Long time no post! I actually have a bunch of blog entries these last few months that are in my drafts about Space Hotdog that I haven't posted yet.... because I'm scattered amongst other reasons. Life update: my internship with Exper!ence It is going really well, I can't believe it's almost over. Time flies!
Anyway, so this weekend, me and a few friends completed a game for Death Hunters in a group imposed 'jam' session. I took on the programming role and we created a puzzle game called sixfold. It's a sidescroller clicking game with a pixel aesthetic - we only finished 2 out of the 6 levels before the deadline but we plan on working on it further if time permits!
In this post-mortem overview I'm going to tell you what I learned which is:
Programming: Yes I Can!
I know, shocking right? I was a little surprised too. It's been a while since I got on that old C# horse and when I did, wow, making games for yourself actually makes the process so much more enjoyable? I'm a capable game maker, I am!!!
Anyway, this whole process has given me a better understanding of how programmers work and why some of them act the way they do. I found myself giving a lot of short answers - not because I was mad or annoyed but because you can only say 'yes I can do that' in a sociable manner in so many ways. It just got shortened to 'doable'.
Personally, I like to tackle problems one at a time - so anytime any other issue got brought up, I had to put it on the backburner, I couldn't focus on both or else I'd lose track of what I did.
So, I created a whole dialogue system before I realized how chunky it was and how I had no idea how to link them to some of the design mechanics that were being asked of me (more on that later) so at the very last minute (like LAST minute last minute), I was lucky enough to find Fungus.
Fungus is a neat tool for Unity that has a built in dialogue function and is even nice enough to have common triggers attached (when X is clicked, THIS LINE is played; etc etc). It was a life saver for sure. There are some things I still haven't figured out to do (such as affect specific variables within code) but I can definitely see myself using this for Space Hotdog in the future!
Okay, if you were on my team and you're reading this, I suggest you stop reading right now because this isn't going to be fun.
In a group of five people who were all art/narrative driven people, I decided to take a step back and program this game since I have previous experience with Unity. That and I thought it'd be good to challenge myself + I didn't have time to draw with my internship at the same time.
What I didn't anticipate was becoming so frustrated by the lack of understanding of how game design and just games worked. And don't get me wrong - I completely condone teaching people how games work and that they won't get it right the first time. But it was instances of people not knowing what was difficult for me to accomplish as a programmer and what wasn't.
Some people just assumed that I could easily create X function because it was so common in visual novel games and wrote it into their narrative without asking me first since they thought it was just easy to do. I had no idea and didn't write a script to accommodate around that function.
It was just a fundamental lack of understanding that you build these things relatively from scratch, I guess?
In other instances, things that were actually just triggering if statements with multiple plugged in variables - constant questions of 'can you do this, are you sure you can do this, is this hard'? No, it's just making a building block!
And as a 2D game, I don't need each individual visual asset as it's own item. You can just give me one merged image if it's not being destroyed or in the foreground. I waste time trying to piece together your image in this pixel perfect game. As a narrative game, please give me the narrative ASAP not at the very last minute or else I'm waiting on you when I could be spending my time doing other things.
This just turned into a pseudo rant, whoops.
Anyway! It was still a fun experience, the final build has a few bugs but does work: you can download it here.