Next Chapter

Hokay. So things have been a blur recently. Catch up time now, both with the blog, and with myself.

Where things ended up:

I chose to set aside the JSON loading. It was about half implemented when I dropped it. It was straight forward, but with less than a week on my course deadline it wasn’t a priority. About 2 days of the last week went to wrapping up my group project, and preparing it for presentation (I’ll be posting about that project on here soon). And most of the rest of the time was a flurry of not-quite-thesis writing for the report on my game project. Though I did implement a small bit of content to demonstrate the puzzle pieces I previously discussed.

What I did with the report itself was a valuable learning experience that can be related to games too. My degree, for which this project served as a sort of capstone for, is in computer science. Yet the project itself has been heavily focused on the design, and conceptualization side of things. Of course I had the initial proposal for the project approved, and then when I was approaching the report I similarly sought confirmation about approaching the report similarly, with a large section devoted to the design. I’m happy with this decision, and that I would take it even farther, because it accomplished something critical for the project: it highlighted its strengths. I may have put more dedicated man hours into development, but there’s just less interesting, and new things there that felt worth discussing.

I’ve seen so many new indie game studios fall into this trap born of tunnel vision. They think that time, or effort devoted to creating a game or feature correlates directly to value. It doesn’t. Value is value. It generally requires effort, but there’s certainly not a linear relationship between the two. We do our best to create something of value. To be practical though, we have to step back. We refocus our efforts on maximizing the value our product succeeded in creating, regardless of whether it was the value we thought we were making. Anything else compromises the product.

With this mindset I ended up doubling down on addressing the creative side of the project in my report. A large majority of it discussed conceptualization, and design. This grew out of the feeling that I could not expand too deeply on the development side of things without it devolving into fluff. It didn’t add any value to talk about by the books design patterns, or software engineering concepts in an honors project.

My choice seemingly paid off. I compiled a nearly 60 page report that went into far greater depth into my creative process than in this blog. And as I was putting my thoughts together I saw a distinct pattern in my approach to design that I was able to make into a human-run algorithm attempting to formalize, and abstract the creative process as a whole. Does this idea hold up to academic scrutiny, or practical application? Who knows? Pursuing that could require an entirely new project of similar length to explore.

But the important thing is that by focusing on the strengths my work was already demonstrating, I was able to expand it to propose a potentially valuable new idea. Something I would not have noticed, or had time to conceive if I had stubbornly stuck to a conservatively strict interpretation of the project. Great value was found, at least as far as the report, in allowing the project to lead my efforts.

So what’s next?

Well as I mentioned, I’ve been catching up with a lot of things I had to set aside those last weeks. After an over-100-hour week, not the least of which was sleep. Next, and my current focus, is job hunting. I’m now getting into full swing with that, so setting my sights back on games. So you can expect info on some of the following in the coming months:

  • – random level generation prototype built off an evolutionary algorithm – this is a mostly completed previous project that I just need to clean up and debug.
  • – continue learning Python – I’ve been learning Python on my own on the side, may use it to create small scripts to help with game dev
  • – MWLN – the game project that’s been the focus of the blog so far, I may rebuild the visual model from scratch, but aside from that and a few features like the JSON loading, it’s mostly content, and assets
  • – 3xA – the group project I’ve alluded to, I’ll describe it more in a post to follow, and the few steps still remaining to polish it up decently
  • – VR in Unity
  • – experimental typing game + dev tools

This summer I also started posting to Tumblr much looser thoughts, and notes on games, and creative media. Now that I’m getting back to that as well I think I’ll try to do regular posts here highlighting the better, and more relevant ideas to come out of that.

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