Beating the brains for a week

Thanksgiving Vacation is here: I’ve 8 days off, and with them an opportunity to do some serious BYOND game development.

For me, it seems that Original Game Development is very much a cyclical thing: I decide on what I want to do, code a bit, test it, and then decide on what I want to do again.  I make so little progress that, to the casual observer, it may seem I’m just really bad at it. Thus, it was with some relief that when I was thumbing through Jesse Schnell’s masterpiece not too long ago that I read that professional game designers have a similar cycle of refinement: design, code, test.  Over and over again, each cycle improving the game, with no real end other than an unmovable deadline or depleted budget, forcing them to release what they got.  It seems I’m a natural that I ended up doing this by accident.

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past that I enjoy thinking, so I have to admit, this mental exercise is a lot of fun for me.  Though you may not think highly of game developers, they really are fantastic thought technicians, not content with boring reality and so they go off and invent whole new interesting simulations of reality refined to such a minute detail that even an overgrown calculator can reproduce them.  Richard Garriott may have always been an astronaut of sorts, as what is a game designer if not a person who is not quite content with life on Earth so they undergo an incredible ordeal on a slim chance they may find a more entertaining alternative?

However, as much as I enjoy the thought exercise, there’s more at stake than a satisfying puzzle.  As far as society is concerned, the difference between a genius and a moron has a lot to do with whether or not they produce something of worth to them.  It’s not true – genius exists whether or not there’s artifacts to prove it – but society in general only cares about one thing: results.

My life is most definitively without results, and I’ve only my own love of games to blame.  If I want to prove myself was more than a moron to a self-centered society, I need to produce something to show it.  What better idea than to leverage my own love of games, dislike of poor games, and the infinite game-of-making-a-game of game design, to try and create better ones?

This fundamental line of reasoning is the main thing that has generated the focus needed to dedicate so much time towards game development lately.  It’s time to start showing the world what I can do.   If “what I can do” amounts to “suck,” well, at least it was good practice.  Maybe I’ll produce excellence if I put the game through some additional cycles, or maybe I’ll go completely back to the drawing board wiser for the experience.  Were it not for this attitude, likely I would be too paralyzed by fear of failure to do anything.  Now, I only need two things: the opportunity and focus to keep trying.

4 Responses

  1. Is it too early to know more about the game rather than the process and decisions leading up to wanting to make one?

  2. Happy to do so, but at this point I might be getting peoples hopes up. As coincidence would have it, I just took it back to the drawing board again a few moments ago.

    I was so encouraged by my little “nanite briefcase that builds a base” example that I thought I’d create a whole Mass Effect-like game that existed on three layers: A “personal” layer where you’re basically a space marine (or whatever), a “planet” layer where you’re traveling around in a vehicle (this would be somewhat like a mech game), and a “space” layer where you’re traveling around the universe in a spaceship.

    Now, reality has reasserted itself, and I realize I should probably scale back my ambition a bit if I want to have something completed any time soon. One of the things that really annoyed me was I implemented a standard inventory and realized that’s such a PITA to maintain with so little favorable gameplay impact. (It normally wouldn’t have been that hard but I decided to create multifuncitonal equipment. E.g. a pistol would have the ability to do a snap shot, burst fire, power shot, ect, and it would dynamically swap depending on what kind of tool I had equipped.)

    I decided to think outside the box on this one. Currently, what I have right now is currently shaping up to be a game about colonizing a planets’ surface using robots. It’s kind of a hybrid between M.U.L.E., Dwarf Fortress and Planetside. There’s very few games like this, but they’re all based on some tried-and-true principles, and most importantly they’re conductive to Dynamic Content which is my main feature.

    As this basically is a prototype for dynamic content gameplay, I’m trying to keep things simple this time around, so all the action takes place on the same map. There will, however, be an extensive player economy if all goes according to plan.

  3. Cool, look forward to what you come up with.

  4. […] After beating my brains for a week, I finally reached the point on Saturday that I realized that what I was developing in BYOND was […]

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