Tag Archives: game development

Pole hammers and word monsters

poleaxe_hammer

I was inspired to do this concept of a poleaxe-like weapon after watching a guy talk about a Danish axe on youtube. Yes, I watch stuff like that. I want to keep the Scout’s Journey weaponry halfway realistic (if you count laser pistols and insect-powered biorailguns and plasma cannons that look like half a motorcycle among those) but I get the feeling this weapon kinda stretches it a little. It does look cool, so I might eventually fit it in there. I maybe overdid it with the energy weapons for the Order faction a little, they are some conservative guys after all who value a good hunk of steel, so one of them might step up and adopt the hammer-axe.¬† Who knows. Then again, I’m still sketchy on what weapon to give my “army of the dead” type NPCs, but does this look like something the good guys would use?

Exactly, it looks like it was made to smash the infidels. So, in the Order pile it goes. It does fit the bill of sci-fi mutations of medieval weapons that I’ve got going on, so it’s probably a contender. Sci-fi inquisition type stuff.

I’ve hit a snag with my script. It really is very close to done now, as I said to my beta-reading author friend Dan recently, I doubt there will be another major revision. Just got to go over it with the fine comb a couple more times. This and that needs smoothing over still. But I might just take a time out from writing and do other stuff again. My fingers are itching for some art. If only it was easier to find beta readers. Is reading some kind of lost art? You only need to wave a couple-thousand word document around and people scatter in all directions. What the heck. Makes me wonder how people react to books these days. You know, those 300-page monsters made out of dead trees.

The horror, the horror.

 


Script 3.0

G’day, friends and copper-stickers.

Long time no post. I’m here to change that.

There was a bit of family drama that required my attention recently, and that accounted for a few exhausted weeks. But I’m getting back in the groove.

The major attention right now is STILL on scriptwriting. I’m in the third revision. The plot condensed even more. Still fewer cinematics, more interactive scenes (a little like the Half-Life 2 ones, but not so static), ¬†tightened-up introduction and end. The player is inserted into the game after a relatively short, action filled cutscene, followed by a bunch of interactive scripted things, Scout is still more emotional, you’re being watched wherever you step, nowhere is safe, and the world is a big grab bag of stuff to be explored.

Player initiative is the guiding principle. You get lots of choice.

There is a middle sequence that’s especially difficult to get across because the protagonist does an absolutely crazy thing there. I’m still working on making the player understand Scout’s motivation and getting the player on board with the crazy decision. It’s a lot of fine-tuning to set this major event up and prepare the player for what’s coming without shoving it down their throat.

Gameplay is in the script now instead of separate. High integration.

I’ve gotten a ton of feedback on the script and implemented 90% of it. I hope to get still more feedback. This thing is being road tested like crazy. I’m getting brick-in-the-face type feedback and learning from it.

One of my exchanges unfortunately failed, I didn’t hear back from the other author. That kind of thing is a setback but we’ll just have to plow on. I’m in contact with another beta reader to offset this.

On another note, the old RMQ project website is online again. Supa is going to do something with putting the stuff on Quaketastic. And I added the old Quake Radiant mapping tutorial to the menu up there on this page together with the CSQC stuff.


obviously

Love the mood swing.


Cross your edges, Blender

cerp_wheel

Damn, Blender. You made me spend hours breaking my head about how to merge edges at their intersection.¬† And then I find out you can’t do it. How is this not part of the standard functionality? I’m surprised. You made me jump through hoops, old friend.

I had to do that switch wheel in two parts because all the control edges would create ridges in the outer ring. So I decided to chop it up and sort of do the middle part as a floater. This is all going to get baked down anyway. I’m a bit rusty on the high poly modelling side!

cerp_wip1

The CERP rifle got a make-over in GIMP. I decided that the shoulder stock is movable. A magazine will have to fit in there somehow – perhaps remove the stock, or rotate it somehow, to exchange the magazine.


Theme Park

Two additional themes joined the growing pile of SJ soundtrack material recently. These are work in progress and might appear in the finished game in various different guises. “Building blocks” would describe these pretty well.

The first is a heroic adventure type theme. I’m not sure where it will end up. For one, I’ll probably add stuff to it as I go. The other is a horns-and-trombones fanfare that sounds a bit like troops marching along. Maybe this will end up being the theme for Naruuk, the Star-Eater, although probably in a more evil sounding variation.

These are fun to make. I knocked each of them together in Reaper in a couple hours, using Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra and the EpicVerb plugin by Variety of Sound.

