While developing a game, there is a low level unease that is not unlike a tooth ache or an ingrown toenail. Is the concept as brilliant as you think it is? Is someone else out there working on the same idea, but better? Is the market going to turn and the platform you are releasing it on, or the game genre becoming passe? It is a paranoia that drives you to release your game. It also makes you feel like you are crazy. Every moment that you are not working on your game is a moment where one of those factors you think might happen could happen.
I was looking at the app hub forums this week in the “rate my screenshot” thread and someone posted a screen that looked exactly like the concept I am developing. It was a re-appropriation of standard sign graphics. GASP! That guy got here first. I checked his profile. Googled for his game studio, which I know is nothing more than his mom’s basement (this is an XBLIG game remember). This guy hasn’t released a single game. He has 3 games “in development.” He has no trailers and the screens he is showing are nothing more than that. Screens. I think I am safe. I guess he has more than I do. But, I told myself: “his game isn’t a smart reinterpretation of the data driven, omniscient, and paranoid existentialism that is 21st century.”
I really need to get this game out before someone does that though.
Last night I saw True Grit. One of the trailers was of a new Jake Gyllenhaal movie about a guy who must re-live the same 8 minutes until he can stop a disaster. That is my game. Except my game has you re-live 10 minutes. Granted, it is a differnt medium. But if that movie sucks, which I am sure it will, it could spill over into whatever I release. I can see in my mind the snarky forum headlines already being typed out: “LOLz this game is just like that sucky Gyllenhaal POS.” Hopefully I can get this game out before that movie is released to prove that my brilliant idea had a parrallel eveolution.
What is worse is that I feel like I am moving backwards in development. I spent the entire weekend trying to get my code base to work in a data-driven model using XML. But in XNA-based games that must be exported to the XBOX, the XML is held together with tape. Every time I moved my project I got stray errors about my namespace this and undetermined methods that. I made the decision to scrap the right way to do it in favor of the most practical way to do it. The game’s sprawling NPC schedule will be programmed in hard-coded instance data. Maybe later I can try out the XML and correct way of doing it. But for now, I must get something out before some other “black swan” comes in and steals my wonderful concepts away.