On Clean Slates

I have been working on a game side project for a little over a year now, on and off mostly. Whenever inspiration strikes, I fire up GM, hack on it for a while, and maybe try to hit some goal or make a playtest and send it out to a group of friends who provide feedback.

I totally scrapped it a week ago.

I realized I had written myself into a hole. The first thing I did with this game was plan out the mechanics — a complex set of rules that I figured would be captivating enough to make the game stand out. Damage type X is strong against character type Y; stat A influences the chances of hit on ability B; character Ω couldn't harm enemies who followed religion ϴ due to his history as a monk. The game was already too hardcore for itself, and it didn't even have real graphics yet.

When it got to the point that I just didn't want to work on the game for fear of not getting anywhere, I knew something had to give. It wasn't worth working on something I didn't enjoy, so why bother? I made a hard decision to just halt all progress on that file, and start completely anew. Taking a different approach with a different concept that kept to the spirit of what I originally wanted to create.

It took a while to come to the conclusion that I wanted to do this. The first thing I tried was completely gutting the game engine. That's actually how I ended up building gdash — I wanted to reinvent the codebase inside the existing game, replacing the code that had gotten out of hand with cleaner, more declarative code. Once it got to the point where I had totally gutted the ability for the game to run, I realized that I didn't even truly want to re-create the engine. Eventually, I realized that it was all going to be far too complicated to manage. Just too many variables. Literally.

I came to accept that what I really needed was a re-imagination of what I wanted the game to be. Once I came to that decision, I actually felt a pretty big load off of my shoulders, which is ridiculous, because I never had a deadline or even a real reason to make the game besides fun. Nothing I do for fun should weigh me down.

So here I am now, working on the new version of the game. Sure, the gameplay is immensely simplified, but I'd rather complete something simple and entertaining than slog through the building of something that I can't even be sure I can do. Here's hoping I get to post an announcement blog down the line.