Wednesday, August 13, 2014

2600 and the teleporter

The thing that most causes me to give up and stop working on a hobby project is my tendency to decide on a new "ooh, shiny" programming project. I can't tell you how many times I've started something, but gotten distracted by something else along the way.

As I was working on Anguna, there were numerous times where I had to promise myself that I'd work on that "new shiny" project just as soon as I finished Anguna -- that was the only way I could keep myself motivated to finish instead of just giving up and starting the next project. Once I finished, I forgot what all of those other distracting projects were, so it no longer really mattered.

Well, suddenly I've discovered a new shiny. It's not really that new -- ever since about 2005 or so, I've had it in the back of my brain that eventually I wanted to try making an atari 2600 homebrew game. But somehow recently I got interested enough to spend some time reading up on how it worked. AND NOW I REALLY WANT TO MAKE ONE.

Ok, calm down, Nathan. You have another project, Robo-Ninja.

So right now, that's my biggest motivation for working on Robo-Ninja. The fact that when I finish, I can work on making an Atari game. Nevermind the fact that I'll probably have moved on to a new shiny thing by the time I finish.

Until then, I gave myself permission to mess around with 2600 programming at lunch, during the last few minutes at the office before coming home, etc. (And really, so far, that's been enough to be satisfying. I can't get anything done very quickly, but it gives me a chance to figure out how it works. Expect another blog post soon talking about my thoughts comparing it to GBA and Android programming)

Anyway, that said, I've been quiet about Robo-Ninja.

I recently decided I needed a teleporter.  One of my testers (thanks, Elijah!) suggested that it was really frustrating having to backtrack through levels, but I somewhat blew him off, since that is one of the main aspects of a metroidvania-style adventure game. But then two things happened:

1.  In my own playtesting, I discovered he was right. It was hard to backtrack.
2.  In one of my levels, I needed a new cool thing to discover, but not one of the main powerups.

So I decided it would be a teleporter. There'd be a few of them scattered around the world, and you could teleport between them once you discovered them.

So this involved quite a bit of new code -- I had to create the in-game "character" for the teleporter, to define the sprite and what happens when you collide with it, and a cool animation for making you teleport away.

Then I needed to track which teleporters you discovered, and link them to points on the minimap.

Then I had to build the UI for selecting where you want to go once you go into a teleporter.

This is just after I got whisked away by the teleporter

So that's what I've been working on for the past month or so. (If I worked on the game for more than an hour or so per week, it would probably help matters!) I think the teleporter is finally finished (other than tweaking the graphics on the UI screen), so tonight it's back to level design. Which I'm sure will make me think of some new crazy thing that I want to add into the game.

I'm never going to get to that 2600 game, am I?

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