September 28, 2007

Scheduled Mac downtime; more 4E6 musings

It probably wasn’t the smartest move to read the 4E6 elements at 1 a.m. this morning. I must have had ponies and accountants and pony accountants running through my brain for the last 15 hours. Consequently my productivity wasn’t the best in terms of research output. But then again, it’s Friday in front of a long weekend, so it’s not like that was unexpected.

I’ve just learnt from the local Apple store that the replacement screen for my MacBook Pro is almost ready, so they can fix my pixel damaged screen next week. That’s pretty good news; I wasn’t sure if it was damaged enough for them to replace with nine to a dozen dead pixels. It’s mainly an irritant than something totally dehabilitating to work, although the cluster on the end is a pain, and it’s annoying when I try to lean in to look at something closely, which happens now and again when you work in computer vision and with art. But I’m pleased with their customer service, and it makes me more likely to buy a Mac Pro as my next desktop replacement so it’ll be a win for them in the long run too.

This means that I’ll be Mac-less for much of next week, so I won’t be doing much work directly with Flash. As a consequence I might move my long weekend tasks of updating the website back to the middle of next week, as I can do that on my ol’ Windows box. I’ll also look into other things I can do without my main software tools, like designing some ActionScript classes, writing some articles or maybe a bit of C++ programming.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been spending (too much) of today musing about 4E6. If you’re interested in following the contest you can consider me as joining in this year, at least for now. I don’t know how far I can go before the time pressures get too great, but it’ll be a fun academic exercise in game design.

This year 4E6 contestants can choose three of the four elements to include, or to put it another way they can throw one out. In the early stages it’s a nice exercise to figure out which elements suit your design style the best.

For me, it’s pretty much a given that whatever I end up making will be cute and/or retro - pretty much all my game ideas fall into one of those categories; that’s my niche. I’m also committed to using Flash this year; I’m considering this as part of my Flash game development strategy. This means 2D, vectorised graphics, possibly web based, mouse based control preferred.

With that in mind, it’s pretty clear to me that “ponies” and “crystals” should be in the game; that’s prime cute material right there. The two can pretty easily work together in a number of ways, too. The question then is which out of “accountants” and “explosions” do I have as the third, or whether I include both.

I’ve got a few ideas for those two elements, although I’ll need to brainstorm them up a bit more with a clearer head. I’m hoping I can factor in accounting as some kind of financial management side to a game, and explosions can easily fit in as a special effect if they aren’t too much of the violent kind. It probably won’t be too difficult to factor in both of these after all.

Lots to consider though - still very early in the game development process, but there’s also a lot of Flash learning to go before I can make something sizeable enough for a contest piece. Stay posted.

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