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Author Topic: A dark weekend  (Read 10686 times)
pspeed
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« on: February 22, 2012, 04:38:51 PM »

This past weekend was kind of a low-point for me.  I'm coming off a six+ month project at work that ended in a mini-death march and was also sort of feeling sorry for myself with how slow Mythruna progress has been developing.

Creating the combat prototype was a bit of a millstone around my neck.  On the one hand, it's really fun to work on.  On the other hand, I end up writing some control systems from scratch just to test different physics stuff.  The worst part is that to do any deep physics fixes, I need to be able to pick the code up for long periods of time and can't just spend an hour on it here and there.  That's why the holiday break was so exciting.

I got a lot done over the break but things still felt pretty unfinished.  Certainly nowhere near the point of integration for a few reasons.

Anyway, between that and the fact that it had been forever since putting out a release, my spirits were already kind of low.

By Thursday, I was kind of getting excited.  A refocusing on scripting meant that I could get back to code that goes in more rapidly.  Not to mention that most of the UI design work had already been done for the combat prototype.  Additionally, the Combat Prototype really suffered for not having these same interface capabilities and having them will shorten the effort there later.  I went into Friday evening into full-on design mode, ready to crank through some stuff.

Reams and reams of notes and 24 hours later, I still hadn't really written a single line of code.  All day Saturday this was kind of weighing me down.  I went to bed Saturday night pretty depressed.  I had a list of a dozen things or so that I needed to get started on in the morning... which was better than when I started.  Still, before you actually go to implement a design there is always that worry that there is some flaw you still have yet to discover.  After so many hours of design work, most of which had been scrapped and rewritten a few times already, going to bed without any validation was pretty disheartening.

The bulk of the starter work was going to be refactoring how the player actions -> script actions was done.  To handle object actions, I felt like it wasn't doing a very good job... and this was kind of depressing in general.

Sunday morning had a nice surprise, though.  With a clearer head, I realized the existing action system already did handle what I wanted to do and I instantly got to cut my to-do list in half.  It even already handled some client->server optimizations that I'd already decided I'd have to "save for later".

By Sunday afternoon, my only really hurdle was the fact that Mythruna doesn't have a good way to create real objects... with behaviors and stuff.  I could slam a few into the world with scripts but that makes testing different things painful... this the temporary focus on a simple inventory screen.

The bottom line is that in software development, sometimes it isn't about the designs we write but the ones we throw away.  It just doesn't always feel like it at the time.  When your metaphorical trash can is overflowing with crumpled ideas, it's difficult to see that as a hundred dead ends avoided early.

I'll admit that it also helped to get some big lag-performance wins right before this last release.  Knowing there were lag problems all day Saturday and Sunday wasn't helping my mood anyway... so that was a nice easy windfall.

Next tasks:
As a bonus for those who actually read this far... I'm going to continue object action support.  This will allow object behaviors to be defined in scripts.  This is good for a few reasons. 
1) it means that we can finally have things like readable/writable signs, etc... basically all of those actions that won't ever be handled by the physics system,
2) it sets us up for proper item creation... for example: a multi-step forging operation more than likely involves many chained scripts attached to various containers: "Place object in here, this thing happens... then place it in here... etc."
3) it means that modders can start adding real objects to the world, in some cases even before the physics and other things supports it.  For example, a modder could add opening and closing doors by script even though physics will someday replace this and/or make it easier.

Once basic object physics is functional to the point that I can implement my three test-cases, I will start on basic AI.

I'll revisit physics and animation in time but in the mean time we can get much closer to having a real game to play if we want.
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BenKenobiWan
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2012, 04:59:02 PM »

Does this make it sound more finished than it is, or is it really getting close?
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pspeed
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2012, 05:04:48 PM »

Does this make it sound more finished than it is, or is it really getting close?

Depends on what you mean by "it".

There is a ton of stuff left to do.  Alpha is at least six months away.  But the goal is that after this weekend that the modders life is opened up to very interesting possiblities... and that after March, basic scriptable AI will be implemented.  Between these two things, modders could start hard-coding quests and things even if they don't fit the way the game will eventually be played.

For example, I want to do something "better" than the "click the monster to roll dice to see if you hit" thing that most RPGs do.  But with the above systems implemented, some clever modder could add that sort of attacking in the mean time.

I have a lot of really flexible systems already written into the game.  So some stuff iterates much faster during development.
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caesar
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 12:37:46 AM »

erm... what?

PAUL HEAD UP and LOOK FORWARD
you are depressed? You don't have any reason for that! You are one man writing a game from scratch, handling all the community stuff, giving support, handling all the company stuff and do all the UI / Artwork stuff.
Thats a massive pile of tasks you handle there and you do it in a very good way!

I don't know any programmer being capable to handle all the things you handle. Thats a reason to be proud and not to be depressed cause you do things carefully and don't slam us buggy snapshots in the face just to tell us 'hey hey look what i've done! Tons of progress right here!'

Yup it sucks not to be as far as wanted but you have done a load of awesome stuff with Mythruna. Be proud and dont release rashly updates just to have updates.

Kind regards
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pspeed
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2012, 12:58:51 AM »

Thanks for the kind words.  It makes me feel better about sharing some of the stuff that goes into making Mythruna.

