Silently, but still here.
More available at: my tumblr art page
…this text can be seen. I’ve been doing a server move. Looks like it worked out pretty okay.
The main project
Year 2013 was me mainly about The Infected card game. A card game that I’ve been iterating for several years. I got a beta out (which is basically the feature-complete game, lacking better rulebook, better tutorials… and some card typo fixes) and aim to get the polished version out early this year (2014).
I must say that creating a simple, short-to-play, fun card game isn’t as easy as I anticipated. The time to ship physical products around the world takes time.
Each of these prototypes had a different purpose: Angry Troll Run was about me seeing how difficult it is to develop for Android. Thinglings was “I want to make this really simple, really small card game on desktop” and for Raftsmith I wanted to see if I can draw fast & make a survival game. The game initially had much more plans… but at least I got the very, very, very compact & playable version out.
And yes, one game a month is cool. You too should join.
Some thing that got less attention was my 7 day FPS entry… which unfortunately I could not finish due problems with the FPS game creator. (yeh, I blame technology here, bear in mind that I wanted to spend days not weeks on these). I had a pretty cool story about a murder that happens in a hotel and that detective must figure out who did it… there was several characters and some “hey, why those planks on the roof look odd” type of figuring for the player. Too bad FPS creator simply could not meet all the tiny details I wanted. It was pretty cool thing to work on though.
I continued playing around with the detective ideas and drafted some plans for a a procedural detective/forensic game.
I thought about the gameplay but couldn’t get past “clue” type of hunting so eventually I thought this was too complex beast to tackle. I wish somebody goes and makes a complex, narrative procedural detective game one day, but all the plans I had are not technically so easy. Narrative AI must go some steps further.
I also dived into the Unity camp and made some technical demos for just myself. My first bit grim entry is called Rest In Pieces, and it’s actually pretty neat and there’s some ideas for developing it further… so I just share a picture. This might turn into something more at some point. We’ll see.
I also made a very crude mobile prototyping tool for myself (since I couldn’t bother taking dice and figures to xmas trip). This tool was helping in designing simple gameplay mechanisms (or theoretically even simple games).
Unity is simply a really cool thing and I’m totally sold for it.
I tweeted “Give a man a game engine and he delivers a game. Teach a man to make a game engine and he never delivers anything.” (which sort of sums up my own experiences and thoughts when we look at the industry today) and it got 1000+ retweets pretty fast.
The Selene Project
(Please rate and comment here, thanks!)
And the year ended me participating in the Ludum Dare jam. In just 72 hours I created a pretty moody space game where player needs to answer some really serious questions. The game has many layers in which it tries to do and I’m actually very, very pleased how it turned out.
A short teaser is available on youtube:
I’ll write a more detailed “post mortem” and future plans regarding The Selene Project later.
That’s pretty much my gaming year 2013 in pictures (with a some piecesof commenting too…)
Over and out.
I’ve finally got my card game released: The Infected: 28 Cards Later (website). The game is feature complete and fully playable. There won’t be any major gameplay affecting changes. I will still be making some minor modifications to card texts (fixing grammar, perhaps doing simplifications) but … the game is out.
That’s worth repeating: After three years, my small game is out.
I will write a more extensive “lessons learned” post in the future, but meanwhile..
I was browsing some earlier photos of the physical version of the game and just had to share this.
Here’s two images showing how the game looks on my kitchen table in a real world (I’ve used plastic sleeves, which cause bit of shinyness, but I’m sure you get the picture) and pretty similar situation in the virtual version.
More information coming soon. Stay tuned.
I’ve changed my twitter handle from (generic) @gameproducer to @sandbaydev.
I’ve been working on my The Infected card game for quite a bit now… and decided to give myself bit of extra work before the release. In addition to physical version, I’m creating a digital version of my card game. I’m using Unity and based on brief testing, it looks like I can get Windows, Mac and Linux builds done with just a few mouse clicks.
The digital version currently is only for one player (while the physical version is up to 4 players). The setting simulates a real tabletop games… meaning that there’s no flashy highlights and tutorials. No, instead you actually gotta pick up that rulebook pages on the table and read them… in-game. Same goes for cards: game isn’t telling where you must move those pieces. Physics and few actions (mouse controlled) let you do everything you need.
Here’s a screenie… (click for HD version)
I’ve been finalizing my Infected card game, currently getting more people to test it out… (who would have guessed this takes time with physical decks).
