April 22, 2008

Good to Great

So Asp still isn't complete. I've been working on it pretty regularly, too. I wrote the basic underlying system in one marathon week, so I had assumed that it wouldn't take much longer to finish it. What I'm discovering is that moving from good to great (or in my case, bad to competent) can be a lot more complex.

This stage of "polish" is often cited as the most important part of game development, and there are plenty of examples of the best games taking their time on it. Valve has spoken about how Half Life was started from scratch mid-development (so that Half Life is arguably the real Half Life 2) so that they could get it right. Blizzard is famous for taking as much time as they need to get a game right.

With Asp, I was re-coding an older, flawed game, Valve-style. I was hoping, then, that everything would fall nicely into place. But what was missing in the older version was all of this polish. Re-implementing the basic systems was, as expected, easy. But adding a menu system, improving the GUI, making the different game modes, proper balancing, and a whole load of little features that give the game its color and proper functionality have become the main challenge of making this game.

I'm hoping that if I don't skimp on the polish, I'll end up with a competent game. Maybe even good. And maybe, if I dare suggest, great.

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