Archive for November, 2007

November Contest: Saturday, 2pm

Right, back from my probably-too-long break, and I had a look for the problem. I spotted it right away.

y1=(particle.x*TSIZE)+particle.xoff;

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November Contest: Saturday, 12pm

Grr Grr arg. Not a great start to the contest.

Implementing particle collision detection is something that’s supposed to be fairly easy… but for some reason it’s not working properly. I’ve been messing about with it for an hour and I’m still getting some bizarre behaviour… like sometimes it’ll work and other times, inexplicably, it won’t. And sometimes it starts insisting that every single particle is colliding with a wall as soon as it’s created! It’s a really simple bit of code and I can’t understand why it isn’t working as it should… 😥

I’m getting nowhere. I was going to hold off updating until I finished the platformer additions, but I think I need a break from this. I honestly don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I’m sure it’s probably something really stupid.

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November Contest: Saturday, 8:45am

Wow, woke up at 8 and nearly an hour’s past already…

Actually didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. Neighbours were making a fair bit of noise and my sleep patterns are messed up anyway, so it was something like half four or five when I actually got to sleep. If I find it hard to keep my eyes open later on I’ll just take a nap or something.

Right. I don’t have a lot of time here. My basic plan is to get as much engine work done today as possible, and spend tomorrow working on game content. To start with, I need to finish off a few elements of my platformer – most importantly, I need to add collision detection and event management to my particle system. Don’t think it’ll take that long, but you never know – I’m going to be using particles to kludge pretty much everything I need for the game.

Agh, I need to wake up properly. Going for a walk first. Will make a proper update when I have one.

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The end of experimentation

Funny thing – I was all excited about that top down RPG with the non-linear plot, but after a week or so of messing around with different ideas and a buggy engine, I’ve lost interest in it. Maybe a truly non-linear game would be interesting in the sense that it would be nice if one existed, but I’ve got a feeling that it would be a pain to play. You’d finish it, and then the next time through you’d be playing a different progression with the same characters and settings and I just get the impression that the whole thing would become very tedious, and not nearly as interesting as if I’d created one really good linear path. It’s as if the non-linear idea is a substitute for some genuine innovation.

I wasn’t sure for a while, but I’ve made up my mind. That project isn’t really all that interesting to me, so I’m going to scrap it and move on to something else.

The point of that project was to satiate a desire I had to experiment with game ideas that are a little off centre – that mightn’t necessarily work but would at least be a bit interesting. I still feel that way, and earlier on this week, that led me to start a topic on RPGDX wondering if anyone was interested in another contest this weekend; the old style ones, the 48 hour timeframe that seems to have come out of nowhere. Turns out quite a few people are interested. So I organised a contest for this weekend on the forum, and I’m taking part.

Here’s what I posted (in this thread):

Alright, let’s do this thing.

This weekend we’re going to have a 48 hour RPG making contest. It starts from whatever time you wake up on Saturday to whatever time you go to bed at on Sunday, and can be extended into next week if a majority of competitors wish. The theme of the contest is Completion – the idea being that the time limit is the real restriction of the contest and the challenge lies in actually finishing and releasing something.

You may use a premade engine, premade graphics and premade music – anything you have at hand from old placeholders to ripped spites. You may also opt to start from scratch. That’s up to the individual entering. However, the rest of the game’s content must be made during the contest’s 48 hours – content meaning dialogue, level design, and so on.

The contest will by judged on Ms. Congeniality terms – everyone who enters gets one vote and may vote for whoever they like, including themselves. The winner will receive a significant boost to their street credibility.

These rules are not final, so free free to discuss them in this thread. The idea is to keep restrictions to a minimum – however, as the theme is completion and the time limit’s fairly short, it’s recommended that you keep your ideas simple and aim to release something by Sunday night.

Just to clarify a few questions that have been asked (and to preempt a few more):
* You must design the actual game during the contest, but you may use premade graphical and music resources, and you can use a premade engine.
* By premade engine, this can be any core program you’ve made yourself, or alternatively game making software of any kind, including Gamemaker, RPG Maker, OHRRPGCE, Multimedia Fusion, etc…
* It doesn’t matter what platform your game runs on.
* You may work in teams! However, teams only get one vote, so you’ll have to decide among yourselves who you want to vote for.

That’s it. Like I said above, feel free to disagree with any of this or ask for clarifications and we’ll amend the rules.

Also, if you want to discuss your projects during the contest you can drop in to our IRC channel at #indie-rpg on irc.esper.net.

It starts tomorrow!

