Did you notice I missed a month? October started well with work on cleaning up the display before adding drag and drop (the main game mechanism). There was also some work to improve the config options and putting the source repo on a remote server so I can work anywhere with Internet (not just on my home PC). Then by the end of that month everything stopped, and stayed stopped through November. There are now three people living in this house and it took some time cleaning up and fixing various things in readiness for their arrival. Followed by more tasks as they settled in. Hopefully all that is finished now (apart from this Wednesday afternoon) and I can get back to work.
Over the next month (same as last time):
September was a month of distractions. Work continued on SHB, but at a slow pace. A significant amount of time was also spent trying out the new Scala3 and I converted the hex library into that language - it works well (now I’m thinking about SAAS projects again). Outside of work stress and tasks is still high. Unfortunately that is likely to continue for a while. I managed not to spend much time on games this month. However, I did play a complete game of Civ6, but one game seems like enough for now.
I hope to mainly work on redoing SHD this month. It already feels better and prettier than the old AHB, so I’m definitely feeling positive. Just need to get it back to the old level.
Over the next month:
Time for more excuses! The first half of August went very well. I finished extracting a common code library and restarted AHB, but this time it is called SpaceHex Duel (SHD). Yes, thankyou, I do know I have a special way with naming. At the moment the board is set up and I have started work on the pieces. And then things have paused. I had my first Pfizer vaccine does and a bad reaction. Over a week was mostly a write-off. I played the Battletech computer game instead of working (it was on sale at Humble Bundle). I have the next dose soon and fingers crossed that goes better!
I also ran 2 IPO playtests. The simplifications had mixed results. Continuous growth and card choice worked well. Removing auctions and money generation changes did not work so well. Time for version 4!
Over the next month:
The last month has been a been a total loss as far as gamedev is concerned. There has been barely 2 equivalent days of progress. I’m feeling a little stressed over some housing issues (that should be resolved this week) and this has affected my ability to get things done. I have played quite a few games though - does that count as market research?
The tasks this month are the same as last month, with the slight change that I have prepped a third version of IPO. I just need to answer certain questions about the game, so the playtest will be more focussed.
Over the next month:
The start of this month was a rush. I left myself a long TODO list at the end of last month, and I was enthused to get started. First was the hex libraries: done and looking good, ready for an example project. Next was a second IPO prototype: that went well and showed promise, although there are still serious gameplay problems. Then I started working on improving the screen sizing libraries.
Which is where everything ground to a halt.
Not because I got stuck. I got demotivated. The sizing work is boring and just needs to be ground through. But it was hard going. Then I got sick (not Covid), and now there is a lockdown (Covid) here again. I’m not feeling much va-va-voom.
Also still thinking about what to do. SAAS seems like a nice idea and something technically well within my abilities, but now I’m concerned by maintenance/support issues if I’m not around. Similarly, I’m having second thoughts about Unity3D. Working on the sizing stuff reminds me of various issues I have with it and how I am using an old version. I will probably just keep with it as I can’t think of anything better which doesn’t invole a lot of learning/rewriting (other engines like Unreal) or the same issues as SAAS (HTML5). Hmmm.
Over the next month:
Last month I announced the cancellation (postponement?) of Abstract Hex Battle. Now I am full of new ideas. Anyway, this month I extracted and improved possibly common code from AHB. There is still some work for the hex library, but that can be done in combination with starting another project.
I also prototyped IPO and then played it. It has some problems (unsurprsingly). The game is too fast at the start and too fiddly at the end. I still think it has promise, so a second prototype is in the plan for this month.
I might be taking on too much between: the common library; Concealed Intent 2; AHB v2; and IPO. Actually it is worse than that, because I have had another couple of ideas. They are: another card game I’d like prototype if there is time; and a SAAS procgen system. I really like the procgen idea, it fits my strengths and avoids weaknesses very well (except for trying to sell the product itself). I really need to decide upon a focus.
