So I’ve started playing GearHead2. In certain ways, GH2 is much more advanced than GH1. In other ways, it’s a giant mess.
Most of GH2’s problems are the direct result of my not having clear goals. My first intention was for GH2 to encompass the entire GearHead universe, planet by planet. However, instead of deciding at the start what the end state would look like- at minimum, a list of cities and worlds to include- I just meandered around to whatever areas captured my interest.
In addition, I wasted much of my development time on experiments that didn’t pan out. I spent a long time trying to make an OpenGL interface that looked decent; the final SVN commit from Sourceforge removed this. The hidden encounter mechanic turned out to be no fun at all. I really don’t know what to make of the Performance minigame that I added.
This wasted time becomes even more apparent when considering the things that should have been improved. The opening of GH2 is just terrible; the PC is dropped off in an empty house with no narrative intro or anything much to do. The graphics, which I spent an awful lot of time working on, often look worse than those of GH1.
But there’s also a lot of great stuff. NPCs, especially lancemates and arch-enemies, get some actual character development. Many of the locations and challenges are quite interesting. The plot generation is fantastic.
So, here’s what I plan to do:
- Commit to 2D isometric graphics which will be compatible with GH1 and future GearHead projects. That way working on one project will potentially benefit other projects as well.
- Narrow down the focus to this time and place. GH2 takes place in the L5 colonies during the rise of the Red Mask Raiders; their sudden appearance and mysterious origin should drive the major events of the game.
- The game opening needs to set the tone. The spinner colonies need to have a different feel than Earth; more high tech and glamorous. Less Battle Angel, more Tiger and Bunny.
- Polish up what’s there, and get rid of that which doesn’t work.