PogoGirl Devlog #4: Road to SAGE 2020

Posted August 28, 2020

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On September 5th 2020 the virtual doors of the Sonic Amateur Games Expo will open for the 20th time, and Go! Go! PogoGirl will be a part of it! If you haven’t heard yet, I will publish a public demo of the game for everyone to try out. Naturally this is very exciting for me (and I hope for you too) but naturally, this also means work. A lot of work. Holy crap it’s a lot of work.

Once you know that someone else besides you is going to get their hands on the game, suddenly that project you’ve been so proud of looks like it was hastily assembled by a kindergartener without ambition. It is crazy how many aspects of a game that were “good enough” during development suddenly appear game-breaking. Is that a case of being overly dramatic? Yes, but it also shows how lax one can get when developing a game. Or at least how lax I can get.

Your game needs a HUD, right? So you add some text and plug in the numbers. It looks good enough and you have better (and more fun) things to do anyway. Soon you get used to your placeholder, but who cares. Oh, whoops…people who play the demo might care. The HUD needs to suddenly be perfect. (And no, my HUD is not perfect by any means. It’s barely adequate. I tried my best but I’ll have to revise it some more after SAGE.)

Or take things like little bugs and glitches. Eh, sometimes collision doesn’t work as intended when you approach a specific platform from a specific angle? Big deal, I just won’t trigger the bug during testing and get around to fixing it eventually. Well, when you announce a public build, “eventually” becomes “immediately”. And although you thought that nobody would even stumble across that bug, now you’re certain that everyone will find it immediately and trash your game because of it. It is the most important bug in the world. As are all the other ones.

So the last few weeks I’ve been going through the game, tightening up pretty much everything, making menus prettier, adding tutorial stuff, making sure that gamepad inputs are active by default… my todo list suddenly exploded. But I persevered, uploaded a build in time and now my game is ready for prime time! I hope. I really, really hope it is.

In any case, the game is now a lot further along than it was a few weeks ago. So here’s a tip: Deadlines really do work. If you feel like your game is going nowhere, if you feel like you never know what to work on, then announce a public demo, or submit your game to an expo, or do anything that will get your game into the hands of others. Suddenly you’ll feel a mix of motivation and anxiety kick you in the ass and push you into overdrive. Now I’m not saying that’s healthy necessarily, but it works if you want to get things done. And as long as you have enough time I think it’s a valid productivity trick.

Anyway, I hope you’re all looking forward to trying out Go! Go! PogoGirl when SAGE opens on September 5th. My supporters on Patreon already got to try a pre-demo and their feedback was positive throughout the board, so I’m going to be cautiously optimistic.

I’ll see you at SAGE! And until then: Be excellent to each other and party on!

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