Where did the last six months go?

So not many will remember, but I had been working on a game called zAftermath, an action RPGish type game with zombies. After working on it for about 7 months, I realized a few things. One, is that there are too many small indie zombie games out there. Second, the one I was making wasn’t actually fun and I was just adding features to try to fix it.

I decided on some new goals. One. I needed something that had a lot less animation than my current game attempt. Being a software engineer, it’s amazing I can even make artwork, but as of yet I’m really terrible at character animation. Two. It had to be a game that I really enjoyed playing. I’m not sure about other software and game developers, but when I’m not actively being   paid for writing code, it’s hard to work on something I’m not interested in.

So rather than spend more time on zAftermath, I spent a few weeks prototyping other ideas quickly to see if I could make anything with more enjoyment value. Luckily the game engine I had built over the previous eight months was portable, extensible, and worked fantastically for prototyping.

But then I went on a really long vacation, driving over 9000 miles from the eastern coast of the United States to the western coast and back, stopping for backpacking trips in fifteen different National Parks.

When I got back I settled on a city building game, but one that had the features that I found lacking in other games of the genre. One thing I wanted to achieve was a game with no building dependencies – just build the production facilities if you want them, or lay them out where you want them, even if you don’t currently have the resources. I also wanted a simulation where the citizens were important. Each citizen should have a specific job, and the player decides what to build and what to destroy, but the citizens have to do it. They have to walk to the trees, cut them down, bring the logs back to storage, bring raw materials to a building site, spend time building the structure, and only then is the building useful. I also wanted the player to have to develop the city such that food, warmth, and good health was available for the citizens, otherwise they’d die and the game would be over. I wanted a game where resources were very limited. Cut down some trees for firewood, and the citizens can make it through the current winter without freezing, but you’ll wait ten years for mature trees to replace the ones cut down.

So I worked on it for a bit. Then I went on holiday again for the Christmas season.

Now that it is winter, I don’t have many distractions and the game is coming along splendidly. I think it’s fun to play so far, and the artwork has exceeded my expectations. Now if only I can make some actual people instead of boxes moving around the city…. More updates soon.