Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Writer of Things

I never know how to write introductory posts that aren't lame, so let me try to keep this short:

I am the Writer of Things. I've been brought onboard here at Groundling Games to script Robot.

Although I've done some spec dialogue work here and there, my primary background as a freelancer writer lies in the tabletop roleplaying industry. (You can check out my online Bibliography.)

If you're looking for a quick primer on how I think about interactive narrative structures, check out:

The Three Clue Rule
Don't Prep Plots
Getting the Players to Care
Remixing Keep on the Shadowfell

These essays were written for pen 'n paper gaming, so the methods of execution may be radically different when it comes to computer games. But I think the underlying philosophy remains fairly constant.

A final introductory thought: If I could only eliminate one flaw in modern game design it would be the presence of narrative dead space. Pauses of faux-poignancy. Droning repetition. Facile time-wasting. A lot of modern games are the narrative equivalent of a tight two-hour movie blown out into a six-hour waste of time -- they're artificially pumping up their play time by watering down the experience.

Robot is going to be pretty much the opposite of that. Expect intensity.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Trusting Talent

While I continue my implementation of Ghost, Justin (a extremely talented writer) continues his work with Robot, using the newly released Chat Mapper. Because of its new features, I will need to make time and modify the Yack Pack exporter *.DLL. I know, I know. If I were to focus on one project at a time, I could get that project do that much quicker. But by having multiple projects in different areas of development (in this case, pre-production and production), I am allowed to trust the talented people I surround myself. Besides, other than resolving the exporter issue, I would just impatiently annoying that talent.

Ghost is going well. Using a modified maze generation algorithm, I randomly create a path through a 5x5 tiled board (board size is arbitrary until tested completely). Along the sides of these floor tiles, there are wall tiles that are properly layered to create an illusion of depth. When character-tokens move across the board, their layer position moves up and down to add to that illusion. Ghosts spawn, die, and activate their powers at appropriate phases. Shrines and gates (teleporters) trigger, and appear and disappear based upon ghost population. Bosses spawn and die. The challenge I am running into now is restarting the level once the game has concluded without forcing the players to exit the application altogether. ...At least the game is winnable.