Welcome to a new year here in the Garden:) And with that new year comes new things, mixed of course with some old ones. The result, once they’ve fully been combined, has yet to be seen, but I’m excited at the prospects, both those I know I will get and those nobody could guess at this moment. I’m starting to study computer animation this year, for one thing, using Blender (basically that one because a) it works well with Python, and b) it’s free). I’m also delving back into Spirograph, which I used to love when I was a kid and can now see it with an adult’s point of view. And I’m studying math at the Khan Academy. That might be the hardest one; Stroke #1 when I was a kid pretty well destroyed my math abilities, so I’ve always had extremely basic math in my head. But I’m determined to work more at it since it’ll help with animation.
The “old” stuff that I mentioned includes my progress in game design; as the years changed I’ve gotten two sections of the Storyboard for “Nimka’s Menace” to their END point. I’ve also been beta-testing Starbound, which is proving to be an intriguing game in various aspects (not all ones that the developers intended). And I’m still game-testing other things, here and there.
The first interesting result I’ve come across this year has to do with game design, and dimension. I’ve discovered that charting out the plot of a game is very helpful for organizational purposes, so I’ll keep doing that. But as I did so for “Nimka’s Menace”, I began to realize just how to give it more depth than just a story the gamer goes through by clicking on this or that: the story, I figured out, is just one part, and I can when finished with it overlay monsters or artifacts or whatever for the player to discover while moving through the tale itself. Once those are added, the game becomes more than the tale; it has substance, and dimension!
Secondly, I’ve discovered that my mind has started attempting to problem-solve, thanks, interestingly enough, to my beta-testing of Starbound. This is NOT something It’s ever done before; word problems were the bane of my existence when I was a kid, and I have a lot of trouble if a problem comes up in real life (I admit it, I kind of collapse half the time, because I get far too confused). So this felt, and still feels, bizarre to me. Still, there it was: I’ve been beta-testing Starbound for a month or so now, and there came an issue with the teleporter. And at first I got the generic gamer response of frustration at having to click on the thing over and over – but after a few minutes of this, something new happened. a)I started to wish I could fix the issue myself somehow, or help do so, even though I have no knowledge of what program the devs are using, and b)I started to come up with all different possibilities for WHY the bug was occurring!
The previous led to me thinking more about math, and the aforementioned word problems, but I’d also noticed some hinting at it while I was researching for “Nimka’s Menace.” That’s a big change in itself; my brain used to have terrible blocks whenever I or someone else tried to get me to do math, and I suspect that was protective. But the blocks don’t seem to be there now. (Which is the reason I started at Khan Academy this month). Is anybody else out there doing stuff with the Academy, I wonder? I saw that they teach more than just mathematics.
Yes, there’s some fascinating changes going on, and many new things to fool with. Where they’ll take me, I don’t know. But as “Nimka’s Menace” draws closer and closer to Phase 2 (Programming), I’m getting more and more excited about it. I have new things to do with it now, and old ones to polish up…
I’m curious to see what other game designers have run into while learning their trade. What did you find that you didn’t expect? What did you do with your new knowledge?