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Abandoning a Reckless Pace

Neither Re-Hoard nor Reckless Abandon are going to be released by Comi-Con this year.

Ever since my last post, I took my time both recovering and considering my needs. I realized that I would not be able to deliver a good product (or maybe any product) by that deadline. My health and other kinds of energy trump any business opportunities.

That does not mean that I would stop. I just needed to recover from the deadly pace I took. In fact, a couple of days ago, I reoriented myself on listing what both games still needed.

However, I fear that, given that this is my second delay, I am setting up an image of lazy unreliability.

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Recklessly Stuck

I am surprised and embarrassed on being stuck in this game. The coding itself did not give me problems this time, but the content did. Worse, I thought that I had developed the idea thoroughly, but I have problems finding out how I should do the exhibits. I got a general idea, but I got trouble turning that idea into specific exhibits.

…I do not like stopping here, especially since I want to have both games done by Comi-Con, but I feel that I need to do more research beforehand. Besides, this is just a temporary detour.

…at least I hope that this is just a temporary detour…

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72 hours…

I earlier mentioned that, because both Re-Hoard and Reckless Abandon are half-developed, I can follow eevee’s lead on developing these Pico-8 games in 72 hours.

The issue is that eevee developed her game in 72 dedicated hours (save necessities, of course).

…I can dedicate myself that much, though, to some extent, but this is a flash of perspective that I missed when I wrote my last post.

I should get to playing around with the demos today.

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I should start over.

Not long after I posted my last post, I fully realized that, when I was making my first game, I actually did very little preparatory work before just diving into the editor. Despite how fun that would sound, I was clueless all this time at how stuff worked in the Pico-8! Most relevantly, how could I learn how the opponents were to move if I had trouble with the physics!

That was stupid of me.

I decided to take my time exploring the Pico-8 more thoroughly before I go back to the game. I would still work on the assets, but the actual coding would have to wait until I get used to things more.

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Delays and Re-Hoard

One of the most iconic quotes from Shigeru Miyamoto: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” However, in the Internet, a couple of interesting rebuttals to this quote is Duke Nukem: Forever and The Mighty No. 9, that is, games that had a large development time but ended up underperforming terribly. The problem with that rebuttal is that both of them had undergone gross mismanagement during their long development times. Duke Nukem: Forever kept changing companies. The Mighty No. 9 was Keiji Inafune’s first time managing a game by himself, which involved him making horrible mistakes with his backer’s money among other things.

My time with Re-Hoard gave me an idea of the trouble Mr. Inafune had to stand. The only reason why I am not undergoing the same controversy is because, while Mr. Inafune as running on the money of a huge number of fans who wanted him to revive the same iconic MegaMan franchise that made Mr. Inafune historic in the first place, I am an unknown person who is making something entirely new on my own resources. Also, while The Mighty No. 9 had its development known far and wide, I made public only the source code of my game Re-Hoard because I do not want to cause such a fuss over any problems from my failing to deliver.

Of course, because this is my first game that I am fully developing and releasing, I have gone against a lot of mistakes on the overall development procedure, the most important being my own responsibility on development. More specifically, while I wanted to develop daily, I spent weeks without touching the game. Eventually, I did get around to work.

However…

ReHoardLogic

This is the farthest I could go in developing how the opponents were supposed to act in my game. I stopped in March 3rd.

…I soon remembered why I stopped in the first place. I was not just procrastinating; I was frustrated at not being able to plan how my game is supposed to run! This was the farthest I could do when planning the behavior of the opponents in the game. After that, I would still have to deal with the behavior of the player dragon, the switching between stages, the title screen, and the music, let alone the debugging! At least I managed to find good visual designs of the opponents and the treasure.

I feel stupid and useless over this inability. I spent 5 years in my Bachelor’s Degree and 3 years in my Master’s Degree; shouldn’t I be able to do this stuff by now?

 

I should not be so hard on myself here; this is actually the first time I coded around the Pico-8 API. A lot of things are still new to me. Writing this, I wonder if I went too fast before starting to code my game, even if my game is relatively simple.

I think this would be the best time that I would request help in the forums. I did not want to do so because that might leave a bad impression on others, that is, one where I would promise without delivering a game, but, because I want to actually deliver my game, I willingly put away what is, in the end, just an assumption.

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Uploaded my re-hoarded notes

I just uploaded my notes on the development of Re-Hoard. Hopefully, the help I would get would have the necessary information.

What’s weird is that, though I expected to go to writing the code after I wrote my notes, I found out that I also needed to organize my notes into actual algorithms instead of thinking that the notes are already algorithms in themselves. I realise that I would need actual flowcharts out of this, too.

A weirder thing is that, even though all I did was clean up and clarify my notes, I was no longer willing to work until tomorrow. I thought that this was a trait that only came up during my final project in college.

Then again, these days, I have been adjusting to a life where I essentially have control of all my time. I already developed a surprisingly high amount of self-discipline back at my final year in college, but this transition from following instructions to doing your own work just began. I mean, even when I had a lot of free reign on the things I could do in my final project, I still had to answer to the school staff. Here, I have to do everything and respond to myself. This level of responsibility, while lower-pressure in a way, is something to what I have to get used gradually. I am only getting the hang of these things around this week.

