Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Frayed Knights: I love it when a plan comes together

Posted by Rampant Coyote on March 6, 2015

FK2_Vault1_ss6I never watched “The A Team” when I was a kid. Okay, almost never. I think I saw maybe two full episodes, and bits and pieces. But Hannibal Smith had a catchphrase (80s television characters were full of catchphrases) that I still use to this day – “I love it when a plan comes together.

I spent way too much time with Frayed Knights 2 laying groundwork to avoid some of the problems we experienced with building content in the first game. Maybe too much – I may have spent more time up-front as I’d hoped to save. Especially considering how many steps backwards I found myself taking, realizing I’d gone too far in the wrong direction. I think the first year of development was largely wasted, but at least I learned a lot about Unity in the process.

But as I’m trying to divide my time equally now between code and content (particularly because I can get help on the content side, if I don’t leave them hanging), it’s extremely nice to have all that up-front work done and working. For a lot of the basics of putting together the interactivity of a level, it feels like I’m working with a higher-level toolkit. Where something as simple as a basic door used to take me 2-5 minutes to set up and place in FK1 even when I got the process down pat and in a rhythm, it’s now a matter of about fifteen seconds or so. More complex behaviors take a little longer, but still less than they used to.

This really makes designing environments much less of a chore. In theory (and, so far, in practice as well) what it comes down to is that I get to spend my time focused on more interesting stuff. Complex interactions or unique one-off behaviors. That’s what I love. And hopefully there’ll be more payoffs when we’re getting to the balancing / testing / fixing stage.

I love it when a plan comes together.

I love it when a game comes together. I should have been far better about this from the get-go, because rapid iteration from a playable prototype is really important. But it’s really cool seeing a whole bunch of these pieces finally coming together, working well together (mostly), and although we’re still dealing with a lot of stand-in visuals and stuff… being able to see a game there. This is different from September’s demo, because there were a lot of things we simply had to turn off because we ran out of time and they weren’t working right, or because it would have caused a lot of player confusion.

While the light at the end of the tunnel is still quite a ways off, being able to see it makes all the difference in the world.

Filed Under: Frayed Knights - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • Charles said,

    Funny, very similar things on my end! Except I can say without a doubt that it took me way too long :/

  • Cuthalion said,

    I wonder myself whether all the up-front time I’m putting into things like flexible and configurable control schemes, an in-engine level editor, human-readable file formats (including the ability to define items and such in
    CSV and automatically import), moddable assets, translatable text, and so on will pay off. Or will I wish I had just hard-coded more things, more quickly, and been satisfied that 90% of my users would’ve been fine?

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    It’s a fine line. You try to design stuff up-front, but on a larger projects, there are just so many systems that have to work together. It’s a little crazy.

    In the most embarrassing case – my own dungeon editor tools – it was simply a case of me not really understanding all the third-party tools that were available already. I reinvented the wheel pretty badly. Although again, it wasn’t time completely wasted, as I really got to learn some of the ins and outs of the graphics engine.