Cut scope or park?

I had an idea for a project a little while ago that I’ve been slowly working on in bits and pieces at a time amongst other stuff.  It’s slowly growing and I’m at a point whereby I’m trying to decide whether to cut it back down to basics or park it until I have more free time to work on it.

I always intend to not get carried away but think of improvements and want to try and make things better and then…

The thing I’m working on is using Ink and was supposed to be just a small narrative thing, but then thought about expanding it out to be like a linguistic RPG with a GBA Pokémon kind of aesthetic, but obviously that takes greater time to do.

As well as this I’m working on a project with some friends and I am still trying to figure out how to balance these with my part-time job, other commitments and trying to do stuff that will ultimately lead to some kind of career so that I won’t need the part-time work.

2017

2016 was a big year for me personally/professionally.  I left a job that was draining me in February to pursue video game development.  I said at the time if needs be I’ll find some kind of work come January, although in June I got offered some part-time work that was still not in a field that I wanted to be in, but helped keep a roof over my head.  Two steps forward, one sideways.

However, I did release my first game (Robbing HUD) back in August.  Work on it started around May and I decided to try and do a simple self-contained idea to start and finish something.  It was a great feeling to finish that (even if I never got round to the Mac port as I don’t own a Mac) and it taught me a lot about aspects of Unity, but also general project planning.

Since then I’ve begun working on a visual novel with some friends.  Making decent progress with the programming side of things and we’ve pretty much got the story side sorted.  We’re writing it in Ink and I’m trying to build tools to then more easily build interactive fiction stuff in the future.  Had an idea for a small game recently and might try and do that soon.

In 2017 I’m hoping to release the games mentioned above and I also want to do more art.  Spent a lot of the last few years on the programming side of things but I want to try and do more art.  I’m out of practice and I know I’m going to be self-conscious about that, but I need to rip the bandage off.  Similarly, I’d like to do more writing.  Did some for the game mentioned above and felt great to exercise those muscles.

One thing I did achieve in 2016 is to keep this updated somewhat regularly.  No more posting every year saying “I should post more”.

All in all 2016 wasn’t too bad for me personally (let’s ignore what happened in the world), and I hope 2017 will be the year things really take off for me professionally.

Where I’m At

Been a while.  I went on holiday for two weeks and have been fighting a cold for the last week or so.  Been trying to do a few things but I’m exhausted most of the day.  Fun times.

However, trying to figure out where I’m going next.

Working on a project with some others and they’re focusing on the creative side and I’m trying to set up some Unity Editor scripts which is an interesting challenge (read: confusing and not as documented as I’d like) but not getting that creative itch scratched quite as much.

Considering doing a NaNoWriMo maybe using something like Ink.  That might occupy me and maybe I’ll finally finish one.  Who knows.

Also considering doing a series of small self-jams on occasional weekends to work on a side project.  Got an idea for one and just trying to figure out scope and requirements at the moment.  This is where I wished I was working with others in the same room as I have conflicting ideas and I’m trying to work through them so I’ve ended up here, obviously.

Infamous 2’s New Marais

I love cities.  There’s something so intriguing to me about how they evolve to handle the people within it, and the people within it shape and are shaped by it.  When I tend to go on holiday it is typically a city break.

Some of my favourite pieces of fictional work create cities that feel real.  Whether these are entirely fictional cities or existing ones set in the future.  One thing I love about Akira and Ghost in the Shell, particularly the mangas, is that the cities real realized.  There are areas, boroughs and a sense of people living (or in some cases, avoiding) these areas.  Unlike sometimes where cities are nothing more than landmarks and spaces between them.

Infamous 2

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Robbing HUD now available

My very first completed game is now available to purchase!

A year ago I posted on Facebook “Oh screw this.  Who wants to set up a studio?”  I can’t recall what drove me to that, but the outcome has been good!  A lot of people seemed interested and that’s still ticking away, but in the mean time I’ve been working on my own stuff and after some last minute crunch I managed to get Robbing HUD available for today to mark the anniversary.

It was always meant to be just a little project to try out some stuff but hopefully it’s at least fun and entertaining in some capacity.  I’ve learnt a lot along the way so that’s all that really matters eh?

