Friday, August 10, 2012

A Late Night, and a Milestone

A couple close friends have been kindly chomping at the bit to playtest, and I decided to scope out a demo and work towards that as a milestone.  Focusing my work like this felt pretty helpful, and a few sessions later I found myself cranking out the last few bits.  It kept me up until 3 in the morning, but I got it done and sent off.

It's too early to release anything public, but I'll talk about what it includes and what's next.  Basically, this demo shows the initial set of plot types all working together in randomly variable configurations, forming chains of related goals.  The most complex scenario, involving most of the available pieces, is a hostage situation in which the kidnapper is immune to normal weapons, necessitating a secondary quest to find a magic sword.  This secondary quest can be complicated by the sword being broken into several pieces that must be found.

The storytelling model continues to evolve with each new thing I try to make it do.  Every step so far feels positive, and I get a lot of opportunities to introduce things that feel like they'll be useful as the amount of content increases.  A recent example is an abstraction of a "fact," such as the fact that a hostage has been taken -- these relate to goals but have a separate identity and different responsibilities.

Now that the demo is done, I'll be going back to level layout.  I had a flash of inspiration the other night and want to try out a very promising new strategy that just might lead to great things.  I'll hold off on the details until I see how it pans out, but this could be very good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Less Ugly

Spent the evening working down the backlog of bugs and display issues a bit, trying to prioritize stuff I can't imagine leaving unfinished in any demo I'd give to a playtester.  In particular, I finally took the time to sort out a crash-on-exit bug that I didn't realize quite how much I'd grown to hate until it was gone.

Here are some screenshots demonstrating a simple fetch quest for an item broken in two pieces:

The level structures here are trivial ones used for testing, naturally.  Twisty passages are still ready on tap, with much more to come down the road.

Stuffing the Guts Back In

Quick update today on progress from yesterday evening.  The new core of the quest dependency system is in place and humming along nicely, though I've got a lot of rough edges to grind down now.  The most complex working piece is the "unite the pieces" quest, which now creates individual "find item" quests for the pieces; each of these creates its own location exposition sub-goal that must be satisfied (currently, by listening for rumors in town) before you can go to the area holding that piece.

The next big goal in my sights is a longer chain of quests with a few more pieces: a hostage quest with a specific goal to slay the captor, for which you'll need a special weapon that's broken into pieces that must be found and reforged.  I think I can get this put together pretty quickly now, with the new works in place, but I'm starting to have to devote more attention to narrative details such as how exactly the "hook" for each goal is exposed to the player.