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(rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting.
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Author:  tokumaru [ Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

tepples wrote:
Can you see anything in rainwarrior's microblog on Twitter? Or mine? If you're logged into a Twitter account, could you try a Private Browsing or Incognito window in order to get the logged-out view?

Yes, I can see stuff using these links. I don't have a Twitter account, so I'm always logged-out.

Author:  93143 [ Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

Bregalad wrote:
it does not sound like the NES would be the best platform to handle that

I think I understand where he's coming from. The SNES is absolutely the wrong platform for the game I'm working on, but I haven't let that stop me - I've just added a Super FX2 in a cartridge configuration no commercial game ever used, and blown 2/3 of my CPU budget on raster effects.

Part of this is because it's a port - it wasn't designed for the SNES, so it requires shoehorning at every turn. On the other hand, the game being a port is an advantage in that I don't have to design it. Converting existing assets is way easier than making them from scratch, and I'm less vulnerable to feature creep.

Quote:
although fitting this on a NES might be a nice challenge. That MMC5

Sounds about like how I feel.

Quote:
Honnestly if you can release a game in 3 years then it's just fine.

I've been poking at my project for about that long, and it hasn't really gotten off the ground yet. Once I'm done my degree and have actual free time, maybe it will pick up some. Until that happens, perhaps I should refrain from offering an opinion about how good an idea this approach is...

Author:  GradualGames [ Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

JRoatch wrote:
Because ultimately it's not about me or my grand ideas, it's about how I can help everyone I meet.

Beware of "exclusive-or" thinking in life. Much better that life be about you and your grand ideas, AND about helping others. Too much of one or the other is probably not good for anybody.

JRoatch wrote:
Seeing how most of the doctors around here essentially play Doctor Mario with their patients in physical health matters, I shudder to think on how mental health may be treated.

Haha, I hear you there...I avoid drugs like the plague. You really might want to try my journal idea listed earlier. Private journal, by the way. You don't have to share it with anybody. Modern social media kind of makes one feel as though one is an oddball for NOT wanting to share absolutely everything about what one is doing on one's project, but not everyone can let it all hang out like that. I personally find it stressful. So my journal is totally private and I just say whatever I want in it, as though I'm talking to a friend that wants me to succeed. Haha

Author:  Sogona [ Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

I can confirm that keeping a development log, as well as a list of todos does an amazing job of keeping you motivated and knowing what kind of progress you've made. I'm sure using something like Git is even better, but I've been too lazy to make a repository for my project and my current method's been working well so far.

I'd say having a generally solid idea of the scope of your project from day 1 is the most important thing, because you're pretty much just shooting yourself in the foot otherwise. The game I'm currently working on I originally started two years ago, but I was nowhere near experienced enough to do what I wanted to. Everything was hardcoded and would break really easily. The straw that broke the camel's back was when somehow my messagebox/HUD system just stopped drawing text to the screen. After 3 days of trying to find the problem, I just didn't give a shit anymore and deleted the entire project out of frustration. The second time around, when I finally got motivated again, that was the very first thing I implemented so I could make absolutely sure it was rock-solid. It was probably just a matter of gaining experience, but everything's gone pretty smoothly since

But yeah, any minute thing you did, whether it was adding/tweaking a subroutine, adding graphics, optimizing something; make a note of it. If there's anything I got stuck on / something I wanna remember to do the next time I work on it, I leave it at the end of the entry. Here's an example if anyone's curious:
Quote:
Day 68 - 7/18/2017
-Took a day off yesterday
-Worked more on the file select state. The three file "Frames" are drawn, but no actual file data is shown yet
-Added code to the file save and delete macros to respectively set and clear the file_contents flags
-Moved file_contents to SRAM as it was in regular RAM and wasn't getting saved
-Wrote code to display the saved file data to the screen but it's still buggy
-Only health gets displayed correctly, and the weapon and status strings are placed at incorrect spots on the screen
-Step through all the init code in the file select state tomorrow to figure out what the issue is.

In my todos file, I have it split up into systems/engines that still need to be implemented (object system, inventory screen system, sound engine, etc. for instance), graphics, or anything I currently have in place in the engine but isn't %100 ready for the actual finished game.

I also have a file containing any Ideas I have for the game, which are also categorized similarly. This approach alone makes everything so much easier and I definitely would have given up on my game a long time ago if I hadn't started doing this consistently.

Author:  Oziphantom [ Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

You need to make smaller goals and then work out what is a fun thing and then what is a slog ;) the trick is to put a fun things after a bunch of slogs.. otherwise you end up with the 90/90 rule.
First you do the first 90% of the game, then the last 10% is actually another 90% but it doesn't look it. And then you get to the last 90% and you give up. The bigger the project the bigger the 90%. So to combat this you put slog slog slog fun slog slog slog fun in your schedule, because if you just focus on the fun you won't get a game and then you will have a Tech Demo and a giant mountain of slog left.

