Tag Archives: Indie game

Role-Playing Games and Leveling Up – Day 2

It’s almost midnight.

Gotta get this post done before tomorrow.
So I can write one for tomorrow too.

 

Let’s pick up where we left off! Yesterday, I finished off by detailing some decisions the player could make regarding his character. He’s only five and hasn’t used a bow before. He knows how they work, of course, but it’s going to take some practice to get going. So, the player heads out to the back yard and starts looking from something to shoot. Maybe there’s a scare crow to serve as a target for them. We can make the young character’s learning experience a bit more novel, show him struggling to get the basics of using the bow the first few times.
Maybe he isn’t strong enough and can’t get the string drawn enough to propel the arrow to the target, or he’s unsteady and can’t aim well. Whatever the case, we can start the player’s understanding of their character here to give a broader contrast to how he will be after he has developed more. Use of a very heavy shift between two extremes in the game can give a sharp contrast and help to make the player feel more accomplished, like they actually did something.

So, the young boy is almost a mighty warrior, right? He’s getting there, for sure. Yesterday, I mentioned using events that are less-than-desirable to create a more memorable experience for the player. I demonstrated the smaller end of that spectrum, but I think we can touch on the very opposite of it today.

Let’s fast forward a bit. The player is a few hours into the game and his character has aged a few years, to represent the amount of learning and work the player has put in. One day, game-father asks the player’s character if he’d like to learn how to hunt. Heading out into the woods, game-dad starts talking about animal tracks and spoor, showing the player how to spot these things on the ground. To support this, animals would leave tracks and other markings behind. Supporting this character’s instruction with actual mechanics will go a long ways to tying the whole experience together.

While he’s showing you about the tracks, you hear a scream from the farm house! Game-dad takes off for the house, leaving the player alone. For the sake of my sleepiness, I’ll cover only the circumstance of following game-pa. He’s got a head-start, but as you come to the edge of the woods by the house, the player is given glimpses of the soldiers and has been able to see smoke overhead. As you get closer, you can hear the fire crackling and the soldiers talking. If the player breaks out into the yard, he’ll probably be killed. If the player doesn’t think so and tries it, they’ll find out quickly that the game isn’t going to hold back because of poor decision making.

So, they have a few options. They can evade the troops, try to sneak into the house. When they go inside, they find their game-dad and game-mom laying on the deck. Game-mother is already dead and game-daddy is bleeding out from a nasty looking stab wound. There’s a soldier at the opposite end of the room, watching out the window. The player can choose to kill him or to just lay low, with experience granted the respective skill sets, without notifying the player, just like before.

If they approach game-dad, he tries to talk, but only coughs up blood, rather loudly. The guard in the room, if not dead, turns around and sees the player, but hesitates. We can always tie him into later game events by giving him an identifying feature: a scar, an eye patch, something to that effect. But for now, we’ll just assume that he doesn’t really want to kill a little kid. He motions for you to run away. Game-dad’s larger-than-your bow is on the table and his knife. The player isn’t told to grab them, but they can if they think to.

The player isn’t explicitly told to run away, they can still draw their bow at him, which would force him to attack you. So, let’s assume the player runs out and heads for the little shelter the family horse is under, dozing off. Assuming the player had learned how to ride the horse in those couple of in-game years we so conveniently skipped over at the beginning of this post, they can take the horse and ride in the direction of town.

I’ll probably come back to this tomorrow and remember why I don’t write when I’m tired, but oh well.
Take it or leave it.
You’ll get something better after I sleep.

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Back on the Block, Block

Just flew back home from 29 Palms a few days ago and boy are my arms tired.

Anyways, finally got out of there. Should have a lot more time to work on Marpeg and <._FLANK/> now, as well as not being depressed all of the time and getting some motivation back. Not much of an update here, beyond having made a teensy bit of progress on loading characters from a text file. Still not completely working, but it’s getting there. Should be done before long, now.
Since this post is so empty, have some pone.

such friendship wow

such adorable

 

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Point Blank Flank and Prototyping

