Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Solasi?!

To cut a long story short, I set out to work outside of my own realistic capabilities with Solasi and I am effectively forced to cancel it. Sorry.



A Post-Mortem Of Solasi

For those who don't know, Solasi is a game in which you control a guy stuck in an underground bunker, who has to deal with his nightmares and his descent into insanity. It's kind of like a survival game.

It is fine in concept- though I find it abrasive to think about for too long given the amount of time I've spent hitting my head against the most basic components of it.

So my first mistake was coming up with a story or narrative-based idea when there is so much restriction on how I can convey this narrative. My only real option was to either hide messages on the map itself and change them each day, or to present the player with a pop-up window at the start of each day. Of course, the former is preferable. Unfortunately, neither of these options are quite enough to make the game worthwhile playing.

What I should have done was go into the game with a clear understanding of its strengths and weaknesses. What I did instead was come up with a large yet fun idea in my head and throw my face against it. Lesson #1: Don't underestimate a comprehensive design document.

When I came to making the game, I made some good use of placeholder assets. I'm quite happy with the fact that I did wait until the "end" to start adding some visual sparkle, because otherwise I never would have gotten as far as I did.

However, I didn't clearly define the environment itself and ended up semi-overhauling the visual design to a more monochromatic and dull look only to realize that I could never finish this project. I had set out with no clear ideas for the enemies, so I had no cohesive ideas as to what they should look like as a collective and this only served to build what would become an insurmountable challenge.

Lesson #2: Plan things out before you start programming. I'm at massive risk of damaging my reputation as a programmer and game developer here, but holy hell the straw that broke the camel's back was a peculiar bug I was having where the game would just freeze. Nothing in the debug log, nothing anomalous in the stack trace- just a freeze. At first I wondered if it was randomly pausing somehow, so I set it to unpause every frame. Sadly, there was no improvement. The only possible link to it was that it was caused by the enemy type that shoots a bullet- but not linked to the bullet firing activity. Nor whenever it spawned.

After struggling with this bug for some lengthy hours, I called it on Solasi. Together with the design flaws, terrible workload and this god damn Shroedinger's Bug, I was not prepared to deal with this project anymore.

Don't Be Still


Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Solasi(apart from honing my skills for about 50 hours of work), served to provide a suitable jumping point away from larger projects back to a more comfortable arcade-y project. To be precise, the project I'm working on now is a remake of the game "Don't Be Still" that kick-started my adventures into game development in the first place.

It's small and I have a few tentative ideas for it, but so far it's feeling pretty damn fun. Pictured just above is a screenshot I took from the prototype.

In a sentence, Don't Be Still is a fast-paced shooter where the player's job is to shoot enemies, keep moving, and avoid the walls of the arena.

Touching the walls of the arena results in an instant "Game Over", while touching the enemies just bounce you around a bit. The real crux of the game - as is eponymous - is to keep moving. Staying still for too long will drain your health(not pictured) and eventually cause you to lose.

It's not a complicated concept, but so far I'm fairly happy with it. Stay tuned for more updates and hopefully within the next few weeks, a full release!

As per usual, if you have done- thanks for reading.

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