Monday, March 31, 2014

Trying hard and failing decently

Well, I've been trying to get the mindset to actually bother with PISS beyond the first 20 minutes of gameplay, but it seems impossible. Perhaps it's the wall of texts that keep appearing in my face that prevent me from fullfilling aforementioned task. And since I've promised a weekly post, I'll have to deliver one.

So the topic of this post, if you haven't giving up already, is story hooks. A hook is a plot device that interests a person in the continuation of the story or the grand reveal if such exists, by simply grasping the attention/curiosity of the reader. The same applies to videogames, some use gameplay mechanics to attract the player and keep him interested, others use more story driven mechanisms. Adventure games as a genre, usually create a hook via an introductory scene to either attach the player sentimentally with the protagonist or create an element of curiosity or some other thing I'm oblivious about.

Perhaps the setting works as well. I believe my favorite hook in a medium can be attributed to Kurosawa's Rashomon. Though the delivery completely failed to satisfy my expectations, I was "chained" till the reveal/explanation. Admittedly paranormal elements rub me off horribly. I find the explanation to paranormal reasons to be the cheapest way to explain situations. It's really dangerous to create a sense of mystery and then use the oldest trick in the book, trying to fool a mature audience, only ending up fooling A-graders, if that.

Blade Runner: A hook based mostly on the setting.
Other entertaining examples would be Blade Runner, practically missing a hook, eventually getting to it. Several sequences, even though proven to be cult classics later, initially are viewed with prejudice. I mean showcasing technological gadjets, doesn't get the story going much anywhere. But it's fancy.
I think Blade Runner works the same way that Beneath A Steel Sky does, the setting and the world are terribly interesting in their own diverse ways, spawning that explorer child into the viewer/player.

In conclusion, PISS is missing a hook, and I really want to review it. I've lost my line of thought.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Case of Tuesdays

I was wondering a lots about stuff, and discussions from IRC have led me to actually bother writing an article, here on the blog, apologies on the slower content, but things in the community are a bit slow for my interest.

So I've been spending much time working on Troll Song, mostly working around the interface fixing and adding snippets for easier implementing of future actions. Thus I came up with a small list of things to do on the game you make AFTER actually making/working on a complete game. And by complete I mean a game that has been rendered under the shower of several polish, that when someone shows you the first version of it, you say "wow, it was bad back then".

Anyhow, when you've bothered working your ways around your first actual game, you learn to do things, but as most of them are a first, you end up doing several mistakes. What I've noticed whilst working on Troll Song, is that I'm transfering skills/snippets and knowledge from previous efforts/projects, thus improving my current workflow and result. Practise makes perfect, and it's no lie, it extends to game design.

So the promised list follows:

1) Do re-use stuff that can actually be re-used. Like that pretty cool Savegame UI, don't go porting the same characters for crying out loud, think generalization and masking. What feature of your previous game can be transfered and adopted by your new project? Then port it properly. Copy-paste won't work 100%, you'll either discover mistakes/omissions, or you'll realize it can be improved in certain ways, thus you'll enhance it. This is the utter realization, that you've evolved from the time you created that thing till today. And you should get yourself a tea for that, it's a good accomplishment.

2) Split your work, give it extensibility. Always, and I mean always don't create considering this is the final version of your creation (regardless whether it's a code, a background, a character, an animation, a story element/plot). It's not. I've seen spectacular backgrounds get replaced by even more spectacular ones, and other backgrounds completely redrawn cause they couldn't work that way. You need to project into the future and replicate the same result hastily without much effort, even if the idea of you re-doing this, puts you down. And it probably does.

3) Spot patterns and use them to your advantage. This is huge but do treadlightly, otherwise you'll end up having the same animation for 12.000 things. Basically translating from gibber to english, if you see an animation proving to be practically the same for some other situation, without breaking the uniqueness factor, go ahead, be courageous and use it elsewhere. If you see a code behavior being repeated make a global method/function out of it, and be a man of yourself.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Heroine's Quest ON STEAM

Great news, Heroine's Quest that sweeped the awards a few days ago, created by Crystal Shard, is now on Steam, and you can get it without paying a nickel. Cause it's free. And now it has achievements!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

AGS Podcast: They call it something else, but I forget

Yay, wow, another episode, damn, those are coming a bit too fast than I care to bother, I haven't listened to anything but the first two minutes of this, and this is out for 7 minutes, by the time I'm writing this. Thing is this whole post, will be rendered senseless, because I'm going to program it to appear two days letter (or later suit yourself).

It's the same recipe again and again, so here's episode 39.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's one of them days

That, instead of reading about the AGS community, you get to hear about my drama. Sometimes there's a trigger in every human being, an insecurity button, and mine gets pressed often in the community, and I feel like I'm being cornered. And I behave irrationally, because of that. Or you can choose to believe I'm an idiot, both work. And as I look back, with a straight mind, I see people a bit disappointed or offended or appalled or surprised or any kind of negative reaction to my rather negative actions.

