Failure is an option
On the morning of day 6 I had to do some soul searching. I needed to decide whether to alter my plan to make a more generic game or keep working toward the design I set out to make. I knew it was a high risk for failure if I kept working on my plan. However, I decided that it was better to put my efforts into making a game I was excited about that felt unique to me. The 7DRL challenge is to make a game but to me it is also to learn, challenge yourself and to have a fun. I did not alter my game design significantly.
I struggled a lot on Monday with the AI for the 4 competitors you race in the game. I am not an experienced game programmer so I was going about it the wrong way. I did find an approach later in the week that I thought would work better. That encouraged me to keep trying. I had a lot of fun on Friday going back to the AI and getting it to race. It was looking pretty good by the end of the day. I felt good about my progress and what I learned.
On Saturday morning I worked on the game menu screens. I tried stealing code from last year but it wasn't working so I threw it out and make new menu screens. Later I felt like I was stalling in finishing up my dungeon generation because I wasn't sure how to go about it. I started taking my random elements and made themed rooms. I had a factory theme with conveyor belts and smashers. I made a laser chicane room where you have to either take the long way around lasers or eat the damage and rush through. I made a spike room with either spikes on the walls or in the middle. I also had a random room that could throw together different elements. I put chances for many different configurations, enemies and decorations. This resulted in a large variety of rooms.
It was getting near the end of the day and I was still building my game. I saw the writing on the wall. I thought maybe if I kept pushing I could get it all wrapped up. Never mind that thorough testing was impossible at this point. I tweaked the UI quite a bit. Then I added a scoring system and a finishing condition. Yes, I was that far behind. It was approaching midnight and the game was playable but still in an alpha state. I would not have felt good about trying to cram it all together to call it a success.
Here is a picture of where it ended up:
I got a lot done and feel great about my experience participating in the challenge. I will continue to work on it but without the drive of the challenge it is hard to say how long it will take. I had a lot more features in mind that I threw out for the sake of deadline. Now I am free to add them back but don't have time set aside to work on it.
There are many reasons I enjoy the 7DRL. It gives you motivation to act in a way that conforms to the parameters of the challenge. Because of the time constraints you just try to get things done knowing that coming up with amazing architecture and a grand long term vision isn't needed. It also forces you to set aside time to focus on your idea. I would normally not have this much time to spend on any single endeavor. I am already looking forward to next year!
The other thing I am excited about is seeing all the other games that were made. I caught glimpses of them through the week in spare moments but now I can play some of them. It looks like there are some fun ones!