Saturday, 21 December 2013

Sloth wasteth the sluggish body

You may have noticed that there have been no updates on the game development section of the blog for an embarrassingly long time now. I can make the usual excuses - I'm planning a wedding; I've got five essays and a book to write over the next three weeks; I'm too exhausted from work and am putting my free time into Hearthstone instead - but to be honest it's more because I'm lacking certainty in my convictions.

The problem is that I'm making a game where I should really be making a prototype. The foundations are all there, but currently the only way to actually play test mechanics is to code them in and then try them. This works, but takes a lot of time and effort because adding even quite a simple mechanic (e.g. an absorption effect) requires the alteration of a huge amount of existing code in addition to the new stuff piled on top. Oh, there are ways of mitigating the damage, which I've done, but the problem is that rapid prototyping just isn't really do-able with my skill-set and time restraints.

The solution to this, I've decided, is to take the game out of the computer and model it as a board game instead. There are, I think, a number of advantages to this approach. First, it makes rapid prototyping much easier. Instead of spending an hour unpicking my dearly-devised code I can simply print some more cards. Second, it forces me to simplify. There are always some mechanics which are better suited to a computer, even in turn-based games, but when you're having to map things physically it really forces you to question their necessity. For example, I'm currently running with nine (nine!) debuff categories, which can surely be consolidated. Third, it means that instead of having to worry about interfaces and so on (I know they're important but I don't want to be having to code an interface just to know if Frostbolt works as a mechanic) I can focus purely on the mechanics. Finally, it makes it easier for me to get my fiancée involved, and I value her opinion highly.

So, I'm going to go away and have a think about it, and get some cards and counters drawn up, and then when it's running I'll take photos and so on and show you all how it works.



  1. You could try using Unity. It is fairly easy to edit mechanics without #%@!ing up your entire code. I am glad to hear you are pressing forward, despite challenges. Good on you, Roxton!

    1. I've been looking at Unity for a while now, partly because of how much easier it makes porting to Android and other touch-screens. An engine change is a lot of work and quite scary, but considering how much re-writing I need to do anyway I think it's probably what I'll end up using.