I've always been a liberal to everything I've created and I've held a snob face to those that dared censor it in their own ways. Thus perhaps deep-down I felt the same way about the ceremony. But sometimes, it's important to see the message behind people's words. And I failed to grasp it.

Sometimes, we feel we're being pushed aside, and isn't that the case? Yet, mostly, people are trying to help us cope and we don't see that, and we refuse to let them be part of us. The lesson we should all learn, is that we should organize the ceremony as a team effort, and everyone can do their small part, see SWARM, and it can be an exciting pretty new thing again. That's the thought that lead me to open-source the files of the ceremony, so they are there for everyone to take of them what he wills.

I believe via Wyz's socket plugin, we can basically do a lot of interactive stuff, not just the ceremony awards,  I honestly believe it's worth pursuing, perhaps AGS needs a step forward, but there are steps in directions nobody has ever bothered taking. An AGS chess, isn't the way, you can take a technology and use it in oh so many innovative ways, ways that when explained to others, will seem as a natural step, but you decided to take it, and pursue some sort of dream with it. Further developing game design to something exciting and new, or bluntly put a horizon.

Vince Twelve always wanted to do something with the interface in all of his games, in Resonance, it clicked in ways it never did before. Grim aka Remigiusz Michalski always wanted to create Resident Evil-like nervousness via his games and tell an interesting twisted tale, in Cat Lady, it clicked. Joshua Nuerberger was an avid fan of Cowboy Bebop and wanted to write an atmospheric saga, in Gemini Rue it clicked. Isn't having a vision and protecting it and nurturing it what makes a game after all?

And .....after 2-3 hours of browsing the internet, I've forgotten where I wanted to go with this. Well, I'm going to release some coding stuff I've done over the years this week or so, perhaps that will turn the tables a bit. So, here's a pretty picture to help you till that happens.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Blackwell: Epiphany - The Saga Ends April 24th

After stalking this repeatedly, I can say I'm pretty stoked for this. The addition of Ben Chandler on the graphics department makes this so pretty interesting (pun intended). So, pre-orders are available and there's a launch vid.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The AGS Band: Shameless promotion

Basically, me and some other ags folks, the names of who I seem to forget, have released another song. Before you get to the link, it's important to understand that the AGS Band members is a band formed entirely out of AGS members who have never met each other in real life, and live in 2 out of the 12 continents of the world.

So I wrote a song when I was working on TROICA, the game never got made, NEVER WILL IT BE MADE DESPITE NUDGES, and I wrote some lyrics based on it, and we got a wonderful song out of all this.

So, in the Line of Fire, ladies and gentlemen.

Ali plays my favorite game of all time

Nelly Cootalot's maker did a let's play of Monkey Island II, which happens to be my favorite game, and Tim Schafer commented about this, so that's nice.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Leonardo DiCapri-OHMYGOD

CEREMONY - Sun 9 Mar 2014 20:00 London time


1) AGS Ceremony 2013 Live Game

2) Connect to irc://   

Monday, March 3, 2014

AGS Live Ceremony via IRC

First, apologies for last's years absence, I was in the army. And the year before that we had some terrible issues that kind of rubbed me the wrong way, I meant to abandon this.
But then again, I was reminded that this is not my idea, I use a medium made by someone else to project a vision made by someone else.

 Wyz deserves credit for this, the man single-handedly made this possible and I  seem to be getting undeserving claps. Also, this wouldn't be possible without bicilotti, even if he wants to be the most annoyingly modest person about this.

So TL:DR, the AGS Awards will be held on that small place that will all have missed. 

I've implemented stuff that nobody got to see two years ago, and I've also updated several. So here's a list of what's new:

1) Added buttons for turning music and sound on and off.
2) Added loading screen (practically the first AGS loading screen of all time that CJ didn't code)
3) Switched connect after you put the nickname to make sure you don't send too much data beforehand and instead just send them all at once, when you actually join.
4) Reduced the number of commands sent by each client when someone joins from 4 to 0, as a bot (I coded that bastard) now handles data and instead of everyone lagging on joins, now just the guy who joins experiences slowdowns.
5) Screen graphic, awards text and song, properly gets set when you join, without lagging everyone.
6) The ceremony now features Daft Punk and currently 4 new songs.
7) Laugh track
8) Lesbians (you know it)

9) Lifted limit of entrants from 60 to 70 (Thanks nemo)
10) Added the following avatars: 
 LeChuck, Bernard (DOTT), gabriel night (no typo)

11) Added a notification button, now whenever your nick is referred.

How to IRC
Connect to irc://

Download the AGS IRC Live Ceremony

*Warning THIS is a stable version but do check for the topic till the ceremony, the files may get updated with bug fixes or new features*