Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Frayed Knights: Part-Time Indie Blues

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 1, 2010

I took a day off of the day job last week just to focus on Frayed Knights development. I was able to pretend to be a “full-time indie” for a day.  It’s amazing how much more productive eight hours of semi-uninterrupted time in a single day is for development than the same amount of time scattered across several evenings when you are part-time. It really helped me get over a hump. The distant light at the end of the tunnel felt distinctly closer.

So maybe I was feeling a little overconfident when, in spite of the tons of missing or placeholder content and little missing things like major character abilities, I told  Kevin (Xenovore)  in chat, “You know, if I were to really push it and go crazy, I could have Frayed Knights playable, start-to-finish, by the end of the week.”  Playable is a far cry from “complete,” but we’re still talking about a major milestone here. My schedule seemed clear enough, and I was kinda feeling like I was on a roll.

I probably jinxed myself by saying that.

The gods of game development conspired against me. My wife and I had completely forgotten about a Tuesday evening get-together we’d committed to. And Wednesday night we had an emergency at work that required a late night, which left less time and a lot less energy to work on the game. Real life does that, and it can play havok with part-time indie dev efforts.

So that didn’t work out quite the way I’d hoped. The good news is that after I whined last time about needing more and better tools for putting together all the diverse elements needed to make an RPG work, this week I spent some time enjoying all the groundwork (and previous “black triangles”) and tools I’d already built. I really do feel like I’ve crossed some kind of threshold, and may finally be on the downward slope. Hopefully that means things will continue to accelerate, in spite of little complications of part-time indie life.

The big challenge now is tying things together. While all these different pieces of story and gameplay were part of a cohesive story arc in my mind and design doc, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to convey this to the player, who may experience them all in a completely different order than I envisioned. I have almost no budget and precious few assets to work with, so I am making do.

Occasionally, I’m pretty happy with the results.

What, you were expecting the Lord of the Rings movies or something?

Okay, yeah – I’m definitely annoyed that after so much time in development, I’m not delivering some kind of masterpiece. It’s not gonna be that. I’m using decades-old low-tech, low-budget storytelling tricks, building on an antique game engine  in my part time to make something that’s kinda goofy and cheesey. But hopefully it’ll prove amusing, unique, and most importantly fun.

And maybe by NEXT week, I’ll be able to play the whole thing from start to finish, and see it as a whole. I’m kinda terrified.

Filed Under: Frayed Knights - Comments: 9 Comments to Read

  • Brian 'Psychochild' Green said,

    I gave you grief in a personal message yesterday, but I really am looking forward to your game. I love the old-school games like this. Luckily, I’m patient. 🙂

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I laughed out loud when I got the message, but forgot to reply.

    My patience expired when I realized I’ve been officially working on this game for more than three years. TOO LONG. Either I’m too slow, too stupid, too lazy, or I shouldn’t have picked such a massive project in the first place (which would also be stupid). But now I’m also too committed to quit. I just need to put it to bed.

  • Thomas said,

    RPG’s *are* massive projects. You are building an entire world, with history, and weaving a story into it. I seriously cannot think of any other genre of game that requires as much work to produce as an RPG.

    Keep it up! I am anxiously waiting to play!

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    As long as you keep up a constant tirade of snarky conversations and humor like you did in the pilot, decades old tech won’t bother me.

    I don’t know how seriously you are taking the story in Frayed Knights, but from the pilot I got the impression of a Knights of the Dinner Table-style lampooning of old school RPGs, and that is what got me excited about the game.

    I’ve played enough straight-faced traditional fantasy RPGs. Your game with its genre savvy and trope snarking protagonists looks like it could be a breath of fresh air.

  • Kimari said,

    I have to confess that the only thing that actually worries me about Frayed Knights is the interface, especially the wheel thingy on the lower-right corner of the screen… it looks cool … but that’s the nicest thing I can say about it.
    The main source of my worries is that I’m not sure if that’s the final design or not. I know that interfaces are one of the things programmers (in this case, you) absolutely hate to do. Changing the whole interface is probably like being kicked in the family jewels repeatedly for an hour. So I kind of feel like a jerk for even mentioning this …
    But oh well, I can’t keep my mouth shut. I don’t want to stay silent until the first episode of Frayed Knights comes out and nothing can be done about it.
    I think I’ve mentioned it before, but a bad interface can make a good game unplayable for me. For example, I refuse to play Mass Effect 1 just because, you guessed it, the interface is garbage.

  • Bad Sector said,

    I echo the interface questions although from a different perspective: how is the HUD going to scale for widescreen? All my computers are widescreen and stretching looks bad. Also can we have the background sheets (papyruses?) as optional? Please? 😛

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Bad Sector – My main system is widescreen, too. Though I usually play the game in a window. Rest assured, you’ve commented on it before (or if it wasn’t you, someone else had the same concern), and it’s on my list of things to address. No promises, but it’s definitely on the list. Fortunately, you know the guy to complain to 🙂

    Kimari – the amulet-style interface to the right is mainly for newbies. I almost never touch it… I use the hotkeys instead.

  • Ville Mönkkönen said,

    I’ve been working on my own RPG Driftmoon for five years straight, so I feel for you. Personally I think Frayed Knights looks great, and I’m sure you can tie it together nicely. Keep the flag up! And start thinking about expansions, now that you’ve got the tech ready… 😉

  • Xenovore said,

    @ Kimari:

    Can you provide more detail about your concerns? I mean, what exactly is it that “worries” you?