Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Project 15: 12 Books in 21 Weeks: Update 7

I'm not sure I enjoyed The Player of Games, but I sure did stay up later than I meant to finish it. Machina ex machina, describes it the best I suppose, which leaves me a little unsatisfied with the story as a whole. On the other hand you can always get my attention with vague descriptions of game play.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Project 16: Covert Action in Space

Sid Meyer has a rule, the Covert Action Rule. The Covert Action Rule basically says don’t make Covert Action.

So the next big thing I want to make is basically a recreation of Covert Action. Covert Action in Space.

In covert action you play a super spy (or super agent … or super counter-agent … or something). Each month you’re given a mission and some basic clues. Then you have to stop the bad guys from doing whatever they’re doing. If you succeed you get a clue about the current mastermind plotting the crimes. Once you’ve figured out who and where the mastermind is you can grab them and wrap up that crime spree. Then some other mastermind starts up again the next month.

Now, I’m trying to finish a PhD, so it’s a really stupid time to take up making a game, but that’s where the Covert Action Rule comes in. Basically the point behind the Covert Action Rule is that it’s hard for the player to remember what they’re doing when they have to keep switching between generally unrelated minigames, so make sure that your player always knows what they’re supposed to be doing (XCOM also falls into this territory).

My thought is that given limited time and attention, making a collection of interesting minigames, seems like a good idea. I can work on one minigame when I have time and I don’t have to worry too much about making the whole thing hang together. It should be good practice getting a game made without worrying too much about making the game good.

As for the “in Space” part. I have a sci-fi world sitting around in my head, with a few stories I’d been meaning to write (and a few I’ve managed to put up here). It seemed like a good way to modernize a game that had fallen into abandonware and give it an interesting spin. Rather than having to fight 1990s terrorist across Europe, you could fight space terrorist across the Terran Empire.

The original game had four main minigames; one where you infiltrate people’s offices, stealing their information and possibly arresting them, one where you drive through the city either trying to capture someone or avoiding your own capture, one where you have to swap chips out to trace a car or bug a landline, and one where you have to decrypt messages doing a simple substitution cypher.

I think there are a lot of fun things that could be done after to stretch the game and make it a little more playable than the original. Before that however I want build the original four minigames and get a skeleton basically. Of the four, I’d like to start with the infiltration minigame, and especially with a little bit of fun procedurally generating offices (possibly to do different things) and building up a guard AI.

Due to a mishearing, I accidentally created the mascot for this project. The Flurpin.

I’ve started a bit over the last few months and I have a rough system together that takes requirements for buildings and is able to generate a procedural room graph, that connects all the rooms, but doesn’t actually build a floor plan yet. My next short term goal is to finish creating the floorplans from the graphs. Given that I still have a PhD to finish and this is mostly a “watching TV with the laptop out” activity, I’m hoping to wrap up this the floor plan generation by October 15, 2017.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Blog: Video Games of August 2017

I don't have a very coherent story ab out the games I played in August. I'm finally able to access most of my games again and so can play whatever I'd like. This of course means that there's nothing that I own that I want to play. Hopefully as I get busier I'll find more things to enjoy and if not then I'll be able to put the time I'm not gaming to productive use.

My top five games (by play time) for August were:

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - It's good. It's still really good. I haven't even looked at the Trial of the Sword yet. I'm just over 164 hours right now. I also wrote a long blog piece about how cool I think this game is.

    160+ hours in. I have never been here before.

  2. Pokémon Go - Well, it's summer, they cleaned up the game and it turns out if you keep playing a lot PoGo gets really good. I think they'll need to keep changing up the array of pokémon I'm getting to keep me in, but it's been a fun addition to the commute home lately.

    GASP! It's YOU!

  3. Super Mario 3D World - I've mentioned a few times here that I've finished an embarrassingly small number of Mario games over the years. So I jumped back in and figured I'd try to finish all levels of 3D World. I'd thought some about getting all the stars, but I'm feeling right now that life's too short. The game isn't bad but suffers from not being other Mario games, especially Galaxy. It also has some really bad camera positioning making me feel like the 3D effect would be better left to the 3Ds.

    This game feeds my love of rainbows. 

  4. Sid Meier's Ace Patrol - I listened to Soren Johnson's 4 part interview with Sid Meyer on Designer Notes. I was surprised how much he talked about Ace Patrol and so figured I'd fire it up again. I'm curious to try the starship game too at some point.
    Balloon busting is great. It's like shooting fish floating in the air on strings...

  5. XCOM 2 - I'm not buying myself a Switch until I finish the PhD. But, ... uh ... my mind may be taken ... somewhere. That and the new DLC looks like a ton of fun.
    XCOM2 Firing at things you can't see the game. (Sometimes)

Here's my total play time table for August 2017:

And here's a chart of how much I've played over the month:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Project 15: 12 Books in 21 Weeks: Update 6

Well I didn't expect to blow through the Delirium Brief all at once, but it's was really stressful and I just wanted to know what's happening. I'm more than ready to read the next one too, although I think hoping for a happy ending is ... unwise.

As for The Nameless City I've been working on it a little while and just finished. It's a great book and totally recommended.

Project 15: 12 Books in 21 Weeks: Update 7

I'm not sure I enjoyed The Player of Games, but I sure did stay up later than I meant to finish it. Machina ex machina, describes it the...