Hoping to do a few more little projects (even smaller than this) to try out a few ideas and get to grips on some stuff.

You can find out more about the game and download it from the Robbing HUD page.  Price is completely up to you.

If you give the game a chance let me know what you think.  Would love to hear any feedback you have.

It’s great to finally have something out though.  All those years of playing games and now I made one!  That’s kind of weird, but really cool and exciting.  Hopefully the start of many more 🙂

Reviewing feedback

Got some feedback on Robbing HUD from two of the people that agreed to test it.

There was some really useful feedback on the balance as that was one area I really wanted to get some feedback on as I was very much just playing to test if things broke when I played it.

There was also useful feedback on the overall difficulty.  I always wanted it to be challenging, but seems it might be unfairly challenging.  The difficulty apparently ramps up too quickly and the maths quizzes become undoable in the allocated time.  In addition to this information wasn’t clear (such as which jobs would earn more/less money).

Now I’m trying to decide where to go with this.  I intended the game to be a quick simple project just for the sake of having something out there and I could tidy up a few bits and get it out quickly.  I always ended to release it as a set your own price kind of game so I wasn’t too concerned about it being ‘perfect’ (or near), but perhaps I should consider spending a bit more time just tidying up a few bits so at least it plays better.

On the one hand I don’t want to labour too much over what was intended to be a rough quick project, but on the other I don’t want to ignore the possibility of improving things after dedicating a bit more time.  Think I may try and do a half-way between those two things, just need to figure out what that half-way would contain.

Just gone through and listed 12 changes I would consider (others are worthwhile, just not in the scope of this project).  Seven of them are small changes that will be implemented and now I’m just trying to figure out how much time the other five would take and what exactly they would entail (as they’re not simple “change this to this” kind of things but additions of features or significant changes of existing ones).

Microdecisions

While working I’ve been musing on ‘microdecisions’.  With this current project I’ve tried to really think it out in advance – plan each stage, possible action, script needed etc but of course as you go through you realise something you hadn’t fully considered, or something doesn’t work as planned and all that.

I do like just grabbing a scrap of paper and scribbling it out and resolving it, just a shame not everything is document.  I would like a project one day to be fully documented so I can look back at the history and hopefully learn from it.  Or I may never want to look at it again!

AI AI AI

Trying to get enemy AI working is proving to be a huge headache.

Trying to piece together different states and get them all working is more complicated than I thought it would be!  Re-wrote it and that helped a bit, but still having problems with the pathfinding system.  If there’s more than one enemy the target point goes off and I can’t figure out why.

Wish Unity had a 2D navmesh system built in.  Looked around and tried some assets but not having much look.

Week off reflection

This week I’ve been off work and tried to make progress with the video game project I’m working on.  As Sunday is drawing to an end, unfortunately, I thought I’d reflect on the things I’ve managed to achieve:

  • Set up a prototype
  • Got the player moving (although I have at the moment taken an open source script for that)
  • Got the enemy moving, rotating and shooting randomly
  • Got it so that if the player is in sight of the enemy when it shoots they get money deducted and an icon briefly pops up
  • Player must pick up an item before they can exit (item disappears on pickup)
  • Player must pick up all items before they can exit, although at the moment it’s a hard-coded number.  Would ultimately be a proper count of how many items there are in the scene
  • Player can exit and character is destroyed
  • Overarching timer running while the game is active.  Not doing much now, but will come in handy
  • If a player gets shot too many times it calls the police
  • If it keeps happening it calls another policeperson
  • If it happens after that its game over and timer is stopped
  • Began work on the Design Document.  Managed to get a fair bit done in terms of story, structure and mechanics.  Need to sit down and factor in the creative side (art, music etc) at some point
  • Tried to arrange a meeting with people involved.  Nobody has responded yet but let’s assume they will…

Obviously still a lot to do, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made thus far.  Unfortunately as of tomorrow I’m working 12 days in a row and then after that in Greece for 4 days (less unfortunate) so won’t get too much time to spend on it in the coming weeks.  I want to get a basic inventory system in place, a UI to display the money the player has and figure out exactly how I’m going to structure all of the different enemy types.  Oh and the design document.

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