Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Waker Update

     So, I've finished adding all of Sue's lines to the game. At this point, I've got about 30-40 minutes worth of playtime to the game. Having worked on it for almost a year now (the game's date of inception is July 9th), it's a little discouraging - but not surprising considering that I'm just one guy working on it on-and-off primarily concerned with school and work. I keep hoping that development will speed up as I have more assets and code to draw from, and as I get better at figuring out how to tell the story I want to tell - but we'll see. I think that I have finally figured out how to write good interactive dialogue, though. I no longer have the same misgivings about the writing that I used to. I've spent the past four months polishing the same first 30 minutes over and over again without creating much new content. I think that, now that I have a working example of the sort of quality I'm aspiring to and know how to obtain that quality, that the rest of development will be relatively quick.

    The first half of the game will essentially consist entirely of fairly linear exploration, dialogue trees, and a little bit of puzzle solving. I aim to get this half completely done by the end of the summer. I'm currently thinking that the second half of the game will consist of some old-school action-RPG action and more open-world exploration, and will be the focus of the second year of development. We will see.   

     This project is crazy.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Recommendation - A Thing About Nothingness

     The list of free indie games  in my bookmarks menu that I've been meaning to play has been overflowing, and I've finally started hacking away at it. Today's recommendation from that list is a Ludum Dare entry called A Thing About Nothingness in which you are a man in a barrel who tries to adhere to the philosophy of cynicism. It's short, free, and remarkably well written - download this little gem here. You will be amused.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Waker Update - Introducing Poggles! What's a Poggle, you ask? Read on!

     It usually happens after 6-12 months of working on a game that I lost interest in it, cease to work zealously on it, scrap it, and move on. Emotionally, I had reached that stage with Waker a few months ago., but wasn't willing to give up on it. I've had strangers on the internet (such as yourself!) tell me that they think the game looks great and that they're looking forward to it, so scrapping the project isn't really much of an option. Besides, I think the game looks great, and it has a lot of potential.

     Problem is, I enjoy designing games and imagining characters and stories a little bit more than I do actually creating them. There's this sweet spot in game creation where I'm still fleshing out characters, figuring out mechanics, and determining where I want the story to go AFTER I've begun actual development. I am most obsessive and dedicated to game development during this period. For a while, though, I've been outside of that sweet spot. I know who my characters are, I know where the story's going, and so the thrill of committing those characters to pixels and code hasn't been with me.

     Not only that, but the story and world that I've created are fairly melancholic. In my list of supporting characters, I have: a depressed office drone, a potter who's lost her family and is seeking revenge, a loner whose girlfriend is probably dead, a soldier who's seen his husband ripped to pieces, and a psychopathic vigilante. Lots of room for character development and heartbreak, but not much room for humor and upliftment. There's no contrast, no point of comparison for the heartbreak. What I want to be an emotionally deep, but enjoyable story was instead just masochistic fantasy that's hard to stomach.

     So, I came up with a solution to both of these problems, and now making Waker is fun again.

(More, including screenshots, below the break)

Toward a Cutie Aesthetic

It's a little old by now, but I had just stumbled across a thought-provoking article by Andrew Vanden Bossche about the underepresentation of women and the LGBT community in games, the lack of "human" stories in AAA games, and what he calls "The Cutie Aesthetic" as a tool of cultural subversion. You can read it by clicking the fancy hyperlink here.