In short, when it comes to the Cartridge Classic II, I'm completely stumped, a miserable failure and nothing less. The bottom line is that it's hard enough for me to come to ideological grips with the games I want to make without also limiting myself to 8k of code.
Speaking of the games I want to make, couple days ago I was importing entries from the blog I had largely through 2009, and I was reacquainted with an interesting comment left there by Jesse Schell, the guy who wrote The Art Of Game Design and the lead designer behind Disney's Toontown Online (among other games):
Lately, I've come to believe that art exists before we create it, and our job is just to bring it here. Why? Because we need it to exist, and bringing it here changes us.I saw this, thought about my own net dream and realized that maybe this was actually art that exists before I created it, and it was my job to bring it here. It's an energizing thought.
Pining in that direction yesterday, I set my instant messenger program to hold my calls and reintroduced myself to X3: Terran Conflict.
Egosoft's X series are one of the closest games already made to the one I want to make, but it feels off. The conflict is mostly nonexistent with bouts of instability, the ship balance is set up into tiers that are all but impenetrable to the last, it's a real hassle to outfit several ships, it's offline which is sort of a shame considering there's nobody to show your empire to, and so on.
If you want to realize your own net dream, you have to do it yourself: after all, it's yours alone.
The thought occurred to me today that, if I'm so damn sensitive about balance but unable to bring my own games to completion, maybe what I aught to do is take some existing source code, such as that from Dungeon Master, and tweak it to my satisfaction. In other words, maybe my niche in game development is to tweak finished games, I know I had done some work along these lines for Fallout 3 and Oblivion already.
So I took a look at the Cave Crawler source code once again... and once again was blown away with the incredible amount of work Ginseng put into it. It looks like tweaking this would be no small task, considering what I'd be up to do is a 4.0x skin GUI revamp, complete AI overhaul to introduce more autonomy, and a randomized map so nobody (even the developer) knows what to expect. I might be better off starting with one of my own projects, such as Planetbreakers or Project Shock.
However, I did realize something looking at it: a really good approach for a BYOND game is early Ultima style icons. I had attempted a top-down perspective in Project Shock in order to make it seem more realistic, but realism is a bad call. The iconic approach is nice because it allows for a better avenue of player imagination.
That I'm thinking this way suggests I'm definitely making the transition back to game development, and it begins here: with playing the right kinds of games. In order to properly realize this Space 4X/RPG idea I've been meaning to make, I should probably stick to games like Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft, Space Empires IV/V, and X3: solid Indy games of the right influence.
(I might also want to try shutting down my instant messenger entirely... it seems I'm such a massive introvert that being engaged in the occasional bout of idle conversation saps my energy entirely. That is, if just taking the day off with the instant messenger program not working yesterday while I played X3 made a big difference towards my revival.)