claymore gwen

It's now july and we're halfway through the year, so i figured i'd make an update on the state of things and what i'm working on.
First, just pretend i posted this update on the 1st of july, or maybe june 31st if you're feeling generous, and not on the 3rd because i've been procrastinating and playing the elden ring dlc - i have plenty of thoughts about that too, but that's neither here nor there right now.

So, i have been working on a game. I have multiple project ideas going around at different stages of progress, but there is one that i've been trying to focus on first and foremost and that i'm hoping to release before anything else and, hopefully, soon. Like 'in-a-few-months' soon and not 'next-year' soon.
It's a simple 3d exploration game along the lines of LSD Dream Emulator and Yume Nikki, where you can walk around different areas and find a variety of characters and little creatures and other weird vagueries. It is then, of course, also going to be similar to my first game, ROADKILL AGORA, though a bit more ambitious and definitely bigger than the small city cutout of that game.
And while i might say it'll be more ambitious, it'll still have pretty much the same degree of mechanical complexity - there will be no combat, no interactive dialogue systems, nothing like that. It will be, on a fundamental level, about the Vibes.

fairy hot springs
fig. 1 - the Vibes, hopefully

If you played ROADKILL AGORA and expected more interesting and elaborate stuff to follow from me, then i understand how you might be disappointed. I understand because that's how i feel, and the 3 years since AGORA's release weigh heavier on me than anyone else; how i wish i could have finished a game in these 3 years!
There's a few reasons i haven't done much in this time frame, and a couple more reasons why this new game will be another simple exploration game.
For the former, there's a lot of real world stuff that i won't get into, but when it comes to the work itself here's what it came down to:

You've probably heard of Unity's announcement of their runtime fee plan last year and how it's going to affect everyone working with unity, regardless of whether or not it affects their games. The chance of me or my games being affected by this change is miniscule - i'm not expecting to make a million US dollars out of simple exploration games, but it's an EXTREMELY dangerous precedent regardless, and it came after a long, long list of other horrible decisions on unity's part that have only made the engine worse, and only more terrible updates and decisions have followed. So i, just like many, many other indie devs, dropped unity.

Then what? I wasn't going to use Unreal for a multitude of reasons. So it came down to Godot, the little open source engine. To be honest i have a lot of problems with godot, and adapting to it was ROUGH, and still is even now; the fact that i'm very bad at coding certainly doesn't help. But i want to make games, i want to create, and so godot it is.

shelved protagonists
fig. 2 - protagonists from a shelved project. one is a wrapped-up corpse, and one is a wrapped-up not-corpse

The fact that i didn't do almost any real coding for almost 2 years following ROADKILL AGORA's release so i forgot everything that i learned, and having to adapt to a new engine with completely different restrictions and tools, meant that i decided i simply had to go back to basics and what i'm most comfortable with - creating spaces and vibes.
And trust me, i had other plans - i even posted a few images on twitter of characters for a new game that i was working on, and now that game is no more. For now, at least. It grew out of scope, as my ideas tend to do, and it became too complex and overwhelming for me. And the latter there really was the main problem, more so than any complexity - it just felt too overwhelming to even try and figure out how i'd code and implement some relatively simple systems.

And so, for this new game i'm going back to not only what i understand and am capable of doing, but also what i've found i really enjoy - i've been loving just letting myself go dreamy and creating weird little spaces and vibey areas for this game. Working on something simple like this has helped me once again learn that while game development is a very, VERY painful and tiresome endeavor, there i also fun to be found in different sides of the process.
I have a lot of conflicting feelings on ROADKILL AGORA now that i've had all this time to reflect on it, and there's a lot of negativity there. Its development was marked by the extremely tumultuous time of my life when it was developed, and janky as it was, some of the most fun i had with it was when i was able to get creative and build these spaces, both interior and exterior, for it. And i'm glad to now have a much easier, more visually impressive, more skillful, and overall better process for modelling and building spaces which has had me inspired to create even more.

chess palace
fig. 3 - WIP area

I won't say much more about the game itself, after all an exploration game is all about exploring things for yourself and discovering stuff on your own; instead, i'll go over some vague progress metrics. I have a good deal of different maps/areas planned out, and a few of the bigger ones done already. Smaller areas can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on how much i focus on them and how many assets i already have prepared, and it'll only get faster as i make more shaders and scripts that i can then reuse for future areas. That's a generous and optimistic way of looking at it at least.
However, i can't truly say any area is complete yet because there's one thing i'm holding off on for now, and that's characters and other interactables. The current plan is to make most of the areas for the game, and then go over them for a second pass where i'll add all of the NPCs and other interactable elements, since there's still a good deal of work to go when it comes to coding and preparing that side of the game.

I technically started working on this back in february 2024, but it started off very slow, basically with me just modelling some assets here and there. I think work on it has picked up a lot in the last couple of months, though still not to a satisfactory level (again, the elden ring dlc certainly hasn't helped the last couple of weeks...) and i intend to make it my main focus from now on.

So when can you expect the game to be out? Revealing things and preemptively talking about them too much can be dangerous, because it'll only lead to situations like i mentioned before where i showed off characters for "my next game" even though i was extremely early in development, only to shelve it completely. That's why i've been remaining mostly quiet about this. However, i'm making this update post now not only to show that i am actually working on something, but also to light a fire under my ass, and give me an incentive to keep working consistently.

My goal, or my hope, at least, is to release the game before november, so that i'll have it out before ROADKILL AGORA's third anniversary.

I'm unlikely to make another proper update post like this before then, but i've been posting little teases for the game - screenshots, gifs, and videos of areas and character models and so on - on my twitter and will continue to do so in the future, so that's where you can find immediate smaller updates along with whatever other bullshit i'm waffling about on there.
Oh also i ended up forgetting to update the website with the rest of my poems like i promised i would when i opened the website. Oops. I'll get around to it.

I can only continue to make games thanks to Blood Machine's endless patience and help with coding and everything else game engine related.
And once again, thank you to Katey for making this website and helping me whenever i have trouble with html. Check out her new game!!