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About this blog

This is my general journal not linked to any specific project. Instead it is a collection of thoughts and ideas that come up while I explore game development.

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Dev weekend

So this weekend me and my friend got together at his place and just spent the whole weekend developing our game. Well.. we may have played some quake and bloodline champions...

We have a project we're doing for school that's supposed to be done before the summer. Since we are both in school we can't really work on this project full time and therefore when school floods with assignments and homework, the game kinda gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list (at least for me, I usually spend the weekend with my gf and family, while my friend is working on the game).

But this weekend was amazing, we had the biggest productivity spike ever, we made more commits to our repo this weekend than any other previous week. We got a lot of work done and we had a whole bunch of fun. It's harder to slack off when your partner is sitting next to you. Plus, whenever you run into a problem it's really simple to just lean over and ask for some help. Usually someone ends up just sitting there with a problem putting several hours in to it before it gets solved. Now we could tackle things together which was great.

Setting aside a weekend for developing is a good way to get a lot of things done. So consider this if you feel that team motivation is dropping or that things are just going slowly.
So, me and a good friend of mine are working on a game together. It started out as a dungeon crawler type game, taking inspiration from the Diablo series. The Diablo games feature mouse movement, e.g. you click on a spot on the ground and your character will move there. So this is how we initially set out to do movement in our game. My friend implemented an A* algorithm and I tied it to the player. So far so good.

After further development and play-testing, I got the feeling that the character movement was a bit stale for a couple of reasons.

  1. Player was locked in a grid (this can be good or bad depending on the game)
  2. Game-play became focused around just clicking, there was very little keyboard use.

Looking at the first one, the reason the player was locked in a grid was because of the A* implementation. The map is made up of square tiles, so naturally the A* simply uses these tiles for pathfinding. I didn't like it because it felt so restricting towards the player.

The second one takes a bit of explaining. Our combat was at the time limited melee weapons and the way it worked was, player clicks on mob -> player moves to mob -> player hits mob. Which meant that the combat was more or less a choice of which mob you attack.

Then we added ranged attacks in the form of spells and arrows we added a mechanic where the player could fire in a given direction, instead of selecting the mob you want to attack. Before we added the ranged attacks the game was quite boring, and after a while we decided to focus mostly on ranged attacks.

The big change

A few days ago we decided to scrap the mouse movement mechanic and replace it with simpler WASD movement. Soon after this we decided to remove melee attacks, essentially changing the core of the game. We immediately felt that this was a big step in the right direction. The game became a lot more fun and satisfying to play. With this change we became more inspired and it gave us a lot of motivation to feel our game was going somewhere.

The lesson I'm going to take away from this is that developers shouldn't be afraid to change core parts of their game if it doesn't feel good. You can't fix a boring core mechanic with fancy lights and particles or amazing sound effects. If the core isn't fun, the other crap doesn't matter.

-h0wser

First entry

I guess this is like the first commit of a new project. Where you create your perfect directory and a nice little README detailing the project and listing ideas... The difference being there are no projects to set up or build systems to configure..

So anyway, the reason I created an account here and a journal is because I want to become more active in communicating with other developers and designers. I currently only have one friend who I work and discuss with. Gamedev.net seems like a good place to do this.

h0wser
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