Back in college I would gamedev quite heavily (and multitask/skip classes, yet get ahead because gamedev…). At two points I did duo projects. I did the code, the other guy did the design. This worked out splendidly.
What I noticed is the part of me that’s used for design doesn’t work well with the itty gritty smaller steps. I could design, or I could program, but trying to do both would make me suck at either and frustrate me because it was like it took two different types of moods to do them.
Design: you have to be creative, and you have to look ahead. The details matter but the bigger picture has more weight. Everything needs to be cohesive and serve the same theme and atmosphere. At the same time it should be decently creative and new to keep humans intrigued.
Programming: you have to be directed and focused, and you have to stay in the moment for many hours, sometimes days. The bigger picture doesn’t matter, just iron out the details and make the input and output behave as planned. Being creative is overkill; you’re not the first to solve this problem, don’t write your own solution. Consistency is key here; it makes well organised and understandable/readable code, which is much easier to debug.
If you design and program the programming loses its focus, and the design loses its creativity.
The design becomes more organised and less organic, less exciting. I end up redoing it a lot because it just doesn’t have any intrigue to it; why would I play this? I end up focusing on content instead of quality, like content will somehow make the bigger picture pop more. I started sticking things into a predictable box because I am still using my organised brain.
Programming becomes a chaotic slog. If I start re-planning during the programming I stop working and start pulling my hair out. I keep losing track of what I’m doing and designing code rather than prototyping (and fixing it later, should it need it). My brain wants perfection, because I’ve been chiselling that design. But the code isn’t what anyone will see; they just see the end result. It doesn’t matter how creatively I glued everything together or how extensible it is (when nothing is even extending it). I get enveloped in designing instead of actually producing, normally to the point of being overwhelmed and dropping it out of frustration.
And what’s up with that idealisation? Why do I go off and start daydreaming about inconsequential success of various mechanics? It is good to recognise them, but for some reason I hang on to those thoughts. When those thoughts do not come into fruition quickly enough I start feeling disillusioned, even though I haven’t even made or tested them yet.
Maybe doing it on different days. Never worked for me because the idea of the game triggers the design brain in me. I can’t help associating things (is there a way to even stop this?).
Doing it many months down the line. Great, now I’m obsessively trying to remember and at the same time critique the old me.
What about not doing any design? What about just making a screen and asking yourself “what do I want to do right now”?
The experiment in not having a design. I’d decided I would try for something like an asteroid game (which I’ve made before). You are a ship, a Leviathan like the concept found in Farscape or the similar concept of the Reapers in Mass Effect. Basically you are a bio-mechanical, sentient space ship. You are in space, and you can do things.
I’m using pixi.js and it doesn’t have actual SVG support. I love SVG as a concept; it is clean, it is easily convertible to graphics driver use; why pixi doesn’t support it baffles me. There are a handful of third party libraries that you can get that do this, but none of them 100% support SVG, and as always I’m concerned about longevity. For the time being I’m using SVG in native pixi, and it gets converted to a sprite/bitmap and looks blurry up close, cannot have its effect edited, etc. It works for now, but when/if I start doing more complex things (which I want to now, animations would make the game feel tons better) I would need to fix this. On the other hand, if the game feels great without satisfying animations then it would be even better at the end (hopefully I won’t just be acclimated to it…).
PS: SVG is also not like doing pixel art. I’m baffled at the lack of competent tools. I did find one program with good pathing tools, but crap everything else and it cannot import the images back. Great concept as a tech, but appears to be terribly supported.