I’m a step closer to branching into <._FLANK/>, with external data loading almost ready.
While I’m pretty beat from horseback riding yesterday, I do have enough energy to put some recent ideas down and continue brainstorming. So, this post is going to be about prototyping and the role <._FLANK/> is going to play in the larger development of Marpeg as a game and Colivien as an engine.
A Word On Protoyping
Prototyping in game development is a bit different than in engineering terms. When we talk about prototyping in games, it’s more of a trial-and-error method of seeing what works well and what doesn’t. Alpha and Beta development is more analogous to engineering prototypes. Onward!
Brainstorming
I’ve come up with a couple small ideas during downtime that I’d like to play with. I know a lot of young, budding developers will keep their ideas to themselves because they’re worried someone will steal them. There’s an article on this that I encourage everyone to read, but for now suffice to say that I don’t care to share because these ideas can only improve text-based games anyways. If someone ‘steals’ the idea or feature, then so be it. Spreading it around can only make the genre better-equipped to tell stories in an interesting way.

Non-Hero Player
The first is to put the player in a non-hero role or to take that hero role somewhere it doesn’t usually tread. Companions and followers in most games are often watered down, underwhelming and boring to interact with. Instances of even half-decent buddy AI are few and far between, but there are examples to draw from.

One half of the buddy AI issue is the sole reason that <._FLANK/> has four characters, but only three of them are playable. The fourth character is the main character. He’s the best overall of the team and is calling the shots. If the player tries to push against his orders too much, he’ll question their loyalty and will become hesitant to assign them more important tasks. This may be an unorthodox arrangement for the player, but I feel like it could lead to some very cool experiences. For <._FLANK/>, this isn’t an optional set up. However, Marpeg will not often force the player to be stuck where they don’t want to be. For roleplayers, this could be a fun exciting feature though.

The other half of this dichotomy is to put the player into a lead position, but to do a better job than is standard. Similar to Last of Us, the player may come into the position of having to watch over a weaker or less capable character as well. There are plenty of instances in which this has gone horribly wrong.

One scene in Sniper Elite V2 comes to mind in which the player is presented with a character he must save from execution, which alone was a new challenge in the game. Once freed, the character even remembers to grab a gun before taking cover. As the character moves through the buildings and down the street to safety, the player is presented with a line of fire that the ally rarely, if at all, obstructs accidentally. At one point, while I was reloading, a couple of enemy troops rushed into a room the buddy AI was moving through. I thought the AI would crap out on me, but he actually killed them both pretty effectively and without it looking stilted in the way a scripted kill would have.

I also played with a mod for Skyrim that added a lot of interest to the followers. Of course, having 5 buddies along meant I’d crank the difficulty up to Master to keep it challenging, but it was one of the coolest things to have a few projectiles whiz by and kill an enemy as I was rushing ahead or to be volleying at larger enemies. The mod even rewarded the player for having effective allies by dealing out ‘Synergy Points’ when an ally fought, allowing my character to progress even when his buddies were snagging a lot of the kills.

Real Time Decision Making
One of my biggest pet peeves in text-based games is how everything comes to a stand still when you aren’t doing anything. Now, not everyone types at sixty words per minute zero errors, so I’d have to make a way for the game to calibrate to each player’s typing skill. Regardless, the method is to have characters act upon environment stimuli in real time. If the player moves into a room and then stops doing anything, an enemy in the room might get the drop on them.

Because the game messages are already very concise and relay only the necessary details to the player up front, that shouldn’t cause issues. However, typing is another thing. The commands may be short, but I still planned tweaks in case a bit more time was needed, such as halving the speed at which the other actors make decisions while the player is typing, along with considerations for any exploits in that system.

Ambiance
To enhance the feel of the game worlds and experiences made with Colivien, I wanted to experiment with subtle, background ambiance as well. Just because a game lacks visual interface doesn’t mean it shouldn’t include some ambient sound or subtle background music. Use of sound like this with no visuals can have a more powerful impact alone, given the correct sounds are used with good judgement on the situation.

Better Tracking of Character Relationships
In order to fulfill the goal of having deep, rich character interaction, I’ll need a method of tracking each character in the game and how they feel about every other character they meet. My initial instinct was to organize it similarly to how a physics simulation is modeled.

I’ll use the image below to extrapolate. Each dot is a single character, containing data on personality, strengths, weaknesses and such. Each line is a stored relationship. It contains more detailed information on how each character feels about another. Each character stores a different map of lines than the other. So, one Farmer Erin might be rather unhappy with Farmer Fran right now, but Fran might not even know that something is amiss between the two.

