When I uploaded this last night, I was totally exhausted. I’m not entirely happy with the game as it currently stands (to put it delicately), and I’d love to shrug it off and say something like “Well, it’s not like I worked that hard at it” – but of course, that would be a complete lie. I’ve actually, effectively, been working two jobs. I work nine to five at my day job, grab dinner in town, then head to the library till closing time. I barely have time to do anything else. And I’ve been doing this all year.
So why do I have so little to show for it?
Well, it’s pretty simple – I totally underestimated how much work was involved in scripting the game. I’d finished the graphics, I’d designed the maps, Josiah had finished the soundtrack, I’d even written most of the dialogue – but I hadn’t put it all together. Doing this took me a lot longer than I thought it would, so while I’ve created a good deal of content, I’ve scripted very little of it.
Putting it together highlighted a lot of problems. In particular, here’s what I wish I had more time to work on:
Gladius as a character: Here’s how the Tarot Cards are laid out: you’ve got the Major Arcana, which are symbolic cards representing big, life changing things, and you’ve got the Minor Arcana, representing small, day to day things. The Minor Arcana is closely related to the regular deck of playing cards most people are familiar with today – there are four suits, in each suit there are ten regular numbered cards, then there are four court cards (the Page, the Knight, the Queen and the King).
In my game, there are four main characters, and each one associates with a suit on the Minor Arcana – Swords, Pentacles, Cups and Wands. Gladius is Swords, the suit that’s usually associated with the intellectual side of life – rational thinking, cold hard logic.
In the demo, I was hoping that Gladius would find himself thrown in this odd situation, not knowing where he is or what’s really happening. Being the kind of guy who he is, he tries to reason everything out, and work out what’s going on. He sees a Magic Light: that presents him with a number of hypothesis to consider. He fights a wolf in the next room: that eliminates one of the possibilities.
Thing is, thanks to my “inane last minute dialogue” (as I put it last night), that doesn’t really come across. Gladius sounds like he’s the shallow second person in an average text adventure.
I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to approach this problem in the full game, but I wish I didn’t have to rush my approach for this contest version.
The Page dialogue: This whole scene is just awful – it’s about five times longer than it needs to be, and everything that’s said is… I dunno, teeth-grinding-ly atrocious to listen to.
The problem here is really in how I approached the scene when I was writing it – I had an objective to meet. By the end of this exchange, I wanted Gladius to find out where he was, find out who he was talking to, and agree to let him tag along. Problem is, Gladius’s personality actually worked in this scene. Being the highly sceptical guy he is, he wasn’t buying any of that fate crap. He even throws ridicule on the whole concept of the scene as being impossible (the page is locked in a room with a group of wolves? How on earth did that happen?).
I didn’t really mean for Gladius to bring attention to it, but as soon as I’d thought of it I knew it was the kind of thing that he’d ask about, which led to some forced, awkward, throughally detestable dialogue.
I’m going to scrap this scene in the final version and do something completely different.
The battle engine: Well, this is pretty simple really. The framework’s all there, but I didn’t have time to make it work for the demo. I just attached the testing thing I have going on as a proof of concept, really.
The bugs: Of course, loads and loads of brand new bugs surfaced on the last day, and I could only fix so many of them. Some of the more interesting ones you might come across:
– Depending on how many times you’re hit at zero HP, you might find item locations totally randomised. If you appear to be blocked by something you can’t see, try hitting X. Chances are it’s an NPC that’s gotten it’s position mixed up.
– Directions can get permanently mixed up, and I haven’t been able to work out why. In the main room with the four doors, you could (if you’re unlucky, I don’t know why it’s happening) find that you’re forced to face either right or down for the remainder of the game. Ultraweird – there isn’t even a function in the game to lock npc directions.
– You can jump. I probably should have just disabled that. If you do happen to find the jump button, I wouldn’t use it – you could find yourself stuck in a wall or on top of an NPC. (That’s actually been a problem all the way back since I first implemented jumping in the engine a couple of years ago.)
– You can’t die in combat. Oops.
Ok, enough of that. I flipped a coin to decide if I was going to go ahead and upload this. I lost, so here it is.
[Now that the contest is over, I’ve taken down the demo.]
Believe me, it’s not easy presenting something that you’ve worked hard on to an open community like this. It’s even worse when it’s something you’re not happy with. Keep in mind that this is an early prototype, and it will get better.