So, after suggesting that, I got to work thinking about what I’d enter. At first I was just going to do a traditional enough game, but that led to me thinking about what engine I’d use – it’s either a choice between starting from scratch, or using the monolithic, bloated “Project Distraction” RPG engine that I used for Major Arcana. Getting reacquainted with the distraction engine at this point would probably take a day at least, and tailoring it for the contest a day more. On the other hand, making any RPG engine from scratch is pretty time consuming.

I couldn’t decide which way to go, but then I remembered this:

The platform game engine I’ve been working on for Indie Brawl. It’s gotten pretty sophisticated in the few weeks I’ve been working on it on and off. It led to me to thinking about a much more interesting project: a Platform/RPG hybrid.

It all came together very quickly: the mechanics of the game, the plot, some cool gameplay ideas – out of nowhere I suddenly had a game idea I really liked! And it’ll work with an engine I’m really familiar with!

So that’s my plan 🙂 First problem is that I’m going to need to do some significant work on the engine before it’ll realistically support an RPG – in fact, I even need to do some work on the platforming elements. I don’t see myself finishing this in 48 hours – but I do see myself having something playable.

Wow, didn’t mean to ramble on so long… I’ll probably be posting a lot tomorrow too – hopefully by sunday night I’ll be able to release something.

Oh, and if you’re a programmer with nothing to do this weekend, join in!

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Trilby: The Art of Theft – Heist 3

Here we go again: Mission 3! Remember, spoilers. Don’t watch this if you haven’t already played it!


Heist 3: 2 minutes and 20 seconds, $1,005 in loot, no tasers or alarms.

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Trilby: The Art of Theft – Heist 2

This is really quite an addictive game.

I made a Trilby rank video of the second mission to go with my first one. I’ll probably make a few more too. Be warned that I haven’t cut out the cutscene, so consider everything from here on to be a spoiler!


Heist 2: 56 Seconds, $900 in loot, no tasers or alarms.

After finishing the game with an “A” rank, I discovered that you get a new suit which makes you practically invisible. I also discovered that you can hug the walls to avoid the vertical lasers. So the game’s suddenly got a whole lot easier for me 🙂

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Trilby: The Art of Theft – Heist 1

aot

I just posted a big review of Yahtzee’s new game Trilby: The Art of Theft over at TIGSource. It basically says that it’s brilliant, that all games should be like it, etcetera, etcetera. I also posted an annoucement a few days ago at Indygamer Blogspot when I first came across it. It’s the first game I’ve come across while writing for TIGSource that I liked enough to cross post, heh. It’s really good – if you’re into indie games at all you should check it out – I’m adding it to my favourites list.

I made a video to demonstrate it, since it’s hard to get the atmosphere of this one across in screenshots.


Heist 1: 1 minute and 32 seconds, $635 in loot, no tasers or alarms.

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This was a triumph! I’m making a note here, HUGE SUCCESS.

Speaking of commercial games that Yahtzee didn’t hate, I had an opportunity to finally play Portal yesterday! I sold my gaming PC a few months ago so I’ve kinda missed out on recent commercial games, but a friend of mine had a copy and (seeing as it’s so short) I was able to play it on his machine in one sitting. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.


Some nice Portal fanart by Saejinoh!

Portal started with Narbacular Drop, an experimental indie title from a team founded at digipen. It’s a pretty neat idea – in fact, Valve were impressed enough with it to offer the designers a job. Portal is their creation; a minigame bundled with the new Half-Life 2 episode that’s understandably getting a lot of attention: the “Portal Gun” idea that the gameplay centres on is genius, and I guess it’s no surprise to anyone that it works extremely well as an entertaining puzzler. The big surprise, though, is that the game sports more than just this gimmick – it also features an unusual story with some fantastic deadpan humour.

It’s hard to say a whole lot about it without spoiling it, so I’m assume whoever’s reading this hasn’t played it, and just say that I love it. It’s one of the most original games I’ve ever played, as well as one of the funniest. And like all of my favourite games, it’s got me thinking very differently about videogame storytelling.

There’s a very good column on GameSetWatch that discusses it far better than I could (if you don’t mind the spoilers), and two great interviews at Rock, Paper, Shotgun; with the writer Erik Wolpaw and two of Narbacular Drop’s creators Kim Swift and Jeep Barrett.

