Would you make a game in April?


#41

I can’t blame anybody for having Too Much to really sit down for something like this; I certainly couldn’t have managed over the last couple weeks. I find that if I don’t make time myself for the things I want to do, I never do them, so that’s why I wanted to do this so much.

Toward that end of “making time” despite having better things to do, I want to set out my self-imposed restrictions for the project here while I’m sitting at the computer:

  1. My first instincts as a designer is toward purposeless spaces. (My first Knytt Stories level was basically a walking sim with no plot or coherent sense of geography.) To try to overcome this, I am going to make a game with an obvious objective which you can fail to achieve. It should not be difficult to calculate your progress toward that objective, and you should generally have an idea of what you need to do to reach that objective.

  2. Ink is a text-based game system, so that means I’m writing. I’ve had a poor handling of subtlety and humor in my writing, so I guess I should work on that.

  3. My game’s conflicts are strictly non-violent, because that’s the most obvious framework to operate within and I need to practice expressing other modes of competition.

More ideas as they come to me.


#42

Shit, it’s April already. Guess I better buckle down!


#43

I’ll PM with the details you if you want to make sounds and/or music for my project! That would be great because I don’t know the first thing about creating those


#44

That’s funny, I came up with the opposite goals for myself! I want to write a humorless, gritty setting, have a shooting and stabbing system (+ non-violent options though) and no real fail state.

I picked three random words or concepts that would inspire me for game creation. I thought about picking from the dictionary but instead I just took whatever came to mind first.

Orange: This didn’t inspire me for the visuals but I thought of using music from Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, maybe some instrumental versions of songs, and Boris (Heavy Rocks has an orange cover and they use amplifiers by Orange). So yeah, I wouldn’t mind using copyrighted stuff for this because I don’t plan on sharing it outside of sb. Don’t know if I’ll do it yet but it’s what came to mind first. Also, it reminds me of Buddhist monks and I might have a mechanic that allows you to “breathe” and replenish some resource like health. Although I won’t have health in the usual sense because I don’t want the player to be able to die.

Social Simulation: I always thought a mix of The Sims’ focus on social interactions and Dwarf Fortress’ highly granular simulation of, well, everything, would work well together. I don’t know how or what it has to do with my project but that’s part of the fun, figuring something out. I’ll try and have branching paths through social interactions and if I can make variables figure into that somehow I’ll be happy. What I mean by that is that I don’t want every branch to be completely pre-written but have spots in the writing that will be filled by variables depending on the player’s actions in the game.

Mega Drive: There is the retrowave/synthwave musician called Mega Drive, there’s the cyberpunky console and it could just stand for a driven person. It makes me think of shooting games and other auto-scrollers because, well, they have an inherent drive. I’d love to make an auto-scroller. One that you can’t fail. It just goes on for 15 minutes and depending on what you did you get a corresponding ending. Have to think about what happens when the player does absolutely nothing but I’ll figure something out.

All of this combined made me think of a name for the project. For now I’ll call it Geltungsdrang. You might recognize -drang from Sturm und Drang. It basically means drive or urge. Geltungsdrang is craving for personal recognition, urge to be someone. (I also like the perfectly spaced triple Gs. But GeltunGsdranG looks stupid so I won’t be doing that lol)

I think that was enough of a longpost so I’ll stop there!


#45

I alluded to this above, but I’ve got an idea for a way to construct a game that I’m going to use this month/jam/thingy as an opportunity to explore.

So I’ve got a pretty solid Game Maker Studio-based toolkit that I’ve written and added to over the years that I called the 121 Engine. It provides a core set of objects, controllers, UI, systems, and environment elements that has become very modular and flexible. It underpins games I’ve made from massive projects like Caverns of Khron (started for the January 2012 bakedown at old SB!) and Explobers to smaller, quicker projects like Temple of the Wumpus and Monster Hug from last year, and elements of it are used in almost all my projects, including the visual novel I’m working on right now. (Its namesake 121 is from when I converted the games I made for a September 2011 Vector the Crocodile jam at Glorious Trainwrecks into a moddable platformer toolkit in November 2011. 11x11 = 121.)

So anyway! My idea is that I’m going to start with basically nothing. I’ll create a player character and a central area (might be a home, a dungeon, a field) and then each of the next four weeks I’ll build a branch off that area, making it up as I go along. Each branch will be distinctive, and I’ll design objects, mechanics, visuals, etc. for whatever whim strikes me that particular week. Connections and crossover mechanics/items will be possible as I keep building.

I don’t know what this game will have. Will it have weapons? Will it have puzzles? Will it have boss(es)? Will it have NPCs to talk to? I don’t know! I won’t know until I sit down and make it happen, and won’t really know till the end of the month.

I could end up with four variations on a similar game/level design theme. I could end up with four levels that feel like they basically belong to different games. It may feel like a Metroidvania or a Mega Man game. I don’t know!

I’ve been thinking about trying something like this recently after making Temple of the Wumpus last year. I designed the overall layout of that game’s temple on a big sheet of graph paper, but then constructed the insides of the different wings of the temple in a linear order that reflected the diegetic history of the temple’s construction. I want to try something like that with this, but more improvisational.