The actual soundtrack will have to be cobbled together from various dynamic bits and pieces and will probably be one of the last things that get done, simply because it needs to be fitted to cinematics and so forth. It’s never too early to start producing material, though. The more there is to choose from, the better!

There’s several other themes that have never been uploaded here, so audio friends have something to look forward to!


From the Righting Desk

The script to Scout’s Journey is developing continuously. Some really nice feedback I got recently made it clear to me that some things need to be better explained or prepared. I have ways to do that and am currently implementing the required changes. The player should understand these things much better now. This is where feedback really comes in handy.

The character of Scout has been under scrutiny. Her reaction to various terrible events (and there are terrible things in this game, believe me, it’ll have to ship with a trigger warning) was often too cold. She is a little more emotional now, but still far from touchy-feely. She is a soldier after all. This emotional side to her character practically requires any combat to be of a steep difficulty with retreat always a viable option – we have to avoid the “emotional cutscenes, mindless brutality in gameplay” problem that plagues some other games. I’m doing that by making the two ends meet somewhere in the middle. You can kill for your food in Scout’s Journey, but it won’t be a casual thing. Going up against a fully stocked faction battle group armed to the teeth won’t be easy. The enemy is as tough as you. Gotta use those smarts, place a few traps, put devious plans into action to soften up the target before you strike. Bring some friends or exploit inter-faction warfare, maybe. Or just stay hidden, listen in on a patrol and learn a profitable code or a password.

The plot is also slightly shorter now. A dozen scenes have been cut from the script, especially those that neither moved the main plot nor dealt with Scout’s character development or any subplots. The largest amount of worldbuilding takes place in logfiles (both audio and text), lore, quests, dialog and environmental storytelling now. The script contains two flashbacks treating the parts of the story that happened before Scout came along, but that’s it.

The scenes of the introduction have been pared down and reordered so the story starts with the main character instead of the exposition. The entire thing has a more solid feel now.

Did I say earlier that the story was finished, or that writing was easy? Hahaa, well, reality called. It’s actually unbelievably friggin’ hard. But on the upside, the script is basically there. The script outline is complete, the ending stands, the middle has subplots and twists, the plot is a solid thing, the characters are in place. Large parts have been written out in long-form, dialogue script already. It’s just about fixing it up and polishing now. The last 10% are the hardest.

For your entertainment, you may read a recently written audio log (one page) here.

 


My stance on Let’s Plays

In reference to this:

I like Let’s Plays. But when a game only sells 15,000 copies and its Let’s Play videos on Youtube have millions of hits, and youtubers make a profit off of that while the developers get nothing, there’s an imbalance.

Yes, there is fair use. An honest review would be fair use of the developer’s content because both parties get something out of it. You take something, and you give something back. However, putting large amounts of content on Youtube with very little effort spent on commentary by the youtuber, or just trashing someone’s content in a derogatory way for effect, to amuse your audience, is a bit much, especially if the youtuber makes good money off of it.

It has to meet a certain level of fairness. The question is, then, where the line should be drawn.

Look at the term “fair use.” See, there’s the word “fair” in it. Could we use that as a guideline to determine when we’re going too far?

When you’re a youtuber whose videos regularly get millions of hits, or you have millions of subscribers, and the maker of the game is an individual or a small indie developer who sells a couple thousand copies at most (and no, this is not “easy to accomplish” for an indie game), then you’re in a much stronger position. You’ll typically use other people’s content to become even more famous and make even more money. You’ll even trash that developer’s game just because your viewers love to see you do that. It might not even be about the content, it’s probably about you, the youtube celebrity, and your career, and your army of subscribers, and your expensive shampoo, for fuck’s sake.

That stretches the “fair use” thing a little, especially if the other guy spent five years making that game in a dirty cellar eating mouldy bread and then didn’t see a penny for it because his investor, his publisher and Steam took it all. You know, that even makes me a little angry.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of game content it is. An exploration game is not worse than a shooter or a strategy game or an MMO. Exploration IS a game mechanic. It is not somehow “more OK” to rip off a “walking simulator” or a “casual game.” That would be sitting on a very high horse. Content is content. Fair is fair.

I would be OK with a treshold-based model. Giving a cut (10%?) of game video profits (ad revenue) to the content maker if the youtuber has more than 100,000 subscribers or the video gets more than 250,000 hits. Something like that. And put a mandatory link to the game’s website in the description out of fairness. This would allow hobbyists to “fly under the radar” while taxing those pampered youtube celebrities just a little.

Fair? I think so.