That's what Julius (our main programmer) told me a couple of weeks ago during one of our weekly meetings. Turns out he's got a job offer, which is good. But it requires that he move to New Zealand, which is bad. Of course we'll still be able to keep working on Party Animals online but there's something different about meeting and working together in person, and it sucks especially now that we seem to have finally gotten into a bit of a groove. Julius' leaving is the final nail in the coffin of our short-lived attempt to get funding for Party Animals to work on it full time. There was a moment when both Tristan (our main game designer) and Julius had lost their jobs and the opportunity seemed ripe to get some funding. It actually got closer than I ever imagined, but for a variety of reasons it didn't pan out. In many ways that's given ma a clarity about the project that I didn't have before. It's gonna take a lot longer than we thought, and that's okay.
A month ago I got the guys together to ask how they were feeling about the project. I was personally feeling some burnout, and I think we all were as well. Lots of highs and lows and the almost but not quite funding inevitably takes its toll. Tristan was unsure about whether the game had found its fun factor, and with the no looming deadlines in front of us we decided it would make sense to go back to some good old fashioned paper prototyping. Guys, I have something to share with you. Paper prototyping is fun! Anyone who's never done it before should definitely consider putting together a paper prototype before launching into code or art. Each test gave us more to think about and things we wanted to change about the flow of the game, what mechanics to keep and leave out, etc. There are times when it can feel a little daunting because of the sheer amount of information that needs to be presented in a strategy game, but in a way that's also made our game leaner and better. I think we're getting close to some final decisions on gameplay, which is definitely our goal. Julius will probably be leaving by the end of December so the more things we have fleshed out by then the better.
Maps and UI
Since we're tinkering with the mechanics again it makes no sense for use to start working on those in code, so Julius and I have been hard at work fleshing out the game world by working on some basic stuff like the UI and finalizing the world map, character movements, etc. Even with the UI thigns still change here and there based on what we figure out in our playtests, but ultimately that's just part and parcel of game development. You just have to keep iterating and iterating until you get it right! I'm pretty stoked about this because I'm finally getting to the point where I'm happy with the map, which was a source of a great deal of frustration for me early this month.
In the past couple of months I was far more active on this blog, on facebook, twitter and reddit, trying to generate interest about our game. I wanted to get attention for the game to prove to publishers that there as interest in such a concept, but a huge part of me also needed that assurance for myself. I think that in some ways the development of the game suffered for that but at least I now know that when I put my mind to it I can definitely generate some interest, and I know that there are people love the concept and are eager to play the game. So for the next couple of months I'll be posting updates here only once a month so that we can get more work done on the game!