August 15th, 2004


(no subject)

I just had a disturbing dream - which sells it short, and yet "troubling nightmare" sounds redundant.

The nice bit is that at least I cast my dreams well. The distraught mother in the dream seemed to be played my Molly Parker, who does that kind of role well, if too much.

And it's not even like I was up late watching some "Deadwood" marathon.

Alpha (?)

Really, I could have posted this five or six hours ago. I'm not staying up to write this (it's more like I'm writing this to stay up, but that's a different story).

For the couple of you out there that have been tracking the Switch 2000 development process, you'll be pleased to hear that I think I'll have a super-duper-early-preview version available by Sunday evening. (No matter how you talk about time between midnight and dawn is awkward. Makes me recall college. Sixteen hours from now, anyway.)

I've been showing the game to folks, and they've caught on to the ideas in the game with me as facilitator. I don't think the game's really ready for serious playtesting by casual gamers. But it truly has reached a milestone in its development - the point where the guts of what I had in mind are actually all hooked up.

There are two important processes remaining at this point:

  • design worrying - Mom used to carry a stone in her coat pocket, and she'd rub it with her hand - maybe when she was anxious, maybe not. I just know that the stone that I remember was smooth, a little like it had gone through a rock tumbler.

    In the same way, I need to turn the game design over and over in my head through play and see where the rough spots are, and if there's anything to do about them. The game's simple enough that this isn't a hard thing to get my head around, but at the same time, the game's so simple that it doesn't afford much being added on to it. A friend recently suggested that puzzles string together to help you decode rebuses. I appreciate the suggestion, but that's a very different direction to take the game, and a large design addition.

    I'm not really asking for help with this process - I need to get the game to a point where I am satisfied with it.

  • playtesting - this is where I see help from outside being useful. The game will have matured a certain amount through the worrying phase, above, and it'll be ready for fresh eyes to look at it. There will still be a little bit of tuning and bugfixing to be done, but I don't anticipate new features or major changes in the design by this point.

I'm not really making these up - software projects before mine have had "code complete" dates. "Alpha testing" and "beta testing" are meaningful, despite the abuse that the terms have endured in my career.

So. I've established that the game doesn't really stand on its own yet. I've stated that I'm not really interested in suggestions on how the game could be improved yet. Still, I plan to have a limited version available for download before I go to sleep tonight. This keeps me honest, keeps the pressure on to keep the ball rolling.

If you're interested, drop me some email, I'll send you instructions. The download is likely to be bigger than I intend the final version to be, so you might want to plan your bandwidth use appropriately. (I'm not actually telling you to download it at work....)