Darwinian Diversion

After beating my brains for a week, I finally reached the point on Saturday that I looked at what I created but realized that I was running on empty.   While the code may have been a bit better built through practice, the game I created was even less interesting than my previous versions.  My “keep it simple” focus may have made me a better coder, but I was a significantly worse game designer than I was just a week ago.

Clearly, my batteries needed recharging.

I had been waiting for Darwinia to become packaged with Multiwinia for a good value, and discovered that Steam was selling the two packaged for $15.  I’m glad I shelled out for it.  The novelty in the intros alone was worth the entrance price, the rest of Darwinia was riveting enough that I completed the main storyline and all the few side missions in one sitting (about 10 hours).

Darwinia is remarkable in that it is very much a dynamic world game.   Through your actions, a virus-infested digital world with a broken infrastructure becomes mended.  The changes you make will persist even if you go to other maps – a few viruses might inexplicably return, but if you built a powerful defensive infrastructure, your Darwinians can now handle themselves.   Leave a map and be taken to a map selection screen where apparently the little digital souls – the consequences of your warfare – can be seen floating through the virtual cosmos between maps.

Brilliant, brilliant game.  Well, the interface was a bit awkward here and there – using explosives with my squads was as likely to kill them as it was the enemy because I may not have been able to notice the curvature of the terrain – but nonetheless Darwinia was a thoroughly enjoyable experience with a deep message throughout.

Consider my batteries recharged.

It seems that my “keep it simple” focus in game development was regrettably misplaced.  The purpose of coding is to create code which serves your needs, and a “keep it simple” focus was me attempting to serve the code’s needs.  What I really need to do – and I’m bad at getting myself to do this – is sit down and brainstorm the awesome game concept first, working out just enough essential details that I know how to make it work.

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