The Game Developer's Journal: Pivotal

Monday, August 18, 2014


Folks, we have another change of plans.

If you've been following this blog, you're probably disappointed. You're probably also wondering what happened. I blog on Thursdays, but here we are on Monday and a post has appeared out of thin air. 

But lo and behold, this is me on the other end of your PC not a spam bot. Because even though I'm blogging on the wrong day, it's for a good reason. 

Last Thursday, the Amoeba Of Light was no longer in development. The reason being that--as far I was concerned--the project was on hold. Perpetually on hold. Let me explain: 

I had gotten upset about the project and other things in my life (like my continual frustration with my life and how things "aren't supposed to be this way"), and I just wanted to move ahead and make progress. No more wasting my life on this game, hoping for God to do something. I felt like I was just filling in tasks. I was stuck on the core of the game, that is, the program itself, and didn't know what the heck to do. Therefore I had quit.

But since then I've been convicted to keep going. God has reassured me and helped me. Now, today, I resume work on the game. But the game has changed. Don't fear; it hasn't changed for the worse. 

So that's why I'm blogging today: to make up for last Thursday. Now let's get into this.

The Amoeba Of Light has a much smaller scope now. Unless there were a divine intervention, I could not have finished the game by its release date with all the plans I had before...which is pretty much set in stone. 

This is not the first time I drastically altered the game, stripping away ideas, concepts, game mechanics, cut-scenes, story elements, etc. This is, however, only the second time that my game has underwent a major change. Here's what I did: On Saturday, I wrote down every feature of the game that I wanted to include, assuming very few things. The idea was, in fact, to start over as if I had an empty slate with the game. I ended up adding only 12 features, with each of these being composed of smaller elements that are part of the game's nature by this point (so I didn't really start out with a clean slate). These include:

  • The sling mechanic
  • The ability to pick up and pull objects
  • The ability is use a backpack to store tools
  • The "use anything environment" that allows the player to make a tool out of everything in sight
  • Bodies of liquid that can mix together and combine their masses (allows for a realistic water system)
  • Weather
  • Wisenchyme as a helper
  • Camping save system (which has a hitch...)
  • Slideshow with images to show the story
  • Interact with inanimate objects and creatures
  • Player can throw objects by sliding finger; can use object by tapping icon
Anything previous feature that you don't see here is most likely gone. The cinematic cut-scenes? Those are no more. I've decided to tell the story through dramatic slideshows instead.

Here lies a deep-rooted pivot. The purpose of this game lay in the story, but that is drastically changing. The story is now much less significant than it once was because I am presenting it in a more humble way. Two things happened: 1) the story doesn't have the same purpose, and 2) the impact is lessened a lot. 

Without the story, I imagine The Amoeba Of Light simply being a "fun and ingenuous" indie title. It's no longer an earth shaker.

But, my friends, there's an upside.

Not only did I outline the features I wanted, I wrote out a one-sentence summary of the game, and a unique seller proposition (USP). The USP pinpoints the one special idea that I want to focus on in development. It is "Creative thinking is rewarded." This has been important since the game's infant stage.

I ripped the production graph off the wall and jammed it into the trashcan! Now I have something simpler that simply splits up making the game into 4 parts.

Marvelously, I'm excited again. I feel this really is possible, and so I feel excited for the challenge and what will come of it.

I've heard that your first game is just "to get yourself out there." That it won't be anything remarkable. I'm willing to give up some of the aspirations I had from the beginning, but I still expect The Amoeba Of Light to be well received.

In a few months, we will see.

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