2009: New year, new plans


  1. I will finish a game this year. There will be no worrying about check points along the way or releasing an engine, the game will always come first. I’m not guaranteeing it will be good or that it will be a version 1 release, but  I will have a game.
  2. I will post once a week about the progress I am making or about things that are making me a better Game Maker.

Where is the game at and what is next?
I can summarize where I am in three sentences: Fly around and shoot asteroids. Large asteroids then break up into smaller asteroids which can then be destoryed and they dissappear completely. Run into asteroids and you will lose health but not die.

What to do tonight?
I love simplifying things and my view on work is that there are always two options for progress:

  1. Plan work
  2. Do work

Everywhere I have ever worked over plans and under delivers. I’m going to spend 5 minutes planning and an hour working. Planning should always be to get more work done.

Today’s quick plan (5 minutes):

  • Add a number of lives for the player and a death state
  • Create a “you win” when all the asteroids are cleared

Today’s results (1.5 hours):
Completed the plan and got lives and a you win case in. The you win continually increases the number of asteroids you have to destroy.

Today’s post (1.0 hours):
Posting is taking WAY to long. I decided to do a video again today and it is a long laborous process and since the video is boring I don’t think it will be worth doing these until I have something cool to show!

Project Assessment
Tonight’s progress drew me to two conclusions: My games currently sucks and it takes to long to modify stuff in my code base. It is still better to have a game that sucks than something that isn’t a game!

What are the next steps to make this fun?

  1. Sense of motion – You cannot tell where you are or how fast you are going. Need some starfield and some parallax going on.
  2. Controls – Inertia and movement speeds suck. Cannot aim or fly easily. I’m going to have to play with the force and inertia and find out why impulses are varying so much with Box2D. I think parallax will help here as well.
  3. Firing should be exciting and fun – Shooting is currently boring, hard to aim and uninteresting. I need bullets to die after a certain amount of time and not get stuck on the edges. They also need to pack a wallop and go where you intend to shoot them. I’m having real inertia problems here and might need to design around it.
  4. Finding asteroids – The game size to asteroid ratio became sparse today and that sucks. Might need a mini-map in the corner to help the hunting.
  5. Visual reward for destruction – No explosions/scoring for killing an asteroid. I think I need to add some explosions to things that die and perhaps have some kind of collectible in them for killing them.
  6. Sense of Peril – There isn’t anything to kill you yet but bad driving. Until I can easily fly around and shoot rocks this doesn’t bother me yet. One thing at a time.
  7. Visual punishment for death – Not really easy to die and it goes by without noticing. Death is probably less important than peril.
  8. Camera on edges – Camera is just centered and shows game world edges. Need to look at something that hugs the edges and perhaps something that lets me scale the visual distance better.

After the above list I will be able to re-evaluate and actually take the game in a better direction. Choosing the control and firing method may also redefine what my game is.

Technical Design (lesser priority)

  1. Compile times: On my little laptop things are taking about 3-6 minutes to compile each change. I might test out some compile flags or get the Christmas tree of my desk and use my PC again.
  2. Game classes not exposed in Lua: Variable tweaks are still exposed through C++ and increases iteration times. This might be something that would save time to address for tuning ship navigation and shooting.

I am happy that I made progress on my game. Before there wasn’t really any objective or consequence for action and now it meets the minimum bar for me to consider it a game. Now comes the exciting part of taking it from barely working to something interesting to play. Assuming my planning ratio holds at about 5 minutes of planning to 1.5 hours of work then I have my next few weeks planned! I’m also going to have to cut down on the time I take to post but I hope this video is entertaining for someone (deep down I doubt it though). See you next week.

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3 Responses to 2009: New year, new plans

  1. Owen says:

    On planning:
    I couldn’t agree more. When I started my project I was determined to have a full project plan, burn-down charts, all the crap that I was used to seeing when building a game. As I started doing this I realised that I didn’t need it. It was going to take me more work to manage the project plan than to implement the things in it.

    I suspect the importance of a detailed project plan increases on a logarithmic scale based on the number of people involved. With one person, it’s not very important, as soon as you introduce a second person, it becomes much more important. As you add more and more people it becomes more important, but at a certain point the importance kind of plateaus.

    For my project now, all I have is a text document checked into my repo. The document is a list of things to do, broken down by sections of the game (gameplay, front-end, HUD, bugs, etc). Whenever I finish a task, I can quickly scan the doc and pull out the next more important thing to do. It works great for me. It doesn’t give me any fancy predictive tools for completion of the game, but I find that working on my own I’m pretty good at predicting how long most things will take.

  2. Pingback: Independent Game Creation - How do you work towards success? « I, Game Maker

  3. Pingback: 2009 In Review « I, Game Maker

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