After a couple of weeks off I’m excited to get back into game creation this week. I’ll be playing with various experimental stuff and also returning to my work on Marie.
Part of the reason I’ve been doing my new ‘Screengrabs From Games That Don’t Exist’ series on Saturdays is that I have a ridiculous number of game ideas and not enough time to implement them. I’ve got a few pinned down for working on during the rest of the summer, but there are so many others that will have to stay in the parallel universe for now. One day!
This studio scene is just the shiny face of it! The real puzzles in the game are solved in the meteorology centre, where you consult with specialists, pore over projections and DO SCIENCE in your endless, fascinating quest to predict the British weather correctly.
No adventures in coding to report this week. I would like to have been playing with a few experimental games I want to make and working on my ongoing projects, but I’ve been snowed under with day job work and haven’t had the time or energy. Hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel by the end of the week!
I had a really good time making Waiting for the Day Train once I let go of the hope that I could somehow finish Marie in time for the ParserComp deadline (having actually sat down and properly scheduled everything out, it will most definitely be going into one of the early 2022 competitions instead). I had fallen in love with the game idea when wandering around the beautiful vicinity of Causey Arch during Mum and Dad’s visit a few weeks ago, as I wanted to do a relaxing adventure accompanied by the photos I’d taken. In the end the adventure was not portrayed as relaxing – it’s a timed game, as the aim is to catch the last day train so that you can escape the night and its associated evil spirits forever… but there has to be some sense of danger in an adventure game!
I really loved making the two themes for the game (there’s a day theme, for the playable part of the game, and a night theme for parts of the framing story). I’ve had some very nice feedback about it so far, which has given me a few ideas for future updates.
It’s going to be a fun few months as I have a lot of game ideas to play with. Marie is still trucking along in the background as well, in a slightly more sedate way than she was doing before.
For a week or two, though, I’m taking it easy and carving out some time to play all the other ParserComp entries!
I’m taking a (possibly permanent) break from the Saturday ’80s Photo series, as I think the well is starting to dry up in terms of the family archive. Instead, over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing screengrabs from games I wrote in a parallel universe… somewhere. Not promising that they’ll ever exist in this one (or conversely that they never will)…
At the time of this post it’s fifty-four hours and twenty minutes until the deadline for ParserComp, which is the competition into which I’m putting my new small game. Very exciting! I’ve had some useful feedback from testers and so will be incorporating all of that into the game this evening. That gives me a forty-eight-hour ‘buffer zone’ in case anything breaks horribly. It shouldn’t, but you never know.
I’ve also been digging out a few other small projects that I’m excited about finishing over the next few weeks. I’ll still be working on my big game as well once the competition deadline is past, but at a much more sedate rate, so I’ll have time for side projects. Experimenting with several things at once (and no deadline pressure) is going to be a really nice way to spend my summer.
Of course, I’m also excited about the best part of any competition/jam, which is getting to play everybody else’s games! I’ve already tested five of the other entries, but I’m really looking forward to playing the released versions as well as all the games I’ve not seen before. Thursday will be a good day 🙂
Way back in August/September 2019, when I was learning Adventuron for the first time with the aim of entering the first Adventuron jam, I spent about three weeks making a game called The Cave of Ponies.
With about five days to go before the jam deadline, I realised that there was no way I was going to get The Cave of Ponies finished in time, and so I immediately switched to a much shorter game that took place in a small subsection of the Ponies map. This shorter game was The Cave of Hoarding – a far worse title and a much less ambitious game, but something I was able to finish and polish enough that it was releasable within the deadline.
This has been a bit of a theme during my two years of game creation.
