2 week update + Asylum Jam!

I’ve been a bad blogger, but a reasonably decent part-time indie developer! While I haven’t been blogging, I have been working on Eternal Struggle, so here are the updates…

 

Day 9

2 weeks back, my goal was to add the basics of Actions affecting Mood… and Mood affecting Actions. The Mood/Action System!

If you’ve ever played Long Live The Queen, you’ll recognize what I’m up to.

When a Hero takes an action, it will affect a certain statistic (be it an attribute or a mood) by increasing it’s value. With the Mood/Action system, these values are now modifiable.

In the example below, Betty is Excitable. When a Hero performs an Intense Strength Training Action while Excitable, they will receive a minor increase to their Courage Mood and a minor reduction in their Defense attribute.Being excitable while getting stronger will increase your fearlessness… but that can also be reckless.

When I get around to polishing the game, there will be much more explanation of why this is the case, in the form of beautiful illustrations or text descriptions, but for now it’s just in my head.

Eternal Struggle - Day 9
Eternal Struggle – Day 9

One of the more interesting design decisions I will have to make is whether to make these Mood/Action links transparent or hidden. Do I want players to know exactly what will happen when they perform an Action while in a certain Mood? This makes planning and strategy easier, but it also removes a lot of fun discoverability (especially with niche combinations of Moods and Attributes).

To master the game and win, players will need to know all the links… so perhaps one option is to make them all discoverable but once discovered they will be displayed to the player. The game is all about repeat play-throughs, so that could be a fine solution.

If you’re interested in playing a system similar to the Mood/Action system, do check out Long Live The Queen. It’s been a big inspiration to both Outdoor and Eternal Struggle. Despite its wrapping paper (it’s very anime looking), it’s a truly interesting and difficult ‘planning game’ that’s ticks a lot of the boxes that I’m trying to tick myself with Eternal Struggle.

 

The Actions of Long Live The Queen
The Actions of Long Live The Queen

 

Day 10

Before Day 10 I was in a bit of a slump. The woes of Indie Development were getting to me and I was having all kinds of creative issues. I was wondering if the concept of Eternal Struggle was even fun at all, “What if it’s just garbage?” was a question I was asking myself. I have so much still to do on it, but it still wasn’t feeling like a game yet and I’ve wanted to expressly avoid the situation I got into with Uffizi, working on a not-fun prototype for too long.

To get out of this funk, I decided to work on an entirely new system… one which wasn’t based on all the work I’ve been doing for the last couple of months. Hero relationships haven’t been discussed that much since I started this project. All systems I’ve built so far have been based around Heroes as independent actors. One of the reasons I started this game, especially after the feedback from Outdoor, is that managing your Heroes while befriending or avoiding other Heroes in the same area is a challenge I want players to have. A slightly scary thought is that all my current systems feel ‘complicated enough’, so adding relationships just makes the game really over-the-top deep… but whatever, I want to see if it works!

Eternal Struggle - Day 10
Eternal Struggle – Day 10

As you can see from the screenshot, the Town has changed a lot. I actually had to rebuild the whole thing because I’d gotten all the dimensions wrong and the mp_grid pathing systems I wanted to use from GameMaker were bugging out like crazy.

I had to redo a ton of work with this update, so I’m pretty proud of how much got done in a single day. Firstly, the Town is now perfectly aligned to a grid… which is used to calculate paths to and from buildings. These paths are used by Heroes, who move from their current building to the chosen one when an Action is picked. Debugging was the main delay on my progress with this feature, and the result is rather small to look at on a blog.

Heroes have their destinations marked when an Action button is pressed. When the turn ends, they move towards the destination. That’s it. That’s version 1.0.

Version 2.0 is the hard part (for me, as an awful coder), as I need to generate events when Heroes bump into each other. I’ve got collision working but pausing the movement while events are concluded is proving to be a pain. That’s definitely Day 11’s task!

 

Asylum Jam!

The final thing I want to mention is Asylum Jam. You all know how much I love Game Jams, so I decided to join up with Chris & Dan from Substantial Games (my employer) and Tobias Baumann (from Perception Neuron). I’ve never worked on a horror game before so it should be an enjoyable experience. More details on that in the next blog!

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Bacon Game Jam #6 – Diary 4 – Finished!

Done!

Well, not really… but time has run out and I’m absolutely shattered. I cut a bunch of stuff but there’s 3 levels of fabulousness available to play and I’m happy with the overall result, despite it not turning out to be the epic slogfest I first envisioned!

 

 

GameJams are tough. There really is very little time to do anything when you’re going solo like myself. Not much time to design, not much time to do art and definitely not enough time to make content! Content creation is extremely time-consuming, even from a basic data-entry level, so 48 hours (which is around 20-30 hours realistically) isn’t enough time to make anything other than a prototype/proof-of-concept when you’re all alone.  I mean, look how dull that main menu is!

