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[Dev Log] The Wizard

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I have pretty crippling perfectionism, which makes game jams difficult. "Fun public learning experience" seems oxymoronic to me - why would publically failing be fun? Wouldn't it be more fun if I do it on my own over here where I can fix my mistakes? But I still wanted to participate somehow, even though I have passing familiarity in the popular game engines and art skills good enough that I can get pretty close to what I want to render without actually being good enough to make it look the way it should. That said 'retro demake' to me, and then I remembered I had old code that'd be perfect for making a project that can expand and shrink to fit what I can comfortably do: a wizard framework I wrote for an old job where we wanted a bunch of wizards.


I'm making a wizard, bitches!


My initial idea was to make a wizard for something that under no circumstances should be solved with a wizard; I settled on the legal process. This let me channel some of my anger over the legal system in the US and the appalling way we treat refugees in Australia, into something kind of whimsical and strange with occasional moments of nastiness. There were some ideas I liked from this - the idea of having the option to get a human defence in 6-24 months, and a progress bar that would actually take 6-24 months to fill up; Kafkaesque forms where you'd end up admitting your guilt because you didn't understand the question (also raising the spectre of questions like setting the correct IRQ port from the DOS days); the dystopic tone coupled with expecting people to have the .Net framework to play the game.


The problem is that I never really managed to come up with ideas that were inspiring or interesting once I'd slept on them, and I eventually realised it was because the whole idea was a off-brand first year arts student kind of thing. It was the low-hanging fruit - Molleindustria would probably be able to pull it off, but in my hands it would almost certainly result in ten different wizard tropes being twisted to say that prisons are bad. Edgy and snide, but not clever; you can get away with snide if you've got cleverness and a little goof but I wasn't getting much goof and I was certainly nowhere near clever.


I was thinking about a toy I have in a box somewhere the other night. It's a toy you can plug your iPod into and it's 'play' your music and 'learn' your tastes. It's basically rubbish, but someone designed that thing and hoped people would connect to it, and by and large they didn't. I realised that what I wanted from The Wizard was to talk about this artifact of 90s computing that fell by the wayside. What is it like to design something that was resented? What would it be like to know you were designed by people who made bad decisions when they made you, that you had planned obsolescence, that your purpose was a mistake? I like the resonance with the Idle Thumbs podcast's obsession with whether humans should be designing certain robots.


Anyway, job one: clear out all the code I can't use. There's quite a bit of it; libraries I don't have access to or don't want to use; there's a help button which brings up Windows' help file viewer; and the usual cleaning up of code nearly a decade old. Thankfully, once that's done, building the pages should be fairly straightforward.

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