Ever wondered what it would be like to work side-by-side with one of your favorite developers and create a game? Well, with This Is The Only Levels 2 slated for release tomorrow, these are my thoughts from the process:
Developing games, when you don’t have to do any of the grunt work, is REALLY fun. I got to come up with a ton of really fun levels and assist with the entire creative process throughout development… without having to do any of that pesky “work”, like coding or making graphics.
A lot more goes into a game than just code and art. Besides all the creative stuff, which we pretty much hammered out on the 1st day, all of this stuff needed to be done as well: UI for the menu and other off-menu screens, game save system, high scores, bonus modes, and API implementation.
It’s amazing how many bugs pop up in the oddest areas. This is something I already know, from all the testing work I do… but that is all AFTER the dev QAs his game. In a game as simple as TITOL2 (same engine as last game, just new levels), we easily found 20 bugs. From a certain level having an unexpected exploit to the save file not wiping deaths when you clear your level progress, and everything in between.
You can’t get too attached to any one idea. Given unlimited time, John could code any crazy level that I came up with… but one level we wanted to use left gravity for the level, so you’d have to jump from left to right on the edges of the platforms to reach the exit. Sadly, the engine (which John said could DEFINITELY handle left/right gravity) did not like this idea. I wasn’t given the full explanation, but it would have taken a lot of time to mess with the engine to get this 1 level to work. Better solution was just to use a different level idea that didn’t make the original cut. One other level that we liked wound up not being nearly as fun in actuality as it was in my head… so again, we tweaked it… and now it’s one of my favorite levels.
Don’t rush the process. The first TITOL took John 12 hours, start to finish. So going in to this project, I thought it would take 2 or 3 days, tops, for this one. It’ll wind up being released on the morning of the 10th day. There’s a lot more extra features in this game, and my level designs are a bit more complex than what was in the first game. Combine that with the AS2 to AS3 conversion… and a 1-day game becomes a 2-week game. At the same time, you don’t want to take TOO much time… when you think everything has been found and is ready, let it loose. I’m really nervous that we’ve overlooked something, or some major bug will pop up as soon as it’s released… but, if that happens, we’ll know about it soon enough. Not much more we can do about it now.
Altogether, this was so much fun. I hope that all of you guys wind up enjoying the game as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it. And give insane props to John… all the little things he puts into games are what makes them great, not my level designs. The UI, the elephant, the polka music, and a dozen other things that I won’t mention so that you can discover them all tomorrow.