Day 6 of the 7DRL

Well, Day 6 is here and nearly over now! The game is starting to come together a bit and although it’s still completely luck-based it’s at least a bit more enjoyable than before. However, I think at this point in time I can safely say I won’t be reaching my initial vision for the game (or even the second, third, or fourth visions.) Still my enjoyment of working on it is high and I’ll have something playable by the end of tomorrow. I plan to release all the source code up to the end of the 7 days once I’m done with it although I may work further on it afterwards. Seeing as I’m declaring this an early “failed” game, I decided I should write a bit of what I’ve learned from this experience.

Lessons Learned

  • Developing a complex menu-driven interface is NOT easier than making a “traditional” roguelike.
  • Having everything be text based means lots of time is spent making sure that details of every action are spelled out with proper grammar. This takes a lot of time and code.
  • RPG mechanics are quite hard to balance! Most games I’ve made before this were either simple arcade games or platformers where I can clearly see what is happening and adjust it easily. Not so with an RPG.
  • Don’t use ncurses / pdcurses. Just don’t. There are better libraries out there that will save you a ton of time and are a lot more modern.
  • Don’t attempt to use a language which you are not INTIMATE with. I spent nearly half the time reading the python documentation and stack overflow for help figuring out how to do simple things.
  • Don’t worry about code readability (especially if using Python.) To be fair, however, about halfway through I realized I likely wouldn’t finish the project in time so I started commenting the code much more in case I decide to take a break from working on it after the event is over.
  • Don’t start playing Skyrim again “just to see if it’s still any fun.” Yeah, I lost all of Day 4 to that one.

This is actually my third “rapid development” event as I’ve competed in LudumDare twice. For both of those games I took a much smaller scope seeing as I had only 48 hours (and not 48 hours of my choosing) to create the game. Whenever I read about the 7drl I assumed I could take on something with 4x the scope of one my past entries. In reality, I probably could have completed something around 2x the scope of my past efforts. I love these types of events, however, because they really allow you to be discerning when it comes to programming ideas in terms of “how much time” something may take. I find that to be an invaluable skill.

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