Once Rasternauts was done, I doddled about for the rest of the year. Hey, it’d taken nearly four years of my time (it’s not easy to tell at first glance) so I figured I deserved a rest. I did pick up a book, Programming Game AI By Example, and tried implementing a few things within that worked kinda well such as path finding, but never had much energy or will to push through and get a new game underway. Free time pretty much died out once October kicked in and study resumed, so the end of the year was probably best marked by flying a ship around in Elite Dangerous and marvelling at the little specks of starlight. They’re just as pretty as in Rasternauts.
This year, then, I want to get stuck into something new. Tom Francis, the creator of the rather spiffingly good Gunpoint, has started a tutorial on GameMaker, and I figured that’d be a fun way to play around with things without having to spend evenings and weekends looking at the same Visual Studio windows that make up the majority of my day job. His tutorials are geared towards the non-programmer, to the point that he clearly states it’s about getting things done rather than necessarily getting them right, but that’s absolutely fine for me – it makes for an engaging introduction to the environment from someone who’s already seen success from it.
And at the very least, it should speed up some of the experimentation, even if it doesn’t end up being something I use to produce a final game. I haven’t quite decided what I’ll be making, but it’ll be interesting to see how easy it is to apply the AI concepts I’ve been learning about to GameMaker’s own scripting language, for example. I decided soon after making Rasternauts that I’d shift focus to systems rather than hands-on design, so it’ll form a nice little testbed for things like procedural level generation, AI, and so forth.
Anyhow, it’s high time I got stuck into a new project, so I’m going to commit to making more regular posts here to chart the progress of anything I do. If I can have something more concrete in mind by the summer, I think I’d be pretty happy with that. So let’s see!