Ouch. It's been too long. So much for daily creativity, amiright?
Though it might not excuse me, I have a reason of sorts: My life is still transitory. I am here-and-there at the best of times, and sometimes who-knows-where? Not that I'm suffering; as a matter of fact, I feel better about (and more connected to) the important things than I have in years. It has been a wonderful shift in gears. I finally have time to see my friends and family. I've been taking time, just to take time.
I've been watching some television, reading some books, playing some games, and doing some nothing at all. And it's fantastic.
Not to say I've been uncreative. Some days I shoot some photographs. Other days I write a bit, or sketch up some ideas in my notebook. And quite a bit of the time I'm still doing the indy-game-thing.
I haven't been posting my endeavors, partly because I haven't really got all that much to post (it's hard to make code look exciting), and partly because I've been lazy about posting. I'll try to fix that. I am also, for the foreseeable future, going to have to renegotiate my contract. I would love to be in a place where I have at hand the time, the space and the equipment to be so optimistically proactive. But the thing is, I'm loving more right now just being able to coast... Meander... Take a breath and hold it...
So I'll talk briefly about the title of the post, else it makes no sense.
A change of sides; allegiances altered; an utter betrayal: XNA, I have something to tell you... There's someone else. It's not me, it's you. Yes, his name is Unity, and we're totally doing it.
And with that confession, I don't have much more to say right now. There's been a lot going on with Unity and I. Some coding, and designing, and objectifying, oh my! Later, when I'm slightly less transitory than I am at this very instant, I'll post some details of the sordid affair. With pictures. Oolala.
Until then, peace xox.
Does anyone else remember an old DOS game called Castle Adventure? Follow this link to jog your memory. I remember playing this game many years ago on a friend's Tandy1000 PC - a great, chunky, noisy, utilitarian looking beast of a thing, and it was in many ways one of my earliest introductions to the joys of video games.
The memory of Castle Adventure itself was triggered in a bit of an unusual way. Let me preface the story with a promise that it does not contain gross stuff: I was using a friend's toilet. I hadn't used it at this point, but was in the process of intending to (a detail which is imperative to the following), when the particular combined aroma of their scented toilet paper and their chosen brand of deodoriser was like some B-movie flashback sequence trigger. Memories of Tandy1000-Friend's toilet some 20 years previously, and more critically an unrelated (albeit bizarrely connected) series of vivid memories of playing these old computer games accosted me with such force that I briefly forgot what I was in there for.
Sometime later, and in a great deal more comfort than I had been previously, I found myself Googling a huge list of old video games that I hadn't thought about in years. Ultima, Bard's Tale, Digger, Eye of the Beholder, and of course Castle Adventure being some of the more noteworthy ones. Castle Adventure in particular. Not that I can clearly explain why it has so much appeal to me. Maybe it was the mix of Pacman-like labyrinthine escape gameplay, exploration, and (simple) puzzles. Maybe it was also a bit to do with the antiquated graphics and the need to fill it in with imagination. I expect it's something like the passion that drives Nethack players, but in the "...For Dummies" version.
And then, as I'm wont to do, I was hit with the overwhelming urge to pay it homage - to attempt to capture the essence of it in my own way, which is kind of a nice way of saying "rip it off". Here are my early efforts:
It's is a bit of a weird way to get back into the creative contract, so forgive me for being particularly underwhelming, but I'm really excited about this in a weirdly nostalgic and childlike way.
Also, the art is way easy to do (LOL).
I put this together this morning. It was based on a number of example documents I found via google. I think a GDD can be overkill for a lot of stuff, especially for those ideas that haven't really gestated beyond a high level concept yet. But I also find that I don't record my ideas as diligently as I should, and a lot of stuff just gets forgotten or mashed up into something else over time.
This document has a fairly comprehensive list of topics, many of which won't be pertinent until an idea actually becomes a product, but still I thought it'd be good to have the template available so that when I do think "I should document this idea", I can fill in the parts I'm clear on and then drop the document into a work in progress folder to come back to later.
I could also just have a notepad and a pen, but where's the fun in that?
Here's a link if anyone thinks they might want to use it.
I got something of a run cycle working. It's pretty gumby. 2D animator I am not... plus I kind of cheated and duplicated the middle frame which makes him look like he's scissoring. The feet particularly don't maintain a believable shape very well. His back foot doesn't change in orientation at all except for the switch-over frame, which looks odd.
It's all a bit of a mess, but I still think it looks pretty cute in spite of.
I've had a productive day, but I really don't have anything visual to show for it. I've spent the day* storyboarding my XNA platformer game, coming up with the beat script for narrative and gameplay beats, but it's not something I want to share just yet. Actually, it's probably not something I want to share at all, at least until the game is done.
I'm making the post anyway, for the sake of upholding that contract.
Back to work!
* Most of the day. The rest of it was spent alternately shooting the limbs off necromorphs and screaming and sobbing uncontrollably into a cushion. Dead Space 2, I am your bitch.
It has a name, but I'm not willing to share it yet. This isn't some baby name thing, where I think if I say the name out loud someone is going to suddenly give birth to a game next week that is called the same thing. I just don't know if the name fits yet.
Here's the promo: It's an old-school pixel art platformer adventure, in the style of Wonderboy 3: The Dragon's Trap. The game is set around a hub, from which you explore, kill monsters, find hidden treasure, buy upgraded weapons, and earn new powers which in turn unlock new areas or new rooms in old areas. The game design lingo would be 'microcosm adventure' I guess.
Here is the protagonist. Yes, he's a sexy, shirtless, beefcake pirate with green hair and a goatee. And a sword, for some reason. That's the Wonderboy influence. In fact, I don't think it'd be too much of a stretch to scream "PLAGIARISER!" at me and chase me out of town like the creative harridan I am. Can I call it an homage? That's what it's meant to be, though I'm not sure what the difference is.
So the basic story involves this guy, some bad guys, and some extra nasty bad guys. There's also probably going to be a lot of jumping.
There is an actual story, but at the moment it's more of a collection of ideas that need joining together, so I'll do that before I try telling it. Not that it really matters, these games were never about complicated narratives.
I took quite a long break from working on it when things got busy at work. Then when work finished, I was a bit burned out for a while. But then suddenly, one day out of the blue, I got a crazy attack of motivation so I went back to all of my code which just confused me, relearned it all, rewrote it all, and put together a level editor.
Here's a sample of the editor in action, very much work in progress:
Then... art. I have so much respect for good pixel artists. Even producing the most simple art requires masses of patience. I'm really enjoying it, and can spend hours in a day just clicking pixels, but it is slow and a few hours of work might only produce one or two sprites.
Now I'm working on a run cycle, and when that's done I can post some video of stuff in (very basic) action. As it turns out though, run cycles and pixel art combine to form one huge bitch of a pain in the ass.
Back to clicking pixels.