It's Done When You're Done Making Sure It's Done
Dear visitors to the Private Pook Games blog,
I thought I'd jump on here and get things moving by posting something other than a demo and a video, so here goes...
I've done plenty of fiction writing, but I haven't spent much time writing about how game development feels. That needs to change, because the feeling of immersing yourself in game development is unique.
Right now, for instance, I have a game that is playable from beginning to end. It has an intro with a cool (albeit weird) story, a host of areas to explore and fight your way through, and an ending that bookends the experience in a way that makes me proud to call it my own.
So why isn't the game "done"? For the same reason that first drafts of my books aren't "done". Game development, like any other act of creation, is its own beast, but it shares the same need for polish as any other art form, despite outsiders' labeling of it as simple. Music needs to be composed, heard, and reorganized. Writing needs to be proofread and edited for clarity. You need to practice your instrument, write regularly, and dance while nobody's watching so you don't look like a nincompoop when they are.
And games need to be played by yourself, friends, and strangers who'll tell you the truth. Then you need to hone the experience, edit out the bugs, and redesign core mechanics so they support the theme and tone you were shooting for. Sometimes things change drastically, and that's okay as long as the core experience improves. Drilly's main weapon wasn't even his drillhead when I first designed the game -- it took someone saying, "The drillhead attack is really cool, and, you know, the hero's name is DRILLY WILLIS" for me to pivot the fighting system properly and end up with the mechanics I have now.
Lately I've been spending hours on colors. The intro to DRILLY WILLIS has a purple brick background. Yes, you heard that write. Freaking purple. And it looked cool in a way -- the game is supposed to feel a bit fever dream -- but when something is too much it's too much. So I spent tons of time trying out different colors and schemes. I made the brick more pronounced so it wouldn't look so fuzzy and give the player a potential headache. It's still not perfect (and never will be), but that's how any art works.
Today I'm digging into adding map exits. A few gamers on Newgrounds who loved the demo brought up a good point -- it's easy to get lost, even with a map, if that map doesn't show exits to each room. That's invaluable advice from gamers who enjoy the game and took the time to give me useful information. I could be mad and say my game is perfect the way it is, but that's a great way to end up with a game that doesn't meet its potential. Insisting my game is done won't help it find new players.
It's not done when you're done. It's done when you're done making sure it's done.