So this time I’m going to give you some raw data, no estimations, no dates or anything, you make your own conclusions, your guess is as good as mine.
I have to say though, I’m not that much of a fan of knowing this kind of process before playing a game, I like to know this obviously but only after I’ve played it, it kind of ruins the magic, that’s just me I guess; I know it sounds counter intuitive because this is a blog and all but I never really intended it to be a detailed development blog but more of an informational one, but since I’ don’t do that either then whatever.
First, what I’m doing right now are the so called events, you get to a point in any given area and a dialog or character interaction is triggered, you can call them cutscenes, you could say that’s the gimmick I tend to rely on the most. So, for that I’m making everything with placeholders and a basic layout, everything working as it should but no final graphics yet, a debug version with no level design to go through, I can teleport to every new event in order to test it faster, and of course no final dialogs for easy testing, only the first few lines, and because it’s really not necessary for now, those also need to be coded and numbered one by one and will be completed later. It’s a skeleton pretty much.
This down here is my list of main events bullet pointed for easy reading, there’s another document where they go into detail; each one of those sometimes take 1 day sometimes more to complete, there was a complex one that took about 5 days, and sometimes 2 o 3 in a day when they are relatively simple, it feels like they shouldn’t take that long but for some reason there’s always flaws that need to be fixed and that end up taking a lot of time.
So, the upper arrow is where the demo ended, the green text is what’s done so far, and the blue text is what’s still left to do, the first part doesn’t have that much detail because I thought I didn’t need it but I ended up going back and forth between documents so much that it became annoying, so I started to write more detail to have a better reference.
After all of the events from beginning to end are done, up until the ending, I’ll go back to the beginning and start replacing the placeholders with the final graphics and polishing each event accordingly with sound and proper timing, a lot of those final graphics, animations and sprites are not done yet, so that will be the next big time sink, each animation takes from 1 to several days to complete, even up to 5 or 6 depending on complexity, individual sprites with no animation can take hours up to a day.
Once that’s finished and already has the final look, I’ll add the final text, as I said, for now it only has the first few lines of every dialog , so I’ll have to reorganize and renumber all the lines, is not as complex as it sounds since everything will be working properly by that point, it will fit automatically. The part that takes the most time here is the line break fixing, that is, making the dialog fit into the dialog box, I’m sure there’s automated ways of doing it but I don’t know how, so I have to do it manually line by line; pictured below is not the current spot I’m in but a previous one more representative of the process, is not final either, but I guess you can see that.
By this point I’ll have to add some extra traps and polish some enemies, I know some are not working properly anymore since some things changed along the way, especially some at the end.
After that comes the level design, backgrounds, enemy placement, door/key placement, etc. and most importantly, connecting the events already made, since right now they are placed one after the other for testing purposes, this part will properly space them in the areas and put obstacles and enemies between them. The backgrounds for me are one of the most fun parts to work on but the level design itself is not that much fun and can get confusing, there needs to be proper planning before doing that, mainly a map, but is likely that the game itself won’t have one, instead I’ll try to place landmarks so it becomes easier to navigate without map, also I’ll try to have smaller areas. Something else here to take into account are the transitions, each room needs to lead to another room through doors and by walking right or left when available, you need to calculate the x and y coordinates of the starting points of every room individually and connect them properly, that can take a bit of time but not as much as previous tasks.
By this point the game would be playable already, things left would be music, some more polishing, difficulty balancing and adding galleries and stuff like that… and lots of testing.
This may sounds like a messy process, but I very much disagree with the idea of making a game as if you were playing it, that is, making level 1 and all of its elements, then level 2, then level 3, etc, that doesn’t really work for me, and I would say is a very unproductive way of doing it, making the layers, then combining those layers is in my opinion the best way of doing things, it’s a wonder why I have the patient for that, the process of putting levels togheter comes at the very end. Think Mario Maker, all of the elements are working and the final process is building with the pieces you already have, that’s why although Mario Maker is cool, is a level design tool not a game design tool as some have named it, I don’t know why anyone would call it that; as long as it makes you interested in game desging though then it works as such I guess.
Progress in this manner is not very noticeable for an outsider, I can see how things move but if I were to show you this in a week by week or even month by month basis, progress it’s almost invisible and not very interesting.
So there you have it, I think I overdid it but hey, you can’t tell me I don’t share info anymore, this raw data is as much use for you as it is for me to know any significant span of time needed for it, I don’t know you but I can’t really pinpoint a time from all of this (and I dont want to either, there’s that), so you draw your own conlcusions, even if I kind of know how much some things would take, there are others that there’s no way of knowing until I’m actually doing it, I hope this is enough of an information dump for the following 56.7 years, I’ll check back next time on that list of events and see where we are on that.
If you have any questions about the development process feel free to ask, this is the post where all the technical and design information should go in.
BTW, thanks to all for the comments and input on the whole existential crisis business I was having last post, I appreciate it, It may not sound like I do, but I do, I might not answer to every comment but I read all of them, so thanks.