Post Eleven of the Shotgunity diary - chronicling the progress of our Unity-based RPS game - and I'm starting to feel the cold damp breath of a deadline on the back of my neck. With only three weeks left on our schedule the process has become a mad rush to cram stuff in. The project, and the already busy mess of my brain, have both collapsed into deeper shaft of chaos. Still it's Saturday, and that means you're due Build 06. Find out what's been making me sweat after the cut...
In game development process terms, our experiment with Unity is about as casual and relaxed as you can get but I'm still feeling the pressure as our deadline approaches. Whenever I've been at a dev studio during similar periods, those times before some milestone or other when everyone's just throwing assets at the thing, when the mood gets as black as the coffee and you want to curl up in a corner and weep softly til the bad men go away, I've always thought 'why keep doing this?' I think it must be the shear rush of pulling it off, the release of pressure when it does all come together. For me, this project has been characterised by a 'fits and starts' nature. Because I'm learning everything as I go along - often through brute force trial and error - I've faced more or less constant bottlenecks each week, daily dams of ignorance that gradually give way to floods of insight and move things along. As the deadline approaches for the end of the project this previously pleasant pattern is starting to feel like an indulgence. I find I'm rushing to get things done so I can move onto to that OTHER thing that needs doing and this has inevitable consequences.
It was clearly madness to attempt a shooter as a learning project. Maybe not if I'd just made some RPS-y levels and draped them over the Unity FPS tutorial skeleton, but I foolishly tried to do more. No wait, not foolishly. There's glory in doomed ambition, right? I'm proud of and amazed by how much has actually come together in the past month. This was always going to be about learning and showing that anyone could have a go and achieve something. If anything it shows just how approachable Unity is that we could even attempt it. And three weeks left is still three weeks left... Fight! Win!
There's so much I wanted to get into this build but I ran out of time. For example I wanted to redo the respawn system to make use of this spiral generating script which is all kinds of pure awesome. But the project folder was fugly enough already without adding more. Build 06 is far and away the messiest build to date. In terms of finding what's new you'll have to wander around the Tutorial level to see anything on the surface (you might want to wear a hat in the Paper Room...), though there's more to see in Project Files. The trouble is that everything you will find is half-done. Until this build I've always tried to finish things off (to a reasonable level) before putting them in the build for the weekend. This time I've not had that luxury. The project is increasingly a mess of assets - my assets and things supplied by forumites - all thrown together higgledy piggledy. You'll find twitching, paralised monsters waiting to be properly assembled and animated, aerial movement scripts in a state of flux, AI pathfinding in the middle of an overhaul and everywhere the rubble and detritus of what this really is at the moment, a building site.
This is something that's going to have to get worse before it can get better. I need to get more assets in, more mess, while simultaneously organising it into something more presentable. This will be the real challenge and pressure for the last weeks of Shotgunity, can we get enough in, and still keep it together?