Development Diaries

Kate B's picture

What next

I've been making some stuff that seems to be steadily increasing in scope (Caught Between Dimensions and Flamingo Quest both being stupidly large for the scope I want to work in) and it stresses me out so I'm kind of forcing myself to scale down, have fun, and relax, which is sorta why I signed up to this site in the first place.

Every time I finish one of these games, I usually decide which game to make next. I have a list of games at the back of my last 3 notebooks that are all small ideas I want to make at some point. I enter ones that interest me most in that moment into a tournament bracket and then see which one wins

Usually... The one that wins isn't the one I make next. And it's usually one I don't expect. I'm currently working on a microgame about attending terrible lectures. It's called "terrible lectures". But that might not even be the next one I finish.

Right now I'm just sort of riding whatever idea takes my fancy and if I lose interest in something and get interest in something else I'll work on that. It feels much healthier and ensures everything I work on is something I'm actually passionate about and the work I release will be the games I was most invested in

nilson's picture

So I put my dating sim online

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I'm not sure who would want to read this or anything,
or even if I should be saying this at all
but here goes:

There's an irrational fear to share games online because what if no one plays your games or people don't care about your games and all you really ever wanted to do was to connect with people and engage in a deep sharing--

I made a dating sim where the player dates different versions of myself (there's a barista nilson, an art student nilson, and a "boy" nilson) for a semester project in the MFA (visual studies) program I'm in last winter. The game's ok, but what I truly love is watching people engage with the game in person. The game exists now on a Mac in the school's computer lab, and I'll invite people over to play it, or my friends will play it on their own, or (the best) strangers will try to use the computer and accidentally start playing (dating) a game that was left open from someone else (and then recognize me later in the hallway, lol).

A few weeks ago, at the stroke of midnight, my friend and mentor visited the school (there was a great moment where Mary says to him as she walks out the door "have fun dating nilson" to which he had no reference to at the time...). We sat down and he started playing/dating. A few minutes in, he stopped and said "what do you want to be?" I laughed because I laugh. "What do you want to be?" I dunno. He holds me accountable. "An artist, right?" Okay. "Is this online?" No. "Why not?" It's very silly to explain why the dating sim wasn't online for so long, but it can probably be summed up by the word fear.

When we presented our work that semester for the public, some people would play the dating sim, and then walk away from the installation, leaving the date in limbo, the stupid-looking nilson sprite frozen and abandoned (a boy stripped bare). This is part of the exercise of being vulnerable (and I would never ask anyone to pay attention to me for more than a few minutes). Being vulnerable is tricky.

I loaded the dating sim onto itch.io a week or so ago. I at first didn't know how to price it... Charging money for something immediately feels unnatural to me - this is ironic because I serve people 7 dollar drinks every day, but I'm afraid to ask someone for a buck to play this game. A game that I worked on for months, and poured my body and my spirit into... surely this is worth a buck, right? But even a buck limits access (and who is really even paying attention anyway?). One of my best friends bought the game for $4.20 (thank you), and I think maybe 2/12 free keys I gave out were redeemed. It's not about making money, but one of the things we talk a lot about in school is "artist legitimacy." Ugh.

I've been antsy af ever since. I asked everyone about prices. "Make it free or charge ten bucks." I ended up putting a meticulously phrased sentence on the game's page saying if anyone wants a free key, send me a joke or something, a feeble attempt to connect tossed out into the void. I even made a post on itch's new game forums, lol. There's no right answer, there's no good answer.

If I want to "be an artist" so bad, I need to learn to share. The first share is the most difficult. I made myself as vulnerable as I could, but my project lacks networking, marketing. How do people connect with a community, and grow that community?

The best way to play Untitled Dating Sim (first three dates) is in bed with your friends, preferably with the game projected (light) on a wall. The game's funny, yeah, but it exists as an intense act of sharing (something I had to get over). It forces people who play it to get vulnerable as well. People who play the game see what they want to see in it - my one professor who thinks I'm some post-modernist derrida huffing warhol troll sees the game as a joke on the player... others see something more gentle, almost romantic. Certainly human.

Should it even be online? And what do I do with it now? A part of me says I need to move on. "It's just a project, and it's done. It's complete." It'll always exist now, on my website, on that Mac (hopefully), on itch, in the few people's memories who played it. I guess this is the point where (as an "Artist") I need to start applying to "shows." I need to start networking. All successful artists say "I applied 100 times and got accepted once." What galleries want this dating sim?