I have also decided to start month-to-month plans, the adjustable time plans are just unnecessarily unwieldly.
Over the next month:
I have abandoned the Abstract Hex Battle project, for now. I started working on the AI and I just couldn’t get it to work properly. The problem was caused by some unfortunate design decisions made early in the project in order to get it up and running quickly. Now those were blocking forward movement. I started reworking the internals for a day, but then stopped. I was not sufficiently excited by the project to put in the effort required to fix it.
For the last fortnight I have been extracting the useful common code and prefabs from Abstract Hex Battle to use as a base for future games. That has gone quite well. Good enough that I extended the work to build in localisation and other extras. There is a little more to do on this task. After that I plan to start a couple of games (maybe a quick rewrite of AHB and/or CI2D) to prove the common code works before starting the next proper project.
I also started prototyping a card game, IPO. I had the original idea for this game several years ago (see here), but couldn’t get it to work in playtests. A couple of weeks ago I had an idea which may fix the initial problems. Now it is time to see if the game can be saved. I hope so, because it is a cool idea combined with an interesting mechanic. Plus, it can be paper prototyped so iterative improvements will be fast and easy to test (much better than a PC game!).
Over the next 5 weeks:
It has now been just under 11 months since I started work on this “little” 3-5 month game. It doesn’t even have a proper name yet! However, over the last 6 weeks quite a bit of progress has been made. I spent 5 weeks: completing all the remaining planned animations; fixing all known bugs; adding music/sfx; handling screen sizes up to 1080p (my screen size); and improving the game progression model. The missing week was spent on writing a simple logic library for scripting and organising an almighty mess of downloaded assets into something reasonable so I could find the sounds needed. Of course now there are 2 new bugs and 2 new animations on the todo list, but despite that it feels like the game is moving forward.
I’m about to lose a week to Easter holidays, so I’ll add a week to make a 6 week block next. That will be a year from the start. Fingers crossed, most of the work will be done by then. Looking at the todo list, this is possible. The last big item is fixing the AI. Then error handling, cleaning up the menu and making it prettier wherever possible. And a proper a name of course!
Over the next 6 weeks:
As expected December was a bad month for progress on my new game. However, January went much better. All the animations I wanted to add plus some extras have been completed. Of course along the way I thought of some more, but they will be for later. The gameplay UI has been cleaned up and looks reasonable now (for a programmer anyway). As a result the game is now 2-player only (originally it allowed upto 4 players) as I couldn’t work out how to do a nice UI for more players. Also, I fixed some annoying bugs. There are still a couple of bugs outstanding, but nothing that should crash the game.
We are back in lockdown here in Perth. Based on previous experience this gives me more time, but less productivity. So now is the occasion to start the slow work of cleaning up the menus, screen sizing, tooltips and audio - not hard, just time consuming. Then think about balance and feel, since moving to 2-player has made the gameplay feel flat in places. It needs to be amped up with various modifiers. I have some ideas.
And the game still needs a name!
Over the next 4 weeks:
And after that:
I am just back from a fortnight’s holiday on WA’s Coral Coast, so time again to look back at what was done and what is coming up.
The couple of months leading up to the holiday were focussed on animations. This has taken much longer than expected, and there are still a couple to be finished, but the hard work has been completed. I have relearnt an important lesson that had been forgotten. Game systems which allow delays in actions for animations to occur are quite different to systems where everything happens instantaneously. Converting from the latter to the former took the unexpected extra time. In future, unless I am developing a definitely throwaway prototype, it will be best to start with the system that can handle delays. Doing that from the start will take much less time overall. There were a couple of other similar things discovered the hard way.
The next two weeks are going to be a write-off for decent work time. Between Christmas, New Years, and some required home maintenance, I doubt much progress will be made. I’ve decided not to stress about this and instead start the next 5 week period from the week after Christmas. Same targets as before.
Over the next 2+5 weeks:
This means the period after should be: