A Fence for Dreams

The alarm clock blares its default jingle for 6 AM. After a small breakfast, I find that I have some extra time to myself and watch Russell Brand's last Trews video on YouTube. He claims he will return after some time, but I sit wondering how to replace this hole in my routine.

Soon, I am in the car and heading to my destination. My old phone pumps audio goodness into my car speakers and my morning drive is colored by a rising sun and a heavy metal stew - White Zombie, Bathory, and Disturbed. At a red light, I hear a startling rattle from the engine. I sigh. The ups and downs I experience in the span of one hour remind me that I wrestle with ups and downs every time I sit down to write or code.

Yesterday, I finished up some work on our current mobile endeavor, Pachinko Slaughterhouse. I dropped in some tutorials, changed around some numbers and the next play felt tighter, more polished. The day before that, a play-tester showed me I had not done a solid job explaining a mechanic in-game. To add, I noticed typos in the script and a magical oversight that lead to an instant win condition. I briefly considered leaving it in as a feature, but that nagging designer inside told me I had better fix it.

Back to yesterday. Feeling that I tightened up my portion of the work for our future presentation (see you guys at Playcrafting, August 27th!), I move on to other work on an unannounced dream project. I have been working on design for the better part of a year, and the moment struck me to continue with some implementation. After a short period, I become stuck, knowing I need a second or third pair of eyes in Unity with me.

Our focus, however, is on Pachinko Slaughterhouse. So I pull a standard artist maneuver. I move on to a different aspect of the project. In an hour or two, Chrome shows more than twenty forum posts asking for the best way to create orbiting planets. Or fake it well enough to simulate the motion. Eventually, it comes together. I have created fourteen blank orbs rotating around a center point, each at different speeds and with their own rotation period marking a day.

Between writing and coding, I take this approach on a daily basis. If you are an artist like me, you know how difficult it is to focus on a single project when a dozen worlds attempt to occupy your mind. But their is a silver lining to jumping between projects: I find as I am working in my dream project I discover a new approach to my code already implemented in our full-scale RPG, Buried Bones. I am eager to return to it and change some things around.

By the afternoon, say 2 PM, I shift work to another aspect of my dream project. This time, small scripts that chip away at the design document, the dream project's bible. The real truth is as follows: World-building feels like the greatest thing when you are at the conceptual stage. Characters and environments live and die. They shrink or engross larger segments, changing shape like a fluid liquid.

And building the actual game is a bit like driving nails into that liquid. It constantly seeks to move away from you, but you have to build a fence around it to contain the shifting idea and turn it into a somewhat controlled shape. But instead of all at once, you build in segments.

I have drifted off a bit into analogy, but my point remains that the actual work of creating the software kind of kills some of the dream you have for that project. You start to realize that when it's time to actually build the thing instead of dream of it, that fence isn't so easy to drive into the earth. Then you wonder if the materials are good enough.

But when it comes together like Pachinko Slaughterhouse has, you become excited again to show that you were able to do it.

The Among Elusions team is excited to have you see it. Please join us on Thursday, August 27th for our debut of Pachinko Slaughterhouse. We are positive you will want to take some time to play it yourself.

- Johnny Toxin