Management IN SPACE!

[This page is dedicated to a project that was archived on 2021/08/02. It remains as both a testament to the journey of that project, and as a gallery for some of the work produced through that project. This page may take time additional time to load due to the number of images in the gallery.]

‘Management IN SPACE!’ (M.I.S.) was a project I was working on-and-off on for approximately 2 years. I put a lot of time and energy into this project, and honestly I was actually quite proud of it! Unfortunately, numerous issues were present throughout the project. The game grew from a simple annoying button flipper to a fully-fledged scifi sim about managing a space station. It had wild mechanics, deep lore that slowly unraveled, and seemingly endless possibility in strategy and gameplay. Of course, it had little in the way of planning and structure, and in mid-2021, I made the difficult decision to shelve the game until a later point in my life.

Before jumping into the good, let’s look into why this game ended up backed-up on a hard-drive and packed away. M.I.S. originated as a game-jam game back in… late 2018! The original concept was simple; you have a screen with information about everything, and a screen with buttons to control everything. You swap between the screens to make sure everything is running smoothly. Eventually you died, so the goal was to survive as long as possible. After the game-jam, I sought out to polish it up and release it, just for fun. Of course, the more I polished, the more promise I saw. Bug fixing became mechanic implementation. Tweaking became building entirely new game managers. Adding quick filler content became writing pages of intertwined story. Over the 2 years I was working on it, I had rewritten the core game functions multiple times. It was a totally different game.

It was game built out of duct-tape, reworking mechanics over and over, constructing elaborate systems to work with old and poorly written mechanics just so half the project didn’t come apart at the seams. When mid-2021 came around, it had been well over 6 months since I had worked on the game, being busy with numerous other projects. I sat down, and had a long think about where I wanted to go, as a developer, as a story-teller, as a co-operator, as a person. When I looked at M.I.S., at the very long bug-list, the folders of missing artwork, and the notes of mechanics still not implemented, I realised it would be a year of hard work to completely finish, even a few months of constant work just to make it playable for the public. It was also a project no-longer representative of my skill and my capacity. It had substance, it had interest, testers enjoyed it and it always got positive responses when brought it out at dev meet-ups. But I had learnt so much since I had started, and whenever I would look at that old code, no matter how well notated, it mocked me as it reflected a time where I was just coding things together to get them to work. M.I.S. never stopped being a prototype, a program born out of a game jam.

With all my different work through 2021, I realised how much I’ve improved as a developer. Not just with programming, but with production from start to finish. I had a better understanding of UI and UX. I was capable of building my own shaders, and had a better understanding of graphical rendering within an engine. Even without a Computer Science degree, I now find myself spending more time on MSDN than on Unity Docs while I plan code out ahead of time, finding the best possible way to have things run quickly, accurately, and safely. I structure code better so it can be more and more reusable, while still remaining upgradable. I feel more confident as an artist, a producer, a designer, and a story-teller. In-fact, overall, I just feel more confident, and I blame M.I.S.. This, absolute bodge of a program, a hacked-together delight of a mess, taught me how to climb out of the inexperienced hole I had found myself, how to improve, how to work better and smarter. I may not be releasing it, but I will be able to produce better content because of it.

I have no regrets to dedicating time to M.I.S., only that I could not do it the justice it deserved. Maybe one day I will. Until then, I hope you enjoy this little archive of assets I was, and still am, very proud of~

Here is some artwork from the project! I was quite proud of how well some of these came out. Clicking them will take you to a larger image! Feel free to check them out. ^^