Anniversary Development Progress Report, week 52

Week 52. How did we even get here?

I’ve not worked on Argus and SNAFU every week since I started the project, so it has technically been a bit longer, but there have been 52 weeks now that I’ve put in at least one hour’s work in a given week.

The number of hours in any given week have been a bit variable. As little as one and as many as 40 or so, but usually trending towards the low-end (especially early on). The median is probably about ten hours.

I had sincerely hoped that by the time I wrote this post, I’d have finished refactoring the narrative, done the visual-effects refit, and finished the subsequent edit-and-polish, but no.

I’ve been working backwards through the narrative on this, and the job is just not yet done. All the scenes from scene 300 onwards have been done, and I’m working my way through the 200s now (about halfway through those).

It’s painstaking work. The syntax of the story source is not just a revision or two out-of-date. It’s like 20 revisions out of date, and needs to be modernised so that I can get all the benefits of the new syntax. The overall syntax has stabilised so a mammoth rework like this isn’t going to have to happen again (with any luck at all). That’s good.

One that’s done, I might be able to spend some more time producing an authoring tool for stories, which would be an improvement over just a text-editor.

Still, 52 weeks. Wow.

In week 0, a partner and I were walking on a beach in Apollo Bay, just talking out notions, and brainstorming.

In week 1, it was just a set of ideas in a simple text-file, comprising a prototype grammar that I thought might be workable.

In week 2, I’d revised that a dozen times and had a simple interpreter that could read and process some of the simpler constructs.

In week 4, I had a small windows application, lacking any traces modernity, written against the old-school GDI32 API.

After that, it started to get exciting. Around this time last year, in development week 12, I wrote the first weekly devblog entry for it, shortly after the first alpha-demo builds rolled out.

Now the whole thing runs on SDL, and on two platforms (Windows 64 and Linux 64), and looks a good deal more modern. There’s a quarter million words of narrative, in umpty-thousand variations, and no kind of conventional narrative diagram gives you any useful overview of how it all hangs together, varies, and branches.

I may have to invent something new. I’ve had to invent and implement a lot of new things for this project already. What’s a few more?

I’m surprised to be here. I’m surprised to still be powering along.

I’m surprised to be feeling more motivated now than I have at other times during those 52 weeks.

I’m even somewhat surprised to be back in game-development.

Indie game-development was, in a sense, my first career choice, way back when, when electronic games could only really be practically developed by soldering transistors together, and the idea of having a generalised CPU involved was still FutureTech. Before there even really were electronic games. When computers came within reach, I made seven games, and sold them.

And it seems, I’ve come full-circle again, having done almost everything else at one time or another, in between.

I don’t know how long this game will take to finish, and the specs have changed a dozen times or more, but if there’s any kind of a lesson here, it’s “don’t stop.”

However much or little work you can manage to put in on your game, just keep plugging away and you’ll keep making progress.

Happy anniversary, Argus and SNAFU. Maybe you’ll be done by the next one. Maybe you won’t be, but I’ll just keep on with you until you’re done. Whenever that is.