Alright. Time for a change of pace.
Up to this point I’ve been working on game features pretty haphazardly, pretty much following my joy from sub system to sub system as I saw fit. It’s all work that needs to be done (probably), so there’s no real issue here — except that I’m an engineer, and engineers sometimes need to be dragged away from a system they’re building and told to move along. On the game development subreddit, they frequently admonish newbies to “build games, not engines.” That proviso is necessary, since so many programmers (myself included) have such a great time building engines that we forget they’re for making games with, not the other way around.
I’ve updated my milestones page with updated statuses for the sub systems I’ve identified so far and how far they are along. I also added a new column to the table, which is what pre-release build of the game needs that feature. I’m officially re-gearing the project to get it to playable alpha as soon as possible, hopefully a little after the new year.
The milestones page should give you a vague idea of what the game will comprise up to the Alpha. I’m aiming for about 20 minutes of gameplay. This includes the opening sequence, which is the bit where you explore the ship and learn things about the plot, as well as the first part of exploring the surface of Enceladus, the first several powerups, and the first boss enemy. There won’t be a ton of “off-road” exploration you can do at this stage, but enough to give you a taste of what the finished product will hold in store.
I’m going to work on things basically in gameplay order, which is a stark departure from how I’ve been operating. To that end, next up is an event / cutscreen system to handle (for example) the ship landing after you’ve talked to everyone on board and then gone back to see the captain. Interleaved with that work will be a full fledged dialog system, to allow the protagonist to have conversations, not just hear what people say. Finally I’ll be moving on to drawing the tile set for the surface and immediate underground portion of the moon, as well as enemies to occupy it, then designing the layout of the levels and upgrade placement. Very, actually finally I’ll be working on the upgrade system itself and the UI elements, like equipment, map and title screens. Oh, and I might need to implement saving in there somewhere.
It’s a lot of work, and I think to stay on target I really need to be making noticeable, linear progress towards an Alpha, rather than just chipping away at all sides of the finished piece as I have been. I’m excited to try this new approach, so wish me luck!