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Puny Human Emotions

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This is an off-schedule post dealing with


Let me share an anecdote:
I made Quake maps for many years. In fact, I made Duke3d maps, then Quake 1 maps, then Quake 2 maps, then Half-life 1 and Quake 3 maps, then Half-life 2 maps. I was quite good at it, if I may be so bold, but I only ever really released one map that ended up in a random Half-life: Opposing Forces deathmatch map pack under some other name. I made that map by joining some fellows server and somehow we went through loading single player map sections and seeing how suitable for deathmatch they were. We found a particularly fun section of Opposing Forces that was an open arena with a mortar shooting down on it -- in Deathmatch the mortar, which shouldn't have been around, would target the first player in the server exclusively forcing them to move around. Still, this map wasn't made for deathmatch, so players would spawn in one place and it was kinda dumb so I offered to re-make the map, send it to him, then he'd run it. So I did and he did, but it didn't quite work. So he went around the map pointing out things by shooting them with a pistol, like "put a tunnel there" and "put the rocket launcher there", and I went and re-iterated the map. We did this five times and came out with a fairly enjoyable map -- the only map I made that ever got out into the public.

I found a couple shots of stuff I made like 7 years ago; It was going to be some single player maps for Half-life 1 revolving around a research station on Xen:

So really it's a bit presumptuous to claim that I was "good at making maps", because I wasn't. I was good at map architecture, lighting, placing things, all the small level skills, but I was not good at overall project management it took to finish a map and release it. People who were simply mediocre at the small skills but good at project management were far more successful than I ever was.

What's my point?

So glad you asked!

I'm feeling a bit down about this project and I haven't been doing enough on it, for sure. If I had a progress chart it'd be going into exponential decay or something (well, not that bad, but you know). And I've been thinking about where I have to go with this project and it's pretty overwhelming. Yes, I'm pretty good at making graphics and implementing little things, but I'm having trouble with project management. The project is too big. I've been making progress through sheer cussedness (as it were) and taking little pieces as they come, but it's getting difficult to manage. I was thinking today about how I have to implement entities, their interaction with each other, and their interaction with the map itself, and it's looking frighteningly complex -- I see now why other games don't implement my "super cool unique" ideas. They demand a -lot- from the map and a lot of interacting logic. And add to this the development of my own GUI and resource handling systems, it's crazy! Damn I love it, but it's crazy.

What do I do?

1: I can recognize that I'm just in the low end of an emotional sine wave, push through and keep working at this as I go along. I mean I was feeling pretty good only a week and a half ago, and really, the current problems are nothing that couldn't be solved with a few days thought and some planning, right?

2: I can "take a break" from this code and do something simpler, something I can accomplish. (Something with Pyglet). I've certainly learned a ton that could be applied to making (and completing) a smaller game. Even an asteroids-type game would be a pile of fun and in my hands would probably *look* pretty sweet. Or I could make a simple Roguelike RPG (as much as I despise Goblin Genocide ideologically, they are fun). Or a simple sim game that involves building things, I love building things. Maybe like SimTower except not a damn elevator scheduling simulator (what a bizzare game that was!).

I just fear that Isostrat would die, and this would be another corpse on the pile of 4 to 12 (depending on how you count) iterations of this game. I should have enough perspective to realize that this is what tends to happen to projects that get "left for a while".

I'm not really sure what to do.
I think I'm leaning toward option #2. I need to start having fun again.

Edit: Seems like I need Windows XP to use Pyglet. It's about time I upgraded.
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If it were me I would try either number 2, or just take a weeklong break from coding stuff. I've found that after taking a week away from coding (voluntary or otherwise), I find it much easier to be productive on a project.

I've been following your journal for awhile now BTW, and your project looks very cool!

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I prefer #2 as well, because it would be more fun in the short term. If you do go with #2, and your goal is production, than I would suggest reducing your scope to bare minimum. On the other hand, if your goal is fun or learning, which is perfectly fine, then shooting high might help you grow, or be more exciting/interesting.

TBH, my current project is not particularly fun anymore. I don't hate it, but I would much rather be working on a smaller 2D game. However, to use your analogy, I have 10+ years worth of dead adventure games lying in my wake, and if I give up now, it'll just be another rotting corpse. At the same time, you'd hate to spend any more time on a project if its destined to fail eventually. So I think the answer is: determine whether you're able to finish it, recognizing that you're not a robot and you may need to be having fun, and whether the end product will be worth it.

This is the kind of advice I would give myself, if I could travel back in time. I hope it doesn't seem condescending. [smile] I do really like the progress you've made on your project so far, so I would be sad to see it die, but happy to see what new things you'd be doing.

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Sir Sapo:
Thanks for the advice and support.
Your game was one of the first ones I saw when looking at Gamedev before I joined and I thought it was really cool; it brought me back to when I was a kid and I'd always draw side-views of airplanes blowing stuff up. It's really got an appeal on that level, to me at least.

I don't think it's possible for you to be condescending, and I mean that in the best way. Thanks for the advice, I think I will go with it.

Laura and I planned out a very simple game last night (which has some resemblance to ATTAS, actually, if ATTAS were way simpler -- it's like an expanded Asteroids, maybe). And we looked at Pyglet a bit on her machine and it looks like a very nice tool. It seems like this is what we'll do for the next little while.

So I think I'll clean up the current version of Isostrat enough to do another release of the code then put it online for all who want to see it, then I'll work on some much smaller games that are simple at the offset with room for expansion if and when I get to such a point.

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I did some mapping too, back in the days! Quake and Quake II... remember QOOLE? object-oriented level editor or sumthing. I didn't make many whole levels, just parts of them really, and used the game's entities to build any interesting game gadgets that I could come up with. I did some deathmatch levels though, but never released them...

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Yeah, your experience mapping sounds like mine: making cool stuff but never releasing. I wasn't Qoole-user though, more of a Worldcraft guy myself which made it really easy to get into Half-life mapping when Valve bought up Worldcraft. Used Qe/Q3radiant for a while too for Quake 3, which was quite a difference and good fun...
... game maps nowadays are so complex, I miss the days when you could just throw a bunch of junk together in little time and you'd have a good Quake map. Ah, nostalgia.

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