Ah, 2 AM, how I’ve missed you. The quiet dark, a time when it seems like the whole world exists just for me, because everybody else is doing the smart thing and sleeping. The small little joy of feeling like I’m getting away with something, that by being up so late I’m somehow being dangerous. The thoughts that I should be sleeping, but I should do just one more thing first. 2 AM, why do you always hit me the next morning as if you are insomnia manifested as a truck?
At least The Tower is done now. That’s right, I said it, “The Tower is done.” I said it twice even. I’ve got one final level to go, and it’s not even a real level in the traditional sense, just a series of fights and quick platforming.
Nothing too taxing, nothing too hard, nothing like the damn slog the Tower turned out to be in the end. Playtesting it, is hard. The puzzles, are hard. Not just from a thinking about it standpoint, but from an execution standpoint. Yes, it’s not too difficult to figure out that you need to wall hop, wall jump, straight double jump and climb to get up someplace. Doing it right when I threaten a 7 screen screaming drop the entire time is something else entirely. Jumping isn’t hard, triple jumping onto a platform that’s only 50 pixels wide is a different matter. What I’m saying is I can’t half pay attention to the Tower. It demands focus like a jilted ex.
Have I mentioned that I love it? Cause, you know, I do. The only consistency is that it’s difficult without being cheap. When I die (and I do) it’s my fault as a player for being too slow, or making a poor choice. Well, now anyway. When I was building the level, it was likely that the death was my fault as a designer of impossible puzzles.
All that’s left is to place the traps and enemies, which I can’t do yet because I don’t have them animated yet. It’s a prospect that worries me slightly, but I know we’ll manage in the end.
– Oh, and in regards to the last post. I decided to drop the player off of things and let them drop. If you fail at the end, you drop until you hit something. It could be a long time. Otherwise, it’s inconsistent. I did however take one shortcut, if you leap from the edges of the level, there is nothing to catch you. The screen does not follow you and then the end of the screen death trigger goes off. I’m going to mark that on the maps I give to the Artist so he can make the paper look torn up there or something. A visual indicator that those edges are different. A fourth wall breaking way of saying, “that part of the level is not in the story.”
– Which brings me to the title (and you thought I was talking about being up at 2 AM). In spite of what all the damn orange over there would lead you to believe, I still have a dump truck sized shitload of stuff to do. I need to install all the enemies, install all the animations, install all the background art, install all the background animations, install the SFX, build the front end, create a Chapter Select function and create a way to show the story and install all the pictures for it. Now, so close to the end, I have a clear vision of what the game is going to look like, and there is still a lot to do to make that happen.
I was reading, and a Producer at Epic said that crunch happens there, and he’s okay with it. He said that great things happen when you ask talented people to do the impossible. The story was lambasted (that’s a great word, it’s a pity I never get to use it in a sentence) by the general audience, and then I took some heat for defending him. The point is this – looking at what is left to do and what we’ve done already, we’re doing something great. I can feel it.
That familiar feeling? It’s knowing that you’ve worked your ass off and wanting to make your work look as good as possible with the time you have left. Polishing while you can hear the clock ticking and not looking up.