Video Games

Diary of a Game Developer: Episode 5 – The Get Down (To Work)

Game Dev Diary Ep 5 |

Game Dev Diary Ep 5 | This post is part 5 in an on-going series about my adventures as a first time game developer. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, part 3 here and part 4 here.

My previous entry in this ongoing diary dealt mostly with my plotting out the “worst possible ending” for my game, and then getting caught up making a floor plan of the house where I was setting everything. This week’s development was meant to be centered around plotting out the “good” endings and figuring out what clues the player would find/reveal, but I found myself plagued by an inability to move forward.

As I mentioned in my last update, I haven’t actually written prose in 15+ years, but I’m finding the endeavor just as excruciating as I remember it. And it isn’t so much a result of not knowing what to write. It’s more of case of not knowing what to write first. Which seems kind of silly when you consider that Twine allows rather well for nonlinear narratives, the reality of having to commit to choices in the story is proving incredibly daunting.

Things were great when they were just a tangle of possibilities floating around in my head, but now that I have to make concrete choices about the what, where and why of my story I feel paralyzed by the thought of making the “wrong” choice. Which again, is silly considering I know that game development is meant to be an iterative process and that I will invariably need to make changes and edits once I start playtesting.

So, after deciding that I wanted to have everything plotted out before I started writing, it seems like I’m actually going to get a lot more done if I just dive in to writing the rest of the game and then go back and fill in gaps later. Some things are fully developed sequences, others are just place holders to preserve flow, but the point now is to get a flow going.

After sulking a bit at my inertia I did a little more reference finding, picking a historical photograph to represent my spirit and her husband, and choosing a name for her: Matilda, a.k.a. Tillie. I also got some good inspiration for her story from a historical haunting where the spirit visited her mother to tell her how she died, the testimony of which was actually used in court!

Then I got distracted by a video of a pelican eating a pigeon.

All in all I’m glad I started this dev diary as it really does force me to work on the game regularly, if only to have something to report back to you all. I really need the accountability that this exercise brings to push me forward when I get overwhelmed, and while I’m not giving many details here since most of my work now is the game making part of game making, I’m hoping you’ll find the end result as interesting as my work getting there.

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  • Reply
    August 25, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Glad you’re getting the momentum going again! It can be so difficult, with any creative venture, to get past that voice continually questioning your decisions and the worry of doing things wrong. I’m glad you’re able to be working past it and making progress! I heard about that spirit story via the Lore podcast, and it’s pretty fascinating. Awesome that you’re incorporating historical things as inspiration.

    • Reply
      August 26, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Yes, I’ve been getting lots of inspiration from Lore. It’s probably the #1 reason I decided on a haunting motif.

  • Reply
    August 29, 2016 at 6:40 am

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your process, it seems like such a daunting task (and I’m sure it is!!) but it’s also fun to see it broken down into manageable steps which I’m sure will inspire others to give it a go too! Hope you’re able to get on a prose writing roll 🙂 🙂

    • Reply
      September 13, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks, Fee. I’ve been away from it a bit longer than I’d hoped, but I’ve given myself until the end of the month to finish it so hopefully that gives me the kick in the butt I need to sit down and get it down.

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