I'm a professional game developer from Wakefield, England, working for TickTock Games.
I'm a married father of five and I am also the director and lead programmer of Retroburn Ltd.
Martin 'Bytrix' Caine
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Friday, April 22nd 2011 / Gaming

Focus and Discipline

This week saw the launch of one of the most anticipated games of 2011, Portal 2. The sequel to portal has received a huge amount of attention from gaming websites and the media both before and after launch. It's definitely one of the 'must buy' games of this year, but I've decided I'm willing to wait.

There are actually a whole load of great games due out over the next few months which I'm definitely going to get my hands on:

Portal 2 Portal 2 - I loved Portal and the second does look very good. New puzzles and an extension to the story is what I'm looking forward to. Stephen Merchant's voice acting and comedic talents have been used in the game and provide almost all of the humour (which according to reviews is plentiful and very funny). I've always loved everything Valve have done and judging by the reviews this is their best game yet.

Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat - I used to be a huge fan of Mortal Kombat having played the original, and then playing MK2 and MK3 on my Mega Drive (Genesis in the US). I've never really got into any of the games released since the 16 bit days, they always felt a bit clunky. The new Mortal Kombat however has gone back to the game's origins and looks very much like 'Mortal Kombat 3 HD' if there were such a thing. They're using all the modern techniques but showing them off in a primarily 2D viewpoint and the overall look of the characters, the special moves and the animation looks very similar to Mortal Kombat 3.

Duke Nukem Forever Duke Nukem Forever - Duke Nukem was one of the first games I remember playing when I first got a PC and I also learnt to use the Build editor to make levels for it (and Shadow Warrior). I'm also glad Gearbox picked up the game too, I've really enjoyed Borderlands in both single player and co-op modes. It'll be interesting to see how Duke plays but going by what we've seen in the videos so far it looks silly but fun. Very much looks like the original Duke Nukem and I like how Gearbox haven't shied away from some of Duke's old fashioned ways. I know opinion is split about some of the content, but seriously.. this is Duke Nukem, he's not intended to be a role model for anyone!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Having completed the first Deus Ex about 4 times (each time completing it in a slightly different way) I am really looking forward to another game set in the same universe. Deus Ex 2 tried to add something new to differentiate it from the first but in my opinion the game just wasn't as in-depth as the first. Deus Ex: Human Revolution looks kinda like a mix of the two. It has some really cool looking controls and abilities, great looking graphics (kind of unique looking too) and the story looks like it's been well thought through.

Rage Rage - id's game that's been in development for the past few years. John Carmack's id Tech 5 engine is clearly one of the leading game engines out there at the moment but id have some pretty fierce competition too with the latest iterations of Eipc's Unreal engine and Crytek's CryEngine. The game itself looks kinda like Quake 4 meets Borderlands. I'll buy it simply to see how gorgeous it looks and simply because it's id, the pioneers of the first person shooter and one of my personal favourite developers.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - The first Elder Scrolls game I played was Morrowind, I must've sunk 250+ hours into that game and still had plenty more to do (and have my save games if I ever want to go back to it). Much later I picked up Oblivion, which improved upon Morrowind in many ways but in some ways felt too different. After a while I grew to like Oblivion but still am only about half way through the game. Skyrim is the next chapter in the Elder Scrolls and it looks gorgeous! I don't think anyone is expecting revolutionary gameplay. It's going to be Oblivion, in a completely new setting, with a new story and new missions. Still, the game should be great and I know I'll get hooked on it when I start playing.

Mass Effect 3 Mass Effect 3 - Having been a fan of Bioware's RPGs since Knights of the Old Republic I've loved each and every one they've made (except Dragon Age which I couldn't get in to for some reason). The first two games were great and while the second seemed a little too linear it improves on many aspects of the first game's design. The few bits of media that have been released for Mass Effect 3 show that Earth plays a much more central role in the story and that just sounds awesome. I'll most likely have to find a week to dedicate to the game when it's out as with the first two I literally just tried to get all the time I could on it until I'd completed them.

Now on to the point of this post. The games above are my 'must buys', the games I have to play this year. I'm an avid gamer and love playing great games and these ones have all caught my eye. There are also other games like Brink, Bodycount, Prey 2 and Alice: Madness Returns which I'll want to play (given the time to play them) and that's my dilemma. I'm working on a number of games, for a number of platforms. We're very close to releasing some of our games now and it's a very exciting time. Finishing the games, marketing them and releasing them takes up a lot of time. If I spend an evening gaming that's an evening lost that could've been spent promoting my games or tweaking them further, bringing our release dates forward.

So I've decided that I will not be buying any of these games, until I've hit some personal milestones. The first of these is the release of our first 3 games. I have 5 weeks to complete and release the first 3 games (by the end of May) and when (not if) they are released I'll treat myself to Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat.

I'll then set further deadlines (which should be achievable) for our other games. Only when they're complete and released will I look in to playing some more of the exciting games coming out this year.

It takes a lot of focus and discipline to work and spend the evenings and weekends sat at a computer finishing games when I'd rather be playing some awesome games. However it needs to be done, I really want to get these games released and see how they do. I know we have some great games that will do well when they're released and these final few stages are the most important. I think the reward of dedicating some time to playing new games at the end of it will push me harder to complete them too.

My advice to fellow developers: If you're in a similar situation, you've developed a great game but it's just not 'complete'; Get it finished, no matter how much work you need to do, just get your head down, get back in to it and finish it. It'll be worth a few days, weeks or months of hard work when you get it released!


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Tags:   discipline   focus   gaming   portal 2
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