Captain’s Log m5•n1: The Ragged Rascal Ran

John Michael Jones Gets A Life has already launched in the Mad Christian Mondays newsletter, and should be launching tomorrow on Bunny Trail Junction

So I’m working on making sure I crank out at least one finished comic per week, to build and maintain my lead. But just the one. Because eventually, John Michael Jones is going to be inside the game world, and I need to have the game world working by then.

To that end, I’ve been rebuilding Hat Trick, Prelude to Nightmare. And I’m not doing bad. By the end of today or tomorrow, I should have the original minigame completely rebuilt, plus dashing, enemies that fight back, and life, which makes it 5x better.

So that’s my immediate goal. But there’s another goal as well. I’ve entered the GoGodotJam in both Classic and Ultra modes. My hope is to take this engine, but make a completely new game with it that fits whatever themes come up when the jam starts on Thursday.

And by the time I need to produce comics of John Michael and his friends in the game world, I should hopefully have enough built up that I can just steal back and forth between this game engine and the comic.

For most of my life, Link’s Awakening has been my favorite game. But I did love Breath of the Wild when it came out. So when some Redditor mocked up BotW in LA graphics, I thought, “I should make this.”

As maybe I should. But one step at a time, my friend, one step at a time.

My first idea for a stepping stone is/was 8 Lives Left. Just an action arena starring a cat who has been murdered and is out for revenge. I originally started building it in XNA/Monogame, but when the collision detection proved beyond me, I ended up switching to Unity.

That was the year Microsoft and NVidia conspired to kill my laptop for Thanksgiving. Thanks, Microsoft and NVidia! See, there’s a glitch in the latest NVidia driver for that laptop that causes the computer to freeze for a fraction of a second every two seconds. Microsoft says it’s NVidia’s problem, NVidia says it’s MS’s problem, and neither cares because the computer is more than a couple years old. And you can’t just roll back the driver to a version that works because Windows 10 doesn’t let plebs decide what updates they get to have.

I was working retail at the time. Security. Thanksgiving is the new Black Friday. And MS decided because they know better than me that my beefy laptop was to be useless for game programming or animation from that day forward. Needless to say, my opinion of the company went from exasperation to hatred.

I have since replaced the laptop with one that has a nicer graphics card, but a fraction of the other features because I’m not made of money. And I’ve switched to Godot. Because unlike Unity, Godot plays nice with Linux. Yeah!

Last fall. Figured I’d try making a minigame with monchrome (well, technically bichrome. Well, technically octachrome) graphics to teach me the system. That got us here:

But I realized that working in 2D was holding me back. I needed to work in 3D, so I could have platforming without having to fake a Z Axis.

Of course, I wanted to tell stories, and a moments’ thought would tell you that a nice adventure game engine turned into an RPG engine could tell some nice stories…

But building an adventure game when I don’t actually have a story written for it is foolhardy. I need to take a step back. Regain my roots. Maybe make a space shooter..

Although a hand-drawn game could look really nice…

At the end of the day, I really do want to make a hand-drawn game. Really badly. From a marketing perspective, it’s a great idea. I have a distinctive style.

But.. my ideas for 2D sidescrolling games work out to be less good Hollow Knights. Made by one man instead of three, to boot. And if John Michael is going into a video game in my books, it needs to look like a video game. And anyway, I need to pick a project that’s small enough to finish.

Which brings us back around to where we are now. Taking that demo I made in October and remaking it. But the false starts are not for naught. They have taught me a million things. I have better approaches to my various problems.

Tomorrow morning or the next day, when I finish remaking Prelude to Nightmare, it will already be better than the original by far.

And then I’ll turn it into something else.

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