By Monday night's release, I was already feeling much better.  (It's interesting because according to the logs, that release has already had almost 2000 downloads... I think there was a glitch in the internet though because lots of them were repeat downloads.  I can only tell when the link is clicked, not when the download finishes.)

I also hoped that some other developer might read that someday and understand that there will be bad days.  The days where 500 designs don't seem to be working and you wonder if you should even try a 501st.  Maybe they take some heart from it and keep going to produce something really cool.

Part of the reason for starting this blog was to humanize the process a little bit.  For those who look in this deeply, maybe they realize that it's not just some faceless game but a guy who juggles a job, a wife, a family, mortgage payments, etc. trying to make something really cool.

The other part was maybe to share parts of my process that work and that don't so that maybe some other indie game developer gets something out of it.  Or maybe even gives something back in the form of their own experiences.

Future posts will hopefully be lighter.  I may start a new productivity enhancing process soon and I'll try to write about how that works out for me.
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BenKenobiWan
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2012, 08:44:35 AM »

Quote
I also hoped that some other developer might read that someday and understand that there will be bad days.  The days where 500 designs don't seem to be working and you wonder if you should even try a 501st.  Maybe they take some heart from it and keep going to produce something really cool.
Reminds me of Thomas Edison. Wink
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2012, 01:50:02 PM »

I somewhat know what this feels like... Sad But you're doing more complex stuff so I doubt I really do Cheesy. But when code seems to fail multiple times, I just go outside for a jog or just do something else until I'm feeling in a coding mood Cheesy later on in the day.
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pspeed
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2012, 04:08:30 PM »

I somewhat know what this feels like... Sad But you're doing more complex stuff so I doubt I really do Cheesy. But when code seems to fail multiple times, I just go outside for a jog or just do something else until I'm feeling in a coding mood Cheesy later on in the day.

It's when the design is not working right in your head that it is hard to walk away from.  The design follows you into the bathroom, out on the walk, into the shower, etc..  Smiley  It haunts your every move.

I think I have a design that I like now.  Hopefully objects will have scriptable actions this weekend.

New release tonight with some bug fixes, I think.
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caesar
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2012, 01:11:54 AM »

It's when the design is not working right in your head that it is hard to walk away from.  The design follows you into the bathroom, out on the walk, into the shower, etc..  Smiley  It haunts your every move.

 Grin indeed thats what I hate about coding.
When I'm stuck at a certain point in programming it helps me to get a coffee, visit the bathroom and, if that all doesn't help, work on another aspect and sleep over it. Usually I have a much clearer view on the problem or even great ideas in strange situation (waking up at 2am having THAT IDEA) ... yay we coders are strange and WE ARE PROUD OF IT... deal with it  Cool Cheesy
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Moonkey
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2012, 11:25:06 AM »

(It's best to read this in an Australian accent) "Coders become strange by stressing over codes, errors, and if they have set up communities then you turn into a strange beast of another dimension. Let's watch this strange beast as it goes through its daily life in its regional habitat. *records paul in his house* This beast wakes in the morning to stalk its prey and it goes in for the kills *watches paul eat breakfast*. After its morning meal the beast goes to its main herd and mingles with them *watches paul drive away for his day job*. After a long day of hunting the beast goes back to his den, where his cubs and (since I can't find a term for wife i'll just say) wife are waiting for his return. This beast uses a machine to work on mid-evening projects it must continue on. At the end of the day he rounds up his project and sleeps *watches paul go to his bed*. It's not great to disturb this beast in its sleep, Because I can't tell if this beast does the same thing everyday, day and night. If I were to wake this beast it would go on a rampage of insomnia because there's a strange man in its house. *gets up as close as I can to paul and records his face* Sleeping like a bear." by, Moonkey.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 11:27:15 AM by Moonkey » Logged

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pspeed
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2012, 11:41:06 AM »

Heheh.
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Moonkey
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2012, 12:25:56 PM »

Hey paul I noticed something, is your icon (avatar) a lion drawn on a white board at your home? Because it looks like it  Grin .
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pspeed
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2012, 12:33:09 PM »

Hey paul I noticed something, is your icon (avatar) a lion drawn on a white board at your home? Because it looks like it  Grin .

Yes.  Many many years ago I sketched it on the white board in our kitchen.  It stayed there for years and I got so used to it that I finally took a picture of it before it was erased.  Now I use it as my profile pic pretty much everywhere.  Being a "leo" it kind of fits me.
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2012, 07:32:12 PM »

Maybe my thoughts are premature but how soon until you are able to hire a legit team? I mean you are doing good work but at some point you will have to expand if you truly want to be competitive. At least thats my opinion or thoughts.

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pspeed
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2012, 09:13:04 PM »

Maybe my thoughts are premature but how soon until you are able to hire a legit team? I mean you are doing good work but at some point you will have to expand if you truly want to be competitive. At least thats my opinion or thoughts.



For various reasons, I can only grow organically.  So I can't hire a team until there is money to pay for a team.  That's pretty far off at this point.  In the mean time, I hope to lean heavily on the modding community... which I expect to pick up once more of the systems are in place and I start actually advertising the game.
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