Alright, the trip's over now, so I can get back to work. Typing like this, with text, after not doing so for five weeks, is strange! As is being in this room, this house, this chair, etc, and on this site! It'll take a while to settle into it.
For those of you that don't know, I just got back from a five week trip with my girlfriend. We have an online relationship since I'm totally not cool enough to meet people in person, you see, and she lives in Canada so we can only meet about twice a year, so when we do, we make sure to do so for a decent amount of time. Since I live with my parents still (I am also not cool enough to live alone yet), and it'd be awkward to stay with her at this house with them lurking around every corner, we rent out holiday cottages and such. This time, we stayed in a castle! Sort of. A castle town, anyway. And I got a black fedora. Yes, it was fun.
The trip itself was great; very inspiring, refreshing, invigorating, and so on. Hopefully it'll help my work for a while at least.
I took my computer with me (my *desktop* computer; it was quite awkward hauling it up and down, but feasible and I don't have a laptop), so I was able to get some work done. I've been rethinking what to do with my games, so I'll spend the rest of the article describing that.
Before I go on though, I'd like to point out that I'm well aware I've made grand promises and lists of ideas before, only to see nothing much come of them. So all I can say this time is that I'll talk about what I'd *like* to do, and what I will be, for the moment at least, working towards. I can't promise that any of this will happen as I say it will.
First things first, I was working on Chimaera before I left, right? As a learning experience, a first project in that mysterious programming language called 'AS3'. Well, it seems I 'got bored' of that, and haven't worked on it since I left. I did however learn a lot about AS3 and OOP while working on it, so it wasn't a complete waste of time... I also may return to it, I'm not sure (but I'm not enthusiastic at the moment though).
Instead, my girlfriend and I talked about the idea of working on games together. It's something we've wanted to do for a while, but never really, well, have. She's into computery stuff too, you see - she shares many of my interests - and she's a much better artist than me, but feels upset at times that her art is never put to *use*.
So it seems like an easy solution to work on games together, with her providing the art and myself doing the code and music and stuff.
If we were to do that though, we'd design a world for our games to be set in, and we'd work on other games than the Fig Hunter ones I've already got planned. I'd still work on the Fig Hunter games myself, separately; we'd just *also* be working on those ones together. We'd make a new website for them and everything.
Our first idea was a simple platformer, with Braid-inspired graphics, where you played as a bird. We talked about it and planned it and got to work on it and everything, with myself coding prototypes and her doing some concept art...
Like so many such grand ideas, however, it didn't work out so well, and we got distracted with other things; we went off track.
Happily though, at least, my off-track-going led to me using what I've made of the engine to create a different game, which I'll get to in a minute.
That's (hopefully) not going to be the end of our joint endeavours, however. I'd still like to work on that game and others with her, and I'd like to when we've both had more practice. I'm still new to AS3, so I'd like to have more confidence with it first by working on simpler projects myself. And she's not used to doing art for games, it seems... but she's interested in making her own Flash games (and has tried in the past, briefly), so maybe something will come of that and eventually we'll end up working together, and you'll see games designed by us both. I'm very curious and excited about how they'd turn out, myself.
Anyway, as I was saying, I did get off track and ended up working on another game instead. I had various plans for the mechanics of the bird-controlling Braid-inspired platformer, but my skills couldn't keep up with my imagination, and what I tried to code didn't work as I wanted to, or I couldn't even get started. I started simplifying things more and more and getting into more familiar territory, and eventually ended up working on some pixelated, tile-based platformer, sort of like Raider.
It's better than Raider though, mechanics-wise at least (better jumping 'physics' and behind-the-scenes code and such), AND it's in AS3.
My main desire for it is to make a simple, low-on-features Platformer engine, which I can then reuse (improved, of course) for later projects, cutting down development time significantly.
I want to use the engine of this game to make the Raider I've talked so much about in the past... but after I've finished this one, of course.
But what about this game I've been talking about? What's it called? What's its plot? Who do you play as?! Those and other such questions may well be rocketing profusely out of your gobs right now, but unfortunately I'll have to keep you in the dark.
You see, I've talked in depth before about ideas, with great enthusiasm, *sure* that they'd work and be done soon, only to get bored and never deliver what I promised. I don't want to do that again, so I'll just not mention much about this one.
It's simple though, and comical, and of a different style to what I usually do. It's Mario-inspired, and girlfriend-inspired too; she basically came up with the idea and helped me a lot with its development. It amuses me, this game, and I do want to see it done... though I am unsure what my current audience would think of it. We'll have to wait and see, I suppose!
I've liked working with AS3 and OOP from what I've done so far. It's lovely and clean and so much more reuseable than my sloppy, old, classless coding attempts.
It encourages me to make engines then build upon them for future projects, rather than just making each new game from scratch.
So, what I want to do, then, is this:
I'd like to first finish this simple, tile-based, pixelated platformer. That's my first priority. I don't know about a release date; I could have it done in a month if I really focus, but how well CAN I focus? I went from a mere idea to a working game within two or three weeks though; all I need to do are content-related parts like graphics, music and levels now.
