On my way home from work tonight, I had an idea for a game, a game that I am calling ‘id’.
At the start of the game you are assigned an arbitrary shape placed inside an arbitrarily shaped container. You can change your shape but only to a limited extent (the shape is somewhat elastic and resists attempts at reshaping, a little bit like playdough). You cannot change the shape of the container, but it will arbitrarily change shape sometimes, and if the new shape of the container forces the player’s shape to be out of bounds, the out of bounds portions of the player’s shape are lost, incurring a move penalty. You win the game by getting your shape to match the shape of the container and you are ranked on leaderboards based on how long it takes and how many moves you used.
The game has two difficulty settings: ‘Reality’ and ‘Fantasy’. In Fantasy mode, you can also alter the shape of the container to match your shape and the player’s shape can never be out of bounds. Fantasy mode also has no leaderboard or scoring – every player can win.
When I was a kid, I went through a period of consuming choose your own adventure books in mass quantities. It was the merging of books and games, my two loves, so I kept telling myself that, as the amalgamation of the two, they were even better. But they weren’t better. I never identified with my character in those books the way I identified with Bilbo in ‘The Hobbit’ or Hazel in ‘Watership Down’. And they were definitely not as exciting as stomping mushrooms in Super Mario Bros or hitting things with Simon’s whip in Castlevania. Obviously the gameplay was lacking because there isn’t much you can do with “turn to page 67” (even adding a die roll and combat system, like some of the more advanced versions did, didn’t do much to increase the sense of risk and accomplishment inherent in games like Super Mario Bros and Castlevania), but why was the story not as immersive? The theory I think a lot of us who make games operate from is that offering player choices creates a sense of investment in their character and in the story that supersedes that of a novel or film; however, in my experience, that is seldom the case.
Last weekend was the second Beta Weekend Event for Guild Wars 2, so I spent most of the weekend playing it.
I already had a Charr thief I’d made for the last beta event, but I made a couple of other characters, a Norn engineer and a Human necromancer. I ended up mostly playing the engineer because I really enjoyed the class and the Norn starting area. The thing I’ve found so far is that each class allows for a fairly wide range of playstyles while each still keeps their own unique flavor. The engineer uses pistols, rifles and shields, and has a wide range of utility skills from turrets (some for healing and some for damage/control) to grenades to elixirs (providing buffs to the player and/or nearby players). I highly recommend playing quite a bit with different skill/weapon combinations because it really changes how the class plays.
So, like most of you, I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo III. I’ve mostly been playing my Witch Doctor (level 52 and in Hell Act 1 now), mostly solo though some grouping as well. Some of the fights have been an interesting challenge and Hell is noticeably more challenging than Nightmare (Normal was a joke). Crafting and the Auction House have both been somewhat disappointing so far – crafting is generally more costly than justify its rewards and the Auction House has a disturbing habit of being up and down all the time as they sort out various issues with it (it’s also rather lacking in search functionality and limits users to 10 listings which is a bit disappointing though I understand it).
Blizzard posted a dev blog this morning (Game Design Update) describing some of the issues they’re seeing with balance and play-feel as well as roughly outlining some of their intended solutions. It’s well worth a read if you’re interested in Blizz’s perspective about the course of Diablo III, and of course I have a few thoughts about it.
I beat FEZ today. I mean, I finished the game two days ago, but today I really completed it. As in, all achievements unlocked, 209.4% completion, saw the ‘all cubes collected’ ending. The game sunk its claws into my completionist side and wouldn’t let me go until I was done; it also reminded me that I really do like platformers, especially the part that involves searching for and collecting every last little piece.
Currently working on learning some Python, both for my own interest and in hopes that it will prove useful in my career. I decided to start out working on a kind of old school text adventure game. The project is both fun and interesting and already I’ve learned quite a few things (aside from the little bit of Python that I’ve learned from it).
Everything that everyone tells you about learning to code is true: you learn more if you have a project you are working on. There are several reasons for this, motivation being the least of them; the biggest reason, in my opinion, is that having a project in mind will push you to stretch the limits of what you know and try new things.
The guys who wrote the classic text adventure games were amazingly talented writers. It is really hard to make a game interesting when you are limited to text to convey everything. I’m doing text as a placeholder, but even so, it’s hard to strike the balance between evocative and tl;dr.
The more details you have fleshed out about your setting & characters, even if you don’t convey 90% of it in-game, the richer your game will be. I started out with a seed idea and haven’t really done a lot of world building yet, and it shows.
I’m pleased with the amount of progress I’ve made in a short period of time and I’m looking forward to continuing to work on it. Right now my goal isn’t really to necessarily make something that I can share but mostly to explore some ideas and gain some knowledge of Python; if I do decide to share some of it I’ll post it here.