How do you know what is fun, how do you know what to schedule were, experience. You can't make a 3 story house as your first wood project... you need to make a bird house first. However once you have made a bird house you will have parts of a house to help you make a dog kennel, then you will be able to use it to help you make a stable, then a barn then a house, then a 2 story house, then you can make the 3 story house. However you see no value in the bird house, there is value, it helps you get to the 3 story dream home.

The other problem is you have to take the rose tints off. When you are staring at the bits of the machine there are no illusions. You want to remember the NES as being amazing, as being all conquering.. and then you make something that is NES spec and look at it with modern eyes and think what a load of crap... and then you try to make an XBOX ONE S game on the NES you know like those fun modern retro games with the nice retro nes/snes graphics style, and auto save and menus and guis and full soundtracks and lighting effects without flicker and they are actually things you can't do on anything less than a GameCube and even then its still a push. You have to believe and want to make something that is NES spec, REAL NES not new fake oh look it so retro indie made by somebody who's first machine was a PS1 NES, REAL REAL NES. And not a 91 NES game an 85 NES game.

Author:  93143 [ Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

I want to be able to take exception to that last line, but considering what happened to HAL it might be good advice...

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

I'm not sure this is good advice, but i manage keep my interest up by having several projects in the works. If i run into a road block that's particularily hard to get by (be it technical, mental, emotional), i can work on something else for a while. When returning, i might have new insights how to solve the problem, fresh energy to work through an uphill stretch, or another idea on what should be done instead. Each new 'excersice' informs the other, so each project makes me better at what i'm doing in some regard which feeds and informs the other projects in turn.

The problem is that any project, when looked at separately, is moving slower than if i had devoted all my time to a single one. But i think the total net productivity is higher this way (and a lot more enjoyable for me at least).

Author:  gauauu [ Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

FrankenGraphics wrote:
I'm not sure this is good advice, but i manage keep my interest up by having several projects in the works. If i run into a road block that's particularily hard to get by (be it technical, mental, emotional), i can work on something else for a while. When returning, i might have new insights how to solve the problem, fresh energy to work through an uphill stretch, or another idea on what should be done instead. Each new 'excersice' informs the other, so each project makes me better at what i'm doing in some regard which feeds and informs the other projects in turn.


I do this as well. For me, it seems that 2 projects is the sweet spot where I have something interesting to work on and don't get burned out, but I still make reasonable progress on each one.

Author:  Oziphantom [ Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

Its called going Hot'n'Cold you have 2 and then you switch when one gets too hot or too cold, so you start warming or cooling. Any more you and the run the very common risk of ending up as http://www.commitstrip.com/en/2014/11/2 ... ect-story/

Author:  JRoatch [ Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

Thank you all for the kind advice. I never really understood the value or proper way to do todo lists and journals. I'll try to take in what was said and linked about it.


GradualGames wrote:
It's also valuable to understand really clearly why you want to make a game. A lot of folks fail to identify this, but it's very important.

I first heard about independent game console programming for the GBA around 2006, the same time I entered college and started to use the internet for more then just Starcraft games. I was kind of bummed that I missed the 2004Mbit competition, but I wasn't too upset due to the fact I just began learning computer programming. By the time I actually made a GBA game in 2011 it appeared the community had mostly died. I am bad at keeping up with what was going on, otherwise I would of followed the author of the GBA version of Lockjaw right to NESdev. I found this site when the Streemerz run at TASVideo was published and quickly found out that a compilation competition had happen and another one was possibly coming along the way. So I didn't want to miss out again, especially not to miss out on the big master version of Action 53.

That's my main motivation for developing on the NES platform at all.

Bregalad wrote:
JRoatch wrote:
A space shooter with meticulously designed scenarios like Ikaruga or Gradius V, with background animation so complex it would literally be a precomputed FMV".

Sounds great, but it does not sound like the NES would be the best platform to handle that - although fitting this on a NES might be a nice challenge. That MMC5 shooter game (was it called Uuchi Keibitai SDF or something like that) should be close to what you have in mind.

The worst part about this insane idea is that I was targeting a CHR-RAM board. The offline optimizer would have to have to schedule many of the future tile updates during the more quieter past frames so that the very contrasted vblank bandwidth would always be 100% maxed out. I could possibly gain more bandwidth by having the NES render out a "lda #; sta $2007;" stream in CPU-RAM, but still a crazy idea.

