I couldn’t work yesterday. Not even for a minute. Bobo had a health issue so I spent a huge amount of time at the vet. Thank god he’s fine now; he scared the shit out me. After that stressful situation, before I was able to relax, I learned that a close friend of mine had a family emergency so I spent the rest of the day with him.
Everything is going fine in terms of the schedule of the game. Nothing to worry about. I allocated a sizeable amount of time for this kind of stuff, be it family emergencies, health problems, bad days, etc. I’m pretty comfortable and experienced with big projects like this. Actually the first thing I did was to allocate lots of time for shitty/unpredictable stuff during the planning phase of Shadow of a Soul.
Some time ago I noticed that the way I’m thinking is very counter-productive in terms of creating a game. When creating a game, among other things, you need to simplify a lot of interaction stuff. For instance, in most games you don’t see any animations when characters pick something up from the floor. You come across an item, notice it, press a key on your keyboard, and the item on the floor magically disappears and reappears on your inventory. Be it ammunition, a door key or a giant penis, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same in 95% of games. You come across a lever, you press a key on your keyboard, you see the lever going down but there is no hand pulling it down. Same deal. A simplified interaction. Assuming you’ve played a couple of games, this kind of interaction with the game world will never pull you out of the game or reduce your enjoyment in any way.
This simplified interaction serves a couple of purposes. First and foremost, you allocate your resources to the parts of the game that the players really enjoy. It could be creating more interesting game mechanics or environments, or more characters to kill, it doesn’t matter. It’s not really efficient to spend time creating things if players can do without them in the first place, since you are dealing with a finite amount of resources.
So, does this mean that figuring out what and what not to simplify is challenging for a game designer? No. Why? Because each genre has its own conventions already in place. You are not starting from scratch. For example, nobody is going to complain about not being able to see their character’s body when playing FPS games. Most people who play these kinds of games are not even aware that they are not seeing their legs and feet (for more info on this check this post). No problem here.
Now you can learn what the real problem is and why my thinking is counter-productive, if you read tomorrow’s post…