There have only been two Adventuron jams (out of six) where I have entered the game I originally planned for the jam. Those were jam 2 (Hallowe’en: Night of the Misty Manor) and jam 6 (Barry Basic and the Quick Escape), and in both cases I (a) absolutely killed myself getting the game finished and (b) would never have been able to do so had there not been an extension to the jam deadline. For jam 3 I originally planned to enter a game called Goblin Quest but instead went with Goblin Decathlon due to an athletics obsession moment (I did eventually finish Goblin Quest a couple of months later!). For jam 4 I originally planned a much bigger game based around the character of the Champagne Lady, but very soon realised it wasn’t feasible and instead had her as a mysterious antagonist in One Last Thing… (I did manage to release three different versions of the game as well as Barry Basic and the Quest for the Perfect Port before the jam period was up, but I’m still certain I wouldn’t have had enough time for the originally planned game!). Jam 5 saw the complete planning out of a fun North Pole adventure for Christmas, but that was too big as well (which was for the best as it would have had a similar theme to about four of the other games in the jam!), and I ended up going with Day of the Sleigh, with the hope of making the original game idea in time for Christmas 2021 instead (50% chance I reckon).
As you’ll be aware if you’ve been following these sporadic Monday game creation updates, since the end of the last Adventuron jam I’ve been working on a big game called Marie. This has been planned as the expansion and continuation of the game excerpt Pre-Marie, which I entered into IntroComp last year. The aim was to finish and release it as an entry into ParserComp, as the deadline is the end of June and you’re allowed to enter completed IntroComp games. I thought three months would be plenty of time to get everything finished. However, it’s a really big game, and in the last week or so, I’ve come to the realisation that rushing to get the game finished in time for the deadline would mean that I wouldn’t be doing the game justice. I’ve put a lot of work into it, and I want it to be perfect before release, so I’m going to take my time finishing it and hold it back for a future competition instead. Although it’s now likely that Pre-Marie will form a prequel to the game rather than its first chapter, having emailed the organisers of IFComp it sounds like the two games would be a bit too closely related for Marie to be eligible for that competition, so I may well end up holding it back for Spring Thing, or ParserComp 2022 if it runs again.
I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be getting it finished this month (or possibly not even this year), but I know the game will be much better and meet its potential if I take my time over it. In the meantime, I’m still entering ParserComp! I’ve made a short game that I’m really excited about, and I’ve still got over a week to finish polishing and playtesting it, so I feel more relaxed about it than I’ve felt about any competition or jam game since… possibly ever. It’s a very nice feeling to have!
(I still have the code for The Cave of Ponies. The aim is to finish and release it… one day.)
In the world of my current game project, it is November. The town centres have put up their Christmas trees and the shops are full of tinsel and cut-price fireworks. Every day is cold and wet. It is the UK in the run-up to Christmas. It is a few unspecified years in the future, and life has returned to pre-pandemic levels of normality.
In the real world, it is June. The shops are full of summer holiday clothes that nobody is buying, because it’s still too much of a risk to book a summer holiday. The heat arrived a week and a half ago and despite the clouds today it is endlessly muggy. It is the UK in the throes of uncomfortable summer. It is still the very early 2020s, and we are not out of the woods yet.
As such, is it any wonder that I’m preferring to spend most of this month in my game world rather than the real one? 😀
I kid, mostly. I’m spending most of my time coding because I’m working to a tight deadline for ParserComp. I need to be really disciplined with it in order to give myself some breathing room in the last couple of weeks before the deadline, so this week is going to be a really big push. Lots going on in my other life areas as well, but that’s okay. Madness is sometimes enjoyable!
I think I’m going to feel a bit bereft in July! I am going to enjoy playing other people’s games again though…
I’m reluctant to share too many details about the plot of my upcoming game, Marie, as I want it to be a surprise when people play it. However, I can say that it largely takes place in and around London. I used to visit London probably once or twice a year, but I’ve not been there during the pandemic and so my last visit would have been in 2019 (I was there in April 2019 for the London Marathon and November 2019 for the Andy Taylor gig). As such, I’ve been racking my brain a bit when describing what locations look like!
I’m planning to release a short teaser / extra scene from the game at some point in the next couple of weeks. The teaser is a result of my first fumbling experiments using PunyInform, which has been a bit of a learning curve as I’m so used to Adventuron. It’s been really fun to start learning that though.
Graphic work for the main game will be starting soon, so maybe I’ll have some early pictures to share with you before long…