As of the time being, I've put development of The Cluster on hold indefinitely.
BurdensAfter having worked on the game for more than ten years (!) I finally came to the conclusion that the overall design and constraints in the game is making it very hard for me to finish it, while also holding me back from trying out a lot of otherwise interesting ideas.
- The game is procedural and the same every time you play, which makes it super important to guarantee you can't get stuck.
- There is gravity and no ability to fly, which means you will get stuck unless the algorithms are carefully designed to make it impossible. It has to be more or less mathematically provable.
- The AI enemies can follow you practically everywhere, which means every obstacle needs to be coded to also be usable by AI.
- The world is constructed from a rather large-scale grid which makes things like large ramps and hills impossible (just a bit boring).
- The third-person perspective require art and animation resources for avatar and enemies.
- The side-scrolling format makes it hard to wordlessly attract the player to interesting things in the far distance, because only the immediate environment can be seen. This creates more of a reliance on maps and narratives to explain the reasoning for seeking out those far away things, and that plays against the procedural nature of the game.
Focusing on my strengthsI've switched focus to working on projects that I hope both play more to my strengths, and should be possible to pull off in a shorter time frame.
- First-person perspective without jumping, so no fiddly physics.
- No humanoid characters, which decreases the demands for art, animation and "behaviors".
- No ambition of a story (some of my favorite games don't have one anyway).
The good news is that the time has not been entirely wasted. For one, I've learned a LOT. And for another I've developed several pieces of substantive tech that are fully reusable in my future projects.
Speaking of future projects, I'm working on a few already.
One is The Big Forest, though I'm not actively working on it right now. The focus here is to create nice, interesting and varied environments with very simple gameplay on top. I want it to me my own favorite walking simulator. In its current early stage it's already one of the best virtual forest experiences I've had.
The project I'm actively working on is a VR game for Vive that I've tweeted a little bit about and will soon announce properly here on the blog.
Stay tuned!Added a torch to my #htcvive #VR Temple game. Instantly more moody! #screenshotsaturday #gamedev pic.twitter.com/LQDL9aF0el— Rune Skovbo Johansen (@runevision) August 13, 2016