Curious Games: I Broke It

adventures in gaming, curious games, indie, research

Last week, I was considering different solutions for altering the conditions of play and mood in my game. Pippin suggested that I use attributes, which can save certain information across scenes and across play sessions. What I decided to do is create different scenes and make them virtually identical to the initial scene, the only differences being the mood music and anything that I choose to add to increase the atmosphere of either euphoria or fear. I realized that it doesn’t even matter if you can play Tic-Tac-Toe in those versions of the scenes as long as the countdown is consistent across them and so is the number of games won. That seems doable.

However, after I duplicated the scenes and the code and made sure that code was pointing to all the right objects within the world, I somehow broke the other scenes (which means that really, they weren’t working in the first place). In the first instance, the console no longer appears even though I have visually placed it in the environment as an actor. Also, I am unable to move the actor that is supposed to move the camera around the level. The other level has the same problem, but compounded: neither the inflator nor the console show up in this level.

I’m going to debug by enabling and disabling parts of the code and seeing what I can do. Not looking forward to this! But that’s all part of the process, right? Then again, so long as I can get the camera to move, I am thinking that perhaps there’s a certain logic to not having those elements in those levels.

By the logic of the game, a euphoric person thinks that there’s nothing wrong in the world, and wouldn’t be concerned about readings on their console that say that they only have so much air left, or are at a certain depth. Similarly, in the “fear” level, the loss of the inflator could be considered a kind of loss of control over the player’s circumstances. But I still want to figure out what’s wrong. If I end up leaving them in, I want it to be intentional, not because I couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

I’m also getting very close to the point where I can no longer put off adding Tic-Tac-Toe to the game because a lot of things (like testing that score stays consistent…unless I want to program artificial scoring conditions) will only be able to be properly tested once I do that.

The rest of my work will involve adding more and more – Tic-Tac-Toe is the last absolutely essential element. That means more crazy euphoric animations of dancing fish (I have decided that this needs to be a thing in my game), more flashing lights, more bizarre decal-style photoshop brush effects appearing in level, more ominous things like perhaps dead fish floating around…More camera shake!

Please enjoy this picture of a fish. More soon.

UPDATE: I appear to have fixed the motion problem (I just had the actor’s speed set too slow) but apparently my sound is creating some of my bugs.

Curious Games: Novel Design Ideas

adventures in gaming, curious games

Think of an object that you’ve been using more or less your entire life. It’s better if it’s an object that uses electricity/has some complexity, but any object will do. Now, in two minutes or less, develop a new use for that object.

This is an exercise that we completed in class this week, first with a keyboard as our object, then with a trackpad and mouse. One of the ideas that my group came up with for the keyboard was the most interesting to me. It involved swiping the keys on the keyboard from one end to the other in order to accomplish something on-screen – perhaps something like shooting in a first person shooter, where the rate at which the player swipes affects the rate of fire, the charge of the weapon, etc.

I have a picture in my head of this actually being for some kind of magical ability – maybe like shooting a fireball or some other kind of magic missile. I think that there is a “sweet spot” rate of swiping, probably the longer that you press, the more charged that the projectile is (meaning that it does more damage), but the faster that you press, the farther the projectile goes (meaning that it goes less far if you take the time to charge it). It would have to be a chain of key presses and releases that sets off some kind of timer that sees how long it is between when a key is pressed and when it’s released, and what the time is between the first and last keys being pressed.

I think that it would be neat if the keyboard were a separate PC keyboard rather than one integrated into a laptop, that the player held at a right angle to themselves and strummed like a harp or something. Maybe a wireless keyboard, so that the player isn’t tied to the desktop.

Although it sounds like a tedious thing to debug, even I can see the glimmer of how to make something like that work on a limited scale in Stencyl, which has “button down” and “button released” behaviour.

Curious Games: Musical Adventures

adventures in gaming, curious games, indie

After finding out about Wolfram Tones, I was adamant that I wanted to use it to make music for the game – specifically, during the “euphoria” and “fear” parts of the game, I wanted to have appropriate music. Well, it turns out that Mac no longer supports the QuickTime plugin in-browser. Wolfram uses QuickTime, so I couldn’t play anything on my Mac as I composed it. That made using Tones pretty much impossible, so I went over to my desktop, made some awesome music, then sent the midis to my email and tried to open them on my Mac. On to the next adventure: the midis can’t be played in Audacity, which is the audio editing software that I’m using. So, at first I tried to find a midi to mp3 converter, but couldn’t find a free one and am too cheap to pay 30+ dollars for something that I likely won’t get much use out of. Instead, I updated QuickTime to QuickTime 7, opened the midis there, and recorded them with the computer’s microphone directly into Audacity. Since I don’t have a recording studio, I had to restart several times as my fiance chatted to me, not realizing what I was up to, as people passed by our open window, and as my future in-laws moved about their house. But, at last, victory is mine!

I now have “Happy Music” and “Sad Music”! I’ll try to eventually get them up here for you to listen to. Meanwhile: Wolfram Tones is awesome, but much easier to use on a PC. Give it a shot!

Thinking about how to implement some of the randomness: I’m thinking that the easiest thing might be to set timers and have the scene change for some of the more complicated of my “special effects” – like the euphoria/fear effects. It would also fix my fish problem (that the character needs to be created in the scene to be able to follow a character in the scene). I’d just have to find a way to keep the score for the tic-tac-toe games consistent across the scenes. That’s probably more trouble than it’s worth, but this is not actually a game about playing tic-tac-toe (did anyone think it was? okay, maybe it is). If I can keep the game board and score consistent across the scenes, then this is the perfect solution (if a bit complex. I’ll of course be looking into other solutions).