Hey, everyone! I’m back from the dead. Ta-daaaaa.
All right, I've got some explaining to do. After so much hard work on a game from winter to the laaaaast day of summer of my junior year of high school, I published this game in a frenzy. I poured my life into this thing, learning tons of new stuff while constantly fighting GameMaker at every turn. I fed off this wonderful new knowledge. But with knowledge of the good came knowledge of the bad. GameMaker:Studio was still pretty new at that point, and I struggled to fight the networking bugs, constantly tempted to return to an old networking extension I was more comfortable with.
When August 7th rolled around, I knew I had run out of time. There was no fighting it. I entered senior year with the pressure of a schedule of nearly exclusively AP classes. I held office in Student Council. I needed to finalize details for college. Things would get busy, and I decided I’d leave my game as it is.
In one of my classes, I played my game with nearly the whole class so often. We had so much fun! Amidst the exploding robot pixels, however, lurked the darkness of bugs and crashes. I was afraid of what I had made, so I left it. Over the next few years, I kept thinking about my creation, how I loved it, yet I ignored the need to return to it. I did other things like getting good at Super Smash Bros.(!!) instead of coding this happy little game. I daydreamed of the glory of getting the game on Steam and getting a server list, ignoring the fact that this would require actually updating the game!
Fast forward to this semester. Here I am, drowning in homework and responsibilities with campus ministries, team projects, and strong relationships to maintain. Phew. Ain’t no way I’m gonna do any game dev. Then, out of nowhere, on September 9th, I get a message from a guy in Canada I’ve never heard of. He tells me he and his business partner own a company called PlayerOneArcade.com. They create and sell constructible arcade cabinets. Since he doesn’t want to put big-name licensed games with plumbers and whatnot on his arcades, he puts indie games on them. He asks if he can put my game on his arcades! What a great opportunity!
He tells me all he needs me to do is add keyboard support for the menu. All kinds of doubts and fears rush through my head, immediately clouding the pictures of joy and excitement about sharing my game with the world. This is great, but I’m afraid of what I’ll find. Bugs. Crashes. GameMaker. I can’t bear to spread the game to this avenue without fixing all the ew. Will I be able to overcome the issues I faced previously using my newly acquired knowledge?
I nervously accept the challenge (because school has been painfully busy this semester as previously described). I honestly don’t think it will be possible. At least, not any time soon. Then, midterms roll around and my Technical Writing teacher (who has been giving me by far the most grief this whole semester) sends out a midterm survey. Of course, everyone in the class says there is way too much stinkin’ homework. I expected nothing to come of it.
The next day in class, my teacher announces that she removed practically all the busywork for the rest of the semester! Sighs of relief and many tears (ok, maybe not tears) go around the room, and I celebrate inside. I know I can update RetroBots with this newly found time! I excitedly get started on the menu over fall break in early October.
To my despair, I find RetroBots in a much worse state than I remembered, and I apologize for that. Close to four years of painful menu bugs and a few game-breaking crashes hurt me deeply. I hope you can all forgive me for this silent, glitchy time.
I realize quickly that I bit off a bite way bigger than I could chew. I realize the buttons would take time to map to keyboard as I had never done anything like it. As I mentioned previously, I know I can’t just give this guy the buggy thing my game is, so I need to fix the bugs. Plus, I really want to make some sort of split screen because the arcade is 2-player. The arcade guy tells me he would like to have my game by early November for a new arcade announcement. Ok, maybe I can do this. Just under a month.
As I start to look through my code at various parts, I realize and come to appreciate how much I have learned here in college. I won’t go into detail on how poorly structured my code is. Hehe. I also look into a game-crashing GameMaker networking bug that existed back in the day. It turns out they fixed it! I am truly ecstatic. GameMaker and I get along quite a lot better since these nearly four years fixed a lot of problems it had. It makes me happy that they’ve done such a great job with fixing bugs. There are new bugs, but that’s ok. I’m happy they’re doing something about it!
Progress is slow for a long time. I feel like I’m not getting anywhere since menu controls look like a pretty small addition. Discouragement is an arm’s length away. A second round of midterm tests kills progress for a long time. Then I land at the end of October. I’ve got little time left and a huge to-do list. Oh well. Here come the late nights.
I start getting things moving along! I feel like things are actually happening! I finish up the menu controls and start testing with people! Things get exciting really quickly. However, I still don’t have enough time. I ask the arcade guy if he has a final date on the big event. November 12. Not good for me. I signed up to be a programming advisor for a game jam on campus that weekend. Too bad! There is no way I’m giving up now. I’m so close.
The final weekend hits, and I don’t feel too bad about progress. I play test with a friend, and the game doesn’t crash! I’m pretty excited. I still have stuff to do, though! I distractedly program throughout the game jam, making slow but sure progress. I’m set up perfectly to finish in time.
Saturday night rolls around. I just have a few things left to do. Fix some hangups with trying to connect to stuff. Balance changes. Graphical glitch fixes. It’s all coming together! This is it. The final countdown. I try so hard to focus and work on the game to nail it down, but the other advisors are watching some weird, funny anime about a bee and some kind of cat-dog ;) By about 12:30 AM Sunday, I don’t get the graphical glitches fixed, but I’m pretty happy. I ask the others if they want to test the game with me! Three others get on their computers and try to connect. Dead air. No one can connect. Oh, man. I must have messed something up when fixing the connection problems.
I rush home and slam some code out, vigorously trying to fix the problem. I get something taped together haphazardly and send it to the arcade guy at 2AM Sunday morning. This feels like the high school buggy release part 2.
The next day, the arcade guy tests the game out. Something goes wrong, but he doesn’t have time to figure it out. He goes on with the event, and I’m a bit sad. Really, though, I’m actually rather glad he didn’t put it on that night. We hadn’t worked on it together to make sure everything worked properly yet, so I don’t think it would have gone well. Plus it’s still a bit messy.
This week, we’re getting it ready for an arcade convention. Things are moving forward. I’m excited about its current state as the first arcade edition. Hopefully, he’ll put new versions on the arcade as I develop, but I’m not counting on it. The game is much better now, and I’m happy.
Overall, it has been great to get back into programming RetroBots Online, and it has also been awesome to coordinate with PlayerOneArcade. I’m really glad to be back, and I hope to keep working until RetroBots is amazing!
Soon, you’ll see another devlog about the coming update! I’ll make sure I’ve made the changes I want to see in this update and send it out to the world.
On another note, I tried to hammer out a little game in the last hour of the game jam! I’ve been working on it here and there since this weekend, and I’ll hopefully put it out there sooner or later. It’s nothing to write home about—just a flappy game (I’ve never done one, and my idea fit the theme well enough. I figured I needed to do one at some point, so why not now when it’s no longer crazy overused? ;D)
I really appreciate that you spent so much time to read this. That brightens my day. I appreciate you and your support so much.
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