The story so far

I’ve struggled to start writing a dev log. I get long winded trying to do an intro and a “how I got here” introduction which turns the whole text impossible to read.

As a starting point it’s easier to say that I’m working on a small (both in terms of length and scope) 3D game on Unity.

I started it this year with the goal of getting back into making games. It has taken longer than I would’ve liked to finish, mostly due to general procrastination. In the meantime I did participate on Ludlum Dare so I managed to make a game this year after all!

Regarding the 3D game, the basic idea is that you are at a party and hate it, but you promised your friend you would stay for a while. This means having to deal with your general social anxiety while being forced to interact with people.

I made a simple design doc (that has since become outdated) and started by making an apartment in Unity using ProBuilder (a plugin that allows users to create 3D models directly into the Unity Editor). This allowed me to test scale and layout without having to import and re-import from Blender. I had never used Blender models together with Unity which made ProBuilder a nice solution. Since then I have imported several models into this project and I understand scale from one program to the other better but it’s something I haven’t entirely grasped yet.

Figuring out how to build the apartment and lighting has taken a good chunk of the game’s development. It is all new to me and it has been a learning experience.

The other struggle I faced (and I still face it today) was how to translate the idea of the game into engaging game mechanics.

It started with two meters (one for anxiety and another one for social interaction) that eventually turned into one, since I realized I was measuring the same thing twice. There was a point where I found myself running towards people because not enough socializing was ending the game too often. It was the opposite of what I wanted!

Characters that called you to speak to them were introduced. The idea was to give the player structure. I think. Can’t honestly say why but it probably felt genius at the time… Eventually the game changed so not socializing didn’t end the game. Instead, ignoring those characters would. This change made thematic sense and it served to take away the “I have to get to someone fast, my meter is running low” feeling that I didn’t like.

People spawning at the party was another part that went through a lot of iterations. At first the biggest issues were how many people should spawn, how would the ramp up work and how long should they last. My first vision of the game was people teleporting all over the place, almost like a fever dream. This felt quick in a bad way, it was another part of the game that was fast and frenetic, which made this party more exciting than dreadful. Writing it know I wonder if that aspect of it could be retained more… Anyway, the spawns were slowed down and the duration of people at the party increased.

Another aspect of spawning that gave me issues was the question “Should people block the player?”. This was something that felt mechanic and thematically relevant. Getting blocked when trying to run from a room or getting to a special character was frustrating. There could be some thematic relevance there but I didn’t like how the player had no control over the situation. You couldn’t push characters away or predict the spawns. It was bad chaos. This meant I had to place the spawns in a way that the player could always move. A possible path needed to always exist. I kept changing and re-arranging the spawn positions for a while until I got to a point I felt it worked okay. It wasn’t easy due to the size constrains of the apartment, the simplistic way the spawns themselves work and trying to do it while maintaining the core idea of the game. The truth is it felt much better to me after this change with no compromises to achieve it.

During all of this I kept changing the layout of the apartment, creating some environment objects and changing aspects related to the light in the game. For a long while I didn’t have any windows which gave the game a claustrophobic feeling. There was a lot of iteration in all aspects of the game.

Right now I’m in a stage where I want to start play testing the game with other people. My vision is too narrow. I’m nervous about this stage since I don’t particularly like the game, but I hope people are nice. This thing is releasing either way at this point, but let’s at least try do improve it. Before giving this to other people I do need to clean it up first. Having a start and end, a simple intro and replacing the debug text with UI elements is fundamental.

After getting feedback I’m expecting to start to focus on making more 3D props, improving the visual aspect of the game and working on sound. I think I’m closing the door on big overhauls for my sake. Fingers crossed for the feedback round.

If you read this until the end thank you! I will try to write more. It’s a good exercise even if no one reads them but you.

Miguel Condez @miguelcondez