Mid-year review! How's my sabbatical going?

😮 WOAH! 2021 is half over!! Yikes! 😮

Let's pause for a sec and review the past and future

In general, it's a good idea to take a step back now-and-then and look at the big picture. What did I originally want out of this sabbatical? Has that changed? What do I currently want out of this sabbatical? What have I done the last six months? What do I think I'll do the next six months?

What were my original goals?

In general, my ultimate high-level goal was to get a lot of practice making games, so that I can "have a better idea of what I am interested in, and a better ability to create actual results efficiently in my free time."

I think these were the hand-wavy deliverables that I was planning on:

  • Create a bunch of small games.
  • Make a lot of pixel art, and get better at making pixel art.
  • Finish making Surfacer.

Have my goals changed?


What have I done the last six months?

  • I've definitely made fewer games than I was planning.
  • And I've definitely developed my pixel-art skills less than I was planning.
  • I think this is mainly because I spent more time on Inner-Tube Climber and Surfacer than I was expecting.
Inner-Tube Climber took longer than expected because I took the time to turn it into a pretty polished production-quality app.
  • I definitely could have forced myself to stop working on this a couple months earlier, and just released a simpler web version.
  • But I learned a lot with all the stuff I worked on, and this turned into a bunch of re-usable tools that I'll continue using in each of my other games.
  • That is, this became my Scaffolder framework.
My Surfacer framework is taking longer than expected because I am also taking the time to fix all of its edge cases and make it efficient, re-usable, and production quality.
  • Is this worth it? Was this originally something I wanted to do? Is this likely forcing me to continue working on AI-centric platformers?
  • Yes, yes, and yes.
  • But I really like platformers, and I'm very excited to explore all the interesting things I can do with the Surfacer mechanics, so I'm definitely happy to be shoehorned into working on platformers for now!

What do I think I'll do the next six months?

  • "Finish" Surfacer.
    • I'll might continue occasionally adding bits to this for a few more years, but I definitely have an idea in my head for what all this needs to include in order to be considered a complete product.
    • Here are some of the remaining bits on my list:
      • Implement an R-Tree data structure for more efficiently finding close surfaces.
      • Support grabbing ceiling surfaces.
      • Add support for lazy-loading platform graph files.
      • Add support for parsing surfaces from combining multiple TileMaps.
      • Add support for specifying regions of a TileMap to include/exclude from surface parsing for a given player type.
      • Add support for the player bonking their head on an intermediate ceiling before continuing their movement toward their destination.
      • Add support for modifying navigation in order to reach the destination at a specific time.
      • Build-in some common types of high-level navigation behavior. For example:
        • Walk to edge of current surface, turn around, repeat.
        • Walk to edge of current surface, climb around onto the next neighbor surface, repeat.
        • Don't walk/climb along certain types of surfaces; instead, only jump across them.
        • Fly around surfaces.
      • Figure out some satisfying controls for performing actions in-tandem with controlling navigation.
        • For example: swinging a tool or weapon to hit something nearby, shooting something in a specific direction, or just simply triggering an "interaction."
      • Fix lots of bugs.
      • Make it easier to configure the many different parameters of the Surfacer and Scaffolder frameworks.
  • Make a lot more pixel art.
    • And hopefully, get a lot better at it!
    • I don't have a specific plan for this, other than to make a lot of small games and include a lot of art in them.
    • I hope that I find lots of interesting techniques to work on in each game, and take the time to learn to do them well.
  • Play around with dialogue.
    • I think that a lot of the ideas I have for games depend on stories and characters with dialogue and narrative.
    • I'm not sure whether I'll be a very good creative writer, but I'm excited to get a feel for it!
    • I have couple tools in mind for implementing this.
  • Make a handful of small games.
    • Maybe five more games?
    • I'll probably only make point-and-click platformer games using Surfacer for the rest of this year.
    • I think I will try to make these games explore the various unique experiences that Surfacer enables.
  • Form a concept and prototype for a larger game that I can continue working on after this year.

What about this devlog?

I think these devlog posts have been working out well for me. They take me a couple hours to write each week, but they help me to organize my thoughts and reflect on whether I'm on track for my current goals. Also, it's nice to have this record to look back on!

🎉 Cheers!

This is a simple icon representing my sabbatical.