The end of experimentation

Funny thing – I was all excited about that top down RPG with the non-linear plot, but after a week or so of messing around with different ideas and a buggy engine, I’ve lost interest in it. Maybe a truly non-linear game would be interesting in the sense that it would be nice if one existed, but I’ve got a feeling that it would be a pain to play. You’d finish it, and then the next time through you’d be playing a different progression with the same characters and settings and I just get the impression that the whole thing would become very tedious, and not nearly as interesting as if I’d created one really good linear path. It’s as if the non-linear idea is a substitute for some genuine innovation.

I wasn’t sure for a while, but I’ve made up my mind. That project isn’t really all that interesting to me, so I’m going to scrap it and move on to something else.

The point of that project was to satiate a desire I had to experiment with game ideas that are a little off centre – that mightn’t necessarily work but would at least be a bit interesting. I still feel that way, and earlier on this week, that led me to start a topic on RPGDX wondering if anyone was interested in another contest this weekend; the old style ones, the 48 hour timeframe that seems to have come out of nowhere. Turns out quite a few people are interested. So I organised a contest for this weekend on the forum, and I’m taking part.

Here’s what I posted (in this thread):

Alright, let’s do this thing.

This weekend we’re going to have a 48 hour RPG making contest. It starts from whatever time you wake up on Saturday to whatever time you go to bed at on Sunday, and can be extended into next week if a majority of competitors wish. The theme of the contest is Completion – the idea being that the time limit is the real restriction of the contest and the challenge lies in actually finishing and releasing something.

You may use a premade engine, premade graphics and premade music – anything you have at hand from old placeholders to ripped spites. You may also opt to start from scratch. That’s up to the individual entering. However, the rest of the game’s content must be made during the contest’s 48 hours – content meaning dialogue, level design, and so on.

The contest will by judged on Ms. Congeniality terms – everyone who enters gets one vote and may vote for whoever they like, including themselves. The winner will receive a significant boost to their street credibility.

These rules are not final, so free free to discuss them in this thread. The idea is to keep restrictions to a minimum – however, as the theme is completion and the time limit’s fairly short, it’s recommended that you keep your ideas simple and aim to release something by Sunday night.

Just to clarify a few questions that have been asked (and to preempt a few more):
* You must design the actual game during the contest, but you may use premade graphical and music resources, and you can use a premade engine.
* By premade engine, this can be any core program you’ve made yourself, or alternatively game making software of any kind, including Gamemaker, RPG Maker, OHRRPGCE, Multimedia Fusion, etc…
* It doesn’t matter what platform your game runs on.
* You may work in teams! However, teams only get one vote, so you’ll have to decide among yourselves who you want to vote for.

That’s it. Like I said above, feel free to disagree with any of this or ask for clarifications and we’ll amend the rules.

Also, if you want to discuss your projects during the contest you can drop in to our IRC channel at #indie-rpg on irc.esper.net.

It starts tomorrow!

So, after suggesting that, I got to work thinking about what I’d enter. At first I was just going to do a traditional enough game, but that led to me thinking about what engine I’d use – it’s either a choice between starting from scratch, or using the monolithic, bloated “Project Distraction” RPG engine that I used for Major Arcana. Getting reacquainted with the distraction engine at this point would probably take a day at least, and tailoring it for the contest a day more. On the other hand, making any RPG engine from scratch is pretty time consuming.

I couldn’t decide which way to go, but then I remembered this:

The platform game engine I’ve been working on for Indie Brawl. It’s gotten pretty sophisticated in the few weeks I’ve been working on it on and off. It led to me to thinking about a much more interesting project: a Platform/RPG hybrid.

It all came together very quickly: the mechanics of the game, the plot, some cool gameplay ideas – out of nowhere I suddenly had a game idea I really liked! And it’ll work with an engine I’m really familiar with!

So that’s my plan 🙂 First problem is that I’m going to need to do some significant work on the engine before it’ll realistically support an RPG – in fact, I even need to do some work on the platforming elements. I don’t see myself finishing this in 48 hours – but I do see myself having something playable.

Wow, didn’t mean to ramble on so long… I’ll probably be posting a lot tomorrow too – hopefully by sunday night I’ll be able to release something.

Oh, and if you’re a programmer with nothing to do this weekend, join in!

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