Gauntlets of Recursion (+3)

Times, trials, and turbulence.


 Next Up to Bat

Brand new project on the rise! I didn’t try all that hard to break away from the overhead shooter genre, so it will be following somewhat along that vein. Since I’m without internet, I decided that now would be a fantastic opportunity to create a small(ish) game that allowed me to flex myself outside of the conventional boundries that all of my games thus far have constrained themselves by. This new project aims to introduce several new systems and areas that none of my games to this point have explored:

Storyline. All five of my released games focus on mindless violence, more or less. Admiral Overalls was about as close as I’ve gotten to a game with a story, and that was just a blurb of text at the start and end of the game. I’d love a game that actually told a story, and being able to offer the players a character who really has a meaning and purpose in the world s/he is in.

Hand-crafted levels. Procedurally-generated content has been the cornerstone of all of my games to date, excluding Admiral Overalls, which Dean actually developed the levels for. Procedural content is neat, but we still aren’t at the point where it can replace the warm feel of a human touch. Being able to custom-tailor levels for more interesting and in-depth situations is something that randomized levels cannot do, and I’m excited to be able to bring to the table.

NPCs and Dialog. Flat-out, I’ve never finished a game that had NPCs in it, or dialog between the player and other characters. I really enjoy both creative writing and writing dialog — which I haven’t invested time in in far too long 😦 — so I’m looking really forward to getting into this. Dean and me agree that a Shadowrun/Morrowind-èsque conversation system would probably work the best for this game, whereas the player selects conversation items from a list when engaging in dialog with another character. The inclusion of dialog will also open the door to the clever insertion of intermittant witty humour, which I’ve sadly had to leave out of other projects. 🙂

Atmosphere. This one is the prime goal, which is really a byproduct of the above items and other things, such as general game polish. Atmosphere is that nice tingly feeling you get when you really feel like you’re part of that world, where you feel like your presence is actually making an impact in that game world. When I played through the project of another developer, Ravuya, and his game, Glow, I realized after blowing the guts out of the last boss that this feeling really was attainable even within hobbyist games such as ours.

But most of all, the rule I’m following for developing this game is KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid! Projects tend to fail because the author bites off more than they can programmatically chew, which I’m confident was the case for my last couple of drop-offs over the last few months. Although it means I’m sacrificing some code cleanliness for ease-of-programming, it’s a trade-off I’m willing to make. The code is still far cleaner than the mess known as Membrane Massacre, so I think I’m safe. 😉

Screenshots? I guiltily admit that I’m writing from work right now, so I don’t have screenshots to display at the moment. I haven’t even talked about what the game is about, either! Hopefully I can shed some light on both of these items in my next entry, which hopefully will start becoming more and more frequent. Work is finally winding down in this final month (August), so I can start to get back in the swing of things when uni rolls around this September.


I’ve realized that with the previous title I gave my right-hand sidebar, “Respected Developers”, that I likely had of insulted a number of people inadvertantly. It now holds the more apt title of, “Exceptional Developers”, which I think is more accurate. I refer to the folks who work their arses off on game development to no end; even more maniacally than the average (but still awesome) developer. If I were to make a list of “respected developers” I would probably run out of webspace trying to list all of you. I deeply respect all of you folks — you know who you are! 🙂

6 responses to “Upcoming!

  1. David a.k.a "Trapper Zoid" July 31, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Best of luck on the new project; I’m eager to learn more.

    I’d like to get to a game with some story myself some time soon, however I need to get a few more subsystems ship-shape before attempting a project of that magnitude. I’m keen to read how you’ll go about tackling your game.

  2. ravuya July 31, 2007 at 6:48 am

    throw new Exception(“I’m a developer”);

  3. Stephen August 1, 2007 at 10:45 am

    David: It seems that we subscribe to different philosophies of writing games. While you’ve been taking the approach of slowly developing a flexible/powerful/capable game engine throughout the last several months, I’ve been writing up new frameworks for just about every game that I create. Although the degree of ease-of-use that you will have once your engine is finished will be greater than mine while I’m building from the ground up each time, I will also have more games completed at that point. But will your newly-finished engine result in you pushing out more games than me in the long run? I don’t know. Both have their merits.

    I do realize the importance of having a solid engine, but I think that it’s mostly overkill, as a person in a hobbyist developer position. Time isn’t money for me, rather, time is fun-ness. Writing an engine doesn’t excite me much — to each their own — so I focus on getting the groundwork finished quickly so that the real fun can be tackled: the game itself. Once you finally do have your engine completed though, I’ll be interested to watch you start pumping out games. 🙂

  4. David a.k.a "Trapper Zoid" August 1, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    I’ll answer this more fully in my own journal later, since it fits into the topic I want to write about today (namely my current game!).

    While my current target is indeed a solid general purpose game framework, the actual approach I’m attempting is fairly similar to yours. I’ve got a fairly clear picture in my mind of what I’d like my game framework to do, but I’ve realised that the best way to understand how to build that framework is to make gradually more complex games. I suppose the main difference is I’ll keep using the same code until it becomes unwieldy, when I’ll refactor it.

    As such, the engine is never truly going to be finished, as I’ll always have improvements to make. Eventually I’ll hit a version that will completely different from what I currently have, but if I make all the changes module by module I can still regard it as the “same” engine.

    I’ll post more in my own journal later today. In other news, I’ve noticed Membrane Massacre got a write-up in GameTunnel’s review panel; reviews were mixed, but that’s commonly the case in the game dev business.

  5. Stephen August 2, 2007 at 5:59 am

    Thanks David — I had nearly forgotten that I had sent them MM several months ago. As for the mixed reviews, well, I can tell that Derek probably played MM for under 3 minutes, while John probably played nearly the whole game. They make a lot of valid points (including the negative ones), and I see it only as good advice for areas to improve upon in my future games.

  6. ravuya August 2, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    I really like Derek, but he can be a bit opinionated at times. This is a blessing and a curse.

    I could probably have predicted that reaction to the game; he really likes ‘personality,’ as you can tell from his site and previous works.

    Feel free to ask him for a more detailed analysis; the last couple of times I’ve disagreed with him, I’ve thought about it more to find he was usually on the dot. Almost certain to get something you can improve the game with that way.

    Also, if you’re gonna ask him, post it again on the Feedback forum on the TIGSource forums; there are some really smart people there and you’ll get an essay or two in response.

    I still love MM, though.

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