you are very wrong, the game looks very good, specially in action! The anims and particle effects are very well done. There are big sellers with “bad”, or I’d rather say simple, graphics (see Breath of Death VII, which has sold more than 50,000 copies). So if the game is good people will buy despite the graphics, still your graphics are fairly good.

    3.- Ambition is bad XD Better a small game completed than 10 amazing demos unfinished.

    4.- Not much you can do about that, maybe dedicating as much as you can every week, it’s important to have it present.

    I’m still looking forward to see this game, it’s gonna be good, I just know it XD Keep it up man!

  2. Thanks for the encouraging words! 🙂

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