I made a build of Gunmetal Arcadia Zero on Friday that I’m calling “RC0.” (I’m not sure how widely used that term is, so for those unfamiliar, that’s “Release Candidate 0,” or the first believable shipping version of a product.) In truth, that build had a number of must-fix issues that I’ve addressed over the weekend, but it’s indicative of the state the game is in nevertheless. This thing is almost done. I’ll be spending the next couple of weeks tuning and polishing, fixing bugs, and preparing promotional media, and then I’m kicking this game out the door.
I’m long past the point of developing exciting new features, and I already talked a little bit about my concerns in continuing to document my development as I transitioned to a world of content production. Now I’ve reached the end of content production, and I find myself wondering how best to write about shipping a game.
As I’m not targeting consoles, my shipping process for Gunmetal Arcadia Zero is somewhat different than games I’ve worked on in the past. There’s no certification criteria to meet, and that’s nice, but on the other hand, I’m targeting three separate operating systems and an unknowable number of hardware configurations, and without the means for wider compatibility testing, the best I can do is make sure the game runs on my personal devices and try to fix bugs reported in early builds. On the bright side, I’ve refined my engine with each release, fixing what bugs I can reproduce, and though I’ll probably never have complete peace of mind with regard to the Mac and Linux versions, I feel like I’ve minimized the likelihood of complete and total incompatibility.
So Gunmetal Arcadia Zero will ship soon, and then development on Gunmetal Arcadia proper can resume. Remember that game? The eponymous Gunmetal Arcadia, the one I started blogging about way back in October 2014? The vision I had of that game prior to the introduction of Zero had a number of unsolved problems, and some of those have been occuping my mental bandwidth recently. (Importantly, I still don’t have a concrete plan for procedural level generation.) But in returning to that game in the context of a completed Zero, I’ll also have to ask questions of that existing vision. Does it make sense to keep plugging away at those same goals? What can I take away from the experience of shipping Zero that might affect the roguelike game’s design? Should I alter its design to further differentiate it from Zero? To accentuate the things that work about Zero and mitigate those that don’t? Do I even know which is which yet? Zero‘s not even out and I’m already starting to think of it in postmortem terms.
In On Writing, Stephen King advises setting finished manuscripts to the side for weeks or months after their completion, returning to make edits only after that time has elapsed. I’m not sure that’s entirely applicable to game development, but I do think there is something to be said for stepping away from a finished work for some time before making final alterations and sending it out into the wild. To that end, I’m thinking about taking a short break from this game after this week to work on something silly and fun. Maybe I’ll ever revisit that standalone CRT sim I was toying with last year. I just missed Ludum Dare, but maybe I’ll do something jam-scale on my own. As I was nearing the end of development on Super Win the Game, I participated in Ludum Dare to blow off some steam, which turned out to be an unexpected win when I was later able to reuse some of that work for a prototype of another game.
Upcoming tasks for the week of April 18, 2016:
- Monday: Promotional materials, day 1
- Tuesday: Promotional materials, day 2
- Wednesday: Playtesting and tuning, day 1
- Thursday: Playtesting and tuning, day 2
- Friday: Record Ep. 35, write blog, addl. work as time allows
I don’t have any tasks scheduled for this weekend. I guess I’m done with crunch? Maybe I’ll read a book or something.