Fully Free

March 6th, 2015

Finally got around to making Scrap Metal Heroes fully free, which is the only natural solution now that Mochi doesn’t exist anymore. Wasn’t all that much work, really, and I should have gotten to it sooner. But it took a few e-mails from fans to get the ball rolling. I’ve definitely come a long way as a programmer since those days. I can’t fathom now how I ever managed to use Flash Pro as my IDE. It just doesn’t do anything code-wise other displaying it. Countless headaches might have been avoided back in the day if I’d taken the time to learn FlashDevelop, for example. But oh well.

Looking at this game now, almost five years later, it does look rather clunky and amateurish. Though, on the other hand, I can’t claim to have made anything better since. But a better thing is definitely in the pipes, slowly working its way towards the firing chamber. There’s still a lot to learn about Unity and a new workflow to master, but I’m not seeing any major obstacles at the moment. On top of my greater programming experience, I think I’ve also managed to develop a better awareness for good design over these past couple years. Both in terms of visuals and game mechanics. Admittedly there is a limit to how much one guy can do. I can’t claim to be a superb artist, a great designer, or a genius programmer. I’m undoubtedly a jack of all trades, a master of none. And to make something as complex as a game with those limits in mind, there are a few essential keys to keep in mind.

The first key is to find a project that fits into that skill set as smoothly as possible. Within each of those roles it is possible to find a particular slice where I do in fact excel. I would be hopeless at 2D animation, for instance, and also pretty useless at making triple-A shooter character models. But stylized 3D characters that strive to take full advantage of the lifetime I’ve spent drawing various warrior dudes? That is something I think I can do pretty damn well.

The second key is to find good references. There’s a lot of people out there who are better than me at various things, and much of what I want to make has already been done in different forms. So you have to be open to those influences, find what works for you, and break down how other people have done similar things.

The final key would be scope and feedback. Technically that’s more like two keys, but it’s my post and my rules, so bite it. Scope has definitely gotten away from me before, especially on Empires of Arkeia. I really don’t need to have fifty gladiator classes in this thing. In fact it’ll probably be a much stronger game with twenty, or even fifteen, sparing enough time to make sure they all play amazingly. And feedback is another area where I’ve been lacking. It’s easy to believe you know your own game best, but it’s often amazing how that closeness can also make you miss some really obvious things.

Well, it is getting mighty late right about now, so I believe I’ll just awkwardly cut it off right there and bid you all a gentle night.

— Peace and a good set of keys


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