Friday, July 1, 2011

Further Evaluation of this Blog's Function and the Fate of Reconstructing S31

It has been a little over a week since I posted on this blog and since I have quite a bit to say, this will be a rather long post.

First, I am going to write about what I am interested in doing with this blog next. The original idea was to write a medium sized post every day, talking about something I had done related to game development or whatever else that was on my mind that was on the subject. Basically, it was to hold me accountable to pursue my interests more seriously and to train myself to write things down instead of keeping everything held up in my mind. Also, writing is an excellent intellectual exercise and I can honestly say that I do not do enough of it for fun. The purpose of the blog was for me to have a solidified place where I could write about one of my interests. Though I am pretty sure no one else has read this blog, theoretically anyone can, so by making my writing available to the public I am forced to hold up some sort of standard of quality, which I am not sure I have done well. It is almost always a useful method: quality of quantity. Yet my focus was on a post a day, which is not itself an impractical goal, but after a while a mentality of, "Well, I guess I have to write about something today," arises and the fatigue sets in. It is probably because I am extremely lazy and I am a really amateur writer that this is the trap which I found myself captured by.

I now want to shift the emphasis from a post a day to writing when I have enough content to make a quality post. There is still an urgency in my mind to keep myself continually writing, so this nine day break will probably be an uncommon occurrence still (hopefully). The blog is still only about game development, since that is the most productive and interesting thing I will usually want to write about. Plus, I am an aspiring game developer and, well, who knows where this thing can eventually go? So here is to the hope that "The Edifice of Enterprise" continues onward!

Let me change the topic to where I last left off: Reconstructing S31. This is probably going to turn in to a scrapped project unfortunately, joining my collection of fifty something other failed attempts to make a complete game. Why? Well, I said that I had an idea for a new approach to the gameplay of the game. That concept was to have make the game more like an adventure game in mechanics and to basically make the who shipyard a large collection of systems that the player would have to mess around with in order to rebuild the huge robot controlled factory. The shipyard itself would become the main character, having a mind of its own that control the probe that rode along the rails fixing everything. However, there ended up being two problems with this idea that led to me not even investing much time in a prototype. First, Game Maker is not really good when it comes to handling complex, dynamic systems like this that are made of many unique, but often times similar parts. This is because of the way Game Maker handles instances and objects (classes). I can't have instances of an object have different initial values (as far as I am aware of). Each element would have to be coded individually, and while Game Maker has parenting, the pipeline of creating new objects in Game Maker eventually becomes really bogged down and inefficient if one has too many.

Second, the idea never proved itself to be fun. Of course it is different and sort of unique, but it never allowed for the player to be, well, playful. They would click in all the right spots, move to all the right areas, and then at the end they get a pat on the back for winning. There was no room for strategy, improvisation, and imagination in the world I was creating, which was a deep flaw. Making video games is really, really, really hard. This is not hyperbole; it is the honest truth. This difficulty increases when it is a solo project (though some things are actually easier by oneself). I need a strong passion for and belief in my vision of the final product in order to set forth and create a game. I did not have that for Reconstructing S31 once it reached this point.

 And thus Reconstructing S31 is hereby to dropped into the folder on my computer labeled "Failed Projects," joining a large company of friends. On each project I learn something new, so I never have any regrets and it is the same case here. I became a significantly better spriter, programmer, and designer by focusing on this project. I also learned more about myself as a developer and what I should and should not do. It wasn't huge, but Reconstructing S31 was still too big. I didn't have a fun or complete playable prototype at the beginning and I focused to much on the fiction of the game (which still boggles my mind since I am so anti-story in games). These lessons and experiences allow me to grow and gain experience, the most important things for someone who some day wants to make games for a living must do.

So, what will I do next?

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