6 Weeks

6 Weeks, 42 Days. That’s all that I have left, and the pressure is suddenly on again. This weekend I was struck by despondency. Granted, the last thing that a game needs is for the Producer to get all despondent a little over a month before something is due. But the reason was this : The game is not going to be finished in time. At least, the game as I envisioned it. Here are the issues, stuff to put into the self-congratulatory post mortem that game designers are all about (I consider it their 1 freely allowed pretentious bullshit thing) {not so Producers})
1) I am way behind on both the levels and the scripting. 6 weeks left? I should be testing and polishing, not constructing. So if I work like a dog from now until then, I may be able to get the content – even by cutting some level work that I then will have to go and do differently (I’m looking at you Cliffs Level). But then what? The things still need to be play tested to ensure correct non-suckiness compliance. So if they are done, they are content for content’s sake.

2) The engine doesn’t always want to work the way it is supposed to. Gods help me, but for some reason when I play it at the computers (rather, the shiny, new computers) at the school, it runs really fast. As in it is my game and even I can’t manage to beat standard enemies without getting my ass kicked. So that needs to get fixed. This of course is just the tip of the proverbial cow patty, and the engine in general needs some polishing to make sure that it works really swell. You know, all polished and purdy like the CryEngine – except runnable on a Game Boy. But that seems less likely to happen now.

3) The bloody artists all, well, went flaky. Not blaming them of course – but I could. I was talking to a new artist friend at school, and he said that sometimes artists just get bored and go away. Apparently a pretty common thing. What I would like is if they could let me know this before they decide to suck, then at least I can plan for it and find different artists. So what I do not want to do is submit with all placeholder art, since that is totally crap. So that makes me a little, irritable.

So what? Am I stopping? Why am I stressed now? Well, I still trying to hit my deadline. Granted, it will not be quite the way I wanted it, but it will be the basic game with the gameplay and story intact. So here’s the cuts:

* One kind of enemy now. I’m having my new animator create a single enemy and then we’ll color swap them to represent the different difficulties. Maybe, just maybe we’ll get the Princes*s finished so she doesn’t look like every other rube guard in the game.

* The Cliff level is being cut way, way down. Whereas the rest of the levels have 2 parts, the cliffs will only have 1.

* I am doing the art for the levels. I will use a slightly more advanced version of what I am doing with the placeholder art, and will use more advanced textures and other pastable assets. So it will at least look like something. Besides, this kind of art is what I do for a living, so I should be able to grind the art out.

So what was that about a new animator you say? (And by “you” I mean nobody, because nobody reads this but me). Well, my previous animator that did the design for The Thief has been, well, absent. I would like for him to do the animation, but I am simply running out of time. I will keep him in the credits though, since the Thief design is his work and I am very happy with it (I’m having the new animator use that design – since I do like it). So what we are planning is building the model in 3DS Max (or maybe Maya – I think he prefers Maya) and then rendering single animation frames out of it and installing them into the engine. This should be pretty cool, since relatively quick adjustments can be made to both models and animations can be 2 sided. The issue, as always is getting it finished it time. Oddly, he almost seems to be intrigued more by the challenge of getting it finished in 6 weeks. Either way, I’m happy he wants to help.

Speaking of which, he presented to me a thefted idea that was right. (for my concept of good ideas and right ideas – I think I rambled along in one of the posts) He gave the idea of pressure plates, like in the original Prince of Persia. I immediately discounted it in my brain as being too complicated from a scripting standpoint. The I remembered that a “Pressure Plate” is just an event triggered at a certain spot on a certain screen in a certain status (usually standing or running – but grabbing would work for wall mounted switches too). With this, I can almost reuse variations of puzzles. Doing something once is easy enough, but trying to race it when the door is closing is suddenly makes it a different animal altogether. So I’m looking at using some of those in the next few levels (especially in the Tower and Castle levels) and modify the current levels just a bit to use a couple of them. That way they won’t just be a sudden WTF moment later on.

So, the schedule. Here’s what I need to do and when I need it by.

Need to Construct
The Crypt
The Cliffs
The Castle (Roof)
The Castle (Interior)
The Tower
The ClockTower

Need to Script
The Cavern
The Crypt
The Cliffs
The Castle (Roof)
The Castle (Interior)
The Tower
The ClockTower

Need to Polish
The Minor Memory Leak
The Switches

So here’s the breakdown that I have:

Oct Week 1 – This Week
Construct The Crypt
Figure out and Implement Switches
Script Switches Prison
Texture Prison

Oct Week 2
Construct The Cliffs
Construct The Castle (Exterior)
Construct The Castle (Interior)

Oct Week 3
Construct The Tower
Construct The Clocktower
Script Switches Castle (Interior)
Script Switches Tower

Oct Week 4
Script Switches Clocktower
Install Story Scripting Cavern
Install Story Scripting Crypt
Install Story Scripting Cliffs

Nov Week 1
Install Story Scripting Castle
Install Story Scripting Tower
Texture Cavern
Texture Crypt
Texture Cliffs
Texture Castle (Exterior)
Texture Castle (Interior)
Texture Tower
Texture Clocktower

Nov Week 2
Bug Fixing

…so yeah. That’s a lot. Not including installing the new animations and all of that – but I can’t plan for that since I don’t have an ETA. What scares me the most is the fact that I pretty much only have 1 week to texture the entire game, and that is insane. I wonder if I can rope another artist in, just for that. That would free up an entire week for other little polishing bit and level tweaking. I think I may know someone. If not, I’ll ask around. After all, there must be someone else out there crazy enough to try.

-Oh, and this is my serious face:

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