A clean slate. This has come up several times over the last few days, in different contexts, but it’s coming back to haunt me once again. This time, it’s Corrosion. I am getting the itch to start all over, from scratch, and fix some of the mistakes I initially made. Set things right. I’m not going to do that, because I realise that you’ll always keep that urge. You work, you learn, you grow, you look back and you realise what you could’ve done better. It’s also one of the traps you can get caught in. Always go back to rewrite and redo your own code and never push forward to finish anything. I just have to keep telling myself that. :)
Sometimes I find myself unable to get myself to work on something I’ve been dying to work on because my schedule has been so packed that I just need some time to do nothing of any significance, just to decompress. Even though I want to work on my project, I find my mind wanders to different things. Gaming, Facebook, 4Chan, reading MMA news, anything but my project. In the past I often thought that my avoidant behavior was because I secretly didn’t want to work on my project, but upon further reflection, that really isn’t it. After having wasted about half a day doing everything but the work I wanted to do, suddenly I’ll start working and suddenly I’m getting into it. It sucks because instead of the ten hours I had wanted to work on it, I only work on it for three because the first seven hours were wasted on other things.
It helps that there’s some pressure. It helps that this isn’t a solitary project anymore. With a handful of regular players and daily activity, Corrosion has strangely attracted a few people that keep coming back, even though we haven’t really advertised its existence.
It also helps that my brother is involved. A collaborative project is much nicer than a solitary one, especially when you’re both enthusiastic about it, work on it together, come up with new ideas and develop them together. To have someone sit next to you and work in a deep voodoo team, passing the keyboard back and forth trying new ideas and coming up with new solutions is even better. Unfortunately, that’s not the level of involvement I experience from my brother. Has good ideas and likes to think along, but he’s not nearly as dedicated as I am, nor has he put in even a tenth of the time I have. He wants to be involved and he knows what he has to do in order to be involved, but he can’t seem to get himself to do it. Perhaps much like me, he needs time to do nothing of importance before getting to his projects, too, only to never really get to it.
Sure, he lacks the technical savvy, but that’s not anything that can’t be remedied with a little elbow grease. I had to start from scratch, too, and I didn’t have the luxury of asking help or advice from someone. (He’s in a privileged position, really.) No, it’s not the technical knowledge he lacks, he lacks assertiveness and the drive to do learn what he needs in order to make a bigger impact on a game we started together. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to motivate him in this regard. I guess being part of this isn’t enough.
Lately, Corrosion hasn’t been getting the necessary attention it deserves. Sure, I discovered Bloodlines and Deus Ex: Human Revolution which have swallowed up significant amounts of my time, but still, I should’ve been a wee bit more diligent.
Working on the Arena has had me demoralised due to a glaring flaw in the approach we chose, which had been nagging on the periphery of my mind, had been noticed by certain players, but one that I was hoping to find a work around for. Tweaking the opponents in the Arena became almost impossible.
For those who care to know the details, read the following paragraph. For those that don’t, skip this paragraph and move on to the next one. In essence, we had decided we’d like to let go of racial attribute maximums, allowing a near endless expansion of attributes only soft-capped by a maximum action points you can spend in one go to raise it any further, etc. etc. Unfortunately, a really high Strength attribute means a very high body resistance target number. A very high Willpower attribute means a very high sorcery target number. As soon as an attribute becomes the target number for something, this concept breaks. Nobody will shoot an Ares Predator with a damage code of 9M when the body resistance test is done with 25 dice against a modified target number of 4. Especially when you can also fight with a Combat Axe which, when you have a strength of 25, gives you a damage code of 25S and even if you have a Body of 25 to resist that, a target number of 20+ is brutal.
So yeah, we had to change that. So attribute maximums are back in and we reset all characters, basically wiping the slate clean. Everyone understood, but not everyone was very happy with starting over again. Asking for starting karma and reputation, which we weren’t so keen on granting. It means we really have to step up our development from now. We’ve got a great idea for a new mission, which will incorporate some new things and should be available almost immediately. We’ll retweak the Ripper mission so that it’ll be available sooner and we’ll hopefully keep some of the dissatisfied players.
Anyone, short update over!
Self motivation can be a big problem. When you lose your momentum or enthusiasm in any project it’s hard to pick it back up again. With Corrosion, I had that when I was trying to figure out what to do with the pathfinding algorithm. It was just not performing and it was a draining and harrowing experience. It’s still not the way I want it to be, but at least I got it to work to a degree that I could continue.
Then it was implementing spells in a solid way. Shadowrun spells are funny things; they don’t operate in a uniform way, so there’s a lot of exceptions that you have to build into the code. I’ve got the spells implemented for players now, but implementing it for enemies is going to be a bit of a pain still. That’s where I am right now, thinking about the best way to implement them for enemies. Luckily, I was smart enough to build in several hooks when I was busy setting them up for characters, so it’s definitely not going to be quite so difficult as when I would have to build it from the ground up, but still.
Surprisingly, it’s also not about the reward; the reward will be a whole new mission that’s just waiting to be used once spells get done. All the players are begging me for more content while I plug away at the foundation and the new mission, The Arena, is just sitting there waiting for me to get off my ass and do it. I suspect it’s going to be about a week’s worth of work. So about 20 hours in total, so that’s not so bad, it’s just the start that sucks. I’m an idiot. :)
And I can’t even start to think about implementing spells into the PvP engine, because that requires a level of sophistication that I don’t know how to tackle yet. The PvP engine requires a lot of sophistication it’s lacking right now. The combat for characters is all automated, so ideally you’d make a few smart decisions for characters, like when to reload their weapon, when to switch to unarmed combat when their bullets run out, when to apply a slap patch or cast a Heal spell, how long to keep casting spells and at what wound level do you not risk any further drain? And ideally, all these things should be lightly customisable for a player.
Anyway, I’m just ranting a little bit. Talking (or writing) about this project usually gets me motivated. I should do it more often. :)
Recently, I found a great website at bbgamezone.net, a community of amateur and semi-professional social/browser game developers. It’s cool to finally get to talk with some people who sometimes have up to five all ready running and successful games published. Their ideas on best practices are invaluable and the advice on monetisation of games like this are raw, uncut and realistic.
One of the things that surprised me is just how many games are out there, how many people are trying to make an enjoyable game, what a wide scala of genres are covered and how utterly simplistic some of these games are. Also, a suspicion of mine was confirmed; it’s very, very hard to actually finish a game. There are tons of great ideas that are posted on the community board that will never see the light of day. I guess not many people can sink their teeth into a project and see it through to the end. I hope I’ll be able to have the tenacity.