Monday, May 14, 2012

Doubts, Fears, Frustration, Perseverance


I'm in the last weeks of making my game, and sometimes I feel like I'm beating my head against the wall.
Game Salad

I'm using Game Salad to build my game.  

I've tried programming in the past. I built a text adventure as a kid. It was a massive task (largely a homage to Space Quest), and ended with just one chapter of the adventure done, only a handful of interactions possible, and as soon as you teleport to a new dimension, you'll hit lines of text like, "This is as far as the adventure goes, not programmed yet!" This was GWBasic in about 1987. Thousands of lines, all numbered with GOTO rules everywhere. A nightmare.

Suffice to say, I've tried programming since, but it never worked. I learned something every time, but it's not for me, I don't want to do low level programming. I have enough to deal with doing the design, music, sound, art, promo... everything.

Along comes Game Salad! 

Let's start with the downside to Game Salad:
  • It's not the fastest engine. (Improvements are promised to be on the way).
  • It can only do 2D.
  • It can be a bit slow to work in, in some ways.
But the benefits far outweigh these issues:
  • I can make my own games!
  • I don't need to get a programmer on board to make my own personal projects.
  • You can focus on game logic, and ignore system/engine development.
  • You can publish to iOS, Android, Mac, and to the game Salad Arcade (HTML5).
  • You can publish with it for FREE, or pay for extra features. (I'm a Pro member).
The real problem for me is that I keep making games that are too complex. 

I should be making a cool quirky word game! But I keep making relatively complex action games.

Game Salad is built around an internal scripting language called LUA, and it's not all that fast. Games that someone could code from scratch and run smoothly on an iPhone 3G, run like sludge in Game Salad. It's not highly efficient. (Although like I said, this is hopefully going to be improved soon with a version of Game Salad with the LUA ripped out and replaced with native code).

I've learned more about what Game Salad can do, and what it can't. And also, what I'm capable of, and what I'm not so good at.

I want to make an adventure game. A game with a story, with rich voice acting and a great musical score. That's what I want to play, and that's what I want to make.

I'm excited about what I've learned. I'm excited that I've achieved so much with this game. I want to work on the next game. But this game needs to be finished. And I'm worried I'll never get it smooth. I hate that I can't get it to run smoothly. It makes the controls feel unresponsive at time, and generally looks unprofessional.

Player feedback

Making games is hard, because you have to finish them. Everything needs to be tied up neatly. Everything needs to work, and serve the game.

And every time I show my game to someone they have feedback, thoughts, ideas. That's great. But everyone has DIFFERENT ideas! And it's impossible to tell exactly what the best thing to do is. You have your own ideas, and they fight one another. Then other people's feedback and feelings are thrown into the mix as well. It can be a challenge!


My brother Hill testing the game on iPad

Mother's Day
Checking out my latest version after a nice family get together.
Dad says "Put it out! Time for the next game!" 
I think I'm inclined to agree with him.

Polish, Expectations, Fear

After working at Firemint for 4 years, I know what a good game looks like. I know how much effort goes into polishing a game up just right before releasing it. And I just don't think I can do it. It's a tough place to be in.

I wish I'd made a simpler game. You can never make a game TOO simple, if it's fun! It's win win! Make a simple game, get it out! Hope people like it! Then design another rad simple game. That's what I'm trying to do, but the games keep getting away from me! They keep growing.

Yesterday, I thought about building a whole new game to put out in one week. I still think that might be a good idea. Am I mad?

Should I just put this game out and hope for the best? Just do the best I can? 

There's No Excuses

I can hear all my excuses...

"It's just my first game, it was for me to learn how to build my own complete game. I've learned a lot! I know it's not very good. I know the framerate is jerky. The next one won't be!" 

It's not good enough. These are no excuses. I want my ALL my games to be great. That's what made Firemint great. We made hit after hit. Flight Control. Real Racing. SPY mouse. All hits. And that took time, and a lot of work. We didn't release games before they were ready. The core managers, Rob and Kynan, were always determined to improve every feature, iron out every krinkle, make it the best we possibly could. That's what makes hit games. Those guys really know how to make games, when they're left to weave their magic.

I like my game. I do. But I can't reconcile my hopes for the game with what I have in front of me at the moment. And I can't see my way around some of the discrepancies. 

Fear Is Good

This fear is good for me. You should feel the fear, or you're probably releasing something average, something with problems you can't be bothered to fix. I want to fix the problems, to make it better! Sometimes I'm bashing my table out of frustration, trying to fix or find a bug, but when I come out the other side, it was all worth it.

Wish Me Luck!

All I can do is keep working, and try to beat away al the bugs, all the slow downs, and come out the other side with a really fun first game.

Wish me luck. The invaders are coming.


No comments:

Post a Comment