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Jack Le Hamster
Jack Le Hamster

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Stuck in Fun Land and unable to program my game

Both figuratively and literally, I'm stuck in Fun Land and unable to work on my game engine. I guess I could have brought my laptop and code in the corner, but my niece would think I'm a big anti-social nerd. So instead, I'll be wiping out a new dev log post on my phone, and be a small anti-social nerd.

Now this is also an issue that applies to developing a game engine on your own.

Stuck in Funland

I've been doing nice progress on my game engine. Yet, I'm nowhere close to having a game. The reason? That's right, I'm stuck in fun land.

One thing game devs forget when working on their own, as opposed to be part of a large team, is that there's a bunch of boring stuff that needs to be worked on. Somebody has to be doing those.

So while my game engine still didn't have a game loop, I spent a large part of my gamedev time:

  • adding fun shader effects
  • refactoring my code to make it look nice
  • tweaking the controls to make it look smooth when navigating an empty world
  • optimizing performance even though there are two objects in my scene.
  • just staring at the screen. (Takes up 90% of my time)

While it's still a step up from being stuck in "bug land", you'd still want to move on from it, but the dangerous part is that you might not want to.

Find a definite goal

While I was working on that game engine, I took a detour doing a game jam and completed a whole project.
None of that work involved that engine I spent month building, yet it turned out pretty decent.

This told me that I can't just build my engine in a vacuum, imagining what features could be useful. I need a specific game that the engine can produce, and build the engine towards that game.

The new game direction

For the first project, I am now trying to build a JRpg, modeled after the first Phantasy Star.

That might look ambitious, but I already made a project that resembles that before.

As I set my specific game goal, I immediately stepped out from Funland and already started tackling one task I dreaded to do: the menu interface!

While that's not super exciting to build, it's needed, at least for a game like Phantasy Star.

By just copying that game's interface, I can at least cut down time on decision making (which is the 90% of time staring at the screen part). Do yeah, huge time saver.
I can go back to be more creative once I have the first game out of my engine.

Main takeaway

Being stuck on fun land might be pleasant, but as far as contributing to finish a game, it could be as bad as "bug land".

At least, you know you want to get out of "bug land" so it's a drive to finish the game, whereas being stuck in "fun land" is a trap. You might want to stay there forever.

But game dev is like any other work, you sometimes need to do the dirty work, unless you're able to work in a team where someone else is willing, or hopefully enjoys, doing that dirty work.

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