I recently saw a dating sim at squeaky wheel, so "it's out there." "Being an artist" seems like a heartbreaking job, until at least you're satisfied with your level of network. I don't think about networking when I'm making. I want to make games that kids on the internet like, mysterious software that transmits energy to them. I want to send CDs of games, mail art, to like-minded communities. I don't want people coming up to me and asking me "how do I win?" (unless I'm making JRPGs, then please PLEASE ask me about strats etc)... I dunno... I don't really have anything to be bummed out about, lol.

I just bought Anna Anthropy's rise of the videogame zinesters on amazon, so that'll probably re-energize me~

ncrecc's picture

Knytt Scraps/WIPs

Collection of ideas for scrapped KS levels, or those I don't know if I'll ever finish.

Knytter: Exploration level with the red/blue switch mechanics of REDDER. Never made a single room for it.

Hourglass Shape: Level where all of the rooms were arranged in the shape of an hourglass. Would feature a part near the end with seemingly unscalable overhangs that would grant you an easter egg if climbed. One of the few rooms I made for it would later be used as the starting room for garden.

Columbo: Juni wakes up, goes to her workplace to set a disguised explosive under the desk in her cubicle, works her shift, then goes back home before the bomb eventually explodes. You'd be traversing with no run powerup through a boring flat landscape both to get to work and on the way back. Entirely meant to riff on one particular Columbo episode with virtually the same plot where it took from the beginning of the show to the first or second ad break for this to actually happen.

crate pushing level: Shift-based level that would have played like a side-view sokoban with gravity. Juni would walk into the side of a crate to "push" it. Abandoned by the second screen.

flambe level: Another shift-based thing. The foreground and background are both transparent, only the foreground is solid. Shifting would cause the foreground and background to switch places. Combined with KS+'s Overlay=True feature, this would make it look like the shift is actually sending you between the layers.

minimalistic closer: Prototype of Get focus. I had almost the whole map layed out, but never got around to A) finishing the final area or B) actually adding the "closing behind you" effect.

Space is Cliche: Dr. Cliche's lab in space. The whole gimmick was that you'd occasionally exit the safety of his various rooms and tubes, and a timed shift (plus a custom object that resembled a timer) would kill you if you were outside for too long.

Good Day For Poker: Would start out as a pastiche of Healy's style, with the plot being that your neighbor just invited you to come over for a game of poker, but her house is too high up to get there without both jump upgrades. Eventually you'd stumble into some virtual reality room (like the one in Dark Sea) and go through all sorts weird settings like the space station from VVVVVV.

Quick KS Editor Demonstration: Self-explanatory. I tried to make the kind of guide that could have gotten me into level-making a long time ago.

careful!: The first draft for this was a level where you could "die" from trivial things, like falling on the lawn and "choking on a blade of grass" thus giving you tons of different endings to achieve. Then I abandoned that for some reason, and tried making a level where you had to infiltrate Dr. Cliche's lab from behind most of his structures.

You Have to Put the Juni in the Juni: KS+ level, map is enabled, map resembles Juni's sprite. No idea where to go with it.

ncrecc's picture

Kneat Swapzeese

Complications have arose! For me. It'll take me a while to finish my half of the swapsy (or it'll just be shorter than normal) because I've barely had any time or focus to put into it. Sorry yo

NatQuayleNelson's picture

Stream of Pretentiousness Season 2

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Hey all! In the last few weeks I've revived a project I was posting about here a year ago:
Stream of Pretentiousness

It's daily vignettes about my life (interactive non-fiction, if you will). I'm calling this Season 2 because last year I was making them in Twine, and this time I'm experimenting with other open-source engines for making hypertext stories. So yeah!

Very own love dress for this the summer time

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Elegant flowing dress on the 17th to the beginning of the spotlight, if you have not yet started, 15 years must try to dress yourself in a dress that suits you, the cover has the advantage of short cloth, the perfect cover small midriff, Stout thighs are really fantastic.

Giving people a gentle becoming like a fairy, Wen Yinxian's temperament people can not amenable their eyes, skirt wonderfiul metal materials, not only appearances full of layering, wild styles, classic retro design to draw the public's attention, glance Waist is very thin, explaining a full body posture. Lovely pleats crumpled, layered clean! Large skirt, elegant and even beautiful.