Oziphantom wrote:
When you are staring at the bits of the machine there are no illusions. You want to remember the NES as being amazing, as being all conquering.. and then you make something that is NES spec [...] You have to believe and want to make something that is NES spec, REAL NES not new fake oh look it so retro indie made by somebody who's first machine was a PS1 NES, REAL REAL NES.

The contents of this (with the exception of Musical Controller) and this are basically the result of me working exclusively with technical details of the NES. So I hope i'm not totally ignorant of the platform. I do admit though that I have no clue on how to really work the sound hardware.

Author:  gauauu [ Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

JRoatch wrote:
By the time I actually made a GBA game in 2011 it appeared the community had mostly died.


Yeah, I've always been bummed at how quickly that community evaporated. It was a great platform, and a great community.

Author:  Kasumi [ Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

Mostly mirroring people, but...

Todo lists really help with the feeling of progression. But also keeping a changelog, even if you also use version control software.

Honestly, just writing in general helps. Organization. Documenting file formats, planning out how you'll do things. It's easy to just lose things, when they only exist in your head.

I have planning docs and specification docs.

Planning docs are somewhat rambly. "Here's a way this could work. Oh, that wouldn't work because of X and Y. But Z will work." I don't erase the things that "won't work", because sometimes, later... I have trouble remembering why I did things. (This stops you from spending time on a "good" idea you've already had that won't work. :roll: )

The specification docs are flavorless, and are exactly how the thing currently works which is useful when trying to create a new PPU stream years after I wrote the last one.

I like to save backups of the entire project as well, since it doesn't take up much extra space. (It's NES!) I do this for what I call "builds" (or blocks) and sometimes just for cool glitches I want to preserve. This kind of thing helps as far morale, for me. Whenever I feel like I'm not doing so hot, I check out how bad it used to be. I also record funny gifs and such.

For the todo list, it's been said by others. I divide tasks into smaller and smaller pieces. I try to have a roadmap to get to the end of the game always in large tasks. For instance, just starting a project, might look like.
Code:
Make main character
(New Build!)
Make enemies
(New Build!)
Make bosses
(New Build!)
Make final boss
(New Build!)
Game is done


And that seems silly, but always having a path to the end keeps you out of limbo. As I progress, the large tasks get less vague.
Code:
Make main character
   Create a state system
      Idle State
      Crouching State
      Hurt State
         Add invincibility system.
(New Build!)
Make enemies
(New Build!)
Make bosses
(New Build!)
Make final boss
(New Build!)
Game is done


I put new build after any change I'd seriously want a backup of, or anything that would have serious repercussions. It may not help everyone, but I put the hardest things at the end of each "build" and the easiest things at the beginning. Your reward for the hard thing is getting a stable version of the game+the easy stuff in the next block of the todo list.

If I feel the next thing needed is do big to do in a sitting, I begin to break it down and indent more. :lol:

Something to focus on is the concept of a vertical slice. If you're making a platformer game with bosses, make a boss early on or you might end up having eighty levels and not even the systems the boss would need.

Make a small portion of your desired gameplay, and then adding to it always feels like real progress. Also, what you have then feels like a real (albeit short) game to other people.

I also agree on multiple projects maybe helping. In my very, super advanced project I ran into something rather frustrating. So I started something new as a quick break. And... while the quick break ended up not-so-quick, I basically ended up solving the frustrating thing for the new project. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Now I'm sick of the "quick break" and can't wait to get back to the super advanced project. I'll start up a small thing with it, so the same issue doesn't happen. :wink: I'll try to switch between them more often instead of going all in on one until it burns me out.

Some post mortem I write may have more specific examples of things, but eh. I may lose the will to write it.

Author:  Oziphantom [ Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

using BDD in the form of 6502BDD is handy for this too. As each scenario is
- documentation on what a feature of the thing is and how it should work
- something that tests that it works
- automatically counted to show you a % of complete

Then when you get a moment you can look at each "failing/to be implemented" test or feature or scenario and then implement it. This then lets you know what is needed, documents what it should do and makes sure it works and that you didn't break something else. It also gives you a nice "got something done" feeling, and you tend to make simple things like
When I hit enemy
The I loose a life
and complex things like the collision system. So giving you small and meaty tasks to tackle when the whim takes you.

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (rant) contemplating complex project, feel like quitting

I can recommend the project manager/planner service asana.com
Its free-to-use account type is more than enough for private use or use in small teams.

Easy to drag and drop to reorder priority of features, create sub-feature trees, set deadlines and reminders, comment, add notes, chat, assign tasks to a person or group or see what tasks/features are unassigned, upload files attached to specific features, and so on.

I started using it for teamwork in job related stuff but have continued to use it as a diary/monthly scheduler which is useful for an otherwise unstructured person like me.

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