Gauntlets of Recursion (+3)

Times, trials, and turbulence.

A tale of inspiration.

GameDev Activity and Number-of-Midterms are Inversely Proportional

Yes, it’s true. This is one of the reasons why the journal hasn’t been very active as of late. School has been sucking up unforgiving amounts of time, so the quantity of work that I’m able to get done has seen some detriment. Another factor may or may not be the recent release of HL2: Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Hmm. 🙂

Another factor is just the current state of game development at the moment. This article has been rough to write — I’ve never been gifted at writing them — which hasn’t been particularly motivating in making me want to work on a game. In fact, because I have this article still ‘on-the-go’, I don’t feel justified in focusing myself on working on a game, since I know that if I do, the article will never get done.

All that said, the article is finally starting to really come along. I have the hardest bulk of it done: explaining the equation and implementation, so now I can focus on more fun things to talk about, such as making different meta-shapes, looking at different optimizations, and talking about some cool ways in which Metaballs could fit into lots of of different types of games. I’m going to try and get the writing portion done by tomorrow night, which just leaves writing the demos, creating images, typesetting the formulas, and getting some folks to proof-read. I’m really solidly set on getting this thing finished and out the door, so my goal is being 100% by the end of the weekend.

What You Can Make if You Put Your Mind To It

I originally found the link on Lachlan’s development journal, so kudos to him for unearthing it for my jaw-dropping pleasure. 🙂

The name of the game is Machines at War, a Real-Time Strategy game that borrows from old favourites such as Command & Conquer and Total Annihilation. The graphics are top-notch, sound is good, polish is impressive, and it was all done by one man: design, programming, art, and mostly everything else. He started the project about a year ago, stuck with it for a year, and ended up with an extremely impressive product.

Screenshot 1  |  Screenshot 2  |  Screenshot 3

It’s impressive, but then again a rather horribly dangerous conclusion can be drawn by the wrong developer: “Oh wow, if one man can do this, so can I!”.

This is a wonderful attitude to have, but not if you’re walking blind. It’s true that with time, practice, patience, and some luck :), one can complete something of this calibre. However, if you only just finished writing a Tetris clone, you might be looking at this the wrong way. The author already has seven completed games to his name prior to taking on this project, all of which show a similar level of polish and professionalism. He didn’t just sit down and learn it as he went; it was an incremental process.

All in all, then, I’d like to come to two conclusions — both of which I find very motivating overall:

  1. Making an amazing game is not an overnight thing. You need to start small, and work your way upward in incremental steps. You’ll have that dream game eventually if you keep taking it step by step.
  2. Dedication and perseverance are indispensable tools for the hobbyist game developer. If you work on your game for even 4 or 5 hours a week on a consistent basis, you will complete your game.

From all of this I even further extrapolate the valuable lesson of:

Stick to your project, even if things get really rough. You’ll be infinitely better off making refactoring or design changes to what you already have than bailing on your work and starting over. Decide that you are going to make this game happen, keep on working on it whenever you can, and you are guaranteed to end up with a completed game.

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2 responses to “A tale of inspiration.

  1. Jon October 20, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    “Stick to your project, even if things get really rough.”

    Aye. I can definitely relate to this and say that what puts you, as a game developer, in the “gets things done” category is whether you can see things through and not quit on yourself. As long as what you are after is achievable relative to your abilities, if you put in the time, and your heart is really in it, you will get amazing things done.

    As you said in your interview, if you lose motivation, take a break and get your mind off your project. Resting your mind and enjoying life will set aside the negative, and if you really want to finish your game, you WILL come back to it with a renewed outlook and more motivation than before.

    – Jon

  2. Stephen October 20, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Amen. You and Stencyl are pretty much figureheads for the advice that I spew out. I’m actually going to do some more talking about that last paragraph you wrote in particular and Project Skirmish in tonight’s entry — I think I’m getting closer to ‘Guru’ status at motivation reclamation. 😉

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