producing PRODUCER 2021

04 - the week of consistency

Incredibly, this is the fourth consecutive blog post about the development of Producer! One “Yeehaw” for consistency! This is also the second consecutive month of intense work on Producer. I thought I would be finished by now. Oh well.

Over these two months, the game has gotten a lot smaller and a lot more dense. I have worked 5 days every week and then spent 2 days resting and hanging out with friends. It’s been great, honestly, but as usual when work is happening consistently, I realise how much time I normally waste and how ineffective I normally am. This feeling also came during the last months of qomp, where I was happy with how I was doing, but devastated by how I had been doing things before. So much wasted time, so little actual work!

The truth is, i guess, that effective work and wasted time are two sides of the same coin. Now, in the 8th week of consistent effort on the final iteration of Producer, I am finally digging down to the core of ideas that I had a year ago. Until now they have been growing slowly, fed by occasional pondering, expanding and contracting at glacial paces.

I am thankful for all the months of “lazyness”, during which I slowly worked my way through these themes and thoughts, but now it is time to make it all real, to actually put it into the game… and I am scared.

Like all games, Producer is about opening doors. But since it is a narrative driven game with choice based input, you basically always just select an option to open the current door. Sure, the button has a different label, but it’s always the same physical action. Press X to open door. Press X to convince guard to let you through. Press X to etc.

Puzzles obscure this basic fact, but puzzles are for nerds. No, we need something more exciting. We need puzzles that negotiate conflicts, we need drama, we need emotion, we need metaphorical meaning behind our actions! And so, I thought, I will just give each sequence a conflict, some sort of higher-level drama that runs it’s course in tandem with your press-x-to-action.

I noted these things down casually. I would come up with a cool puzzle, scribble “self actualisation VS rent” above it and then move on, thinking that I would fill the actual words in later, at some point.

This week, I finally attacked these conflicts and, once more, realised just how ineffectual all my planning has been. The conflict that I started with on monday took two days to work through. When you play through the finished sequence it is maybe 3 minutes long and not even that good, to be honest.

But it’s okay. Now that I have started, I am quickly getting better and faster at adding these emotional conflicts into the cold, hard logic of the game. Progress in the other areas has been good. The intro is really shaping up. The list of things to do is shrinking every day. Yesterday, for the first time, I was surprised at how much of the game was done and at how (comparatively) little there was left to do. By now, I know not to fall for that. It’s too early to see the light at the end of Producer, but I would say I am finally about halfway through.

It will be a very busy september.

Cheers, Josh

PRODUCER 2021 on Steam