Albyon #RemakeJam Post-Mortem

Let's start with a little bit of background. I've had a game in mind for a long time that was distantly based on a game I wrote on the ZX Spectrum many, many years ago (sometime in the late 1980s, I think). So far I've had about three attempts to actually write the game, and they all stalled early on.

When the #RemakeJam came along, I saw this as an ideal way of doing a very simple, very cut-down version of this game, going back to the original and doing only the most basic features. The hope was that this would kick-start the main game and get it out of its permanently-stalled state.

Did it work? 

Yes, it did.

I knew right from the start that even this highly-simplified version of the game would be too big to complete in the available time, but that didn't bother me. Rightly or wrongly I don't see finishing off a game as the goal of game-jams -- I see them more as a place to rapidly try out ideas that you might otherwise not get round to.

I had a plan of action worked out, broken down into neat little tasks that I intended to complete each day (hah!). This started well, but inevitably it fell apart towards the end of the week. There were two reasons for this, one being that some of the later features proved trickier than I thought, and the other that I changed my mind about the nature of the game as I developed it -- originally I was intending something more graphical, rather than the largely text-based UI that I ended up with.

In spite of that, I actually completed most of what I hoped for. The only real problem was that most of the intended features were entirely minimal.  For example, there is food in the game, but I only implemented a single item (pie!), and didn't have a hunger system, which made it rather redundant. I also had a system for interacting with other characters, but only ended up with one interaction (if you talk to a knight they will offer combat training).

What did I end up with?

Well, most importantly, I ended up with a decent, flexible framework for the game. Even if I only had time to implement minimal versions of the features, the framework behind them means that it will not be hard to flesh these out, and indeed to add new features.

I consider this a good result, and am highly pleased with how successful this jam has proved for me.

What next?

I've spent the week since the jam refactoring the existing code (game jams are not compatible with writing decent, well-structure code!) and making the framework even more flexible and extensible.

I'm not going to go back to my original game yet. Instead I'm going to press on with Albyon and turn it into a full and finished game. It will only have a limited subset of all the features that I was planning for the original game, but once it is finished I should have a good starting-point for that game. My intention is that I will get to v1.0 of Albyon, and then stop. I won't add any more features to it, but will only do bug-fixes, and instead will turn my attention to the original game.

At least, that's the plan...

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