July 20th - 2 Days Before Jam
Quick notice: I've gotten a private request from a reader asking not to be named if mentioned in the devlog (they aren't). In hindsight, it was reckless of me to include Discord handles in my screenshots, and so from now on I'm removing names. If you're curious, you can find these chatlogs in the jam's public Discord server. (https://discord.gg/5DUwhZq)
Today I learned the greatest thing ever.
There's no official download link for GameMaker 1.4 anymore, but through what must be an error, it's still available for download through steam by using a link (steam://install/214850). There's no store page anymore, because...look, I'm trying to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, but they aren't making it easy on me. The free version of GameMaker 1.4 is superior to the free version of GameMaker 2.0, and they can't make money giving things for free. Well, they can, because they're doing it now and still making money. They just can't make enough money for....whatever their expenses are. I'm sure it's tight.
Drawing cups is hard.
I'm trying to practice drawing simple objects with the same art style as Sketchy Jeff. I make the outlines thin, it clashes with the art style. I make the outlines thick, you can't tell it's a cup. I solve this like every other problem: Google.
Here is a cup, viewed from the side. It might not look like much, but it's clearly a cup. But how do we know it's a cup, and not just some red shape?
- Grey line at the top, indicating lip.
- Bumps along the edge, indicating rivets.
- Rounded bottom, indicating depth.
I need to confess: I've been working on these cups for two days now. They've taught me art is my weakness, which is good to know. Doesn't mean I don't have to do it.
Eh, screw it. Put it off for another day. Again.
So this is where I'd link my cool asteroids-themed horror game I've made in GameMaker 2.0, but, well...
It's really cool. There's a simple loading screen using the engine-provided splash screen system. There's fullscreen support, a mute button, an invincibility toggle with animation, a level system with steadily increasing difficulty, score and lives, all that. It looks just like any other asteroids clone. Except there's this ominous drone in the background. Losing all your lives causes all enemies to freeze, then a screech as the game goes black. It locks into fullscreen and refuses to minimize. You're in a new screen now; there's asteroid's everywhere, but your gun isn't working. The droning ambient is replaced with a soft piano, slowly playing four notes over and over and over. The score has been replaced by a timer ticking up and up. But then you die, and...
Okay, the game's suppossed to reset at this point, but it just freezes. It's a game-breaking bug (irony!) I can't for the life of me figure out. The function isn't being triggered, even though the code around it is. I test the function by mapping it to a key, and it works. There's no variables or arguments involved. Oh, I hate this part. I've exclaimed "this should be possible" far too many times already, and not that fake-panic-attack-for-comedy variety either.
This devlog's gotten weird.
My premise is flawed, but I don't know what to do about it.
I believe death metal isn't commercially viable. It's a niche genre in a scene where "commercial" is an insult. You can't "sell out", because there's no one to sell out to. (Okay, maybe you can find a market in angsty teenagers, but those aren't real people.) There's also the culture: sex, drugs and rock n' roll isn't conductive of a fit personal life. There's a way for good death metal to be commercially successful, but it involves a really high luck stat.
I also believe people like it. Not all people. Not even the majority. But some think it's awesome. Like me! I like it. I can spot a hackjob metal band emulating the genre with no understanding of why it works. I also know those who use death metal's conventions not as a crutch, but as a tool. Dissuading people
Let's ignore the message for a bit. Making a game where you can't win makes the whole thing feel a waste of time. It isn't, as there's lessons to be learned from "losing", but it still feels wrong. It's unpleasant to play, and that makes it unlikely people will bother seeing it through. What's the point of telling a story when no one wants to sit through it?
Even if, from a design perspective, the game worked...would it work narratively? Would people care? I'm telling a very cynical story, which risks me being too cynical to be trusted. But I don't like dark and depressing. I like happy. I think the world's pretty damn awesome, and if you don't, here's a song about rabbits.
Yes, I listen to pop. And not just any pop. I'm talking the lightest, most sentimental pop in the world. That's a 69 on that man's face. It's track 9 of 69 off the album 69 Love Songs, 69. It's an amazing album, even if it's the gayest thing the world. Because it's the gayest thing in the world. So gay, so good.
Now, YOU know I'm a sentimental guy. Whoever plays my game won't. From the evidence they'll have on hand, they'll assume I'm a jaded individual that doesn't think people should be happy. And they have every right to that. That's solid evidence, and people should trust solid evidence. It's my burden to prove I'm not jaded.
I have an idea, but I want it to stir for one more day. If it works, it could solve all these problems in one swoop.
In the next update: Drugs! (not like that)