This weekend I went bug hunting. I have a few pages of really small annoying things that I’ve been meaning to fix…but just havent. Its small things, like sometimes a door doesn’t slide closed, or the computer screen in the one room isn’t displaying the correct animation.
REASON FOR BUGS #1
Most of these ‘bugs’ are part of a design decision on my part to not have large scrolling areas, but rather treat each area as its own separate screen. But something you do in one room could greatly effect something in another room. One example, you do something that resets all the computers. Now if the game was one large scrolling environment that wouldnt be a problem…you just change the animation. But as each room exists separately from the others, I have to have commands set up that when you enter the room, it checks to see if anything has happened in the GAME WORLD which needs to effect what happens in that specific area.
While there are disadvantages to having lots of small areas as opposed to one large area, the one major advantage is level of detail. By treating each room on its own, I can add in a silly amount of incidental detail that makes the world feel more ‘dense’. A piece of paper that blows across the screen…smoke being sucked into a fan…
I really want each room to be able to stand on its own, ASWELL as be a part of the whole.
REASON FOR BUGS #2
The second reason for the bugs is probably the most important-they are things that are occuring when the player does things ‘out of order’. Essentially, I am trying to avoid the ‘You cant do that now’ problem that many indie (and commercial) adventure games tend to have. Just because you aren’t supposed to pick up the hypodermic needle at that point in time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to. But what happens when you pick it up, but haven’t accessed the inventory yet? What happens when you walk out of a room halfway though a dialogue sequence? How can I ‘force’ the player to enter the INFIRMARY before the ADMIN OFFICE? These are the things that can make you rip out your hair! But again, it goes back to the choices I’ve made in the beginning of designing the game. The choice to give the player a large sense of freedom in a game that ‘needs’ to be linear to work.
REASON FOR BUGS #3
This can be summed up in one word…inexperience. Im still learning not only the tools, but also the theory as I go along. STASIS is still a very young game (less than a year), and is my first attempt at a game and story of this size. I learn new things with each and every day that I work on it. Im also really trying to keep the quality consistency throughout the game. I dont want the first part of the game to feel ‘less polished’ than the later bits. So that means backtracking to previous rooms and levels, and updating bits of code/graphics/ways of doing things.