Though it seems I am trapped between perpetual life interruptions, I nevertheless feel like all paths of worthwhile free time investment lead to game development.
The primary reason being that I'm a nearly perpetually unsatisfied gamer. The deeply-engrained gamer identity means that is what I'll do. However, in virtually every game I play, I feel it ought to be better. This ultimately comes down to a relatively selfish truth: I want the game to better suit what I want it to be. Well, there's only one way to assure that's the case: make it myself. Thus, undergoing game development is required.
But what to make? Heck, I can hardly make up my mind here, but I keep returning to the idea of a virtual world. If you look back at the games I've been playing, they are simply as close as I've been able to get to this concept without going through the perspiration of doing it myself.
- Minecraft, heavily modded, almost brings a purpose to the game, but each veteran mod definitely elevates its functionality.
- Elite: Dangerous, because it is immersive, and it is in an unlimited scope universe... pity precious little is done with that space, but a feeling of "being there" is essential.
- Space Engineers, with excellent logistics, physics, and overall building model... although it still lacks an inherent goal.
- Starbound and Interstellaria... Chucklefish has published two excellent near misses to my dream game, bless them.
- Roguelikes like Cataclysm:Dark Days Ahead and Caves of Qud, for marrying procedurally generated open worlds to inherent freedom and ambitiously deep game mechanics.
In a way, I've been only playing one game all this time. It's something in between all of the above, but it doesn't exist yet. This is because only I will be the one to make it exactly the way I'd make it.
Unfortunately, it's been frustratingly hard to nail down the specifics. The most important specific of all, the core experience, dances with my fickleness:
- Should I focus more on a single player character, or several? Will it be primarily a roleplaying game or will it lean more into a city builder? Maybe the Dwarf Fortress answer, and have both?
- Dare I attempt 3D, or would 2D be immersive enough while also being more approachable from both a design standpoint and player accessibility standpoint?
All answers valid, but none are perfectly correct. In a way, my perfectionism is my worst impediment to my progress.
Well, I'm going to go back to trying to split my free time into at least half of it being spent doing something game development related, even if I have to use a life hack to do it.