On Environments and Game Development
I’ve had an interesting last few weeks.
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Part of the fun of writing a dev blog for February is that you don’t have as much to say since it’s a shorter month. Granted, it’s only a few days shorter, but less time is less time. So what’s been going on in February in the world of Infinite Level? Well, I have a simple answer for that. I moved. The apartment I had stayed in for the last few years was nice, but it was time for an upgrade. Thus, my wife and I have gotten our own house. Now I can be as loud as I want!
In all seriousness, the moving process is long and exhausting. Technically I’m not even done as we haven’t finished unpacking. I would be lying if I said much had happened in the game development scene. But the whole process got me thinking about what a game developer must do while still going through a monumental change. Eventually I settled on something very simple. The moving process gave me time to reflect on the past and think about the future.
The events that happened before the big move were obviously a big deal. War Ender came out. That was easily one of the biggest things to happen in my life. And thankfully, the positive reception I had seen from before releasing War Ender carried over into launch day and beyond. Not too long after that, a batch of extra levels was released for War Ender which revived some old levels that didn’t make the final cut. It also showed off a “concept level” that was created when War Ender hadn’t even gotten it’s official title yet.
Sadly, due primarily to the need to work on other things, that first batch of extra levels for War Ender was also the last. There’s still some other levels that were scrapped that could have seen the light of day had I allowed myself the time to create them. But there comes a point where, as a game developer, you have to decide when to let a game go and move on. For my first game, that first batch of extra levels was that point. I can still say that War Ender does the things I ultimately wanted it to do.
War Ender’s development comes to a close, and in remembrance I keep a few things that I had related to the game. This includes the banner I used at conventions and a little sign I made for the game. Unsurprisingly I place these items in my new office, reminding both myself and those who come in where I came from as a game developer. Well, partially at least. Now with that game complete, some new ones arise and prepare to take center stage.
Last month I revealed Impressions, the first of my intentionally small games about a trio of pundits talking about extraterrestrial aliens. Much like how buying a house represents a fundamental change in both how I live and how I view certain things, Impressions represents a shift in how I make video games. Impressions is much more story driven than anything else I’ve ever made. While that makes things like game mechanics and programming easier, it still has its own set of unique issues that I will have to tackle. During February I finished coding in the basic story beats of Day 3. On top of that I also made several passes through the game already and took note of which places need to change more based on player choices.
I’m also beginning to think harder about what kinds of polish will be needed as the game goes on and how I wish to handle the game’s release. Being a smaller game there’s less pressure for it to make as much noise as War Ender. Yet at the same time you still want to be sure it gets in people’s game libraries. It’s a far cry from how War Ender was when thinking long term. In fact, just about everything with Impressions differs greatly from War Ender. Just like, you guessed it, house life versus apartment life. The two require different things and different approaches to those things.
It will be interesting to see how my development sensibilities change now that I’m in a new environment. And it will perhaps be even more interesting how I fare with a more story driven game compared to a mechanics focused title. It certainly is the season of change right now, and it is quite exciting. Now that I’m beginning to settle in, I look forward to seeing where Impressions goes over the next month. Look forward to more updates in the future!
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