Nonetheless, this has been a great weekend. The ease of building a Shoot ’em Up has given me an idea for a possible Game 2 (after Uffizi) which would be a lot of fun to both build and play. There’s a gaping hole in the ‘shump’ market and I’ve got an idea of how to fill it. Stay tuned 🙂

When I’ve got the game uploaded and officially submitted to the Bacon GameJam people, I’ll get a link to it on here so you can give it a whirl.

Time for bed. Definitely going to need a day off tomorrow!

Bacon Game Jam #6 – Diary 3

Afternoon all!

This morning I’ve been building the enemy spawning system.

Enemies come in 2 forms; basic and shielded. A basic enemy is assigned a colour and will die when struck by a bullet of the same colour. A shielded enemy spawns with a shield, which is broken when struck by a bullet of the same color. This is easy peasy stuff.

 

The tricky/time-consuming part is building the framework to spawn all combinations of basic and shielded enemies (7 base colors, 7 shield colors) as well as where the enemies spawn from and the time delay between each one. How I’ve done this is by storing all that data like frames in an animation timeline.

Every time an enemy spawns, the timeline is advanced by 1… then the next enemy to spawn is generated by reading the appropriate position on the timeline. Each tick adds 1, which corresponds to the next enemy in the queue.

 

In the screenshot above (left side), the number ’12’ corresponds to a RED enemy with an ORANGE shield. 11 is RED with RED, 13 is RED with YELLOW.

When an enemy is ready to be spawned, it will look at the enemy list (on the right side) and read the number assigned to it. This will then spawn an enemy that has the correct colors. For example, the 3rd enemy to be spawned is Red with RED (11) , the 4th is YELLOW with a BLUE shield (35), the 5th is INDIGO with an INDIGO shield (66) etc.

When the enemy is spawned, the delay for the next enemy is read in the spawns[#,#] section and the horizontal spawn position is read in the spawnpoint[#,#] section.

Now this is built, the core gameplay is done! What’s left is to add some sounds, some scoring/progression system and finally make sure the content is fun. I’ve got the system to spawn the enemies but the actual data inside that system is will make it fun or not.

Bacon Game Jam #6 – Diary 2

Quick update to end the day.

All the player functionality is now complete, so the only thing left is to add enemies and polish… not exactly a small task but today’s progress was great so I’m confident!

 

Here is the latest screenshot of the game.

  • I’ve got King Richard and his horse animated, as well as a scrolling background (need to add some more random debris elements as it’s a little boring now).
  • The colors on the bottom are selectable. Left-click selects the colour for your spear/lance, right-click sets the colour for your shield.
  • LeftShift shoots magical shit from your lance, the same colour as the selected one. When I add enemies, different colours will kill different enemies, the challenge of the game is to make sure you’re hitting the right enemies with the right colour.
  • SPACE creates a 3 second barrier in the colour of your choice. Enemy units and their projectiles will kill you if you make contact, unless you have a shield of the appropriate colour activated.

 

Tomorrow I need to add enemies.

I’ll probably use 2 or 3 sprites and multiply them by 7 to get all the enemies in the game. I want dual coloured enemies too, so I’ll add personal shields as well so that you have to hit targets with a combination of colours rather than just spamming the screen and killing everything. I also need to add sound and various menu polish… goals, scores, main menus… stuff like that.

Prepare for my voice acting!

 

Bacon Game Jam #6 – Diary 1

Ow, my head. Getting punched is not great for productivity but here we go with Bacon Game Jam!

Rainbows is a weird theme, I started with brainstorming it…

 

 

Not exactly the broadest set of ideas but one caught my attention as realistic to build and fun.

Back when I was game developing as a hobby, I really wanted to make a Shoot ’em Up (shump). It was the second tutorial I did in GameMaker and it’s pretty easy to do, although I had some weird ideas for how the combat system would function and never really worked on it properly while I still had passion for the project.

But a shump would work great for a 48 hour GameJam as it’s easy to implement a very basic framework and then I can think about how to add something unique with the remaining time. More time spent designing, less time spend learning code. Which is the point of the jam for me!

York

York is a shump where you play King Richard of York. A mysterious and deadly foe is sending waves of colourful enemies at you as you ride down the rainbow trail towards the origin. With your trusty spear and shield, use the powers of the rainbow to attack and defend against this fabulous threat!

King Richard upon his trusty steed, with his rainbow powers behind him.
King Richard upon his trusty steed, with his rainbow powers behind him.

The exact specifics as to how colours will interact is the task after I’ve built some enemies and got the basic Shump system built. The idea is very heavily influenced by the classic Shump Ikaruga which used Black and White as polarizing colours that you switch between. York gives you two weapons (or a weapon and a shield) which you can select colours for independently. More colours, more options and more confusion… so I think I’m going to go with a slower pace than the insanity that is Ikaruga.

