Spending 2 months on a game is not what I had in mind when, in January, I started to plan for the next 12 months.
I have spent the last year refining my code base and HTML5 game framework to the point where I can sketch out an idea and have a prototype up and running in about an hour. This is pretty much the beauty of a) knowing and understanding your own code and b) having a clear idea for the game’s design from the outset.
With Dungeon Adventure I wandered off the beaten path in that I was taking my framework in a new direction with the control system and, if I am brutaly honest, didn’t have a clear design goal. I’m not very good at “winging it” with game design. The vision has to be clear for me and I have to believe in every aspect of the game’s mechanics in order to see it through.
I’ve learned a lot this last couple of months. Dungeon Adventure was to be my Gauntlet. In fact I’d written that word so many times of late I had convinced myself that I was honouring Atari’s 1985 arcade classic so much that gamers might well be forgiving of a few minor niggles. I was wrong.
Worse still the game is really NOT Gauntlet. Not even close.It’s much more of a maze game in the style of PacMan. Yes you play as a Wizard and yes you get to hurl magic at the ghosts but strictly speaking it’s a PacMan game.
I don’t want to bash it to death. Dungeon Adventure is a tight game with a lot of fun to be had. I think it will appeal to a lot of gamers but for me, as the designer, it took me in a direction that I’m not comfortable with. And that is my point. Wandering out of your comfort zone can not be taken lightly. The requirement for planning is vital if you want to stay on track. Especially if you have plans for new games to be completed in the time it’s taking you to complete just one game.
When you work closely on a game you get swept along by it. Your attachement to it is so strong and so intimate that you really have to work hard to see the wood for the trees sometimes.
Although I am extremely happy with the game’s appearance and challenges there are areas of it that I would love to revisit when I have more time.
For future developments I intend to spend more time ahead of the coding just figuring out the basics. I also intend to stick to the control systems that I know and where necessary expand on them. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to create a perfectly attractive and challenging arcade game in just two weeks.
I’ve been in the business of software development for years. Too many years probably. But in terms of gaming (despite once working as an artist for Acclaim) I’m relatively new.
So now I’m in the process of getting back on track and am already working on a new game. A game where the controls are simple, the goals are clear and the challenges are plentiful and fun. I started this game just 3 days ago and will aim to finish it in less than 10. And then it’s on to the next game.
Suddenley the hobbiest element of developing browser games is colliding head on with the professional aspects of software development. The key for me will be in striking the right balance such that it all remains as fun today as it was when I first figured I could make sprites with DOM objects.