Meanwhile, I’ve been doing research for a procedural murder/crime/detective game. A game where crime would be procedurally set up. Here’s an example story that might happen…
(Please notice this is a murder story. Just letting you know, in case you happen to be sensitive about that sort of stuff)
You are a fresh investigator: newly promoted detective who has just arrived to his first murder scene. Victim is Mary Arrington (a 33 year old white female. The person who found her body is Peter Ash (41 year old white male). Peter is in shock. The victim was shot once to head (front).
There’s Peter’s fingerprints all over the place.
You can choose to discuss with the suspect (everybody is a suspect), Peter, about what happened or examine crime scene.
By looking around, there’s several clues to be found:
- sock prints (unidentified)
- place is clean: no breaking & entering
- not a burglary: no jewelry, or wallet taken
- Peter’s fingerprints
- Hair prints (unidentified)
After talking with Peter, you found out some other information about relationships:
- She had no enemies.
- Peter was Mary’s new boyfriend (begun 2 weeks ago)
Interviewing Mary’s closest friend Joan reveals:
- Mary broke up with Rick (white male, 33) couple of weeks ago or so
- Rick still loves Mary
- Rick hated Peter
From this evidence, the investigator might conclude that Rick should be interviewed: he has a motive (hurt Peter by killing Mary. Use of gunshot so that no pain would be caused, as Rick still loved Mary and didn’t want her to suffer).
Sock prints and bloodstains suggest that Mary knew her killer – there was no fighting.
Of course there could be further clues, evidence and other things to examine but anyways the main points of the story are listed above…. and this is something that could be procedurally generated.
Back to development
I was wondering how could a murder story be procedurally generated, and first obvious problem is dialogue. I concluded that it might be worth trying by having no dialogue at all.
Then I proceed planning the characters & relationships generator: it’s quite straightforward to procedurally create characters (gender, age, appearance, history and so on), their relationships with each other (A hates B, loves C is neutral towards D etc). Then there can be some event or series of events (Mary breaks up with Rick). So far so good.
By creating a motive, the system could then generate more facts on how the murder was done. Planned? Unplanned? Was the person careful or reckless (=reflects killer’s personality). What’s the weapon of choice (did killer want victim to suffer? do the kill silently?) – all these could be based on the generated character.
Then there could be procedurally generated murder location & place.
And so on.
The main focus would be on variety of objects, events, characters and relationships. Not with graphics (graphics, as far as I’m concerned, could be just colored rectangles or something).
The nagging thing that remains in my mind is: would it be interesting to play? With procedural content, you will get some silly cases too… who knows if at some point the system generates a story where grandpa murdered his wife using a cane because grandpa hated flowers grandma brought to home because of traumatic flower incident grandpa had at his childhood.
I keep thinking a bit more.
It feels this might be worth prototyping.
I’ve been designing, re-designing, re-re-re-designing my The Infected card game, and I’ve come to realize there’s one huge challenge that I could have tackled differently. Now it’s too late to do pretty much anything, but to my future self: read this blog post.
Use icons, symbols rather than text
This is hugely important lesson. This way you can create a layer between card (or piece) and the action that occurs after use of the card. Rather than having “card -> action” (e.g. “card states heal 2 wounds”, you’ll have “card -> icon -> action” (e.g. card has an medkit icon, which meaning is explained in a rulebook: “medkit icon: heal 2 wounds”).
The reason is simple: Whenever I’ve made changes to the game rules… I might end up needing to alter several card texts or reprint some of the cards.
Helps you test & change rules
Here’s a simple example: rather use “Heal 3 wounds” as the description text of a medkit, simply have a medkit icon there. And write to the game rules that “medkit icon” means you get to heal 3 wounds. If you later want to adjust the medkit to mean that you can heal “2 wounds”, you can simply do this by adjusting the rulebook. No need to touch the actual cards.
Sure, later you might still need to ensure that medkit also means “draw a card”, and then you must add a card drawing icon on the card… so there’s cases when icons won’t save you. Many times they can though.
And what happens if you want to translate the game to other languages? With symbols or icons it’s pretty simple: you only need to touch the rulebook. With text written on the cards… not so straightforward.
And then letting others test your game: if you can improve your game by changing the rulebook, that’s pretty handy.
And let’s not forget game updates later: if you want, you can tweak values of certain cards even after publishing the game. If medkit should have been “heal 2 wounds” instead of “heal 3 wounds”, it’s really simple modification to do & share to the players of your game.
This approach doesn’t necessarily work for all type of games, but for many games this type of thinking probably can come handy.