And yet here is the end of the year again. Let’s avoid the usual intro and get straight into it, because a lot of things happened.
Letters from the past
I’ve always have been fascinated by the realm of physical tinkering, be that something from pure radio electronics or micro controllers. I’ve been always insanely inspired by stuff Adafruit used to make, but they very often finish of their builds with 3d printed enclosures, and owning a 3d printer for some reason didn’t really seem like a thing I could do in the near future. So I just lusted at them at times, but that’s about it. I never really took the time to even read up on them, because it felt so out of my area of competence.
But something, that I would could not have imagined just a year ago, is that right now I would have two of them sitting near my desk.
Through out the years, I’ve came to the conclusion, that healthy limits very often end up improving the creativity of the person, that those limits are placed on. I could bring up countless examples both from my own life and from the human history, but since this is a development blog, today I wanted to talk about self imposed limitations as a way to make game development more fun and creativite.
We will be forever limited by something, and it can range from our parents when we are children, to the amount of matter in the universe, even tho it seems like an infinite amount, if you played Universal Paperclips, you know that it is not that much.
As humans, our brains are incredible at finding loopholes and clever ways around the rules, and you don’t have to go out of your way to find quite a few examples of that, big and small. And those solutions usually are pretty surprising and fun, much more interesting than the thing, that the rule implied you should not do directly.
And such is the case with game development. In the era of NES, you where limited very heavily by the toolset you had to use, memory you had available, even the palette and sprite count. As our hardware advanced, we, as developers, started to feel those hardware limitations less and less. Now you can code in C# instead of C or assembly, and (in mot cases) forget about the physical RAM, you can render complex 3d models without making most computers even trying to look busy processing it, you can have your game weigh tens and hundreds of gigabytes, where as just 30 years ago you had to fit your build on a 40kb cartridge.
And that might sound like a positive change, and it is undoubtedly so, but it is not as black and white as hardware manufacturers would want you to believe.
We can skip over the "lazy developers don’t have to optimize their unity games bla bla bla" bit, and talk about why does every single AAA game try and look hyperrealistic?
As with everything, game design has a lot of different philosophies, people have different views on all sorts of little things. And recently, I grew more and more disappointed with the baffling game design choices in most of mainstream games. And people play and enjoy those games (mostly) without questioning anything. Yes, there are things like lootboxes and pay to win that gets a lot of attention recently, but we don’t have to dig deep to find even more systematic issues.
Can’t really blame the players for playing objectively badly designed games and enjoying them, I would give a lot for not seeing the cracks in game structure, inconsistencies and missed opportunities. But as developers, we can put a tiny bit more effort into designing game systems (honestly, it applies to a ton of fields, like ui/ux design, writing, etc).
So here is a very simple principle for designing your things!
Mourning, my friends, or whatever time it is for you right now.
It’s the end of the year once again, can you believe it? And looking back at the older posts, this is the 5th year I’m writing a recap for on this blog, sheesh!
Every time I come back here, I feel like this time hasn’t moved what so ever, and everything remains the same, only the dust settles down more and more. I have to admit, I hate sitting down and actually writing these "long" posts, but I’m glad every time I’ve pushed one out. This year I tried out blogging in a smaller way, thanks to my travels and Telegram, and it was a fun adventure. Being able to share a thing in 1-5 minutes is really nice and I was looking forward to it every time. But I do not want to bury this site, as this is somewhat the "more serious" part of my life, I guess. And also, the "less seen" part of my life, by the folks in my life.
But enough rambling around, let’s talk about this year’s worth of progress.
I burned out on it a ton. At this point, I don’t think I will ever continue working on it. I was dreaming of a day, when I will write about it here. Well, this day has arrived, but it’s not a praise to the language, but instead a tale of another language, born out of frustration with lit development.
Quite a lengthy title, but it kinda matches the time gap between now and the last non-year-recap post, huh? It’s been 2 years? My gosh. Let’s quickly talk a bit about what’s been happening.
As you can see, I wasn’t exactly doing nothing, even tho my coding has slowed down quite a bit…
Okay. Let’s put everything that happened IRL this year aside, I’m feeling so tired of everyone saying the same thing over and over again, and I do not feel like I need to mention it all. But with that said, let’s look back at it a tiny bit.
So many games these days advertise they playtime as one of the main features. “Buy this game and you will not need any other games for 2000 hours!” And while this might be true, a lot of these games are based on repeating the stuff you did at the beginning of the game over and over again, maybe with a slight twist. And there is nothing wrong with that, it’s a valid game design choice, but I wish more games would bring the sense of being desperately lost in an unknown world, constantly finding stuff you did not even imagine could ever exist in a game. The games that do that, are one of my favorites: Minecraft, Terraria, Breath of the Wild, Hollow Knight. But sadly, after playing through those games once, I was never able to bring that feeling of discovery back…