Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Better Living Through Design Documentation

I'm still feeling off about FTA - frustrated and reluctant to jump back in.  I wonder if it might be better as a full-on graphical game, which I think is just a sophisticated attempt by my subconscious to get me to ditch my current code, but I don't know for sure.  And looking at my documentation, a lot of it is under-detailed, incomplete, or outright missing.  This compounds the difficulty that the document is half-electronic, half-paper, and not organized in any particular fashion.  In short, shoddy work.  Which was fine, for a while.  But I can't really skate by not knowing exactly what my material or crafting system will look like.  I know the shape of the thing, but that's not concrete enough, and writing around it is just not adequate.

It's hard to know what's stress-induced depression - I haven't had more than five hours of sleep a day in more than three weeks, and I haven't had access to hot water or a functional kitchen in two - and what's good insight into what needs to get changed. I don't *want* to learn a new programming language to try to implement FTA, much less struggle with collision events and mouse clicks and save states.  I don't even know which language would be most appropriate.  Would it be a better game?  I just . . . I don't know.  I don't even know how to go about answering that question.

So I'm pulling back a little, again, and trying to locate and merge a bunch of documentation.  It's been going okay on half-assed documentation, but that's not good enough anymore.  The game's too big, and too system-based, and there's too many references between systems - it needs things laid out, and I need to be more diligent about saving all my research notes in one place.  I probably won't stop implementation entirely - I do best when switching between tasks - but I do plan to cut back, take a look at what I have, and clearly map out the underlying first draft of the game.    

(Since I first wrote this, I actually looked a bit at what it might take to implement as a non-IF game, and, uh, yikes.  C# is really, really not as appealing as Inform.  Not that I don't have wallbanger moments/hours with Inform, but yow.  Steep learning curve.  And I can make no progress at all with . . . well, with pretty much any of the helper platforms.  Graphics is hard, y'all, and so is trying to switch from action-oriented to object-oriented.  Also, I totally remember what I like about writing for IF.  50 animals do not require 100+ meshes and textures and animations and things.  No, they just require a few sentences.  Also, I got a full eight hours of sleep last night, and feel like maybe life is okay, after all.

Still, it goes in the design journal, because what is a design journal for if not existential crises and whining?

Also also: that design document: I should work on it.  Maybe at a restaurant, since my kitchen sink is still bubbling ominously.  Damn landlords.)  


  1. I haven't had access to hot water or a functional kitchen in two

    This is taking research a bit too far.

    (Srsly, hope things look up, or continue to.)

  2. Thanks! Research indicates that the PC will be ordering a lot of Thai food.