Thursday, December 29, 2005

The World's Longest Short Post

The New Gamer (link on right) send me a link to an article entitled How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days. If you're a game developer, then it's a useful and interesting read. If you're not a game developer, then it just might still be an interesting read. It's certainly gonna help me.

NaViGaWriMo draws ever closer, and I think I'm more or less ready for it. Mind you, I probably won't start coding until the 2nd: I don't want to start and then have to switch to a different computer after two days when I head back up north. I guess this puts me at a bit of a disadvantage.

I'll talk to you all in January. Happy Snowflake Day!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Scope: Setting some boundaries

NaViGaWriMo draws ever closer, so I've had to start thinking in more detail about what, exactly, I want my game to be (for convenience when talking about it, the project will hereafter be codenamed Extinguish). Time and skill constraints are going to be bearing down on me like a hundred starving weasels, so I will have to simplify. The following is a rough idea of how complex and how simple Extinguish is going to be.
Fuck realism. If you want realism, play Call of Duty or something. Wherever realism conflicts with ease of play or speed of production, it will be cast out the window without a second thought. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. Taking this point-by-point:
-In a REAL fire, what's burning is generally the stuff in the house. Furniture, carpets, curtains, that sort of thing. Now, to create a fire that behaves like that, every room in the house would need dozens of objects. I'm gonna have to simplify and abstract here. Fires will just... spread. Across the ground. Probably by tiles, but fuzzily enough that it's not inherently obvious. There will be furniture, which will burn faster than just plain ol' fire, but it'll be a simple affair. Little blocky tables and bookcases... that sort of thing.
-I want smoke. Smoke is a big fat part of the danger of fighting fires. I want the player to be able to bust into a room and be afraid to continue further because of the big, thick black haze covering the air. Besides, it shouldn't be that hard to do. Just in case it is, thought, I'll probably add this close to last.
-Apparently when a room is on fire enough, and reaches a certain temperature, then the whole room will just EXPLODE into on-fire-ness. I think it's called flash point? Someone correct me on this. Anyways, it's a small detail, but I still want to add this.
-Breaking down doors with a fire axe is another neat idea, but I don't know if I could do it well. The graphics, the physics, the interface... I'm sure it could be done, but I don't know if I have time for it. Same applies to getting cats down from trees.
As I've said, I'm going to be using the Zombie City III engine for most of the graphics (for those of you who haven't seen ZC3, I'll try to host it so you can). I'll probably have multiple variations on the Being model - one for the fireman, and a handful of different ones for the various people. Maybe even kids! I'm not sure what I'm gonna do for the cats, though. Cats are an integral part of Extinguish.
I'm also unsure of what to do with the floor. In ZC3, it's flat grey - but I dont' think that'll cut it. At the very least, I'd make it various floor-like colors, like wood or carpety colors. Textures? Eeeehhhhhhhhhmaybe. It might be nice, it might be time-consuming, it might really accentuate how primitive the Beings look. Maybe, maybe not.
Fire effects, I have done, but mostly in the context of explosions. This'll be my first time creating persistent fires, and they have to look FIERY. Fires are the focus of the game (aside from cats), and they have to be convincing. The trickiest thing will be a convincing transition from fire on the ground into smoke in the air... but I think I can do it. Similar to the fire effects will be the water effects - except this, I have never worked with. I really hope I can make it look at least decent.
I haven't decided if I'm gonna do dynamic lighting yet. On one hand, the flickering of the flames and the darkness of the burnt-out areas would TOTALLY add to the atmosphere, on the other hand, having that many light sources would be an ENORMOUS processor-taxer. Unless I can think of a clever way to do it, I may have to leave out this one.
All graphics aside, the people you are rescuing must be detailed. They will have names, families, and jobs. This will make the player more motivated to rescue them. It's not just dropping your grade from an A to a B... it's letting a man die. A man with a name, and a family. This is where the emotional impact of the game will be. Guilt and pride. Your task is an important one.
I'm still unsure on whether or not to have randomly-generated houses. It WOULD be neat to have infinite areas to explore and rescue people from, but 1) It would be hard as hell to implement, and 2) I lose control over the building design. I'll need to carefully design the levels so that it's always possible to rescue everyone if you're fast and skilled enough. So, I just don't think it's possible.
At some later point in the process, I'll have to get a TOTALLY KICKASS gamer to play through my game and refine his skills on each level until I can safely ascertain what will be required to achieve an S rank on every level. That will probably be one of YOU! Unless no one is reading this. Then it's less likely.

Well, I'm sure I have more to say, but it's not coming to me now. Besides, this post is long enough already. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Due to the scheduling difficulties of the holiday season, NaViGaWriMo is being moved from December to January.

You won't hear much more from me until new year's. Maybe 1-2 posts.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ding ding ding?

I've got a game idea. A workable idea. A fairly non-violence-based idea. I think it might work. I need feedback.

The setting: A building. Maybe one story, maybe more, I don't know. Just that it takes place in a building, with rooms and hallways and all that jazz. The building is on fire.
The hero: A firefighter.
The goal: Hunt down all the fires in the building, put them out, and save any people trapped behind the flames before they die.

