I haven't been making much progress on Waker lately. School's generally been kicking my ass, and I've been out of town for a few days to take care of family business, and I've started designing a competitive tabletop collectible monster roguelike game to which I've foolishly been dedicating my creative energies. More on that some other time.
The game's still about 40% of the way to completion. I've been adding plenty of new content over the past few months - new areas and puzzles and characters and all that -but I've generally been expanding the beginning of the game. Now that I have a grasp on the world and the characters, I've been embellishing pre-existing content quite a bit. For example, I'm currently working on the interior of an apothecary in a town that previously had no explorable interiors to its buildings. The player is sent on a short quest to find a key in this town, and in the original version the key was placed in plain sight on the same screen in which the town is entered. This didn't feel like much of a search. By adding a "dungeon," the search is expanded, and the player is required to solve a puzzle (and thus actually work for the key). I also took the opportunity to give the player the opportunity to find (or fail to find) a sample of anti-venom that holds severe consequences in the story later on, and I felt as though it would be a good point in the game to introduce one of the game's monsters, and a dungeon is a fine place for that. It's a lot of extra work that isn't necessary to tell the complete story, but I'm already finding that it's enriching the game a lot.
(more below the jump)
I've said it before, but I really didn't know what I was getting into when I started this project. If I wanted to have told the story I wanted to tell in its entirety and nothing else, I'd be done by now, as I thought I would. But to tell the story well... that's another monster.
As a game developer, I have lots of experience. I know how to craft good rule systems, build good difficulty curves without frustrating the player, and tell the player what they need to know in the most subtle way as possible. I thought that I had enough experience to just plough through this project... how was I wrong!
I'm experienced as a game developer. I am not experienced as a storyteller. I have natural talent, and I feel that I'm picking up the skill quickly, but taking the time to learn to tell good stories takes, well, time. I knew that I was an amateur creative writer, that whatever I put down on paper at first would be horseshit, and would need to take lots of time to rewrite the game's dialogue to make it good. What I didn't know was that I was also an amateur at pacing stories, and now that I am aware of it, I must take the time to correct my mistakes.
All of that being said, I'm confident that this game's going to be really goddamned good when I'm done. After all of the time, energy, and love I've already put into it and am planning to put into it, it has to be! I'm aware of it's shortcomings, and I know how to correct them. But it will take more time than I had ever imagined it would. Right now, I'm looking at a release date of summer 2014.
It'll be worth it. Hang on.
Edit: Just realized I've been using the word "formula" wrong my whole life. Clearly not the best screenshot with which to advocate my game.