Once again, I'd swear the year just started, yet here we are at the very end of it. Feels like it's only going to get faster as I get older, heh. Anyway, let's take a look back at everything that happened with Unto the Breach, along with a look forward into plans for next year!
Obviously 2021 had a lot of the same issues that 2020 did in the world, but things thankfully seem to be slowly getting better again. Hopefully that trend continues. For my part, things have largely been in a bit of a holding pattern, with some things getting better and others getting worse. A string of departures at my current employer has left me completely overwhelmed with work, but, rather than let the burnout pervade my game dev work, I've managed to shift my perspective enough to view working on Unto the Breach as a pleasant diversion instead. It probably helps a ton when my game's code is infinitely cleaner and better organized than what I have to deal with at work (I've been wanting to do a complete rewrite of one of our main toolchains for nearly a year and a half now, but have so inundated with endless maintenance work that I've yet to even get started on it). I've been attempting to find better work elsewhere, though nothing has quite panned out yet (I do have one promising lead that'll require waiting until February, at least).
I suppose my biggest disappointment is still not getting Episode One done, even after putting hundreds more hours of work into it, but I can at least take solace in recognizing how much progress was made. The scale of this project is bigger than some games I've played with entire teams behind them, so it shouldn't be a surprise it's taking a really long time to complete on my own.
Anyway, let's take a look at everything that was accomplished this year!
As part of my resolution to get back into things with working on the game, the early parts of 2021 saw a lot of under-the-hood work accomplished, leveraging my newfound proficiency with programming to modify existing plugins, sometimes heavily, to finally get various gameplay elements to better match my vision for the game, or to fix longstanding bugs.
Among other things, major accomplishments included:
I did a little bit of content creation during this time as well, but obviously the bulk of my time was doing foundational coding work. I've definitely been very proud of myself for being able to figure out how to do all this, and in only three months, no less!
As the year went on and I knocked out more and more tasks on the coding side, I started to shift back towards content and changes that would probably be more obvious to the player, and/or enhance the experience further.
This was a big step for me, because Episode One is finally starting to feel like a single unified game, instead of just a bunch of random pieces that can't be accessed from each other outside of playtesting. The finish line is actually starting to come into view!
Development for Unto the Breach slowed down a bit in September and October as my time was taken up by various tabletop gaming activities, plus I spent some time finalizing a professionally-printed copy of my board game Protoverse, while also attempting to finish up Seven Families of Jorandek. However, that didn't mean work stopped entirely!
I still accomplished:
I almost feel like I should focus on finishing the connecting content at the end just so you can legit play the entire episode from start to finish. At that point it'd almost be ready for some kind of early access build, heh. Although given that process is usually fraught with danger for devs, maybe I should just wait until it's done...
When I list everything out like that, I think it feels a lot more impressive how much got done for being one guy working on this game in his spare time. I don't plan on stopping in 2022 either, of course. As I said above, the finish line is finally coming into view, and for the first time I actually feel confident in saying I think I can do it this year. Of course I don't want to jinx it, heh. It's still going to be a metric frak-ton of work, especially in the final dungeon maps. But I just need to keep pushing forward, and we'll get there. I can't wait to finally release this game for the world to enjoy.
However 2021 turned out for you, I hope 2022 is better!