Thursday, December 12, 2013

Zarfplan: Mid-December

Yes, it's early. No, it's not the Ides of December yet. That's tomorrow. Good thought, though.

I said that I wanted to place the final rooms and cabinets. That's now complete. With all the locks, navigation, and goal-traversal that they required.

I also decided to implement a lot of bits of paper. You'll recall that over the past two months, I chose locations for all the "magic words and recipes" to be found in the game. (Physical objects were basically all nailed down by November.) This information would appear on sheets of paper that you'd collect as the game went on. The first such sheet appears in the HL teaser.

So I decided, what the hey, I'll implement all of those objects. Not their text -- I mostly haven't gotten to scenery descriptions yet. But I wanted to create the objects, place them in the game, and assign their effects: what rituals and formulae do you learn from reading each one? This is all scutwork; I have all this information in my notes, I just have to crank through them. It'll maybe take me one day. And then that'll be done.

Well, it's done. You want to know how many pieces of paper I wound up with? Forty-three, that's how many. I've spent the past five days on this. (Admittedly, mixed in with some of the more recalcitrant cabinets.)

I intended a play experience rather like Infocom's Enchanter: you explore an area, and every once in a while you find a piece of paper! New recipes! Yay!

Forty-three pieces of paper is not that joyful experience. It's more of a burden. It's "Argh, more paper, what have I done to deserve this?" It's a tornado in a sticky-note factory.

Something is going to have to give. I will need a new game mechanic or two -- some way of discovering information in a location that isn't "See paper, pick it up, read it." The game doesn't need to be any more complicated, but it definitely needs some more variety.

I am not short of options here. There's books; books are always fun. (But I'd have to chain them down, because otherwise players would be juggling twenty books in the inventory, which is zero fun.) (Bits of paper, I can discreetly vaporize after reading.) (Yes, there's a REMEMBER command which gives you access to everything you've read.)

There's the old memory-flashback gag. Walk into a room, remember a lesson... or maybe it happens when you touch an object. Too cliche? I'm not thrilled with it. Maybe I'll have a special monocle you can peer through. I know, Counterfeit Monkey did it, but...

Well, something will turn up.

It will not turn up in 2013. On vacation now. Cookies are planned. Videogames are purchased. (Videogames are already started, to be honest.)

This is not to say that I'm off hacking for the rest of the month. I've done a draft of my other iOS text game idea, but it doesn't exactly work as-is, so that will get some more pounding. I will probably mess around with some Seltani features.

My next update will be at the end of January. Plan for that month: story bits.

Comments imported from Gameshelf

Jay LaPorte (Dec 12, 2013 at 10:20 PM):

In case it's helpful to you: I've always found juggling lots of items, REMEMBER commands, flashbacks, items that you have to peer through, etc. to be infuriating. (I spent most of my time in Counterfeit Monkey completely bewildered.)

If it were up to me, I'd say just have a book that absorbs all of the information somehow. (Like those Moleskine journals, they always have a pocket in the back for your loose scraps.) When you pick up such a scrap, just lock it away in the book immediately so the player doesn't have to worry or care—they can just read the book. (If there's really that much, I guess READ BOOK can give an index, while LOOK UP RECIPE FOR PHOSPHORIC TINCTURE" for details.)

I always thought Enchanter handled this aspect quite intuitively.

Andrew Plotkin (Dec 13, 2013 at 3:08 PM):

That's what I've got, except the journal is the REMEMBER/RECALL command. (RECALL on its own shows the index, or RECALL TINCTURE RECIPE, etc.)

Jay LaPorte (Dec 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM):

Then I suspect your existing solution will work just fine. :)

(But I hope there's an alias, because I guarantee that I'll go through the game and do the following no fewer than half a dozen times: LOOK AT BOOK, curse, REMEMBER RECIPES, WHAT RECIPES DO I KNOW?, curse again, REMEMBER. I guess I just tend to think of looking at a book's index, rather than "remembering," to figure things out. Of course, I'm probably odd—I carry a pen-and-paper journal with me everywhere I go because I have a horrible memory.)

Paul Z (Dec 16, 2013 at 2:45 PM):

You should put other REMEMBERED things in as easter eggs/ amusing victorious players, e.g. REMEMBER COOKIE RECIPE. But, you should finish the game first! :D Really looking forward to this, it sounds so much better than the crap games that I've been playing recently.

No comments:

Post a Comment