I couldn’t find a video that gets the atmosphere right, but here’s one that at least shows off the gameplay quite well:

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Finally, a Cave Story post

Cave Story is one of those special games that turns me into a blathering fanboy. I’ve got so much respect for the game and its creator that I can’t even articulate my admiration properly – save to say that I think it’s one of the best games ever made; a five year labour of love by a talented, modest, creative genius, released for free and quietly spread by word of mouth. In a hundred years time when this industry has changed into something unrecognisable, people will still be talking about it. (hey, I did warn you about the blathering fanboy thing…)

If you feel the same way, then you’ll love this: Apparently Cave Story had more than one iteration before its final release, one of which was was nearly finished. In the last couple of days, Pixel has put together a collection of screenshots and some concept art from an earlier build!

Here are a few of my favourites:

You can find the zip file containing all the images over at the Doukutsu Monogatari livejournal community. Derek’s also put up a page at TIGSource with all the images, which you can find linked to from Brandon’s post here.

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I am on the road crew! This is my stop sign!

So, about that thought…

Basically, I’ve been thinking about where I go from here, and I had two projects in mind. One is something I’ve been toying with for about a year now – a plot driven puzzle game that I think could make a good shareware title; the other is an RPG for a Retro Remakes contest that I’m kinda sorta already working on. That project would be another freeware game, mind.

I was originally going to write up my thoughts on both games and hope that my astute readers would point me in the right direction – but I realised that I’d already made my mind up. I know I’ve squandered a lot of time already and you all probably think I’m mad for even considering working on another free game at this stage, but I don’t care. When I started this I promised myself that I’d focus on making games that are interesting to me as opposed to games that could make some cash for me, and this seems like a pretty clear test of that theory. I do like the first idea, but it’s a bit shallow, really – anyway, I can always come back to it later when I’ve developed the concept a bit more. Right now, I feel like working on something that takes itself seriously.

Retro Remakes are holding a top down 2D dungeon contest at the moment, which runs from two weeks ago till four weeks time (December the 8th). I’m a little far behind at the moment, but that’s fine: what I have in mind is quite simple, and I hope to be finished long before the deadline. I’ll post more about my game later, but here’s the jist of it: it’s going be a very traditional D&D style RPG, with a character focused plot. It’ll be very short, but non-linear – it’ll start with a few short quests that basically serve to introduce you to the characters, and then there’ll be one big quest that the game revolves around. How it plays out will depend on who you choose to team up with.

I kinda see it as an experiment in non-linearity; a lot of design documents I’ve read discuss the problem of linearity in plot driven games and either decide that traditional linearity is the way to go, or compromise by having a linear plot with non-linear sub-plots. However, I think it might be interesting to make a game that attempts true non-linearity, and that’s what I hope to do with this.

One major problem I’ve seen with games that do attempt this is an inability to commit. This, essentially, is what I hope to focus on with my new game. To take an example, “Deus Ex: Invisible War” allowed the player to side with any of the game’s factions, and went to some lengths to make them all sympathetic in their own ways. The game’s real problem is that you never really felt like you were a part of whatever faction you sided with: the game allowed you to side with anyone or indeed everyone whenever the hell you wanted, and only rarely forced you to choose one side over another – and even when it did, you never became an “enemy” of the rival faction. They’d still call you up and ask you to do things for them. T’was quite frustrating, actually.

Sorry, I guess I’m getting a bit off topic – as for my game: It’s really too early to say anything about this one just yet… so I guess what I’ve said will do for now. I’ll post some more details in a few days.

The contest has already been running for two weeks, and there are a few entries brewing that look like they could be pretty interesting. One that’s caught my eye is an interesting “hunting” game by JTR, the author of the lite-roguelike Crypts of Despair and that excellent Death Worm simulator. In the game, you trek around a dark cave shooting arrows at rats looking for the legendary beast. The atmosphere is spot on, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hunting game before – when you get a shot in at the beast, he’ll leave a blood trail which you can use to track him down. It’s an interesting idea. The working title is “Rat Cave” (there’s a playable demo at that link).

I actually have a fair bit of trouble coming up with ideas like that; I always tend towards complicated ideas that slowly creep out of control that never go anywhere, so I’ve got a lot of respect for small, simple, original game ideas that work well like this one does. It’s why I’m such a big fan of guys like Cactus and Ikiki, I suppose.

DevX is also entering this one (he entered that spring contest over at rpgdx.net too); he’s got a devlog of his progress up here.

In other news! I haven’t been doing all that much recently, to be honest – for the last few days I’ve been playing Psychonauts. My expectations were pretty high, so I was kinda worried that I might unconsciously be too critical of it – but the game doesn’t disappoint – so far I’m loving it! Believe it or not, it really is as good as everyone says it is. Hell, even Yahtzee likes it. And he hates everything.

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