Monday, July 24, 2017

Revised Town Map and Other News

After some deliberation and worries about how long it would take me, I decided to revise the town map. The old one had its charm, but it looked a little too slipshod for the area that players will likely see most when they play the game. Here's a toolset screenshot from the new one:

I am still working on finishing up the preliminary section of the game (brief plot summary: it sets up how the characters arrive in Hamlet-on-the-Deeps and start exploring the dungeon). It should really be done soon, I swear! Areas are done, I just need to work on one combat and some conversations.

I've also added another song to the Chilly Catbird band's repertoire:

More coming soon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Work

I'm happy to say that tomorrow is the last day of the (long) semester, and after that I'll be working on the game consistently for the next two months, minus a week or two of travel. I'm not sure how often I will blog about my work, as I'm really trying to dedicate as much time as possible to development -- and, though I've done much, I have tons to do. I've also discovered a limit to how much I can say here -- a lot of the most exciting stuff I'm doing involves spoilers.

That said, know that I have been working diligently on this project since its conception, that I've structured my life in such a way to accommodate work on it (I'm even teaching one fewer classes in the fall for this reason!), and that I've now reached a point where I feel comfortable and confident about its eventually seeing the light of day. "Eventually" is a nice lenient word, but right now I'm aiming for next spring.

These are some of the design principles of the game:

*Story > World-building
*Conversation > Exposition
*The game responds mechanically and narratively to character builds -- often simultaneously
*Tight XP and money economy

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Songs from the Chilly Catbird: Copper Age

This is one of the tracks that plays at the local inn. Have I done anything beside make music for the game? Yes! Lots! A proper update will be coming soon, as soon as the summer break begins. But I'm very happy with where the game is now, even though I have tons yet to do.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ida's Deeps Theme Song

Yay! Lots of work on the game this weekend. Combat is shaping up nicely, and I've finished the theme music for another part of the game, the dungeons of Ida's Deeps.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sorry It's Been So Long!

I've actually been hard at work on the game and made a number of refinements to the scope, narrative, and gameplay. I just haven't blogged, partially because while I can talk about stuff, there's only so much I can really show you or discuss that's of general interest -- and then there's always the possibility I'll change my mind about something, as I've already done with some elements I thought to have established early on.

But I recently finished the PC character portraits, finally -- here are the finished 20 (tokens are the same but just the heads).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Past Tense in Action

This post returns to the subject of a previous post -- past tense and its utility. One of the best things about it for game writing -- especially for games like mine which are low on visual information -- is how much information past tense narration can give in a short amount of time. It takes stuff out of the player's hands, sure, but a lot of that stuff isn't very important (think of all the ways you've had to say goodbye in games). Here's an example of a scene in my game that uses past tense. Everything in bold is a player choice.

The adventurers infiltrated the crowd, hoping to glean information from some of the customers.

Most of the people in the common room were adventurers of some sort, so it was hard to find conversations that didn't involve boasts about treasure, battles, or faction politics. But some stray words on the subject of the Lord Mayor's family caught <FirstName>'s ear, and the party soon found themselves conversing with two individuals, a man and woman, seated in the corner furthest from Cricket.

"Ah, so that's Rylev's sister. He asked us to find out what she's doing in town."

"Did he now? You must be with the Society then. Well, Kilyar and I are free agents," said the man -- his name was Desi.

"And by that, Desi means free in the normal way, not in the Society way." said Kilyar.

"Which is another way of saying we just live here."

"That's right. We' re not adventurers."


"As for what she's doing here," Desi continued, "Kilyar and I have no idea."

"Folks will talk. You know -- She's killed her husband; she's run away with a still unknown and apparently invisible young man; she's stolen a vast quantity of jewels and is on the run from Last City law enforcement."

"And then there's the most obvious theory."

"She's here for Ida's Deeps, just like the rest of you."

"But what about the dungeon interests her? 'Ida's Deeps' is only a partial explanation."

"True. Maybe she'll oblige you with the other part herself," said Kilyar.

The two companions moved on to another subject, and the adventurers excused themselves.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hard at Work/Getting Rid of Chaff

I've been writing, tweaking things, and experimenting a bit with the game, but I haven't much I can really post about. But I swear my silence is productive. 

One of the things I've been intent on recently is cutting -- editing both my writing and, more broadly, elements in the overall design that seem to me superfluous now. 

For instance, I've recently gotten rid of extensive item descriptions for common items as well as detailed mechanical information on weapons and armor. The game is going to be writing-heavy in some respects, but I want most of that writing to be in the form of conversation, and I want to make exposition as minimal as possible. Item descriptions, save in some special cases, will give only mechanical info. For instance, I recently changed the description of a copper wand from a few sentences about the icons on the wand, how difficult the storage of discordium is in magical implements, etc., to "Does magical damage." The other information may be provided in other ways if it seems important for the player to know, or it may not -- I'm really trying to curb the world-building enthusiasm many fantasy-inclined people have except where it has something really important to do with the story.

I also found that I was packing way too much info onto the text item icons, which made them confusing and unattractive, especially on small screens; the information was also redundant and easily accessible via in-game menus. So I've stripped these mechanical elements details away. 

A happy coincidence is that the elimination of both item descriptions and detailed item icons will save me time when adding more items to the game.