In my previous post I explained how I was having some titling issues with my current project: the remake of my first proper game. Well, I finally settled on the new name: “Final Defenders“. So without any more unnecessary ado, let’s take a look at where we’re at!
I’ll start with a recap of what the game is. In Final Defenders, you are one of the brave volunteers of the Anidran Defence Force tasked with holding off an invasion from a big consortium of interplanetary ass-hats: the Five Worlds Legion. You, and up to 3 of your friends, have only a trusty turret with which to defend the skies above your cities from this menace.
So the subject of numbers in titles has popped into my head again and the trend of erasing them is just as prevalent and irritating now as it was then (The upcoming MS Flight Simulator is particularly silly: its official name is actually more vague than its shorthand nickname, “MS Flight Simulator 2020”, which is necessary to figure out what you’re actually talking about). But while this annoys me, the reason it comes to my attention lately is because I might end up being guilty of it myself.
See, I’m working toward releasing a game: the current plan is to get the new version of Final Battle out to itch.io by August 30th (hold me to this, people). And when I say “the new version of Final Battle”, I’m deliberately skirting my dilemma. Because internally, I’ve been calling it Final Battle III, but I don’t know if I should. In fact, I might even call it The Final Battle. WHhhuuaaaa–
OK, so there are currently multiple versions of the Final Battle. There is the very first original one I made in Games Factory but never quite finished. There is the “remastered” version; overhauled many years later and released as Final Battle Remastered on this site only. As this is the first one to see daylight, it’s effectively “Final Battle 1”.
Final Battle 2… is a gravestone. Allow me to explain:
It’s about time this blog started being a source of actually useful knowledge, and I’m going to start simple. This is something I struggled to find just about anything on when googling recently: the 3DConnexion Space Navigator is a neat little “3D Mouse” I’ve had for many years now; useful in any program where you want to get around a 3D space via multiple directions and angles at once. So, for the other 7 people out there with a Space Navigator, looking to use it on Blender but can’t seem to configure it out: fear not! Got you covered.
I can scarcely believe it’s been 18 months since I last published something on this blog. I swore not to do any more of these “oh look how long its been I promise to write more soon” bullshit posts, so I suppose that’s probably why. What you don’t see, is the mountain of unfinished drafts that have been started in the interim, but which have not yet achieved a degree of quality or completion yet that I feel they’re ready for the great wild web.
So here we are. I’m still trying to write, and code games. I have a new day-job, web development, but I’m still working on pretty much all the things I was working on at the start of 2018. Scratch that, at the start of 2017 things didn’t look all that different. It’s tough to maintain momentum. But if talking about it will help, perhaps this is what I need.
The most significant thing that has happened is that I have gained a daughter; Lucy and I are now proud parents. That might seem to put stagnating timescales of personal projects into perspective, but as she’s only been around for a month or so I don’t think that’s fair on her.
Life, uh… finds a way I guess. Of getting in the way. One way or the other.
But I feel optimistic. Parenthood is an exciting time, and honestly, it is no exaggeration to say I am inspired every day. I never claimed to be the greatest person at time management. But perhaps, if I could just improve it a little, the fruits of all the years of work on so many projects might start to at least see the light of day.
Okay, so “failed” isn’t the most constructive word to use, but I am feeling somewhat masochistic and in need of a stern talking to. This has been a difficult year for me, but I feel I’ve been making a few too many excuses. I’ve been made redundant, headed out onto the hostile airless moon that is Self-Employment, and I published my first book; which nobody knows about and I’m struggling to figure out how to make people know about it. But I am free; what more do I need?
I thought that with my workday effectively under my control, I’d be able to negotiate with myself to get the necessary time I need to write 1,667 words a day (or sixteen-and-a-half centiwords, as I have started to think of it). Problem is, that amount of time with me is a bit long, it would seem. Something like 4-5 hours, most days. Which makes the challenge at best a 150-hour commitment that earns me exactly zero toward my monthly deficit of bills.
Another year, another games jam. This time, myself and my colleague Mike (with a little help) built a game for Global Games Jam 2015 at the UCS campus. The theme: “What do we do now?”. Our interpretation?
CRITICAL SYSTEMS FAILURE
An advanced experiment goes wrong, the reactor is going critical and there’s not even time to nip home and feed the cat. Critical Systems Failure puts you into that classic dramatic moment where it’s all going wrong and you; an untrained rookie with no manual, have got to stabilise the situation… or risk total destruction!
Okay, it was the moon in the astrosim Orbiter. But it was, in logistical terms, still a huge challenge; Orbiter is a simulation, after all. So I decided to make things a little bit easier on myself. After all, I could learn the necessary astrophysical calculations to do it as NASA did in the 1960s. Or I could use the future! The science fiction future of Firefly, to be precise. I figured that the main challenge would merely be the limits of my vehicle. So, I postulated, if I was to use a high-tech scifi spaceship, it would be easy! I wouldn’t need to worry about trifling matters such as calculations. And I could not have been more wrong.
Serenity leaves Earth in a general moon-like direction
So it’s been a little while since I made an entry, so much so in fact that we’re closer to the next Ludum Dare than the one I last spoke of entering. LITH rated pretty well in all; notably placing 11th for Mood and 40th for Audio. I’ve reworked it a little and the unreleased iteration improves the enemy intelligence a dickload. There’s a couple other tweaks I’d like to implement on top of this to add more possibilities to it, but it’s been on hold lately as I have a mounting list of priorities.
In other news, I’m delving into Piano, as I am fortunate enough to know (and be sibling to) an excellent music teacher. This is rather exciting for me; I’ve wanted to be able to play the piano for years and never really got far. I took some lessons in my early teens but they didn’t go well. I have vague recollections of copying sheet music exercises and finding it incredibly boring. Unlike my first lesson last week, in which music theory blew my mind. Also, I think I have a thing for diminished triads.
I’ve decided, somewhat last minute, to participate in Ludum Dare games jam along with a couple of maybe-I’ll-help minions. Ludum Dare is a challenge to make a game around a voted theme, that takes place globally three times a year. The next one begins tomorrow (at 02:00, in this part of the world). You can read more about it here. I’ll let you know how it rolls.
On a little side-note, No Man’s Sky has been grabbing a lot of attention. And it’s interesting that the design philosophy in the article is very much along the lines of my recent thoughts expressed in this article. So I’m just making a note of that for the record.
Procedural gaming: it’s just going to keep getting bigger.
The central theme to the Terminator franchise is Man vs the Machines. While I am very fond of Machines (and find the concept of their rebellion seriously flawed), I’ve always found this a very interesting premise. It is also one that is practically screaming to be utilised in computer games; as anyone who has played a co-operative computer game might have noticed, that is the exact conflict they are engaged in.
Yet its an opportunity that has been completely squandered. The last offering from the Terminator universe, as far as I’m aware, was just another setpiece shooter taking us through cardboard-cutout locales with pre-scripted missions and paths. Strip out the graphics, and it’s Medal of Honor. No Terminator game to date pits you, alongside an army of humans only, in a battle against an army of machines controlled by a central AI opponent ‘commander’ (in fact, I can think of only one game at all that does anything resembling this). And even if a Battlefield clone were to surface that did pretty much this, they probably wouldn’t do what I have in mind. That’s why I’m going to ask the industry to just shutup a sec. I’ve got an idea.