Anyway, I still have to put the finishing touches on my NaNoRenO visual novel from March, “Scales of Love” (which is based on an old screenplay of mine), since some last minute freelance work ate my free time last week (and I’s gots to get paid). But I’m hoping to get going on this by mid-week!


#46

Were we doing a theme? I’m really not sure what I might want to do otherwise.


#47

I think I’m going to try finishing an old half-finished ZZT game from a couple years back.

I’d also like to make a “real” game of some sort, but I’m suffering massive writer’s block when it comes to ideas.


#48

How specific of a theme would you like? A broad subject, a particular game mechanic, or something more specific or evocative?


#49

What I do when that happens to me is I first look at what I could already do and expand upon, or what I could learn next. One of the best Unreal blueprint tutorials I found was for a twin stick shooter. I built that example project in the last 12 days and now I’m going to build off of it, modify it and expand it. I want to have visual novel aspects in my game but one doesn’t preclude the other. The good thing about creativity is that you can always find a way to mix and blend things together!

Once I have the general direction I just mix in random stuff I like to make it more unique and distinct. Like I detailed above. Random concepts can inspire you and you never have to take them seriously, don’t have to stick to them. As long as they lead you somewhere it’s all good.


#50

I always prefer something that can be broadly interpreted, like a phrase or idea, than any concrete mechanic suggestions.

I also like limitations, like specifying a colour palette or screen resolution or requiring only a single-button input.


#51

The project I will not finish is about a Vengeful Spirit.


#52

So I haven’t touched gamedev tools in about 5 years so I’m familiarizing myself with love2d again over my lunch breaks just so I don’t have to learn on the job completely when LD comes at the end of the month. Got a dumb menu system working yesterday with fade in/fade out transitions between screens, and today I wrote a little controls manager that can let me bind different actions to any key, serialize them to disc, and reload them when I exit the controls screen. Tomorrow I think I’m gonna be ready to dig in and write some actual game logic woo


#53

Do any of y’all have tips about how to divide dev time? Like how much time do you spend adding features, polishing, testing,…? Are there any good rules of thumb you know of that worked for you?


#54

I’ve “released” five games that I made myself, one game which was a collaboration that I lead, and I have contributed material to a further three games which were collaborations lead by others. In pretty much every case, my time management was abysmal.

My biggest failing is in testing; since I’m always behind schedule on basic implementation, testing always suffers. I never give myself enough time to do any real polishing.

On the rare occasions I can do work ahead of schedule, I tend to keep up a good pace as long as I’m working on new features and mechanics. I usually bog down and lose inertia when building the content to make use of those features—writing prose, level design, placing enemies, filling out tables, etc.

If you find yourself with similar issues, my recommendation to you (and to myself) is to figure out what’s going to take up the biggest chunk of your time and energy and get started on that early. If you find yourself slowing down and getting bored, switch tracks and work on something new for a bit. If you run finish that (or run into a roadblock), switch back. Give yourself more time for testing. (For that reason, I want a playable prototype of my game by 4/15, and content-complete by 4/22.)


#55

i’m using gamemaker because i’m baby but i’m super determined to make this project real and call it my first game (as an adult)


#56

godot seems like a good toolset, i’ve messed around with it.


#57

Time management is tough for sure! It’s the Anthem problem: dick around in pre-production for 5 years and then have only a year to crunch out actual production.

I have so little experience that I don’t really know what will take up the most time, is the problem. So right now I structure it like “what has to be in the game for it to work at all”, like put all the verbs in the game first so it’s basically playable. Go from most important to least important/cosmetic things. I hope I’ll get a grasp on what the time sinks are going to be soon.

I want to make a build every week because I’m kind of farther ahead than probably most people taking part in the jam because I’m building from something I made the foundation of for a few days, so I at least have a basic level and player controller and stuff like that. If that wasn’t the case I’d probably also aim for the 15.

I fully expect this project to be coming in hot and without stuff like polished UI or whatever. I just want it to be payable from start to finish.


#58

I have to keep reminding myself to narrow my scope. “No, I don’t need to make these ten vignettes playable in any order. It’s perfectly fine for the order to remain the same over and over again. Desirable, even.”

It took most of the day, but I have my game structure established. I’m still keen to make this in Ink, but the design of this game is so close to the half-finished Inform game I was working on in January that I’m really tempted to fork that project and rework my new design on top of it.


#59

Development is going badly for me. I’m struggling to sit down and do stuff right now, I’m in a rut. This has more to do with my mood disorder than anything else though, so I feel like I can’t do much but wait it out, interspersed with busts of trying to power through my laziness. There’s no point in putting out a build today for playtesting because there’s not enough there yet. That’s a real setback. It’s not been a good week.

I’ll keep at it. Gotta go get it done for next week and also figure out what sounds I would like so I can work with LaurelSoup, that would just be ace


#60

I’ll be frank, I haven’t even touched any dev work. I’ve got no ideas except for this tabletop RPG system I’ve had in my head for months, and even when I say down to write it out, I was super disappointed with the results.