This post is a day late, but considering I spent all of Sunday travelling, dealing with turbulence and ultimately throwing up, I'd say it's understandable.
After 27-ish days in the Philippines I am back in the UK, and I'm eager to get back into the swing of things. That said I didn't exactly slouch whilst on holiday, as I managed to finish the final levels of DIMB!
As I mentioned in my last post, I was close to reaching my goal of finishing all of the levels that would be in the game. A few days later, it was done. After many, many play through's and bug fixes, I was happy with the final boss challenge. It's by no means incredible, but I think it is a suitable challenge within the context of the rest of the game.
With the game ostensibly complete, I turned my attention to the connecting elements: the intro and tutorial sequence, the intermission rooms, and the ending. The intro I already had in place was made months ago, and was only ever meant to be a temporary solution. So I started going about completely removing it and replacing it with one that would be more streamlined, better written and more interactive.
After ripping out the old intro, I started writing the new one, but I quickly fell into a malaise. Something about reaching my goal of finishing all of the levels left me without motivation to move onto the next big tasks. The same thing used to happen to me at university. After finishing a big piece of coursework that had undoubtedly shortened my life expectancy, I always fell into a slump. My brain turned off and my body craved anything deep fried.
So I allowed myself to do nothing for the last few days in the Philippines. But now that I'm back, I have no excuses not to do any work. Or not to exercise. Or to eat healthily. Basically, now that I'm not on holiday, I intend to get my shit together.
Before I left for the Philippines at the start of March, I had set myself one goal: finish coding all of the main levels. That didn't include additional things like menu's, dialogue, story bits or any kind of polish. Just the actual levels that make up the challenging part of the game.
With nine days left until I fly back out, I am fairly comfortable that I am going to reach that goal. I have completed 67% of my tasks for the final Boss room in DIMB (according to Trello). One more day of finishing off the remaining tasks and making sure it plays ok, and all of the games levels are complete. After that is done, the polishing and fine-tuning stage starts which I imagine won't be as mentally straining, but will definitely be just as time consuming.
I got a taste of that this week, when I spent a day noting down every single minor presentation/gameplay issue in the current build, and then trying to find ways to correct them. The number of niggling little issues was infuriating, but fixing the whole myriad of them was deeply satisfying (sort of).
The big push this week was to get the Boss levels finished. And they almost are. The amount of trial and error involved in making the Boss levels fun, challenging and unique is insane. And I'm pretty sure the levels I have made aren't even that great. But I just want to be done with it at this point.
On the art side of things, Chris has continued his smash streak and sent over new level art pretty much every day this week. Two thirds of all the levels have their final art in place now, with just the final challenge and Boss rooms now needing art. Although writing this out I've just realised Chris probably hasn't even seen what the Boss levels look like.
I could write and whinge about a million other little things but the bottom line is this: We're almost finished!
The game will soon be complete, released to the masses and probably instantly forgotten. But that won't matter because the next time I'm at a gaming or developer event, and I introduce myself as a game designer, I'll finally have something to back up my lofty claim.
Looking forward, once the HTML5 version of DIMB is complete, I will be turning my attention to porting the game to Android immediately. There will probably be a hundred and one more issues to face getting the game on Android, but that's to be expected. And it is totally worth it just to get the game onto the Google Play Store.
Any ways, it is late and hot in the Philippines so I will sign off for the evening, and just leave you with some new screenshots of what the game currently looks like.
Here's a philosophical question: If a dev blog talks about the complete lack of dev work that has happened in the preceding week, is it actually a dev blog?
I'm on Day 10 of my Philippines trip, and work ground to a complete halt last week as I visited the lovely tourist destination of Boracay. Voted as having one of the Top 10 beaches a few years ago, it has since become a hot spot for holiday makers all across the planet. And what does this mean? It's a complete tourist trap that is essentially the Ibiza of South East Asia. That's not to say it wasn't a lovely trip; on the contrary it's possibly the most beautiful place I have ever visited.
The beaches were white, the skies were blue and the water was clear; postcard perfect. The views were spectacular, the people were friendly and the food was plentiful, there was almost nothing to complain about. Except for the internet being a broken pile of failure. But then again, who visits an island paradise just to re-check Facebook for the seventh time that minute.
But to get back on topic, as a result of this island getaway, very little work happened on DIMB on my side. Chris, however, has doubled down on the art and animation side. I realised earlier today that over half of the levels are now essentially art and animation complete; so we're now over the hump and in theory more art work has been done than there is to be done. Which is an exciting thought.
Despite not wanting to get bogged down in bug fixing, that is exactly what has happened over the past few days, with niggling little edge issues biting away at my soul like demonic bunny rabbits. So I'm working on several little bugs instead of finishing the Boss levels because I'm scared to commit to that larger piece of work. And on a related note, I'm still trying to figure out the final final Boss challenge. That is something I definitely need to figure out.
And one last thing I want to whinge about is all the little tweaks that need to be done whenever you think you've just about finished with a level forever. The number of small modifications I've had to make to several levels that I thought wouldn't need any more attention from me is downright absurd. And it doesn't exactly strengthen my resolve to finish the game.
But no matter; Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. That's some US Marine Corps talk there, and whilst I'm not exactly the biggest proponent of extensive military culture, I do like that motto. Constant commitment to not just sit down and give up, but to figure out steadfast solutions and ensure what needs to be done gets done.
If you'd rather view my waffling in real-time, follow me on Twitter: @Dannyish
No. Freaking. Way. A third weekly dev blog in a row? Madness.
To be honest this dev blog is a bit late but I've been travelling for the past two days so I'll allow myself to be tardy. I'm in the Philippines for the next month where the internet is just about as useful as the contaminated drinking water.
This last week another big mile stone was passed; Chris finished and sent over the "Scanner" and "Mine" challenge animations. This is a big deal since that now essentially completes the art and animation for the actual challenges. So that means the majority of animations needed for 25 out of 30 levels in complete.
Adding in the "Mine" animations was fairly trivial; just replacing the stand in art for the mine and resulting explosion with the correct, nice looking stuff. There was one issue where the death animation for DIMB wouldn't play correctly after the explosion, but it turned out just adding a slight delay to the animation fixed this.
Three of the five boss rooms are complete - that's two challenge rooms and the first boss stage. The second boss stage is taking shape now (it's a bit more difficult with a more complex mechanic) and the third boss stage is still in concept. Trying to think up a satisfying but challenging and thematically relevant final boss stage is harder than it seems. And that's before coding and play-testing and realising it's all pointless.
I'm in the Philippines for four weeks, and intend to be done with 99% of the coding by the time I get back to the UK. Whilst I love DIMB - that is I have enjoyed working on it and I'm super proud that both Chris and I have stuck it out for this long - I want to be finished with it. Considering the length, depth, play time and overall complexity of the game, it really should have been finished in three to four months, and not dragged on for close to a year.
If you'd rather view my waffling in real-time, follow me on Twitter: @Dannyish