Alternatively: How we wasted a month and a half of our lives.
AFROFARG was our first and final foray into the world of Tower Defence games. I say this because of two reasons. One: There is very little room for deviation within the genre, and Two: They are just really damn boring to make. AFROFARG was a game that we initially started with the belief that it would take us a week to make while Worthington put together the script for Dark. Obviously, things didn’t go as planned. AFROFARG took us well over a month to complete, and the end result just wasn’t worth the effort.
I’m not saying that AFROFARG is a bad game, because it isn’t. It’s actually quite fun to play, even as its developer. The problem is, very little of the content in AFROFARG was innovative. Apart from the polarity system, which I’m sure has been done before, there was very little incentive for people to take interest in the game. That was the first of a number of problems that I think plagued this game’s development.
Due to the game’s general blandness compared to our previous projects, I think I can safely say that none of us were really all that motivated to work on the game, at least not at the same level as Bun-Dun and Grief. That’s part of the reason why development took so long. There were days when we barely touched the game.
Secondly, and I take total blame for this: The projected resources and time needed to finish the game were severely off. I expected the game to have no more than 50, maybe 60 art assets. In the end, there were over 220. Coding presented a measurable challenge for me, as well. I ran into a number of problems I hadn’t anticipated, and finding the solution to them was time consuming and frustrating.
The game wasn’t a waste of time to develop, not completely. I think all of us (except Worthington, who wasn’t part of development) took something out of the game. Personally, my knowledge of arrays and scripting grew, and I found a few useful ways to improve my particles and overall productivity. Tangleworm and Cariboo can say what they want about AFROFARG, but that’s what I took out of it.
I think there’s something in the Tower Defence genre that requires all successful games in it to be flashy, bright, and effect heavy. All the most popular games I’ve seen have beautifully crafted levels, despite the fact that their paths and tower types are quite typical. I think we severely underestimated the impact of level scenery, and that’s something I’m going to take with me into future projects. No skimping out on scenery, it’s a big part of immersion and atmosphere.
As far as the name goes, I have no real regrets. AFROFARG, while incredibly long-winded and hard to remember, is a name that we decided on to (in my opinion) compensate for the standard-fare gameplay. Why not give a generic tower defence game a name to remember it by? Unfortunately, I don’t think the name helped raise interest in the game at all, though maybe that’s because people never yearned to discover the game’s full name.
It remains to be seen, but so far AFROFARG is shaping up to be our least played game of all time (all time being the past eight months, of course). Hue has less but, well, I don’t really consider that a team game.
Despite the disappointment of working for 1 1/2 months on a game that few people will ever play, I can say with complete confidence that AFROFARG has been a great learning experience for me. Don’t expect us to make the same mistakes again. It’s innovation and blow-your-mind from here on out.