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A Reflection on Months 8 and 9

Shattered Rift

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It's been a long two months. Possibly the longest of my life. Looking back now, it's strange to think that my August game plan was to work on SparkWiki and The Mansion, two things that I didn't end up working on at all. Instead, I got to host Mansionwolf 2: Duality and do the first Werewolf game with video plots. It was something I'd been thinking about for a while, and it was a lot of fun.

During that game, however, the prospect of surgery was weighing on me. Most of it was just nerves, but it ended up being a lot more justified than I expected. I was only supposed to need the one surgery. There was always a chance I would need the second, but a low chance is always just a statistic until it happens to you. I had expected to be able to get back on top of Sparkbomb a week after surgery, by the end of August or very beginning of September. I hadn't expected surgery to hit my body nearly so hard. I hadn't expected circumstances to stop Trajectory from hosting his game a second time. (He's been a reliable host in the past, and I felt he was one of the best choices for the post-All Stars environment.) And I hadn't expected the looming prospect of a second surgery overshadowing the few days that I felt halfway decent after the first surgery.

During this time, I took to playing a few mobile games. My concentration had been rather poor, so it was one of the few times I understood the appeal of non-competitive, mindless clicking games. Sometime during this process, the thought occurred to me that I might be able to use IP.Content to set up a rather simple game without needing to write a full add-on (an incorrect assumption), and I began to design an incredibly simple game. When I ran the idea by Rex, his response was, “Yeah, I think this could actually be interesting if you would expand it to give it some ambiguity.”

I both hate him and love him for where this conversation led. Rex and I have had some good conversations over the years, but I can't think of a time where ideas came together like they did this time. It was a case of Rex asking me all of the right questions to get me thinking, and somehow amidst detoxing from the medications I'd been taking my brain was able to spit out answers to his questions and immediately form new ideas as a result of those questions. I had wanted to expand the Spark Game's paintballing system for years (something that we saw to a degree during 2009's Paintball Competition), and all of those previous thoughts came together with new ones to form the framework for a new project. S:TW will be a browser-based paintballing game where users join teams and compete for control of key areas in the Sparkbomb Mansion. It will draw upon elements from the Spark Game, Color Gangs, and introduce a few new ideas that haven't been seen before.

I can't begin to explain how stoked I am for this project. Sometimes, there's a moment where you're working on something, and suddenly you know it's the right idea. Rex and I hit that point when we started hammering out the numbers and then debating strategy. We started asking each other what we would do in certain situations, and then we'd give different answers, or we'd say, “I think I'd do this, but I'm really not sure.” And that was the point where I knew we had it.

However, S:TW is going to take time to complete. I've already been quietly working on it for a little while now. I had wanted to be a bit further into the process before announcing it, but now feels like the right time. I'm hoping to have a screenshot or two to post sometime late this month, and I expect to launch the game by December. I'm shooting for earlier deadlines than these, but I'm confident that I will achieve both of these deadlines even if I fail to meet the earlier ones I have set for myself.

It's a surreal feeling, in some ways. I've been frustrated at various moments during recovery at how much time I've lost to my surgeries. It parallels with the time I lost earlier this year, and that had been an unsettling thought. But if not for the surgeries and the mindless mobile games, then I wouldn't have had the idea. (In fact, the original intention was to avoid working on quite so large a project to use this one as more of a trial run, but Rex had to go and make me expand it into something awesome.)

It also has me programming again, which is something I detest. There's a small joy that comes out of working through the logic necessary to write a program, but the actual process of writing code is quite tedious. I enjoyed working on items in the Spark Game because of how much fun people had with them. It was fun coming up with new ideas. It was fun watching people enjoy them. And the Competitions were some of the most enjoyable times in Sparkbomb's history. In each case, the joy came from the result, not the process. (That's not to say I don't enjoy coming up with ideas. That part's quite fun, too) And here I am, at least three years out of practice. It's taking time to get it back. But it's coming. And S:TW will be the result.



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