Pomodori — first screenshot

In my last post I finally managed to put to rest the game which had taken over my thoughts for so long, and I half-jokingly said this blog would now observe a period of mourning. Little did I know the half-joke would soon turn dead serious. On June 28th 2019 my dad died, and I haven’t been the same since.

Still, day by day, one finds oneself again. Most of oneself anyway. Some parts stay lost, gone with the loved one. For a long time, I thought I’d lost the part of myself that was a game developer. I’d spend my days reading and writing. Drinking too, lots of cheap wine and even cheaper beer. Come spring, I’d garden for days on end, even though I had always dreaded the activity before. But my dad used to worship his garden. I can still picture him coming home from his job, jumping into his “dirty clothes” and weeding, planting, sowing, watering and tilling till dinner time.

I started musing about doing a game again. Maybe a zoo tycoon game where you have to grow the animal fodder yourself. Or maybe a game tying gardening to exploration. I discovered the Godot game engine and was instantly smitten with it. Signals! Nodes! GDScript! Then an image took root in my mind. It was the cover picture of one of the books my dad used to have lying around the house, “Le Petit Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I set about modeling the game world on that picture. And that’s when I hit a snag with Godot: the engine began freezing up every so often, just for a fraction of second, but it was noticeable. Reluctantly, because if anything I’d become more enamored with Godot, I implemented the same scene in Unity, and the slight stutter disappeared. I shut my heart up and dropped Godot.

I’ve been chipping away at it in Unity ever since. And, literally chipping and glueing, in MagicaVoxel. I’ve known for a while that I lack the artistic chops to get something decent-looking out of 3D modeling tools like Maya or Blender. That was one of the reasons why my previous game had been all text. Now, however, I had this picture in my head. And it wasn’t 2D anymore either. In the short while that I’d been mulling it over, it had gained a dimension. With the likes of Maya and Blender out of the question, that meant the path to homegrown 3D graphics would have to go through voxel art. Enter MagicaVoxel.

So where am I going with all this? Well, I think I’ve made up my mind to do this right. You know, stick to my vision, finish the game, put it on Steam, make a fuss about it so folks take a look at it. I guess you could say this post is the beginning of all that.

Which brings me to the name of the game. I’m calling it Pomodori, which is Italian for tomatoes, but which literally translates to “golden apples.” Because that’s how I remember my dad in his garden: happy, energetic, completely absorbed, and everything around him awash in a golden glow.

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