The past month has been spent working on the art for the Mine area. At this point it’s complete apart from the indirect lighting pass. I’ve already started implementing the art into the game, as this is a time-consuming process in its own right. There are lots of details that you have to figure out at that point which are easy to overlook when just doing art in a paint program. Some of the obvious ones though, are sorting order issues and putting trigger volumes all over the place.
I’m overall pretty happy with how the art for this area has turned out. A pattern that I’ve noticed is that each new area comes out a little bit closer than the last area to what my original vision was. It’s been a big learning experience working on this game.
That brings me to another point which I’ve been ruminating a bit on lately. As I get closer to the finish line for the game (there’s only two areas left), it becomes much clearer what the final form of the game is likely to be. Although this is exciting, it also ends up being a bit depressing, because it becomes clear that the game will not quite live up to all of my own hopes for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the game is in many ways much better than any of my initial ideas suggested, but there’s still this sense of wistful potential. I left many of my early ideas on the cutting room floor in order to make a more focused game, and I still feel a longing for a game that doesn’t exist. Perhaps I’m too close to the project and I can only see it’s flaws. Perhaps this is just a general feeling that I will always have, that will continue to drive me to make more games in the future.
Thinking about the future, I’m not really sure what I will end up doing after Taiji is finished. At the moment, I try not to think about it too much, because I still have a long road to finish walking down, and I don’t want to lose focus by finding distraction in some new shiny idea.
Part of me wants to quit games and never do this again. I can’t lie, this has become quite a grueling process. Working on a game solo has its upsides, but its very easy to lose motivation and feel isolated and lonely.
Oh well, we’ll see what the future holds when we get there. For now, I’m trying to decide how much I will be able to afford going back to areas that I’ve already done and improving the artwork there. I’m glad that many of you have had nice things to say about the look of the game, since I don’t consider myself a particularly great artist. Still, I have made most of the progress on the game by trying to keep a mantra of “good enough for now”, and part of that was consoling myself with the possibility that I could go back and revise stuff that I don’t like “later”.
The fact is though, I don’t have an infinite amount of time, money, or energy to work on this game, so at some point: “later” has to become “forever”.
This is standing out in my mind more because part of the Mine area connects with the Shrine area, and while working on the art for the Mine, I availed myself of the opportunity to improve that connecting part of the Shrine. This was something that has been on my list of “go back to later hopefully”, and I found it made me really happy to bring that small area more in line with my original vision.
Again, we’ll see how much of that I can actually afford to do before I have to ship. At this point the focus has to be on making a mad dash towards having something “shippable”. I suppose that’s typically called a beta; where you have all the features in the game and could theoretically put the game out, but you are taking time to polish and fix bugs and such. I honestly am looking forward to that point much more than I am looking forward to actually shipping the game.