Level 1, and the Sound of Deadlines

Yesterday I finished Level 1. The whole thing is blocked out, it has the tutorial scripting in it and you can play with it. The art isn’t finished yet (grrr…) but for my part I’m feeling good about it. Now I get to make small adjustments for playability (that is a word, but it looks so, incorrect…) and pacing in regards to the story and the scripted scenes. Overall, I feel good about the first level, and it has given me a lot of thoughts on the next levels. I found myself wanting to construct screens with puzzles that require 2 or more moves in a row, and thought to myself, “No, this has 3 moves, this kind of puzzle really should go in the Castle Level,” and things like that. So I began to get a feel for the difficulty as I built them. So, the next levels should be a little easier and faster to do.

So, the idea was to have all of the levels at least blocked out by now. What I didn’t anticipate was throwing work away, and all of the testing by other people to make sure it works and makes any sense. The due date for the levels was going to be 8-30, but that clearly didn’t happen, and probably won’t. Now I just want to get them done by IGF and with art. I heard a quote by a developer once regarding milestones. They said, “I love the sound they make when they go flying past.”

For the art, I think I have a problem. I posted a note on Craigslist looking for artists to work on the project with me, mostly to work on the backgrounds. I had 3 people with me – the animator, a background artist and a character artist for the scripty bits. Except for the Animator – a friend of mine since High School, I would send email messages and things like that. Now, for whatever reason, I don’t get replies back from my artists, and I can’t seem to get ahold of my friend. So, I find myself in an awkward position. I’m not sure if I should try to repair the working relationships that I have, or look for new artists.
I get the feeling that it was something that I did. Like I somehow didn’t use the correct artist speak or something. I violated some custom that I didn’t know about, or said something that I shouldn’t. I just don’t know. I think the main reason is my lack of communication for some things. I found myself often working late into the night, and the thinking was that I could email tomorrow, and then a week would go by like that, and another. It became a cycle of punishment. Eventually, the thoughts began to creep in, “What will they think, now that it’s been 3 weeks?” “Will they all think you’re just dicking with them?” “Are you serious abut the project?” Soon, self doubt overrode my better judgements. By the time the Producer half of my brain said, “Hey, asshole- quit being a dick and get back to work, and get everyone else on track,” I find that I just can’t get ahold of anyone anymore.
This is painful. Not to sound like some half-assed emoboi” but this is the hardest part so far. Now all I can do I try to send an email, or call, and see what I can do with what I can do. I’ve never been so close to something, and the work that I’ve done so far, it staggers me. I never thought that I would be able to do something so bold, so outside of anything I’ve ever done before, and I find it exhilarating. Now, I need to convince the people that will make the endeavour possible to see the same thing I see.

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