Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Devblog: The Chaotic Design of Level Four

I've been saying for a very long time that level 4, which will essentially be the final level of the game, is planned out and ready to go. This is more or less true, I have most of the stage designs down on paper and I have more than 3/4 of the backgrounds sprited. The problem is that I've gone about working on this level in a completely different way to how I've worked on the other levels, and it's really throwing me through a loop.

When I was working on levels 1-3, I would do everything for a given stage at the same time. I would draw out the stage, get the stage into the maker, add all the events needed for that particular stage, test that it was working as desired, and then move onto the next stage. Doing it this way, it would only take approx. two nights of free-time to complete one stage, and the procedural nature of the work made it easy to do without thinking too hard about what I was doing. It also meant that I was constantly working on different things (different image-types, different events, different minigame systems), which helped me stay familiar with everything I needed to get a given stage finished.

However, after taking a break from developing this game to work on my PhD thesis, I found it really hard to get back into the swing of things and start work on level 4. Because of this, I decided that I should make progress by working on the easiest thing to work on. I found that the easiest thing for me to work on was the spriting, as that didn't require me to open RPGMaker and look at event coding that I was no longer familiar with. After doing that, I started to get overlays working for each stage, started to link stages together using the required teleport events, and then added the "search" events to each level (the search events are by far the easiest of the minigames to understand in terms of event coding). At this moment in time, I'm adding things like enemies and other minigames to each level, so things are definitely getting closer to being done.

The problem with doing it this way is that things are no longer procedural; I am no longer working in a way that allows me to work on auto-pilot and that is a big problem for me given how draining my job sometimes is. I'm coming across minigame systems etc. that I haven't worked with for a long time and, despite the fact that I've annotated my event code pretty well, I find it difficult to work on the game for long periods of time. I guess this should serve as a cautionary tale; my punishment for taking the path of least resistance when I came back to working on the game is really backfiring now!

Anyway, have a screenshot :3


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