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July 24th - 11 Days Remain

Behind the scenes, I've been planning for a female protagonist.

It isn't a bold political statement or anything like that. I just needed a way for Sketchy Jeff to get kicked off stage, and there was one spot in the band left. He gets drunk, he makes a very stupid decision involving boobs, he gets kicked to the curb. But it does complicate the design. In a traditional rhythm game, there's not much you can do about him. But whoever said this is a traditional rhythm game?

The current plan is for random "crowd events" to pop up at certain times. They're dealt with a single key press (mostly likely [5], as it's close to all the other keys), but they're timed; fail to press the key and suffer the consequences/lose out on the reward. And as these involve dealing with the crowd, you'll have to keep an eye on the stage from time to time. It's an unashamed QTE component, but rhythm games are all QTEs anyways. If given a lenient timer and used in combination with the music, it might just work. Maybe. Hopefully. Look, we're not at the playtesting phase, alright? Gawhd.

     

Art comes first.

The two major game screens are the main menu and the stage. Between them, the only sprites required are the people (already done), the instruments (still pending), and the van from the intro (finished). I have a few backgrounds to make; the stage is WIP, the control diagram's going to be a killer, and the end screen is still being designed. With all those done, I'll have every art asset the game needs (unless I'm forgetting something, which I probably am). I'll be freed up to work on music and programming.

Unfortunately, I'm not an artist. My flash game theming takes off some of the burden, but drawing's still a significant time investment. As of time of writing, I have 46 different images created for the game with at least double that to go. Most of these are from the people sprites, which have been segmented into head, body, feet and hands. Thank god I chose simple shapes that make easy recolors.

Oh, and I'm redoing that crappy concept art.


     

Drawing art is giving me gaming flashbacks.

I don't know if it was the games I grew up with, or some fascination of the time period, but the 2000s was full of art programs in games. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater Underground's board creator. Jet Set Radio Future's graffiti editor. Animal Crossing's custom patterns. Mario Kart's icon creator. Every racing game ever's decal system. Seriously, these things were everywhere.

So of course I played around with them. They were all crap compared to Photoshop or GIMP, but it's what I had. And I got pretty good with them, too. For instance, take any crappy shape.


Now copy it and turn the copy black.


Move the copy underneath the original.


Bam. I made a contrasting shadow. You're welcome, world.

     

July 25th - 10 Days Remain

Today was my first struggle with motivation.

Let me be clear; I want to make games. If I have to spend ten hours every days staring at a computer screen writing code, I'll take that and run. But - and I cannot stress this enough - I don't make games for myself. If I wanted a game, I'd play someone else's. No, I make games for everyone else.

I've received wonderful feedback, both positive and negative, from the jam community. But those around me, physical me, don't care. Now, I don't mind that; there's a lot of things I don't care about, and if you care about it, then you've found something worthwhile I'm not a part of. But when you're making something - anything - you need an audience. Knowing that people you care about are never going to listen? It's a pretty shitty feeling.

"Don't care" might be too strong a phrase. "Don't see the value in" is more accurate. I could go on about how video games are art, that they mean things to people, blah blah I'm the most important person in the world (disclaimer: I'm not). Doesn't mean this makes me money. Doesn't mean I'm "working". Doesn't mean some hack could reskin Farmville instead.

I can tell you why all that's bullshit. Yeah, any marketing executive could copy Farmville and make a boatload of cash, and a good amount of people will like that game. But we, as a society, can do better. Okay, games aren't the most important thing in the world. But it's what I know. If I'm not making games, then that leaves all the more space for a marketing hack to copy Farmville.

I don't know where this existential crisis came from. But it stole a day of work from me.

     

I spent today playing flash games.

Call it research. Call it soul-searching. Call it slacking off. Whatever it was, I wanted to know what I was making. So I browsed some portals and played my childhood classics.

Mind you, I came late to the flash games scene. There was still some edgyness, but polish was finally taking hold. Games picked up sponsorships from dedicated web gaming sites. Credits often included dedicated artists and composers. I'm surprised how relevant Upgrade Complete and Achievement Unlocked are, despite being near a decade old. It was, in my humble-but-objectively-true opinion, the golden age of flash games.

It's a good thing we'll always have access to them, right?

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In the next update: I read the news!