Sunday, April 21, 2013

Simple diversions

I've been working on my game for a bit over the past few weeks, but have run into something of a roadblock. I don't know whether I want to continue on this path - I'm having a hard time "finding the fun" in it. Plus, the "real job" has been a real Debbie Downer, so I've been in a bad mental state. Not sure if the problem I'm experiencing is general malaise or if it's indicative that the game really isn't that fun. I've been playing some Modern Warfare 3, Civilization V, and Skyrim (trying to level my blacksmithing to 100) trying to recharge my enthusiasm. Not really helping so far. Although I did get my blacksmithing to 100 and then made it "Legendary" which reset it. Not really sure what the benefit there is, yet...
I attended the Mile High Agile conference on Friday and one of the sessions was about "gamification" in the agile space. A lot of the context was "how do you insert game elements into your teams so that they stay engaged". He provided some examples like LinkedIn's profile completeness (you want to be at 100%, right?) and the Nike+ product (which I'd heard about in a different context) tracking/sharing/comparing against your friends. There are some game elements in there to be certain. I'm not sure what elements of gamification would work at the 9-5, but the jarring reminders about basic game design left me contemplating the game I'm writing. Some of the basic elements (progression of difficulty, activity loops, etc.) just really aren't there. Is this because I'm failing to write something of quality or is it because there are different elements? What is the "fun"? How hard/easy is it to "find the fun"? Will it end up being the same game over and over again (and therefore boring) or will people stay engaged? How might I make the game continually challenging?
All of this was swimming through my head all weekend and I wasn't really any closer to resolving it until actually writing it out in this blog. I have some ideas about progression now. I had already decided on some kind of "ranking" system, but that was just a rudimentary tracking system based on the number of games you'd played successfully. But the difficulty of the game never changed - until now. I think I know how the single-player game can be more dynamic and grow with the player. Nothing fancy, mind you - but enough to make it something someone might be able to start with and then get better at over time. Not counting the multi-player version, of course (which will be hot-seat only for now, I've decided - back-ends and me are just not working right now).
So for now I'm working on the fully-expanded version and will then winnow it down for the first time players. But the point is that I'm now feeling a little more energized about working on this. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation with yourself to get back on track. Owen Goss, the main guy at Streaming Colour Studios, tweeted me this morning (whilst I was in the depths of whining about my un-developed/un-released software) that I needed to just "ship it!". And he's absolutely right. Funk over - development restarting. Thanks Owen.
I thought I'd leave this here, though. It's my Xbox Gamer Card and shows how much (or how little) I'm playing. And if you have an Xbox live account and want to kick my ass (not a hard thing anymore), maybe I'll see you online.