For you to save the very troubles of wearing, such a fleece with a retro dress to the United States and the United States, grayscale gold colors in Western world and the United States is a very timeless classic color models, bring about against the skin color of the positive, very significant Temperament, but probably in line with the body's color, good results . the three rules, temperament person on the line.
[link removed]

Kate B's picture

Health Bars

I'm swearing off health bars for a while. If you see me making a game with a health bar, tell me off

ALTERNATIVES:

1-hit death- I've done this a few times in a few games. It works well, and if you need to give the player leeway you can have it so like, there's a really small hitbox on some things that hurt you, or there's like... Bombs that go off on a timer, and overlapping them makes that timer count down faster, for example

No HP/No death- Speaks for itself. More interesting penalties are: the game's story continues but you are handicapped in some way. Like you're on fire (which doesn't kill you but does inconvenience you on future obstacles)

Getting launched across the map- What is death in most games but simply sending you back a few paces to try again. I think that's why dark souls worked so well, cause there was another penalty on top of that. Anyway, why not cut out the middle man and just launch the player somewhere else as penalty for their fuckups

"Weird Health"- I also had a game still in development where if you get hit dirt appears on you, and once you get dirty enough you have to take a shower (sent back to somewhere else) you healed yourself by physically wiping the dirt particles off yourself. I also tried the opposite where your HP was a petri dish full of bacteria, and whenever you got hit an explosion randomly went off in the dish, killing some of the bacteria. The dirt system evolved out of that. Also you could get different bacteria in your petri dish that changed you into cool alternate "forms"

Anyway that's tha plan

qrleon's picture

2018 ZZT Project

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I'm working a lot of graveyard shifts lately, and have found myself turning to ZZT to burn idle time when I'm home and nothing's open. ZZT is technically very simple, but I find myself going OCD messing around with details in KevEdit, and the time just melts away.

I made a handful of draft game/puzzle boards, but I'm lukewarm about the overall story / circumstances I've plotted out. Struggling to make it all fit together. I've sunk too much time into it to stop now, though. The World file is over 100 kilobytes. The recommended safe maximum is about 250KB. I really don't want to split this into two files, so this should be an effective hard limit on what I can put in. I'm going to try and get the game at least mostly laid out by the time I return to day shifts.

I plan to make heavy use of dark rooms for the central hub, and use the black torch/passage effect to highlight contours of what would otherwise be a completely grey screen except for the little torch-carrying player. The problem with dark rooms in ZZT is that torches only last for about 22 seconds, so even if you have a large supply, you have to keep pressing T to light them. So I want dark rooms to play a significant role, but not for the player to be stuck doing too many consecutive tasks at once in the dark.

Indicating all contours in dark rooms is also a potentially dangerous design choice, as it can lull the player into a false sense of security: they may delay lighting a torch because they can "see" the path ahead, even though they may be walking straight into a newly-spawned set of enemies. The solution is likely to make the paths a little more winding within the space between the contours. I'll have to do some tests.

mbtzl's picture

Insecurities and a need to create

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Sometimes I find myself staring longingly at itch.io

I scroll through, looking at the beautiful art and programming genius that takes place.

It makes me sad, but also hopeful.

I love making games, more than I ever thought that I would, but a lack of budget, knowledge, and overall skill makes it incredibly difficult.
I feel a constant need to create, but never the ability.
This blog entry is mostly just a ramble;
Some sort of shout into the void.

I feel insecure about what I make.
I feel inadequate.
I feel like I'm spinning in circles, even though I have only just started taking this seriously.

Ever since I was a little kid, I had a deep fascination for this stuff.
I research and research, never actually applying or learning.
Just longing to create.

I feel hopeless.
I feel petty.
I feel pathetic.

Deep down I know that I am new to this, finally putting my foot down and releasing things that I make. I know I will improve, but don't know where or how to start.

I feel like I should give up.
But I don't want to.

Even recently, when I would lurk on this website for hours, I never thought I could do what some of you do.
And yet here I am. I can't say that what I make is good, or even passable, but Glorious Trainwrecks makes me feel like it is.

I feel accepted.
I feel supported.
I feel loved.

Blog posts tend to not get much attention on this site, so maybe nobody will see this, and maybe that is OK. Just writing this, I feel a little bit better.

hugs's picture

musty old scraps

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here are some graphics from unfinished projects from the last ~12 years. a lot of these never passed the embryonic stage. you might recognise some of these from my collage in the gt x bc zine.
these are released under the "do whatever you like if by any chance you find anything useful" license.

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