The filled polygon represents of group of characters who are associated with one-another.
The brighter lines in the center show the leader of each groups’ relationships with each other, giving a baseline representation of each groups’ feelings.

This can become as detailed and complex as I want to go with it, depending on how in-depth it needs to be to deliver the desired experience. I’m not going to map every characters’ secret crush if it won’t effect gameplay, but I’d rather go too far now than not far enough.

Relationship Model

For example, I could keep track of each and every character’s relationship with each and every other character, but that feels almost too much for now. I could drop characters into an ‘Ungrouped’ pool that does do just that and then move them into the smaller groups as needed, to keep things tidy.

That’s all for now. What do you think? Should I experiment with these unorthodox features in a text-based game or just stick with what’s already proven?

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Shooting Game Recieves Name, Video Soon

I’ve recently decided to name my Blender3D shooting game ‘TIGS’.
‘TIGS’ is a recursive acronym that stands from “TIGS Isn’t a Generic Shooter”.

I’ll have a video update soon, likely before this week is over. In fact, it has to be before that as I will be off to San Diego for USMC bootcamp (Hoping to Celestia I don’t screw this up again, because then I’d really be in a tight spot) and won’t be in contact for 3 months.
Anyways, I had gotten shooting into TIGS, really cool stuff with physics based recoil and yadda yadda when my PC turned off because the battery died. I had saved, but the impromptu closure corrupted the Data.blend file and I had to revert to an older one, although a couple of scripts were salvaged.

As is, I’ve made sure to add a little more security to the data behind the game. I decided that this time I wanted to start with character animation instead of weapons, as I was very unhappy with how the character movement was going before. So, you’ll be seeing a bit of procedural animation or physics based animation or whatever-the-hell I made when I get this video made.
Please keep in mind that I’m one guy who doesn’t actually have any actual experience in animation, procedural or otherwise. It looks wonky and that likely won’t change for TIGS. I’ll simply have to live with that until I make another game and am able to do a better job with that one.

As for non game stuff, I’ve got some news on Horizon.
I have spent some time outlining the story ahead, since Chapter 3 was all off the top of my head with no future direction. Not letting that happen again, as it was hellish to write. So, I’ve got at least 3 or 4 chapters of material roughed out, ready to be written down on FimFiction. Probably going to stay up tonight and work on Chapter 4.

Also, Lojban is still awesome and I’m sure Twilight Sparkle would fully endorse it, if she heard about it. Go check it out at http://www.lojban.org and learn an awesome language. I’m amazed how much vocab (Not actually that much, in the scale of things) I retained after not doing any studying for so long. I’ve been using http://www.memrise.com to learn gismu and there is material on the Lojban site for the basic syntax and grammar if you’d like to pick it up as well.

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I’m a Wonderbolt, Bitches – Update

https://wingedpuma.wordpress.com/games/lurk-tech-engine/im-a-wonderbolt/
^ Go Get It There

Been dealing with some depression and lack of motivation these last few weeks. Finally got around to uploading the build on my PC of IaWB. There’s an update to the controls on the game’s page.
At least, I think this is an update. It should be a bit ahead of the last one. I’ve been out of it too long. I can’t remember for sure.

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Approaching Downtimes

Well, I’ll just cut to the chase here.
I’ll be having some downtime from around noon tomorrow until Saturday or Sunday. It’s a camping trip that was planned, then cancelled and then reinstated. I won’t be able to work on Lurk or anything, so any updates will resume later.

The next big one that is foreseeable is a bit larger. I’m leaving for USMC bootcamp later this month. My ship date is set for the 23rd this month, but there’s a small chance I could leave early. I’ll try to get another announcement out just before I go so that no one thinks that Lurk is dead or anything. Anyways, bootcamp is three months long. Then I come home for ten days leave. Not sure how active I’ll be during that time even. After that is combat training and then my MOS (Military Occupational Skill) training. I won’t be able to do much during combat training and I’m not sure how loose MOS training is.
But after all of that, likely a good chunk of a year, I will be able to resume work on Lurk in my spare time. The military is like any job and I plan on doing a good deal of college courses in the meantime, so Lurk will have to be done alongside all the other stuff. And that’s assuming I actually have time to develop Lurk while I’m in. It might actually end up having to wait until I’m done with the college courses or even until I discharge. Let’s hope it doesn’t have to be put off like that, but just be warned that it’s a possibility.

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