Andrey Listopadov

Gamedev marathon

@misc ~5 minutes read

In the last post on the subject I mentioned:

…And yeah, I felt burned up a lot, and considered skipping a month maybe…

So, yeah. I left the jam. And I’m stopping my gamedev marathon as well.

Realizing that it was a struggle rather than a self-motivation attempt helped to make the decision. Well, yes, I wanted to try this kind of extreme-paced five-month project - it is an interesting experiment. Not to mention that I kinda accomplished what I wanted, although not really.

The first month was weird. First two weeks I wasn’t doing anything, because I felt the after-vacation fatigue when you just back from the beach and you have to start working hard immediately. Then suddenly I felt encouraged and motivated, especially once I had some playable results. I thought that I was back on track, as I can, in fact, go on a few-month programming frenzy, and do nothing but code in my after-work hours. And it felt like that, except after I stopped working on Game1, starting to work on Game2 was as hard as with the first one. So hard, in fact, that I wanted to stop there.

Game3 was no different, except I made something that can technically be called playable. I worked for a week on it at most. It was much simpler than the Game2 on paper, so there were not that many roadblocks to make it work. After all, no camera movement, no complex coordinate translations, and no procedural generation. If you’ve played Game3 for a minute - you’ve seen it all.

Now, the Game4 was supposed to be a puzzle platformer. I spent the first week of this month thinking about what kind of puzzles I could make - and I got nothing original. I’m not into puzzle platformers myself, the only one I really enjoyed in the past years was Snakebirds, although it’s hard to call it a platformer. Well, it has gravity and platforms… Anyway.

I decided, that since there’s an upcoming Fennel game jam, I’ll just participate in it, and make another clone of an old game, like I did in my first ever jam. Same as before, I wanted to put a twist on it again, but, well, no game this time. I left the jam, and I gotta say, for some reason, this button makes it extremely demotivating:

Perhaps I’m just too tired.

Not that I didn’t work on the game though. In the first half of the jam, I tried to make my Game1 bump-based engine work for a Lode Runner-type game. However, in Lode Runner, you can’t jump, and your movement is tied to a grid - after all, your character creates holes on a grid of tiles. Modern incarnations of Lode Runner still follow this, so I decided to do the same, as it makes everything just a bit easier. So I dropped the idea of using work done for Game1 and started from scratch.

Second half of the jam I spent reworking animations, doing collision detection without Bump and I got a basic skeleton for the game. But the ladders didn’t work properly, the character was somehow clipping through the terrain still, and I was clearly running out of time, so I decided not to torture myself anymore. I deleted everything and left the jam. Nothing to show this time.

My idea for the twist was to make a series of rooms that you can roam free, after you’ve collected all gold on the level, and create a grid of levels, similar to rooms in a Metroid-like game. The goal would be to reach the bottom-right corner of the map, pick up a giant gold piece, and leave through a new set of rooms, as previous ones would be blocked. Kinda ambitious, and well beyond my skill to be able to do it in a 10-day game jam.

There’s another side to this whole marathon. Most of the time I simply had no spare time to consistently work on games. I’ve mentioned a few times that life had its own plans for me, and if you know me personally, you know what I mean. A lot of spontaneous events happened haphazardly during the past three months, and they were both exhausting and demotivating. Let’s just say that I hope I won’t have to go through this in another ~10 years. Perhaps, if not for this, I would have had more time and managed to get Game2 to a playable state and put more effort into Game3.

On the bright side, now I have some experience in doing animations, implementing a basic player controller, and interactions. I have future plans for game development, although I don’t know if I will go with TIC for that. TIC is quite limiting, and while I think it’s a good thing a times, I felt it tiring most of the time. The color palette is too small for my liking, screen space is also not the highest. If there were a 16-bit-like fantasy console, I would probably look at it, but I doubt there are other projects like TIC-80, which are free and open-source, and polished to the same degree.

Don’t get me wrong though, TIC is great for what it offers. I just want double the resolution, double or quadruple the color palette, double sprite and tile amount, and better sound. Kind of like we went from NES to SNES - it was so a major step upward that it was hard to look back. TIC feels like NES to me, and although it is more than NES, I want more than what it gives. So perhaps I’ll stick with LOVE2D in the future. Or maybe with an entirely different engine, who knows?

I’ll take a few months off from game dev, and then we’ll see. Maybe I’ll start working on the game I wanted to make for a long time.