Ave Imperator – Design Journal – 01.5 – Floundering

Floundering is a weird word and a flounder is a weird fish. Anyhow this isnt really about Ave Imperator, hence the 1.5. It’s more about the process leading up to Ave Imperator. Which is fraught with distraction at the moment.

So, as I wrote previously, I decided to push back the design stage of Ave Imperator until I had got back up to speed with at least Flash/Actionscript. I did this for two reasons i) because the primary high level design stuff was more or less all in the bag and ii) I needed to get my head back into some kind of “programming space” before moving on to look at low level elements. The rough plan was to transition from Flash to Scalworks to UnrealScript/UDK. Last year, before I decided to start this, I had a look at the various tools available (for free). The goal was to be able to get up and running as soon as possible, the choice ended up being between UDK and Unity. Neither of them was particularly suited to any of the game ideas I had. I ended up choosing UDK because I was able to find better documentation on it and it came with pre-packaged high level assets. It also came complete, with Unity a lot of the interesting features are only available to Unity Pro which is a) $1500 and b) not complete, you need to buy further addons to push it out to mobile platforms.

I’ve been getting back into Flash this month, though its been going slower than I planned. Hopefully I can make a good push as I’m off work for the next two weeks. It’s weird how after a day of work I have literally zero interest in doing anything constructive when I get home. Going to need to work on that. Anyhow, I’m straying from my main point. I was quite happy to work away with UDK. However this week its been announced that Unity are teaming up with Sony so you can push out your Unity product to any of Sony’s gaming platforms. Which is very appealing. Though now that I think about it none of the three “current” game ideas I have are particularly suited to a console or handheld. Ave Imperator feels like a PC Game. Though I suppose it wouldnt take much to adapt it. So there you have it. As I havent actually spent any time with UDK yet (well other than following a few basic tutorials) I’m wondering should I perhaps switch to Unity? If I do switch should I also switch from Flash over to C#?

To be honest I think in terms of my current career Flash would be more useful, I had to turn down two weeks of extra work because my Flash skills werent up to snuff. Something I dont want to do again. So I think I’ll push on and get this Flash ACA out of the way and then make a decision one way or another whether to go with Unity or UDK.

Another, fairly recent, distraction is a new idea I came up with earlier in the week. I was reading a poorly translated manga and one of the weird “engrish” mistranslations just triggered something in my head. Which very quickly spun into an idea for a boardgame, which morphed into a multiplayer computer implementation of same, which has now moved on to a more detailed single player experience with possible multiplayer. Which would be fine in and of itself. But have you ever been haunted by an idea? I cant seem to think of anything else, to the point where it’s actually sort of annoying. Worse still the actual nitty gritty of the idea fails to materialse. So I’ve got this semi-formed idea bouncing around in my head and its making it a right pain in the arse to think of anything else. Now quite possibly there is an element of “the grass is greener” going on here. But I do think it’s a pretty cool and unique idea, and one which might actually be easier to implement than Ave Imperator (which has sort of gotten a little out of control).

Now the obvious question is why dont I just come out and spell out what it is? Well I dont want to. Not for any paranoid “Oh noes my ideas” reason (because lets be honest, literally anyone can have a cool idea for a game, its getting it done that actually counts). No its because I read some advice years ago in a book about writing science fiction (ooh a hint) about how when you have an idea for a story or anything else you should keep it to yourself. Because as soon as you tell it to someone else it looses its energy and appeal. Which experience has proven true, for myself at least.

So next week I’m going to try and pin the idea down and write out a brief overview/treatment. I also hope to finish off this Flash ACA. Then April will consist of opting for either Unity or UDK and pushing on to get even the most basic alpha of Ave Imperator done. I would really love to have something done by the end of June (specifically before my birthday). As I mentioned above, I have a good bit of deisgnwork done for Ave Imperator so I’ll try and get that written up and keep things more regular than they have been. Probably going to look at Core Mechanics, Characters, Flow of Play in that order.

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