Now that Greg's Christmas is soon to be released, or released depending on if you're reading this after, we are relieved to the maximum. We think it paid off, we made a great mod according to our playtesters, and everyone seems to agree that it's good! We made a good mod. So... we should be happy. Right?
I'm about to tell you how stressful, how painful and how plain bad these past two months have gone. This has honestly been the worst experience of my life, Neddy's life and even our voice actors life. and we are so angry it had to be drawn out over two months.
If you are a developer reading this, PLEASE take notes.
Because we do NOT want you going through the same experience as us.
And we are doing this for you, you need to know how this is.
It all started in October of this year.
We had cancelled our liminal space/horror style mod Hobo Life: Greg's Nightmare planned for halloween, since the time constraints were literally not feasible. So, we decided to scrap it and work on Greg's Christmas, which was intended to be a playground for us to test our features we had planned (shop system, wanted system, more detailed environments, etc.) and prove that we could in fact do it.
So we started drafting up a design document for the shop system, and we quickly started doing some quick voice lines and a quick quest to test the dialogue system with the shop owner. I'll tell you this, the problem with doing something new is that nobody has done it before. What we were trying to do was so far removed from Half-Life 2 that it wasnt even in its own genre of GAME anymore. Nobody had truly done buying with different price ranges, and that was a massive problem. Some problems that occured included the money counter not registering an update, guns having apparently no price at all, guns not even being able to be bought even if you had the cash, etc etc etc.
It was hell, it took two weeks, but you know, in the end it paid off.
Oh yeah, then I got sick for 3 weeks and couldn't even work.
Not only that, autumn break was nearing since it was the end of October and Neddy had to leave for that time to spend time with his girlfriend. And I was feeling extreme burnout, so I couldn't even work. Understandably, neither of us were happy that our window of opportunity to do something basically passed with nothing happening.
Then school happened and we tried to get some stuff done but we failed. The entire month of November had passed with basically nothing going on. Since our voice actors were busy we didn't have the lines to implement into the mod, and we couldn't get anything done.
Now it's the start of December. Three weeks away.
We have the lines now, we're working on the main quest. First one? Done. Second one? Done. Third one? Done. EASY. We'll get this done in no ti--
Then we found so many bugs that it wasn't even funny.
Okay, now it's the weekend. Patching bugs, just refining it nice and easy. Ending map is there, not fully finished but it should be okay. And now we're ready for playtesting.
Two weeks away. First playtester finds us writing down around 12 things to do on our list each, some are minor and some are major. Playtester didn't have a bad experience in the mod, but he said it was a bit empty and the only bugs he experienced were the visual ones. Alright, time to fix.
One and a half weeks away. Most of the bugs are patched and we're ready for our new playtester. A session has been organised and it's all good. We get into a call and he finds so many bugs I leave the call out of frustration. 17 NEW things on our list and most of them are major. We fix all of the bugs and by this stage we are so burnt out but we try to push forward. I am stressing out the most since I have 4 tests to study to until tommorow, I need to get the project done and then I have a mental breakdown over the overwhelming amount of stress.
THEN WE HIT THE ENTITY LIMIT!
Yes, we broke source and hit the entity limit. 183% entdata, btw. And now, WE WERE PANICKING. We didn't even know if we could MAKE the mod at this point, our programmer friend said he could try to fix it (he couldn't, god bless you for trying though) and Neddy is doing literally anything he can to minimise entity usage, making things prop_static, removing unnecessary props and doing even the most MINISCULE amount of optimisation possible. We did manage to save it though, so that's good atleast.
Almost one week away. We patched most of the bugs and Neddy had another playtesting session with a new playtester. This one has an alright PC but struggles with most things. Optimisation was good and Neddy managed to write down a pretty small list of bugs. Alright, now the pressure is on.
One week away. We are playtesting a lot now. Most of the bugs are getting patched, and since Neddy got sick he can dedicate most of his time towards Hobo Life. I have to start doing more school stuff and I have less time for everything. We are worrying a lot, and we're stressing out more and more.
Less than a week away. Less and less bugs are being found, we're doing well. We are finding more time to implement stuff we thought we didn't have time for. We are still worrying, however.
Three days away. Wednesday. I need to study for a test until tommorow, I am stressed out to the extreme. Neddy is working his ass off ALONE on fixing bugs and implementing stuff.
Two days away. Thursday. Neddy is still fixing the mod and patching up minor stuff. I am away for the day for family business.
One day away. Friday.
This is it.
This is the day.
Everything has to be fixed NOW.
Neddy and I do one last sweep and fix some very minor bugs.
The final compile is being compiled, and I see this message pop up in my chat.
After 2 months of HELL, sweating our asses off and crying tears cause we are afraid we wont meet deadlines, what do I feel about this whole project being done?
Relieved and pissed at the same time.
I finally don't have to deal with this shit anymore, this fucking project that has threatened my grades in school and basically caused depressive episodes for the both of us is finally done and about to be released. What do I feel? Relieved.
But on the other hand, I'm pissed we couldn't refine it more. We needed more time but you can't just delay christmas, can you?! No, it HAS to be out by then. And we wanted to do so much more, SO much more, but we can't. Engine limitations and absurd time limits has killed us both.
But, we learnt something from this.
To any devs reading this, keep this in mind.
- Make your time limit feasible. For us, this was 2 months for a small bonus map that had to be chock full of content. We almost didn't make it, and we wish we had around 1 more month. But, we got stuff done cause of our incredibly strict time limit!
- Start doing all of your shit earlier. We didn't do this and had to suffer for a whole month making what was supposed to be 2 months worth of work in about one. This KILLED us, please don't do this.
tl;dr: harsh time limits WILL stress you the fuck out, but it makes you get stuff done.
We learnt this the hard way.
Thank you for reading, I hope you learnt something. And as always...
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