Arman's stuff
Fog Convict

(Wed Nov 11 11:55:32 2009)

Ok, I need a better name than that. Seriously. Fog Convict? Fog, yes. Convict... not so much.

I'll work on that, but I'm terrible with titles. Really - I wrote a story for English Comp. called "A Life, Lived." It was about a guy who ran a donut shop on an alien planet; there was a little girl, and a lady he loved. The little girl died of cancer at the beginning, and left him a monkey, who accidentally bit the lady, who died of an infection (hey, it was a collaborative story; the basic plot and the characters were not my idea). I got a 95; 5 points off for a lousy title). Should have called it Monkey Troubles, or maybe Little Donut Shop of Horrors. Ah well, hindsight and all that.

Ahem. Anyway. About... the thing that needs a new title. I'm almost done - it's playable from start to finish as it is, and everything two levels out is ready (the important stuff, and the stuff around the important stuff). I just need to make the third and greater stuff - the decorations.

Thinking about it, I think I might need to add a whole new chapter, so you can have some sense of accomplishment before the ending... hmm. Anyway.

The story begins with your room - on fire. Well, not your room, actually; your suite-mate's room. From there? Well, from there, it's up to you. Take a look here to play; I updated just before I posted this, so it should be pretty much playable (and I put it up on 11/11, at 11:00; missed it by 11 minutes).

Please, please, please report any problems you have with it; the greatest concept in the world will still end badly if all the annoying little bugs aren't dealt with. If you see "You are in a tunnel. Slime coats the walls, and a bug scurries along the floor," you expect that "examine slime" and "examine bug" will give you something besides "I don't know the word 'bug'". Not to mention, that description didn't tell you the exits. That's *always* annoying.

There's two major areas that need work. First, I need to add more decorations; like the bug and slime, people expect to be able to look at anything that is described. The game is good as it is, but decorations mark the difference between good and great. That alone will take a few hours of writing down what needs added/described. On top of that, I need to add points; I have it written down, but I haven't put 'em in yet...

The second area that needs work hasn't even been implemented yet - superverbs. There are two verbs that need to be added: "help" and "exits". "Help" will give you a context-sensitive hint; that alone will be tough, as I'll need to build all sorts of if statements into the game, so the hint system can follow along. You'll get a different hint, based on if you're standing in room 1 ("You need a key. Maybe it's in the laundry?"), or room 2 ("Hey, laundry! Maybe you left something useful in it..."), or if you've asked for hints several times ("Maybe you left something useful in it" to "Try searching the laundry" to "SEARCH LAUNDRY"). That means there needs to be a counter keeping track of where you are, a counter keeping track of what you've seen, and a counter keeping track of which hint you've asked for - in that order. That's a lot of coding. "Exits" will be much easier in the coding sense, but just as hard in the volume of code sense. Basically, saying "exists" will tell you where the (visible) exits to the room are. If there's a hidden exit, it will only appear in the list after it is found; however, exits that aren't actually (ie, "you walk there, but then turn around") will still be described. What this means is that every room needs an extra line of code - "Exits are north, south, and down." Sometimes, this code will be run in rooms every time (ie, mazes); otherwise, only when called.

Text adventures are hard work, and the hardest parts are the ones that are most often overlooked. That makes decorations that much harder - while putting bugs and slime and a dozen other decorations in every room make a better game, the chances of someone looking at the left leg on the poor bug is pretty small. They'll probably just try to HIT BUG WITH SHOE or KILL BUG. Which means you need to put that in there, too: "The bug expires with a SPLAT. Ugh. What a mess." - and now there's a bug mess instead of a bug. I mean, I am playing a game that actually tracks mud on floors, and footprints in snow. And it lets you clean up the mud. That's just wrong.

You have to know when to stop, though, and I'm almost to that point. Eventually, after you've programmed not only the bug to splat, but for you to be able to wipe the goo off your shoe onto the wall, write your name in it, and bury the bug remains, you realize you've spent ages on an insignificant point-A-to-point-B tunnel, and the rest of your story is full of descriptions like "This room is insignificant. There's a wallet here.", and users just get turned off by it. If one room is super-rich, all of them should be.

Well. That's quite enough about that subject. Like I said earlier, be a beta tester! Test my game! And have fun while you're at it, hear?

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This blag is tagged: Fogconvict, Games, Textgames, Writing, All