Saturday, September 14, 2013

End of Summer Update

 The dust has been collecting here since Janurary. Time for an update!

Free time has been very short since the last update. Things with my current job never did slow down. If anything, they became more intense and time-demanding. The work is both exciting and interesting for me, so I can't complain. Some of the things I've either learned from scratch or improved along the way prompted me to start my own web browser game engine, which is a Wizardry-like CRPG type thing. I'm not sure how much will actually get done with this, but it's a fun side project to tinker with. But of course, nothing half as Robb Sherwin's upcoming game, Cyberganked.

Within the bits of free time I've had, I found myself reverting back to simpler things. Actually playing some games rather than writing them, and most of these being older games. I acquired a Commodore 64 setup over the past few months, including a Zoom Floppy. More than a few hours have gone into playing games like Wasteland and other RPGs on this setup. This has been a bit of inspiration for creating my own "retro" graphics for use in my games.

One such game is one I worked on some more this morning called "Surf's Down". It's original intention was for it to be a non-traditional IF written in Hugo for an upcoming Hugo Comp. That competition has yet to come, but I continue working on it here and there because it's been a good learning exercise for me as I write the more complex DPRK game. Hopefully the short source code of Surf's Down will also serve as good example code for others learning Hugo as well.

Surf's Down is basically a Hugo conversion of an old Atari 2600 game prototype which was never released, called Surf's Up. I fired up the game on an emulator and was actually a bit impressed with some of the design aspects of the game, especially the beginning phase of paddling out into the ocean. I've been a surfer for quite a while myself, and despite the very out-dated graphics, I felt the game managed to somehow capture the feeling of going out into the waves. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay phase of the Surf's Up left much to be desired. The gameplay in my game is decision-based, yet all decisions are made using cardinal compass points.

Progress on Three Days in DPRK has been much slower than I had hoped for. At one point, I was considering trying to enter it into IFcomp 2013. In retrospect, I'm glad I did not. While the game is roughly three-fourths complete, it would have been way too much of a rush to try to finish something I'd be confident in entering. Instead, I look forward to playing the games of others. Perhaps I'll have something ready for Spring Thing 2014. Though, I think Interactive Dreaming would be a bit more well suited for that one.

The actual code of Interactive Dreaming hasn't been touched since my last update here, but the story and materials for the game continue to slowly build. The conversation system also needs to be redone now that I've removed a prototype system I used in Lunar Base 1. Trying some recent ones others are using has some ideas about what I'd like to use or create myself, but I'm still researching this. A new release of Inform may affect this as well. While I'm eager to try the new version once released, I'm not sure how smooth it will be to compile Interactive Dreaming along with all of its required libraries.