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!

What is Uffizi?

Greetings,

I’ve been posting about Uffizi for a while now and the time has come for me to really summarize what the game is about and what you will be doing as the Gonfaloniere of Florence.

As I’m a one-man-army and haven’t had nearly enough time to work on press packages and promotional materials on top of development, this is more of an Official UNOFFICIAL Announcement. I have a time I want and expect the game to be Alpha ready, but beyond that is undetermined so I won’t be starting my official marketing campaign today!

Black Logo

What is Uffizi?

The year is 1434 and you have just been elected as the Gonfaloniere of Florence, the most prestigious post in the city’s administration.

It is the birth of the Renaissance and your job is to build Florence into the world’s greatest cultural and economic powerhouse by managing the creation of Great Works and the operation of Florentine Guilds. However as you achieve prowess and fame around the city, you also gain the attention of the Noble class… who have the power to take it all away if you neglect their needs.

Become the most magnificent ruler in Florentine history and cement your name in the annals of time!

New Game
You begin city life with an empty Uffizi and a single Noble. But it quickly fills with the hustle and bustle of business.

Gameplay

The Uffizi contains the 108 administrative offices of Florence*. These offices can be assigned to Guilds which pay Taxes and produce Resources used around the city. Taxes and Resources are used to build glorious works such as Michelangelo’s David, the Sistine Chapel and Florence Cathedral.

The 14 Guilds in Uffizi
The 14 Guilds in Uffizi

 

They are also used to complete Requests for the Nobili, powerful figures who live in the city and expect you to serve them as well as the general public. If you ignore one of the Nobili for long enough, they will become unhappy and may even revolt against you!

You try finding a live-action picture of Michelangelo...
You try finding a live-action picture of Michelangelo…

Starting your economy and pleasing your single Noble is the first step as Gonfaloniere. Filling offices with guilds is how you’ll start construction of your first Great Work; the Cristo Della Minerva.

Completing Great Works earns you Prowess, which is the score in the game. As you gain Prowess your title is upgraded and new Nobili begin to notice you. There are 20 Nobili in Uffizi and up to 5 per playthrough, so repeat games will play very differently based on the Nobili you receive.

Once you reach the title of “The Magnificent”, achieved upon completing all Great Works, then you have won the game.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for today, once I’ve playtested a bunch and got all the systems working 100% I’ll be ready to share some more.

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If you like what you see, please follow me on Twitter or, better yet, get an inside look at literally every single development over at DevSofa

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*Disclaimer: While Uffizi is based on history, it’s very loosely based! Don’t take anything as fact!

Baby Killin’ – Trying to keep emotional attachment out of design decisions

Today I’ve been working on a bunch of UI stuff as Uffizi’s core features are more-or-less finished. However, I’m caught in a bit of a dilemma which I thought I’d share. The problem I’m having is a great example of detrimental emotional attachment or, colloquially, Baby Killing. Now, before you call the police and warn them about your neighborhood game designer, let me explain what DEA/baby killing is.

Emotional Attachment

Getting emotionally attached to your product and features is a dangerous habit. This applies to TONS of industries, especially creative ones, and in Game Design it’s no different. You can fall in love with your ideas, but when you implement them or complete other features, you realize that your original idea is no longer as effective as you thought it was. But you love it. You can’t get rid of it, right? All that work for nothing! It’s still an amazing feature, even if it isn’t perfect anymore… right?

This is where you gotta kill dem babies! Becoming emotionally attached to ineffective ideas and solutions (they’re never BAD ideas, they’re just not quite right anymore) is really dangerous because you end up sacrificing other parts of your product to try and get it to fit in. You start trying to fit the square peg in the round hole by shaving off the corners of the peg, important corners that are vital to the game.

Where is this effecting Uffizi?

