I’d decided about a month ago that I’d get this blog sorted and ready so I could release it on my birthday. In a frankly shocking display of timeliness, I’ve actually done it!
It’s nice to mark a milestone with something positive, on a date I’ll remember as development continues on the PolyCity game. Hopefully by this time next year I might be finished!
I’d also timed the latest set of narration scripts to be recorded by Eric Gerstein’s incredible voice talent, so I’ve had the extra pleasure of hearing some great vocal performances going into the game today too.
And just when things couldn’t get any better, The holy bible arrived, a wonderful birthday present charting the golden era of the point and click adventure.
Thanks’ to everyone for my birthday wishes and gifts. I’ve taken the day off from my usual job to spend it working on PolyCity, whilst gorging on chocolates from my wife… Perfect!
I find one of the hardest parts of creating an adventure game as a solo developer is keeping track of where I’m at.
For someone who get’s bored easily and has a limited amount of spare time to spend on development, there’s a huge benefit to having lots of independent things to work on.
It means I can pick a task to suit my mood and the available time slot, be it writing some dialogue, a cutscene or some narration; modelling some new 3D items; laying out a new room, or even diving into a particular coding challenge.
The issue is when you come back to the core interaction coding bit, it’s really hard to remember where you left off and what you were doing.
Even with a small 2 or 3 room graphic adventure like Fantasy Quest, there can be hundreds of item combinations, and pages of variables that all effect each other, depending on which puzzles and parts of the linear story the player has solved.
In some cases I’ve even spent hours designing some clever way to simplify the setting up of a scene, to find that I’d already solved the same problem in another scene a different way 3 weeks ago!
It’s this lack of focus, and the patchy nature of part-time game development which make these projects so tricky. (and make them last soooo long)
So what’s the solution?
Well I’m not totally sure there is one, sorry! Other than quitting your job and doing this full-time (which is fraught with it’s own problems!)
I imagine every solo, part-time developer struggles with similar issues, but there are two specific things I’ve found help me:
When I fix or discover/remember something helpful to my process, I write it on a post it note and put it on my wall.
A space for physical notes on the wall is far more prominent than a code comment or a readme file in your project. A collection of really helpful positive tips in your own words, is a great thing to check in on.
Use a good old spreadsheet to make bug notes
When you spot an issue write it down immediately, have the spreadsheet open at all times, with sections for each room or scene, date it and make a comment. It’s really cathartic to spend a Sunday afternoon ticking off a whole page of bugs, even the little ones.
And finally, I suppose a last tip (and something I’m rubbish at myself)…
Don’t be too hard on yourself, everyone needs some down-time and when adventure game development is your down-time from your real job, you need to remember to have some down-time from your down-time 🙂 …. otherwise it feels like another job.
It doesn’t go un-noticed that by deciding to start a blog and sharing this development journey with the point and click community it adds another chunk of time commitment.
Given how passionate, supportive and involved the indie developer community is (especially with point and click adventures) I see this as a small price to pay, and hope that feedback, comments and input on my inane ramblings will help to make a better end product.
With my previous games and projects, I even went to the lengths of creating tutorial videos for others to learn the Visionaire engine I was using at the time. I learnt the hard way that this soon becomes a full-time job in itself, but it really did stimulate lots of conversation with the community and taught me a lot too.
I’ve decided to start this blog at a time when I’m already a good 5 months into development of Poly City, giving me a distinct head-start in having lots of thoughts, screen shots, artwork and work in progress to share.
To try and keep a regular flow of updates, I’ll be releasing posts in chronological order, so you can see the project as it develops.
Hopefully, It should work out particularly cathartic for me, making it look like 5 months of work gets done in a few weeks!! Once I catch-up with modern day, things will inevitably slow down a little on the blog front, but I’m really looking forward to any feedback on style, tone, characters and humour as I go.
Let’s be honest, there isn’t a half rate actor, singer or x-factor judge who isn’t jumping on the coronavirus bandwagon to release a new book, album, film, blog or fashion line.
Well, If it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me!
When Covid19 hit and the lockdowns began, everyone’s suddenly had time on their hands. For some people this was the catalyst for boredom, a drinking problem and gout.
For me it’s an opportunity, not just to develop my drinking habit and gout, but to set out on creating something new, a new challenge, a new story, a new adventure.
So here we go again, embarking on the creation of another point and click adventure! This time armed with UNITYand the fantastic Adventure Creatorplugin, I’m hoping to bring the classic point and click adventure kicking and screaming into at least the 1990’s, in glorious low poly 3D.
Don’t worry though, for all the purists I’ll be staying true to the roots of a classic Point and Click, by requiring you to both point….. and click.
I invite you to join me on this journey as I try and keep this blog up to date as things progress. I welcome your feedback, your heckles and suggestions as I go.