Inventing an inventory

Saturday, the 2nd of January, 2016

To err is human, to err massively is a sign you’re just not reading your own code properly, I mean, honestly, what were you thinking Past Me? For shame.

Saturday, the 2nd of January, 2016

Cuthbert: a (bit of a) year in review

Saturday, the 2nd of January, 2016

Well, it’s the New Year, the time when – across the world – people look back at the past year and work out what went well, what could have gone well-er, what they want to improve and change in the year to come. (And rank the cutest cats; that’s important.)

It seems a good time to step away from my seventeen page rebuttal on why The Cat Who Ruined Dinner has been robbed of his rightful place on the top ten, and look at Cuthbert.

Cat hitting dog - instant hilarity And Angry Chef Cat didn’t even get a look-in. DollarPhotoClub

Cuthbert is something I’ve spent a lot of time talking about and not quite so much time doing for the past couple of years. In August, I decided if I was ever going to get it finished, I needed to make a real commitment to finishing it, with a deadline and a blog to guilt me into having some progress to blog about.

Over the past four months, I’ve managed to put in some working radial menus with working sub menus, refactor how I was handling the game to make it easier to name and reference characters, rework the game into two streamlined acts, and write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (which is only an achievement until you realise how many more NaNoWriMos I’d need to do to finish the story).

Having the development blog has helped, but it’s still been hard to summon the willpower and motivation to code and write after a long day at work (and after the release of Jessica Jones on Netflix).

alt She’s so strong for us – but who’s there to be strong for her? Who? I need to know who?! Netflix, Marvel Television, ABC Studios

I was telling this to my very wise and clever and attractive friend Sarah (hi Sarah!), who pointed out that I seem to work better under deadlines. As my bar chart for NaNoWriMo illustrates rather well.

She suggested I create a series of smaller deadlines, so I can make sure I’m actually hitting them and making progress every month. I thought it was a fantastic idea – until I made a list of all the scenes that needed to be written and coded for the first act alone and realised I’d need to quit my full-time job to be able to do it in any reasonable amount of time.

Again, there might be a reason big game companies don’t work this way.

But. This is only going to stretch out longer the more I side-eye it and say ‘maybe later’. I love this idea and I love working on it. Who needs hobbies? And loved ones? So. I’ve made a twelve-month plan and I’m going to see how far that gets me.

Next year, I’ll make another one. And if I have to make another one after that, well, at least it’s keeping me off the streets, right?

The Twelve-Month Plan

  • January
    Move what was written during NaNoWriMo into the game system and code the functionality for it. Finish the user interface for both mobile and desktop, including the inventory, navigation, and to-do list.

  • February
    Finish the combat system, including writing joins between Cuthbert and his opponent’s perspectives, and any remaining UX work (because I wrote a lot for NaNoWriMo…).

  • March
    Write and program the opening scene and puzzles, and the two following scenes, at least.

  • April
    Write and program three scenes and puzzles, along with coding in new artwork.

  • May
    Write and program a minimum of three scenes and the combat tutorial.

  • June
    Program the in-game hint system and write hints for all scenes written to this point.

  • July
    Write and program a minimum of three scenes.

  • August
    Write and program a minimum of three scenes.

  • September
    Write and program three scenes and puzzles, and code in new artwork.

  • October
    Code registration, login, saving and restoring games, naming saved games, and launching games from different save points.

  • November
    Write for NaNoWriMo again – stepping it up to 60,000 words this time because if I have some higher bars in the middle of my bar chart, it’s definitely doable.

  • December
    Write and code hints for all written scenes and do any clean-up coding work.

I’m a bit worried that’s not enough work to make my two-year plan to finish the first act of Cuthbert doable, but it is a realistic amount of work to fit inbetween my actual work that I do for a living and, you know, sleep. I still need to do both those things.

To give myself a bit more working-and-sleeping room, I’m going to cut down my development blog updates to fortnightly updates – unless I find any more hilarious typos, then I’m posting them immediately.

Fingers crossed! Then immediately uncrossed because it’s impossible to type that way and I have so much work to get on with.