Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Last post: Dec 31st, 2012. What the hell happened?

Two things. First, my wife & I moved into our first house - that's part of what motivated my self-imposed Christmas deadline, knowing that I'd lose most of January to the move - and second, I got busy on the newer 'leaner' Frontiers.

Last time I posted I said I achieved my goal of a playable game by Christmas, but not without cost. Remember how Frontiers started as a Minecraft clone with a dynamic terrain engine, with survival elements built on top? Well around November I realized that if I was going to make this thing playable by Christmas, one of two things had to go - the survival elements, or the sandbox elements. Yeah, sucks huh. After a few tough nights of waffling I decided to ditch the sandbox elements. I salvaged everything else I could - the interface, interactivity engine, survival engine and art - and started over from scratch. The rest - eight painful months of development and an engine that was 80% there - I tossed in the bin.

Why not just keep working on the terrain engine if I was 80% there? Because I had a deadline. And if I didn't make that deadline I'd sworn to shelve the game permanently. Yeah, it was painful. I still feel sick when I think about how much time I spent on something people may never see. But when the alternative was giving up entirely, the choice was clear.

This is why deadlines matter - they motivate the really tough decision. Of course, you have to take your deadlines seriously, and when you're a one man shop that means taking yourself seriously. I knew I wasn't playing around - I really meant to drop the whole project if I didn't have a playable game by Christmas. If I thought for an instant that I'd let myself off the hook, I'd still be tweaking the terrain engine for an unplayable game.

My next deadline is in March- my goal is to have a releasable game by then. Not perfectly balanced, not totally finished, but releasable. If I can't pull that off, I'm shelving it.