Working on a Zelda Clone, Part 30

Not too much accomplished in the last few days.

Where to go from here
I’ve gotten a lot of the basic framework done. A lot of internal stuff still needs to be improved or redone, but the basic stuff is there. The problem is that none of that work is fun, and even with the current framework in, there’s only so much I can do to make different dungeons fun and engaging. I don’t have real shutter doors working yet, I don’t have keys/locked doors working yet, or anything else like that. I still need to introduce some puzzle elements too.

Complexity
I have maps and rooms working pretty well, I can customize each room a lot and create some interesting spaces. The problem is that the XML format is unwieldy to work in, and I don’t want to write alllll the NPC text and alllll the scripting in XML format. I’ve tried to make a converter that’ll take simple text files and poop out the proper XML translation, but even then the text files are overly complicated. I need to create a parser along the lines of CCScript for EarthBound hackers, but that just adds more complexity and unfun work.

Map editing
I stepped away from the map editor a couple weeks ago because I finally got it to do the bare minimum of work and because it was so stressful and taking fun away from the project. But at some point I needed to go back to it, and I did that over the last few days. I really, really, really hate Windows programming. So much frustration. After a lot of stress, I decided to pare down my idea for making the map editor fancy like the EarthBound Map Editor was and just make it do the bare bones stuff.

This means that I have to do all the room/object/npc/door/hotspot editing manually, by hand, without seeing where anything goes until I play it in the game. But at least I don’t have to do Windows programming.

Game
At this point I’m feeling stressed out because I just want to get to making the game itself, but getting sidetracked with map editors that would take me months to make (and don’t want to make) is frustrating.

I think what I’m going to do is this – lay out all the dungeons (or at least just the important rooms of the dungeons), hook them each up to a test overworld screen with doors for each one, then set up all the key events in the game. That way, the core of the game is in place and you can play through the game in like 5 minutes. After that, I’ll slowly expand everything out from there, giving the dungeons more rooms and details.

Once done with that, I’ll get to expanding the overworld. And after that I’ll work on the NPCs.

That sounds like a good plan, but I still need to implement many of the various weapons, menu systems, things like that at some point too. And come up with a system to make NPC editing easier.

Thoughts
The main point of this project is that it be fun for me. There’ll obviously be frustrating and stressful points, but I need to avoid getting stuck there for too long or I’ll lose motivation and momentum. I can’t spend a month or two on a fancy map editor, it’d kill the project in a week, I’m sure of it. My main worry at this particular moment is that I’ll slowly give up and all this hard work will be for nothing. If it was a crappy program that didn’t have potential I wouldn’t care, but I really feel like I got something going on here. More than anything, I know I can create some interesting writing and characters that other gamers would enjoy.

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