dev diary #6

Prompt: Write about the week’s lecture and readings as they relate to your project 
– Write about this week’s industry guest speakers (if any)
-Write a description of your progress (both positive and negative) on your current project
– Must include at least one piece of media:
GIF, link to video, screenshot, sketch, etc.

This week’s reading was on the genesis of new ideas and the conceptualization of those ideas into a playable prototype. I confess we don’t have a lot of that, we’re making a pretty bog-standard point-and-click adventure game using inventory and password puzzles. Last dev diary I talked for a bit about how our game’s concept changed direction due to what the other teammates wanted to see in it; this week, that concept mostly just shrank to accommodate the looming deadline and projections on what we can realistically complete assuming everyone works at their current pace. I’ve had to remove a few different puzzle styles (physics puzzles and item-combination puzzles specifically) because I couldn’t realistically see us incorporating those mechanics by the end of next week. I’ve also spent a lot more time on the writing to make up for that, since it’s now the primary thing carrying the gameplay. To that end, the “Business/Cost Restrictions” column on page 182 was certainly the most relevant game design element to our work this week.

I’m kinda nervous about this project’s prospects. We’ve basically set things up so that I’m in charge of narrative and they’re in charge of programming. I’ve written/edited the entire script, descriptions for the inventory items, and sketched out the rough layout of the map. Now I’m locating sprites for the inventory items, and later I’m going to record all the lines for the main character’s voiceover during gameplay. I’m worried for two reasons (1) both of my groupmates seem to be okay with how much I’m dictating how this story is going to pan out, but this had made it almost impossible for me to incorporate their ideas into the storyline. In the past, I’ve always used other teammates’ ideas as an easy way to get them invested in the project, but even with prodding, Neither Nathan nor Eric seem to want to suggest anything, and are completely fine with whatever I come up with. But that leads to (2), I’m worried we aren’t completing the prototype fast enough. We’ve barely got a house rendered, zero completed puzzles, any only a few token item descriptions inserted into certain items. I can only hope that the project only looks barely started due to my lack of programming perspective, and they’ve actually completed all the hard back-end stuff so the remaining front-end elements will take less than a week. Neither of them seem worried and they assure me that we’re within expected timeframes, so I guess I’ll just keep doing my job and ensuring they have everything they need to do theirs. But I can’t but wonder if I’ve failed to setup enough investment on their part, and that’s leading to them working slower than they might if they saw their ideas more plainly visible in the story. I’m also worried that our pace isn’t leaving any room for playtesting. I have an unfortunate suspicion that we’re not going to have any time for anyone to play the ‘finished’ game until the day of the deadline. But since I’m not programming, and I’m ahead of schedule on my end, I’m not sure what I can do about that.

As the school year ticks along, I’m also spending more time thinking about the upcoming Greenlight pitch. Everybody I’ve talked to in the class already know what they’re going to pitch and are now in the development phase, but none of my ideas seem baked enough to really pitch. Part of it is my history of solo development and my inclination to avoid using anyone else’s assets. I always think small; I make sure the scope is limited enough that a single person can write, illustrate, animate, program, and debug the entire game from conception to completion. It’s surprisingly difficult to drop those filters and broaden my scope up to a team of 5-7 developers (with a third party art team) working for an entire quarter. I have project ideas that I’ve never made because they’re too large for one person, and I logically should be pitching one of those, but they’re all online multi-player and I was cautioned to avoid that genre. As per Erin’s suggestion, I’m going to sketch out a few of those online multiplayer ideas, figure out what design elements I like the most, and see if I can create a single-player idea that uses some of them.


Layout mockups of the map and its puzzles. Every single tag has a narrated description the player will hear in game when they click on it.

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