Each stage would be a new building, probably increasing with size as the game goes on. Infinitely? I don't know. Maybe. The stage would begin with one or more civilians wandering the building, and one or more fires spread throughout the building. If left to themselves, the fires grow. Rooms can have furniture, which would serve to slow you down and to hasten the spread of the flames. You would enter at the ground floor, and try to get to the civilians as quickly as possible. If they see you, then they'll start following you automatically. Once found, you then lead them to the exit, or perhaps a window on that side of the building (from which a ladder would be raised to let them down... not sure on the specific mechanics here).

Display would be either straight top-down or from an angle as per my Zombie City titles. Control would be with WASD to move and the mouse to aim and spray water. I haven't thought of how to limit you from constantly firing the hose... if you had limited water, there would need to be a way to replenish it. The level would end when all civilians are either saved or dead, all fires are extinguished (optionall? stage-dependent?), and you escape the building. Depending on the amount of property damage and the amount of lives saved, you recieve a ranking on the mission. Faliure would be reached by either getting too low of a ranking, or dying on a stage.

So that's the basic idea. I think there needs to be something else to it... it's almost too simplistic. But it's a start.

Comment comment comment comment for the love of God COMMENT.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

NaViGaWriMo goes global

...or at least, out of my dorm.

No new developments on my end of things, I'm just here to alert you to the second participant of NaViGaWriMo, R. LeFeuvre. He's far more together and with it than I am, what with already having a fairly detailed game plan all laid out for him. The game, Genki Genki Supaa Panic Button, looks pretty groovy and original. Forget exploding cars, the future of gaming is all about muffin baking.

Anyone coming here and reading this: Go over there and read that. Anyone who came here from over there to read this: Hello.

Now back to letting game ideas roll around in my brain like a time-traveling laundromat.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Getting the ball rolling

All right, if I'm gonna go through with this, I'll have to decide what kind of game I'm making. A number of factors have to be taken into consideration...

What I Want:

First and foremost, the game has to be fun. If I don't enjoy playing my own game, then most other people won't either, and I might as well not make the game at all.
Second, I want it to be unique. I am not making a clone. At least to some extent, I want to make a gameplay idea that has not been seen before. Innovation. Interestingness.
Those are my big two. There are other things that I want, but they're generally either too minor or too unattainable to list. In the interest of time, let's move right on to...

What I Can't Do:

I'm working with two handicaps here: I'm by myself, and I have a time limit. That rules out the following:
-Anything with sprites or detailed models. I don't have the artistic capability.
-Music, too, is out. Sound is unlikely. These may be added in later versions, after the one-month period is over.
-Plot? If I have one, it'll be simple and minor. No epic, earth-shattering storylines. I don't have the time or skill to write them, and I don't have the time to implement them.

Okay, we have our rules. We're looking at something simplistic, yet engaging, using highly abstracted graphics (something like This Guy's stuff, perhaps?). Gee, sounds like alot of my old games. Looks like I'm making another one in the same vein.

Available genres:
Action: I have experience here. Phoenix 2X, Entropy XXIII, and Zombie City III were all passable action games. I can make another one, but I'd need a cool concept for it or I'm just flogging a horse. A dead one.
Puzzle: Haven't done much treading here. The big problem is, it's hard to come up with a fun, interesting straight-up puzzle game that hasn't already been done somewhere. That, and my audience is limited. (If you disagree, we're probably using different definitions of the genre... which brings us to:)
Action-Puzzle: Here we have our Tetris, our Dr. Mario, our Tetris Attack. This is the stuff addictions are made of. A personal favorite of mine, and a tempting choice, if I can come up with a clever concept.
RPG/Adventure: Cautious. My options are limited, considering my time and resources. Text adventure? Never made one, that'd be scary ground to tread on at this point. Roguelike? Hmm. I had some fairly extensive plans for one, but I don't know how good I'd be at making it, considering my lack of experience.

I'm not going to use any of my current or future projects. Vertical has a partially established engine, but... good lord no. It'll take me WAY over a month to complete that beast, even IF Preston would give me the sprites for it. Zombie City IV isn't sufficently planned out, and I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a big enough project that I wouldn't have the time to make it everything I want it to be. Both of those will be shelved for now.


I leave it to you, whoever is reading this, to chuck some ideas at me. I don't expect to get anything really final at this stage (although I'm open to being surprised), but some suggestions should help get the wheels turnin'.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Testing... testing... is this thing on? Awesome.

All right, I've finally figured out what I'm going to do with this thing. I will use it as a Development Blog for my (solitary) participation in National Video Game Writer's Month, or NaViGaWriMo. I will begin planning the game some time this month, begin coding on December 1st, and release the game on January 1st. For lack of a tangible goal (you novelists have your 50k mark to hit), my goal is to make a game that I am sufficiently satisfied with to release upon the world.

The obvious question that I ask myself is what, exactly, I'll be posting on this blog. Well... stuff. Various thoughts. Describing the development process. Throwing out gameplay ideas for feedback purposes. If I can find a decent free file-hosting service, maybe even limited demos expressing single aspects or features of the final product.

For the rest of November, however, there will be precious little here. Speculations as I try and decide what kind of game I'm going to make.