After that, I'll use an updated version of the engine to make the Raider game I described yonks ago; the one with the flying around in a grid-based space view, visiting worlds, acquiring equipment, etc, etc. I still want to do that.
I won't necessarily do that directly after the current project; just at some point after that one's done.
Then I'd like to start a simple RPG engine - my first in AS3 - and make some really generic, short RPG which I can release for a bit of cash before using more of the engine's potential in future games; probably games I've planned previously.
I got that DS game called 'Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light' during the trip - as did my girlfriend - and we really enjoyed it, it seems. It was very inspiring; everything felt neat and simple, and it brought me back to the RPGs on the NES and SNES, so I'd like to do something a bit like that, maybe. Not so much story-heavy like MARDEK, but... simpler, and in one game rather than an unmanageable list of chapters. Of course, I'd never like to do a game with NO plot, so I'd want to do *something*, but it might be more like how a short story compares to an epic novel, or something?
Anyway, after that's done, I'd like to do other RPGs and other Platformers using those engines.
I've wanted before to do games of other genres, but I realise now that those are my two favourite genres by far, and trying to do anything else just leads to me getting sick of it, and the result isn't all that good anyway. Games like CARDECK and Chimaera haven't got far due to this. I should stick with what I know, and what I can do, instead of pointlessly trying to vary my ideas, only to end up wasting time.
So making myself some foundations on which to build many games quickly seems like a wise idea.
With the platformer engine, I can make games like Raider and BE-a-St, and with the RPG one I can do projects like Beast Signer, 7H9H (I have ideas for this), and perhaps even future MARDEK chapters (if I don't just use the old, existing code, anyway; it seems like going back to AS2 is a terrifying idea though).
This leads easily though to the idea of FHO.
Basically, FHO will be a simple RPG engine, with an Editor which you could use to make your own Adventures. It's one of the first projects I'd love to work on with the AS3 RPG engine I'd build, since once it gets going, the site would probably get a lot of popularity without much effort on my part. I could even go mad and try to work in some economy to the site, giving each account an amount of 'Fig Coins' or whatever, which you'd either buy with real money or earn from adventures. Adventures might cost Fig Coins to play (optionally), and maybe you'd accumulate Fig Coins each day, or something? Or via referral links? It'd give the children who can't pay the ability to access everything, with patience or doing my advertising for me, and people who could afford a few dollars wouldn't have to wait.
I've mentioned that idea in the past, but it still needs refining; I'll think much more about it in future and won't introduce it until I'm sure of everything.
I also had the idea of making a platformer-based user-content-driven thing... Sort of like the platformer equivalent of FHO, where players can make their own large Levels using a simple Editor. Maybe I'll consider that, but we'll see.
Anyway, I have all these ideas and want to work towards them. I repeat that I have no promises it'll work out, but... let's see!
Oh, also during the trip I finished the MARDEK Piano Collections Album thing... or the first one, anyway. What this is is eight music tracks in piano format, adapted from MARDEK music (from Chapter 1; I'll do one chapter per album), and sold on the Bandcamp site. You'll get the sheet music included if you buy the album, if you want to try to play it yourself on your own piano or keyboard.
I actually finished all eight pieces in the first week of the trip, but wasn't able to upload them and wanted to practice them a bit on my own keyboard to see how playable they are. I'll try to get them uploaded soon, for those of you who are interested in them!
Another thing is an idea I brought up what seems like years ago but never did much about...
I make Flash games, but I don't really play any other Flash games ever. I've never been too interested in them, really; I only use Flash myself because it's relatively easy to work with and distribute. It gives an individual the ability to finish games without needing a team of developers, and Flash games can be sponsored easily too.
I should play more Flash games, though, to 'analyse the competition' and 'know the market' if nothing else. I need to know what players want and what's popular.
So, something I talked about a while ago was adding a feature to this site which allows certain users to become Flash game 'Reviewers' (I imagine they'd have a fancy R beside their name, like I have an A and moderators have an M), and then, every so often, they'd write articles which'd show on the front page, about Flash games they'd played recently.
It'd be sort of like what JayIsGames does, I suppose.
It'd make me aware of Flash games, for one thing, it'd draw people to the site - including Flash developers, I imagine - which would increase the money the site makes, and it'd give people a bit of 'spotlight' and 'power', which they might enjoy. It'd also add a bit more interest to the site.
I'd have to work on the code for all this and find some appropriate Reviewers though, if I wanted to make it a reality... Anyone could be a Reviewer if they liked, as long as they were old enough and had decent language skills.
Don't go giving me your resumes or anything like that yet though; I'll write more about this when I've developed the idea more.
Hmm, what else...?
I think that's everything for now... I'll add more to this article if anything comes to mind.
Now, to check all my messages and everything... I hope nothing horrible's happened while I've been away!