Here’s the dilemma I’m having now, with Uffizi’s Noble/Quest UI. The game is still in very early stages, so please ignore any weirdness (namely busted timers and the huge empty space below Machiavelli’s name where a beautiful picture would be)…

This UI is where the player will see quests given to them by the Nobles. They can view the noble's happiness and complete quests through this menu
This UI is where the player will see quests given to them by the Nobles. They can view the noble’s happiness and complete quests through this menu

I think this menu isn’t bad. It gets the relevant information across…

  • Quest requirements
  • Quest deadline
  • Noble’s happiness level and the rewards associated with it

The problem is that you’re opening a full screen menu to get this information, which is a click to open and a click to close just to check if they’ve met the quest requirements.

That’s a bad user experience. The more clicks and menus a player has to go through, the more difficult it is to compare information you’re receiving.

To combat this, I added the Noble Preview area (The little info panel next to the Noble Portrait). This displays the request timer and happiness bar. When the player mouses over the panel, it will open this UI…

This menu will popup when the player mouses over the small noble info panel, next to their portrait.
This menu will popup when the player mouses over the noble preview area, next to their portrait.

Just from mocking this up (it’s not implemented yet), I’m seeing a lot of benefits

  • It requires no click to open or close. It’s a superb user experience with zero friction.
  • It fits all the quest description in and technically has even more room for quest requirements than the full-screen UI
  • There’s still empty space in there, which I could probably insert happiness into…

The question I’m posing now is;

Why have the full screen menu at all?

I like the full screen menu a lot because it has space for an image and I can have descriptions for the Noble’s current opinion of you. Both of these add charm and personality to the game (which is pretty important for a low-budget indie game). But is the charm worth the negative user experience?

Right now, I’m going to keep both in. So you can click to open the full screen panel and hover to see this UI. I’m sure this is very inefficient for the size of my code. It’s keeping a redundant feature in the game (and all the data that goes with it) and it could even waste money if I commission panel art for each noble.

Should I kill this baby?

Right now I’m going to see how well it does in playtesting before making the final decision, but this whole experience is definitely teaching me a lot about what’s important in the game. If players are hooked by the charming pictures and noble’s opinion pieces, then it might be worth keeping the full screen… if not, then there’s no reason to have it and I should remove it from the game to avoid confusion.

In other news, tomorrow is my non-coding day so I’ll prepare a bit of an official announcement of the game and explain what exactly I’m working on!

Have a great Monday!

Where it all began… Cloth & Wine Simulator 2013 in Machinations

Machinations is a great tool developed by Joris Dormans (@JorisDormans) which is used to quickly build and test economic models in games. It’s super simple to use and surprisingly powerful, but most of all (personally) it became the impetus for my upcoming game Uffizi.

I attended GDC in San Francisco this year where Dr. Ernest Adams (@ErnestWAdams) & Dr. Dormans (both have PhDs) presented the tool and various ways it can be used. It was extremely interesting and as soon as I got home I started playing around with it.

If you think really abstractly, every strategy game is about economics. Every strategy game is about the transfer of resources from one place to another. Keeping this in mind, I started playing around with it. I built a football game in Machinations… where the ball is transferred between matchups of players, and a random chance determines if the player passes the ball on or loses possession. That was a more abstract model!

The first real GAME I built with it was Cloth & Wine Simulator 2013* and I thought I’d share it here. It’s the basis of what will become Uffizi, the first game out of Virtu.

Cloth&Wine_Infographic

If you want to give the game a spin, grab Machinations for free and the open the Cloth & Wine Simulator 2013 XML file to play!

Link to Machinations – Get the Standalone SWF version for a better experience

XML for Cloth & Wine Simulator 2013

As you’ll see over the next week or so. Many concepts from C&WS are used in Uffizi, so this is a sort of pre-pre-alpha version of the game.

*Joke name, it was around the time that Surgeon Simulator 2013 came out!

Virtù

Virtù is a concept theorized by Niccolò Machiavelli, centered on the martial spirit and ability of a population or leader, but also encompassing a broader collection of traits necessary for maintenance of the state and “the achievement of great things.”

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