October marks an exciting change in direction for the development of my game. Exciting if you’re the one who’s been writing the thing for the past five months, anyway. Less so for everyone else.
For a start, the game formerly known as ‘my game’ now has a tentative name. How does Ghostworld grab you? Yeah, I’m not too sure either, but it will do for now.
The bigger change is that I’m putting graphics development on the back burner for a while.
I had a six-month plan to produce a rough, playable game, where each month was dedicated to another part of the graphics engine. October was meant to be Make Buildings, and November Shadows and Water. But my game – sorry, Ghostworld – was always supposed to be a work of interactive fiction too, and I’ve been guilty of sidelining that. I started to feel a little uneasy a couple of weeks back, as I wrestled with recalcitrant fractal plants and realised I had a lot more work to do here, and also in a whole bunch of other graphics areas, before I would have anything that looked remotely like a game. Should I just plod on like this? And on, and on, and on?
The received wisdom is “no”. Derek Yu and some guy called Tom Francis both made playable prototypes of their games as quickly as possible, and then evolved them. A lot of other devs advocate the same approach. And it’s a lesson I’ve already learned over and over in fiction-writing: get a rough draft finished before you do anything else, as fast as you can, no matter how bad it is. If you stop to fix and polish bits, you lose momentum.
You don’t play with the graphics in my game. You play with the interactive fiction. If I want to make something playable, it’s the text side of things I have to get working first, as fast as I can. So that’s what I’m doing.
This will result in less graphically exciting blog posts, which is probably one of the subconscious reasons why I’ve been ignoring the IF stuff all this time. Another, I suspect, is that as long as I’m not working on the actual game, I don’t have to worry about how good that game is, or indeed how good I am at making games. I’ve been living with myself for some time now, you see, and I know how my mind works.
So here are some current screenshots of Bedquilt Land, just in case it’s a long time before I post any more:Although the fractal tree improvement didn’t get very far, what I did achieve was to get trees and grass growing in more natural clusters, rather than uniform, unbroken swathes. So there’s that. And yes, my trees have square fruit now, shut up.