Oh right, the game thing. Almost forgot about that.
Well now that you mention it, yes, as a matter of fact it is definitely on. For a while there it didn’t seem like it, but if you ask me why that was, I’m not sure I could give you a great answer.
2012 started strong, but March never seems to be a good month, and apparently I have problems getting past it. Last year, it was a combination of things, but I think the biggest reason is that I just had too many things to do in life and not enough hours in the day to do them. On top of that, I had run into a real road block in development, the kind that brought things to a standstill, and there just didn’t seem to be enough inertia to get past it. So faced with a brick wall, development stopped.
The road block was basically a lot of architecture redesign to accommodate more than one Act, and more than one Day, in both the game code and the file structure. When I started, I never really gave that much consideration, thinking that it wouldn’t be a big deal to handle when the time came. Well, apparently I was wrong about that. I thought about it for a while, couldn’t come up with a satisfying solution, and got frustrated. The rest of life came at me, and once I stepped away from the problem it was hard as hell to get back into it.
But all that appears to be behind us now.
It was really nothing more than brute force and time that solved it. It’s possible that the injury to my shoulder may have helped, as it removed some of the competing priorities in life, but who knows how true that is. All I know is that I finally sat my ass down in that chair for a few days, forced myself to come up with a solution for the architecture, and hammered it out. And once that was done, the doors opened and the rest started to flow again.
That was a couple months ago, and since then I’ve been making progress in leaps and bounds, tackling some of the things I thought I might never get to.
I had to implement the sequence for making the girl appear at the front door after an appropriate delay from the start of the game. I had to implement a system of random environmental sounds, for things like wolf howls and wind gusts. Thunder and lightning had to be implemented, to herald the approach of the girl. Other mechanisms had to be implemented to prevent the player from doing unwanted or unexpected things with the girl. And all of this had to be coordinated so that none of these interfered with each other, or interrupted a conversation the player was having with one of the other characters. All that is now done.
More verbs have been defined and implemented, and more work was done with the text parser (yes, even that) to clean things up and give more appropriate responses. We now seem to be handling the word “her” with more grace, given that it can be both a possessive (“examine her eyes”) and a pronoun (“give her the blanket”). And there are many more responses to player commands that show a need for assistance, such as “What am I supposed to do now?”
All of these are done, and all of it in just the last few weeks. Removing that road block did wonders for things. I’ve checked off so many items from the task list that I have to create new ones to keep myself busy.
I’ve now reached the point that I’m only a few steps away from finishing Act 1 and connecting it to the first cutscene. Once I do that, it’s just a few more steps to package that as a real demo, and then I’ll move into a period of serious user testing. Who knows? Maybe it will be done enough to submit to IndieCade this year, like I always say. We’ll see…
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