I hope that I would develop more regularly, now.

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I struggle with re-hoarding…

I went back to development, but…

…my struggles with developing Re-Hoard returned. I had hit a roadblock in designing the opponents. More specifically:

  • I do not know what their character designs would be. I am currently toying with them either be color-coded humans or color-coded weapons.
  • While I have fully-written concepts on how they should move, translating them into an actual algorithm is no easy task.
  • I still need to find a way where to place them in the current stage. (I establish a half-way point between the entrance and the treasure. All opponents would be placed in a random spot within the range of the treasure and this half-way point.)
  • Because Lua is not an object-oriented language, I got troubles managing the fake objects… especially with the way they would interact with the physics code.
  • I would also have to find a way how they would disappear if the dragon attacks them.

After this, there is the random picker of what class would be the opponent, the animations of the dragon retreating if an opponent touches or attacks the dragon, drawing more sprites (especially the treasure, of which I do not know what would be) the title screen, the algorithm that decides when to play each song, and so on…

…no wonder I am struggling. I have problems with words, especially in defining the problem.

Maybe I can get help, if I should…

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Eating You Own Dog Food

Apparently, the software industry has an expression: “eating your own dog food”. That means that you actually use the software that you make.

This seems so obvious, yet I can understand why “eating your own dog food” is its own thing. When I work on software, I think in terms that are either very abstract (the requirements, the functionality) or low-level (the code). Even testing the software involves a state of mind that is far different from simply using the code. The software itself becomes an abstraction instead of an actual product. I can also understand the software development process being so harsh that you do not want to deal with the software anymore.

I hope the games I do make do not make me feel this way.

I earlier said that a gruelling development did not permanently diminish my game development desire. What I do not know is if I would actually enjoy the games I make. That would be a big requirement: if I did not enjoy the games I made, what would make sure that others would? In fact, I fear this time in my life that I would never enjoy a game I made. After all, I never finished a game! Even my final project was a mere engine demo that had a big development history!

The sad thing is that part of the reason why I make games is because I want to play games that I like. Re-Hoard is such a fun concept. Wuu Shyng is the Pokémon game I wanted. A big number of game ideas are of games that I wish I could enjoy myself.

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Liberating

My time after graduating from college feels liberating. No longer do I have to struggle through a fast-paced, quickly-compounding schedule that involves stuff that might not even interest me. These days, I can finally learn the things I want to learn and work on the things on which I want to work. I can play and work at the times that fit me best; I know that I like to relax in the morning, but I get into a working mindset at noon then get cumulatively more productive into the night.

Primarily, I have been continuously finding different ways of organizing myself; I have a lot of stuff that I wanted to do but had to put off until after graduation! I also have been reading on game design and character design recently.  I even tried out some vaporwave music, which eventually inspired me to try again with music-making, that is, a weak area of mine! (If only I could make vaporwave-style loops in the Pico-8, now…)

Of course, this new freedom has its own risks. Away from a setting directed by structured, time-sensitive expectations, my own responsibility plays a much bigger part. A lack of responsibility in this situation leads to wasted days. Then again, the time I spent during my master’s degree was time developing some much-needed soft skills, responsibility being one of them. I ended up learning how to lead my interests; I followed my whims if they advanced productively. For example, during my final project, I had a schedule that flexibly stated which areas of my development would receive my focus each day, but, if I felt like doing something from a different stage, I followed that whim because I would harness that momentual motivation towards the end goal: the completed project. Another example would be the situation in the first paragraph here; I am studying game design and character design while looking into music-making, all areas that would benefit my game-making career.

Then again, harnessing my interests towards productive ends is easy when you naturally want to do your job in the first place. Even when I got full-on tired after the high-pressure situation from my master’s project, I got a hankering for game development just a week after submitting all my work. These days, working on game development is actually both fun and relaxing.

That does not mean that procrastination is not an issue. Right now, I am not looking forward to actually coding the game because I am still figuring out how to use a from of simulated object-oriented programming in solving the problem of generating opponents per each round of play in  my game Re-Hoard. I am not really one to shy away from hard work, but the real issue is the lack of clarity of the solution I seek and a fear that I would get myself into deeper problems during the process. Re-Hoard is my responsibility, though, plus I have already progressed so much in the game development. What I plan on doing is doing a little of the problem at a time, working until my comfort runs out, yet returning to the problem frequently. I find that this way of approaching big problems works best with me.

Coincidentally, I have been doing everything, not just “work work,” in terms of “a little at a time”. I plan, read, research, and experiment a little at a time. I would attribute this to both my much more relaxed situation and my own natural preference to the more easy-going.

After all, even this blog is an “idyll romp.”

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A Couple of Sites That Have Free Game Assets

Here, I keep a couple of websites that were useful in linking me to free assets that I could use in my games, including material under Creative Commons licenses. Some of these links are actually themselves curated lists of more resources!

These websites contain assets related to :

  • 2D sprites, 3D models, textures
  • songs, loops, sound effects
  • game engines, frameworks
  • tutorials

While this is different fwom the usual type of blog post that I write in Idyll Romp, I figured that my readers would appreciate these links.