Yes, we’re still alive!
The the past few months have been quite stressful and busy, with a constant stream of things coming up that required our attention…resulting in us never having the time and/or energy to properly make with the blogging.
To jump straight to the crux of the post: we’ve decided to put Robotology on hold for the immediate future.
We spent the end of 2009 trying to prepare a “vertical slice” of the game in order to meet a grant milestone; this was a rather soul-crushing process of cutting, cutting, and cutting some more, until the game that remained was not the exciting, interesting game we are determined to make. Realizing this made us aware that something was wrong, and that action was needed in order to move us back on track.
Now, obviously some amount of compromise is required in order to actually ship a game, we’re quite aware of the dangers of a “ship when it’s done” mentality and Duke Nukem Forever and all that. Don’t worry, we’re on it.
The problem is that the features we would have had to cut or simplify in order to release the game in the near future are basically the entire list of what we set out to achieve: physics-based locomotion, vector-graphics animation system, powerful and friendly editors. When you remove these, you’re left with yet another physics-based platformer which neither of us was really interested in working on or playing.
The reason for Metanet Software’s existence is to provide a channel through which we can release our work, so that we can be able to make the games we want to make.
Obviously we would love to release a new game every year, or every month, but at the same time we would both prefer to never release another game than to release something we aren’t happy with and don’t love.
As we worked we saw how far we were from realizing the game we had envisioned, and how little time we had left before our deadline, which put us under a lot of stress; a combination of “it’s been so long since we released a game!” and our own impatience at still not being able to play this game we’ve been collectively dreaming of for years.
This stress made it harder to concentrate and work well, which began a feedback loop of more and more stress and less and less good work getting done.
At some point we realized that we don’t have “little time” left, in fact we have our entire lives — maybe we don’t need to kill ourselves to get this done, especially if we’re not going to be happy with the result.
While we were struggling with Robotology through November and December, the proverbial “carrot on the stick” was that once it was completed, we would be able to spend 2010 working on the many small experiments and game ideas that have been accumulating in our “to do” lists over the years.
We decided that instead of trying to press on with Robotology, it would be better for us and for the project if it was put on hold for the time being, allowing us to take a break from it by working on those small projects (one of which is prototyping Office Yeti). Exciting!
The realization that we maybe needed to take a break from Robotology was even more frustrating because of how great everyone else is doing; it seemed as though all of our friends and peers were excelling in 2009 and accelerating into 2010, while we were stuck in a morass. We’re so inspired by the amazing work our friends are doing, and it was difficult to admit we weren’t getting much done with our project. It was indescribably heartbreaking to make the decision to put Robotology on hold: it meant shelving our dream game, and accepting the harsh reality that we had failed, and that we’ve let people down.
Andy Schatz’s recent experience with Monaco, as detailed on his blog, has somewhat reassured us that this is the right decision to make — or at least that it isn’t necessarily a terribly bad course of action to take! Let’s hope
And so, the beginning of 2010 was an extremely low point in the history of Metanet Software, but since then we’ve come to realize that this situation isn’t really so bad: we’ve learned a lot, and have an incredible amount of useful tech which will serve us well in other projects.
Most importantly, once our decision had sunk in, we found that we were excited and inspired, and that we both had a renewed energy toward making games.
We can’t wait to start expanding some of our ideas and experiments over the next few months, which will hopefully result in some new, fun projects. Plus, Robotology isn’t gone for good — now that it’s no longer an albatross, we find ourselves getting excited about it again and wanting to work on some of the remaining problems/challenges. Many of the outstanding tasks, like the level and character editors, were perfectly suited to be stand-alone projects, and we’re looking forward to working on them.
Being able to return to these projects whenever we get an idea or insight rather than having to have solved everything like, yesterday — being free of the constant pressure and stress of getting it finished ASAP — really feels great.
We’ve moved from devastation to hopeful optimism, and we’re on our way to inspiration, so overall, this whole experience might have been more positive than negative — can’t go wrong with that.
Another post about Robotology is in the works, sort of like a post-mortem, although since it’s not dead, maybe it’s more akin to a physical or routine check-up?
Anyway thanks for sticking with us, faithful readers, and stay tuned for more.