Point Of Completion

progress report

The states system, for the love of Mike, is working. It’s been about a month+, on and off, but it’s finallyw orking.

This is a turning point for me, code-wise. It’s the first time I’ve done code properly. The old prototype was basically brute-forcing the controls and movements with dozens of if-statements. This version is closest I’ve come to doing something elegant. There are three sections: one handling the movements, one handling the character’s state, and one handling the character’s animations. Each is around 60 lines of code.

Right now the “character” is a box, ¡por su puesto! But as a prototype it’s done.

Next up, we’ll be tackling how characters enter and exit rooms. We’ve come up with some new ideas that would make things a hell of a lot cleaner but will be difficult to write. But after that comes the massive task of combining all these prototypes into one game file. Inventory, states, rooms, camera, dialogs.

At which point, we can make our vertical slice.

POC

Now, I’d like to talk about a concept, for a moment, that I picked up in art school.

Tonight I was working on a song. I’ve made a dedicated decision to write one song a week for an indefinite period. So far, it’s just been noodling around with my guitar and sequencing in PxTone Collage.

My weekly deadline is Monday at midnight, and here I’ve been banging away at the second song since Friday and it’s just not coming. I’ve got a good core idea that lends itself to a lot of interesting patterns, and the main riff just sounds and feels good, but as a whole it’s not working.

It’s in that state where I’m too deep into it, been banging my head against the wall too long and too worried about failing to get it finished. In that state where you just need to put it down and come back fresh a week later, which historically has meant putting it down unfinished and forgetting about it.

The deadline is there to make sure I get things done, because trying to make everything perfect freezes you up. I’d love for every song to be perfect, but I’m a long way from writing a perfect song, and completion is often more important than success. Success only comes after many, many failures.

You run up against this in art school all the time, where you’re trying to be creative on a deadline. Maybe you’ve realized your project is a bad idea, maybe it’s a great idea but it’s not in your skillset or talents, or maybe it’d be a perfect project if you could just set it down for a while. But you’re on deadline. Creativity can’t be easily mechanized, and often more hours of work will just make the work suffer more.

What they taught us to bring it to a Point Of Completion. Most art is never really “done,” but the Point Of Completion is where it’s done enough that you can show it to someone. It probably deserves more work, more polish, but it’s where you make sure that some chunk of it is showable and you show that.

My song is a mess, but the first chunk works. I might need to completely scrap everything but the first chunk, and 4 days work to get 8 measures I’m satisfied with is poor output.

The fact is, last week’s song came out quite nice. It’s pretty, it’s simple, and most importantly it’s done. I’ve worked twice as long for a quarter of the content this week. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

So I set the song to loop at the end of the part that is working. That’s what is worth showing. If listened to, it’d sound like a rather neat, tiny little song, insubstantial, but not a total mess.

The rest of the song is there, but I’d have to tweak a few settings to play it. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll come back and work on it, maybe reinventing it (the main riff actually sounds pretty cool on guitar, I’ve discovered). But it ain’t gonna get there tonight.

It’s worth remembering as I work on the game. The game will take a long time to get done, and even certain milestones will obstinately refuse to arrive on deadline. So that’s where Point Of Completion comes in. If I promise myself and/or Josh to deliver a new feature, I can, at the very least, get some working element going.

When working on my own schedule, it’s easy to putter forever. Deadlines are good for me. They’re not always possible, but they force me to finish something. It’s not good to be perfect all the time, and seeing what is working is a good way to figure out what isn’t.

Anyway. I’ma sleep on it now.

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