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Author Topic: Back to the old school  (Read 7880 times)

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Back to the old school
« on: November 03, 2013, 07:46:09 PM »

Hi folks. I've just returned to WME after a long absence. It's nice to be back! Since I've learnt a lot in the meantime I thought I'd share some experiences with you all.

For a few years now I've been working on a game called Black Aether (I'll announce it officially when it's closer to release). The story and art style have been brewing in my mind for even longer. The first incarnation was in Wintermute. I made most of the first chapter in 2008 or so. At the time my coding was ok, not great, and there were a lot of things I wanted to make Wintermute do that I couldn't figure out. I was quite familiar was Flash (AS2), though, and I made the decision to abandon the WME version and develop a purpose built graphic adventure engine in Flash.

It took a year or so to admit to myself that that'd been a bad idea. Aside from the fact that 99% of what I wanted my engine to do was already in place in WME, I realised I needed to learn AS3 and learn about all kinds of techniques like navigation. Long story short, through Black Aether and other projects, my coding improved to the point where I would have been able to do what I'd wanted to do in Wintermute in the first place, but not enough so that I could realistically code an engine from scratch. Besides, Flash is not the best way to do it for a ton of different reasons.

My homemade engine was about 75% complete when I got the idea into my head that I should abandon the 2d art style I'd developed and start again in a first-person 3d engine. Black Aether is a scary game with survival horror elements: I'd seen and played games like Amnesia, and I wanted to move in that direction. Since I've also been modding Valve's Source engine for years, I set to work on TC that brought an inventory and dialogue trees into Source. This was hard work and I learned even more about OOP. I finally got eveything in place and got back to work on game content.

The Source version of the game was certainly pretty, and immersive, but it was no longer the game I'd originally had in mind. In terms of playable content, the game was almost at the end of chapter one, at about the point where I'd left of with WME. Eventually (last week) frustrations with a constantly evolving engine, game breaking updates and poor communication between engine developers and modders, coupled with doubt over the new art direction of the game lead me to reconsider everything I'd done since Wintermute and, well, here I am, ready to get stuck in again.

Here's a summary of what I've learned:

1) Wintermute is exceedingly versatile. Just because you can't figure out how to code something doesn't mean it can't be done. Maybe you just need to level-up your coding and problem solving skills and come back later.

2) Mnemonic has done stellar work on WME over the years. One person committed to making a great engine is better than a big company who don't have indie developers in mind. (I still love Valve's games, I've just fallen out of love with Source.)

3) I tried to re-invent the wheel. I can now see that it wasn't necessary.

4) First person and 3d are not prerequisites for immersiveness.

5) Story and art are sacred and fundamental to experience. Don't compromise them to keep up with trends.

6) There's no school like the old school  ::rock, and there's still lots of room for innnovation in P&C graphic adventures.

I hope that will save someone some time some day, or maybe spark a discussion. Any comments appreciated.



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Re: Back to the old school
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2017, 02:29:15 AM »

Thanks for sharing your experience :)

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