July Update: Being a programmer and Solo Game Developer

chuck_024.png
Future Los Angeles

In case anyone didn’t know yet, I’m the only working on Chuck Jones: Space Cop of The Future. When you work on a game as a solo developer there will doubtlessly be parts which you are not great at or don’t enjoy doing. I’m a programmer primarily and whilst I have a variety of interests such as Music or Film-making, I’ve always been best at programming. This month something very interesting and challenging happened, I pretty much ran out of code that needed writing. I found that I was spending a lot of time optimizing or refactoring my existing code and not really adding anything new, while this is incredibly important in itself, it was getting in the way of something more important: the rest of the game.

What is the rest of the game?

Art, Music, Writing and Gameplay. The adventure game genre is actually fairly inefficient in it’s use of these and requires a lot more art then some other genres in order to tell the story. Unfortunately making art is definitely what I’m the least efficient at. Nonetheless I have been productive this month so for those who are interested I will summarize what I’ve done this month.

I did some Play-testing:

This is really important for any game and should be done at every stage of development and as early as possible. For a game in progress this can really help give direction and weed out potential issues. Play-testing is only really useful when the player isn’t working on the game and best when the player has never played the game before.

I made lots of new art

This is kinda hard to go into detail about without giving away too many plot details but I’ll give you an example of an animation I did:

postal.gif
Walk Cycle

Animations are something I’m not terribly good at so if any real animators see this I would appreciate some pointers.

Puzzles

I can’t really talk very much about this at all because solving them out is the main aspect of most point and click adventures. I can talk however about how I make them. The process of which I mostly stole from the great Ron Gilbert.

I use Puzzle Dependency charts. Basically its a hierarchical chart that lets me visualize all the puzzles in the whole game and how they depend on each other, allowing me to make the game nonlinear and interesting while avoiding the possibility of dead ends or placing the player in an unwinnable situation. To make these charts I use a program called yEd shown below.

yed.png
My puzzle dependency chart in yEd (edited to remove spoilers)

Once I decide on what should be in a puzzle it is implemented as a script for the Chuck Machine, which I described in a previous post.

Wrapping up:

This month as I’ve begun to move on from mainly coding I’ve had to learn alot of new stuff and constantly tweak my work flow. But slowly things are starting to fall into place and I’m excited for what I’ll have to show next month.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s