Radiata – Devlog 3: Little Victories

(A new build is live, play it and let me know: smimons.itch.io/radiata)

So I probably should’ve written this about a week and a half ago, after I got on a bit of a roll and fixed a lot of key problems with the the build as it was. Real life caught up for a while and now I’m trying to remember thought processes and to-do lists from ten days ago, and it’s a little difficult.

So where am I now? Firstly, Maze mode was a total wash. I am categorically not good at level design and I’ve had to solve enough problems with the game already that I’m just not up for the added headache of making interesting level. So I’ve opted for the much easier development solution of just throwing power ups into the mix, so now we have two games modes: Arcade (multiple lives, power ups) and Survival (the ‘basic’ game, one life, no power ups).

Second, the game looks a bit different. Not finished, still crappy programmer art, but a little nicer, lighter and easier on the eye.

Biggest success of the last iteration is a goddamn actually functional persistent high score system that updates in real time and works independently for each game mode. Turns out that my original solution for this was just one “=” short of working. So that was a nice feeling, getting something almost right on my own.

Other than that, its been a bunch of very little things – two of the three power ups are roughly coded – but no other massive leaps, mainly due to not having a great amount of time or headspace to really engage with even more problem solving. BUT! I think, inadvertently, it’s helped me find a useful way of working:

Pick one thing to implement or fix, do it – or at least make a little bit of headway – and leave it alone. I think the amount of time away from this to think about features or solutions and get them working in my own head means that when I do sit down to write it, I have a much clearer idea of HOW to actually put it together in a way the idiot computer understands. Otherwise, I end up with massive tunnel vision and really struggle to filter my thoughts about what I’m attempting to fix, whilst out the corner of my eye, the messy shitty held-together-with-hope-and-good-will scripts I’ve already written look at me, begging to be optimised.
Get in, get out.

Also, I’ve really had to restrain myself from fixing things that aren’t broken just so that they look neater. This is my first game and my first considerable piece of work with any programming language, so its going to be a giant hatchet job from beginning to end. But i UNDERSTAND what I’m doing. So, I’ve stopped looking at full ‘feature tutorials’ like how to implement power ups, because I know the way that the tutorial recommends is likely the optimal solution, and I currently don’t understand optimal solutions.

So, at this point, I’m pretty much going it alone, and y’know, it’s been ok. The fact that without any help beyond a long hungover conversation with one of my friends, I managed to implement a working high score system really helped build that bit of confidence I needed to try ad solve things without a safety net.

Im probably massively underestimating, but it feels like I’m only a few hours out from having a fully working build of the game with all the core features I want to include, then all that’s left is making shit look and feel less shit. New art, and some ‘game feel’ things. Yeah, as if that is going to be easy….

In a bit…

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