Happy Birthday Mythlink!
One year ago the first demo for Mythlink was released on Steam (well, kinda...there were some technical difficulties). A lot has happened in the past year and this month's blog will take some time to look back on how far Mythlink has come. At the end we will cover a bit of an updated road map on things to come. I'll save the story of how Mythlink exactly came into being for another day, but let's take a look at the past before we look to the future.
THE PUZZLE ROOM
Ah the puzzle room, still my favorite of the three training rooms. Definitely the most time consuming and difficult part of creating this game. Looking back, I wonder how much would change if I would've started with one of the other rooms instead of the puzzle room. Staying dedicated to working on an individual project is difficult for anyone and I had no experience working in the game engine, much less in a full VR project.
Motivation was definitely a problem at times. I had no real push or reason to continue working on the game and could've quit at any time. There was no Home Point Games, there was no Steam page or monthly blog, just a man and his computer. The puzzle room is easily the most complex of the rooms created and features like the highlighting and predictive placements sometimes took me weeks to finish. In fact, to this day the puzzle room is far and away the most technically demanding part of the entire game.
I suppose I'm so fond of the puzzle room because I pretty firmly believe that I could strip out the puzzle game almost exactly as it is and sell it as a standalone game. That was, of course, the original intent of all of the rooms but sometimes the scope had to be scaled back in order to meet one requirement or another. Shoot, maybe someday I will strip out the puzzle room and sell it as a standalone title for a dollar or two (after adding a fair bit of polish of course). That idea could go far in funding further Mythlink development. Hmmmm....
THE GYM ROOM
The gym room is where things *really* started. At this point the puzzle room has been released into the wild and Mythlink became very "real". Home Point Games had been officially registered with the state, there was a web site, a Steam page, and numerous miscellaneous Mythlink references scattered throughout the web. The monthly blog post was going full force and now I was committed to a project that I had to finish.
I remember having this grand design for all of these parts of the gym room to come together and for the most part it worked out! A couple of un-fun games got dropped during implementation, but most of them have come to life exactly as I envisioned. I'm not sure how "strong" the gym room will make you in real life, but for those who want a challenge could maybe add some weights to the end of their controllers while swinging away at the punching board?
THE SPEED ROOM
Remember when the speed room was called the "dodge" room? That was a sure-fire way to limit your game design! Not sure what I was thinking there, I mean how many unique games focused around just dodging can you really have? Yeah, renaming this room to the speed room was definitely the right call.
This room had the most difficult challenges to design and I'm still on the fence about how happy I am with the current available selection. I believe part of the problem is at this point I was getting pretty decent at knowing how to handle the VR design and programming of the type of games Mythlink was trying to offer. I do think saving this room for last was a good call, as designing challenges that both test a users speed AND account for users having a vast array of different play spaces is something that could only be accomplished with experience and the occasional failure. And shoot, some of these games are pretty darn fun. I'm not gonna claim that playing "Runner" will help you lose weight, but I'm probably the most fit I've been in my entire life. Just sayin'.
I think I've mentioned this in a previous post, but I would like to go back and reevaluate the training rooms. I think at the very least adding another puzzle challenge and taking another look at the speed room would be beneficial to Mythlink as a whole. This obviously won't happen for a long time and is pretty low on the "nice to have" list, but it is there. So maybe look forward to the training room reworks in 2021? ;)
As I evaluate the previously released roadmap here. I notice that overall I've done a pretty good job of forecasting minus a few differences which I'll go over now.
Final Demo Notes
Previously it was stated that the final demo would be released in Q3 and contain a test battle arena that users could play around with. I'm still fairly confident that Q3 will be the release of the demo, but now the contents of the demo will be much better! The major difference here is instead of just being able to fight against the dummy, I'm hoping to provide a full networked experience! This means users will be able to battle against other players in the battle arena in real time. This is an important change to the demo because it's really what makes Mythlink the game that it is. Demo users will still not be able to level up their mythlinks and the mythlink available to battle with will be the placeholders that will likely not be in the final game (like our friend Dino).
Closed Beta Notes
Now that the final demo contains the network infrastructure, the closed beta test will not really be needed. The demo itself will be used to gauge the networking capabilities of the game and make adjustments as necessary. There will, of course, be vast testing with the final mythlinks and their abilities, but the "closed beta" is fairly unnecessary.
Still on schedule for 2019! I'm happy with how everything has come together and the battle system is coming along well. I'm mostly worried about the online portion because that is something I have never done as a programmer and it can really make or break a game. Just going to continue to learn and do my best in this category.
Of course not everything has been roses and sunshine. I still need to find a 3D modeler/animator to help with the creation of the mythlinks. I also still need to find an audio person to help rework the sound of the entire game. Finding people that I trust share my vision and understand where I want to go is quite difficult. Although these gaps could delay the final version of the game that's not necessarily a bad thing. The demo will still offer a taste of what's to come and more time waiting for 3rd party assets means more time for me to polish.
WHEW! So that's where we were and where we are now. Next month we'll get back into some fun stuff and show off a few mythlink battle abilities that are in production! Crack one open for HPG and another successful year, cheers!