I mean, look at this…

Bacon Game Jam #6 – Rainbows – Diary 0

Hey guys,

This weekend is the Bacon Game Jam, an online Game Jam which lasts 48 hours. The theme was just revealed…

 

Rainbows

 

Credit: Timon1771
Credit: Timon1771

 

Yeah… Rainbows. I have no idea with this one! Anyway, I’ll be getting some breakfast now and start brainstorming a concept before I go Boxing. Then I’ll be tracking my progress here so you can see how a game is jammed.

Misunderstanding ‘The Prince’

This isn’t exactly game related but Machiavelli’s work is a big influence so I thought I’d post about it.

I read a recent article by Laurie Penny entitled The Eton Scholarship Question: this is how the British elite are trained to think which riled up some controversy about values in our leaders. The question is asking kids to write a speech about what they would say following a protest in which protesters are killed. The morality of the question doesn’t concern me here, what did bug me about the article was the following sentence;

“[Eton boys are being trained in the school’s values], values that include responding to a question about shooting protesters dead with clever rhetoric rather than a long, hard look at your own conscience, as well as reading Machiavelli as an instruction manual rather than a satire.”

The Prince is not a satire. This is a public misunderstanding that needs to die already. People need to actually read the book. It’s only 113 pages! Almost every single quote taken from The Prince is taken wildly out of context and portrays it as some sort of Manual for Evil.

The Prince is very dark at times, here is a nice quote for you;

“Indeed, there is no surer way of keeping possession than by devastation”

 

But to call it a manual for evil and tar the whole book with that brush is just ignorant. So here, I have collected a range of quotes from The Prince that aren’t completely evil. As I read through the book (which I’ve done 3 times now), I make note of nice quotations since it really is a wonderful read with a lot of incite and profound knowledge and doesn’t deserve the stigma that’s attached to it.

“For always, no matter how powerful one’s armies, in order to enter a country one needs the goodwill of the inhabitants”

Machiavelli arguing that you cannot just rampage into civilizations and take them with full force, there must be some desire for change from the inside or you will fail.

“Men do you harm either because they fear you or they hate you”

This is an important quote that requires context because much of The Prince is giving you advice how NOT TO BE HATED AND FEARED. Which is morally good advice, right?

“Yet it cannot be called prowess to kill fellow citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, irreligious. These ways can win a prince power but no glory.”

Machiavelli is all about prowess or virtu (hey, that’s the name of my studio!). His book tries to give a prince advice as to how best to run his state and behave in a way that will give him everlasting glory. So, if you follow his advice… you WON’T be a complete bastard.

“I believe that here it is a question of cruelty used well or badly.

We can say that cruelty is used well (if it is permissible to talk in this way of what is evil) when it is employed once and for all, and one’s safety depends on it, and then it is not persisted in but as far as possible turned to the good of one’s subjects.

Cruelty badly used is that which, although infrequent to start with, as time goes on, rather than disappearing, grows in intensity”

Important part highlighted here. Cruelty is evil, but if you are forced to use it then this is Machiavelli’s advice. I’d totally get into Eton with that answer!

“Against a man who is highly esteemed conspiracy is difficult, and open attack is difficult, provided he is recognized as a great man, who is respected by his subjects”

If you want to survive conspiracies, be a great man.

“One would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.

The prince must none the less make himself feared in such a way that, if he is not loved, at least he escapes being hated.”

The classic quote used to portray Machiavelli as the Satan of the Renaissance. Almost every article stops at the “It is far better to be feared than loved” part, missing out “if you cannot be both” and, more importantly, “escapes being hated”. Fear doesn’t have to be through evil and much of The Prince is telling you how to avoid being hated by not being an asshole.

“He should appear to be compassionate, faithful to his word, kind, guileless, and devout. And indeed he should be so. But his disposition should be such that, if he needs to be the opposite, he knows how.

He should not deviate from what is good, if that is possible, but he should know how to do evil, if that is necessary.”

This is my final quote, which sums up the entire book of The Prince. It’s balanced. It’s realistic. It is half good, half evil… because do you really want an ignoramus who lives in la-la land to be in charge of your state?

The reason The Prince isn’t a satire is because it doesn’t ever delve into pure evil. There is way too much emphasis on actually being a nice guy and a ton of real historical examples to illustrate the facts. Furthermore, reading any other Machiavelli works will inform you that his style and beliefs are present across more than just this single book. The Prince is an instruction manual, and like any instruction manual, it’s impartial and presents the way things are. And while I don’t want to go into the whole “should we be teaching our kids this stuff” debate, I do want to say that I’d rather have a leader who knows everything than a leader who means well and doesn’t know how or if something can be achieved.

More game stuff later this week!