Tuesday, May 3, 2011

ROM Slacker

I think it's about time I game a hack progress report. After three going on four years, my hack project still hasn't progressed past some basic ASM and graphic work. And while I sort of like the work I have done on it so far the last time I think I made any significant progress on my hack was over a year or two ago.

This may change soon. Not to drag my life to much into it, but I am in the process of re-obtaining some equipment which may help me sleep significantly better, although last time I had it I was unable to get used to using it for the required time to satisfy my medical insurance. I could have gone to the sleep clinic again right away but I decided to instead see if I could fix some allergy problems which I felt may be the cause of my struggles with the machine, and also a more pressing matter over all. But, although I think my allergy problems are perhaps slightly better, they are not improving as much as I like, so I decided to go back to the sleep center, and after a bit of hassle, I am approved for a new machine. This MAY help. I am honestly not expecting that much from it. Last time I felt a lot better over all when using it, allergies included, but it's terribly hard to get used to, and I think my allergies may have made a lot of pressure build up. But really, any little bit helps, and if I can stick too it, may feel a whole lot better.

But really, I don't expect it to help my hacking all that much. Even when I am more or less fully awake, I just can't really get in the frame of mind for doing work. I can sit in front of a screen and look at code, but I often box my self into a corner and get frustrated or just don't want to bother doing something hard. Basically everything I do is the easy stuff, but now there is no real easy stuff left I can do without tackling the hard stuff. Level design is even worse because I can't seem to get into a real groove where I know what I want to do with a level all that often. There are times when I have, but they are extremely rare, and I usually just look at the screen utterly lost in what kind of thing I should do. I guess I could start pasting things randomly in the level and working out the details, which is exactly how I designed the OW map, but that kind of level design doesn't really fit the linear gameplay-centric style of Mario-style levels. A lot of my designs I have done have been almost exclusively based on aesthetics and not gameplay, and I am still not exactly sure what kind of gameplay I really want.

Perhaps I should take after some things Homestuck has done and have everything be completely focused on narrative with small game segments to allow the player to get a feel for the world instead of my original plan of having 80%-90% of the game almost entirely plotless. After seeing things that Homestuck has done, I am very tempted to do just that. But I don't really want to do that because I have seen romhacks that had heavy narrative focus, and I hated them. Maybe it was more the way the narrative and gameplay got in the way of each other rather then flowing together as one. And even before I got into Homestuck I was already thinking of things like throwing in overhead RPG segments with RPG boss battles, and other very odd subversions of the expected formula for Mario hacks. At first I thought such things would be pipe dreams, but there are tons and tons of patches and more coming every day that may make even my most crazy ideas fairly easy. I kind of wanted at first to use primarily my own asm, but most of the things I really wanted to do ended up being done by other people. There are still a whole bunch of things that would be tricky to do, like Homestuck's elaborate [s] animations, but even that is not impossible, as things like MPU-1 or even a series of stim images can work almost as well. The problem would be doing the art. If you couldn't tell from my pictographs, I kinda suck at art. But I am better at pixel art I guess.

Either way, I long ago set a deadline for myself for this project. That deadline is December 21, 2012. I thought it was a fitting date for a reevaluation of my life either way. And thats only about a year and a half away. Now a lot can happen in that time, and if I really make progress on my hack, I will continue it until it's done regardless.

If not well, there are a few other things I want to work on some day as well. Before I got into romhacking, I was working a bit on a metroidvania game about magical girls and H.P Lovecraft. Yeah, what a combination eh? And despite what you may think I promise I was not going to involve naughty tentacles ... that much. Regardless I still sort of like the idea, and I still have the old techdemo I wrote for verge with it in mind.

I also still have thoughts about doing something with zdoom (which I already wrote about a while ago) One of the people I hang around with on the net sometimes has gotten into zdoom stuff lately, and we both had a similar idea to do a sort of Yume Nikki or L.S.D. Dream Emulator inspired surreal horror thing with it. However I am unable to get Doom Builder to work on linux (though wine or virtual box) and he is very new to level editing and stuff. I think if I am unable to get myself to work on my hack in the near future I may end up working on one of these two things instead. I have tried to avoid any other project that would distract from my hack too much, but at this point I don't think it matters.

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