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Introductions: The Don Rogers Show
Jul 16th, 2014 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I will be continuing the top 100 list soon, but I’d like to take an opportunity to re-introduce a radio show that I’m on.

The name of the show is called The Don Rogers Show. I have been tweeting about it and I’m sorry if I have annoyed everyone. I’ll shut up about it.

I’m going to start putting the episodes on the Internet Archive, but in the meantime you can download old episodes here.

So, my deal is that I try to make a text adventure every few years and that’s where all my good stuff is. If you are tired of the wait, this is as good as anything I’ve ever done. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you join me in this continuing audio adventure.

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Ultimate Texas Chili, By Pinback
Mar 31st, 2014 by Pinback

It is time to talk about chili. Specifically, it is time to talk about True Texas Chili, and the greatest recipe you will ever find on this site.

This has been verified by one Laurence "Radio" Trask, who recreated this in his own home and immediately proclaimed it the greatest chili that not only is, but ever could be.

Please delete all of my other chili recipes off of this site. They are disowned.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Top 100 Games: #99 Brataccas
Mar 19th, 2014 by Ice Cream Jonsey

#99 – BRATACCAS (1986, Amiga, Psygnosis)

If this new list accomplishes anything, I hope that it will convince some people somewhere that Brataccas isn’t a terrible game with a terrible interface, but a great game with an interface that is "only" bad.

The premise of Brataccas is that you are a genetic engineer named Kyne. You developed a way to engineer a super breed of man. The government wants this research to create a supersoldier, but Kyne refuses. He is framed for treason, there is a reward for his capture and Kyne travels to the asteroid of Brataccas for evidence to clear his name.

You are then dropped into a self-contained world filled with characters that have their own agendas, their own cares and desires. At no point does anyone give a shit about the well-being of the player of Kyne. It’s surprising that the pages to the manual are even bound together.

Each "room" in Brataccas can have several different things going on. There are elevators, so that you can travel along the game’s y-axis. There are characters to bribe. You can start a fight with almost anyone in the game, which was waay, waaaaay ahead of its time. The cops are trying to arrest you, sure, but they don’t have omniscience. There are security cameras to disable, false leads, bartenders to get rumors from and a lone, hissing psychopath wandering around the asteroid that will try to kill you with his sword for no reason.

The room layout of Brataccas is compact and paranoid and uncomfortably put together. When you get arrested, you travel in real time behind the cop, who drops you off to the jail cell. You go through rooms that, when you start, you probably can’t get to easily, meaning that the act of getting arrested in the game is initially interesting. (Years later, the act of getting arrested in the most famous series of games, GTA, simply cuts to a black screen. Brataccas was ahead of its time.)

There is a problem with the game, however, that every review addresses. Brataccas offers gesture-based mouse controls. And they are just as terrible as you might think with systems like the Amiga, Atari ST and Macintosh that used mice with physical balls.

It’s terrible and inintuitive. This game would be famous if they didn’t screw it up! You move forward by moving the mouse to the right, but then have to stop by holding the button and moving the other way. And you have to stomp that mouse. You have to slowly press down and move it the other way. You’ll gesture to enter combat when you meant to jump. In a way, and I am admitting this is a stretch, the terrible gestures mean that you will randomly start combat with people minding their own business. Some guy that you might want to talk to might end up with a sword in the gut. It adds to the web of lunacy going on in the asteroid.

That said, when I played it on my real Amiga, I saw that the game lets you use keyboard controls. Great! I thought I would try that. And that’s when the final mystery of Brataccas revealed itself to me: the gesture-based controls that everyone savages are actually better than the keyboard controls.

Brataccas is just a game that requires time to learn its controls. It’s like Defender in that respect, it’s just that with Defender you feel like a spaceship captain and every NES game in the world mastered moving people with a gamepad. Because of the gesturing it’s a game of skill with the most wide-open sci-fi world of its time. The speech bubbles are all in caps, with bizarre punctuation. The graphics mode for the Amiga has you at 640×200, which is a very silly resolution to try to do anything in.

Brataccas is the best example that I can think of of an attempt at a simulated, uncaring world. And while I appreciate the quest arrow on Fallout 3 and BioShock, those games will always be a little less than they could be because they care about you in a way that Brataccas never will. It feels just as cold as life on an asteroid probably would be.

I guess I can also put it this way: when it comes to each game I’ve made myself, they always started in the design document phase as open-ended simulations where the player is dropped in and meant to learn and survive, just like (and even thanks to*) Brataccas. None of them have ended up that way because I haven’t been able to achieve what this extremely goofy, yet charming, little asteroid-sim did manage to successfully accomplish. A world.

(*Specifically, the fact that you can start a fight with anyone in Fallacy of Dawn, and the one "CopBot" were inspired from Brataccas, along with the fact that I set Pantomime on a moon essentially the size of an asteroid.)

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Ben’s Famous New Mexican Pork Red Chile
Mar 16th, 2014 by Pinback

Sure, when you hear "New Mexican cuisine", you think of green chile. But did you know that New Mexico is also famous for a chile of a different color? Namely "red"? Well they are! In fact, at any NM restaurant, you’re likely to be asked the timeless question, "red or green?" after ordering your entree! You can have either one, but you’re damn sure gonna pick one, or they’ll throw your fat black ass outta there!

I live in Washington state now, which apparently has STRICT GOVERNMENTAL ORDERS to not sell any NM green chiles anywhere within state borders, which as far as I’m concerned, makes Washington state the lowest, most worthless of all the… what are there, like sixty at this point? Whatever, however many states there are, this is the worst, for this very reason.

I also had a fuckball of a time finding red chile, too, but lucked into the one grocery store in the entire Pacific Northwest that actually carried little bags of New Mexican ground red chile. And on the back of the bags was a recipe! A recipe which I followed almost exactly, except with a couple of very small modifications, resulting in:

Ben’s Famous New Mexican Pork Red Chile, Or "Red Chile With Chunks Of Pork Simmered Therein"

Are you ready? Let’s begin!

INGREDIENTS

—————-

- 1/2 cup ground NM red chile. Please do not fuck around here. Make sure it’s not "chili powder" or some other nondescript "ground chile" you’re talking about here. Make sure it’s directly from NM, because NM red chiles have an extremely distinct, smoky, earthy flavor which cannot be replicated or substituted for by other ground chile products. Seriously. Do not fuck around. Or I will cut you.

- 1 lb pork shoulder, or other pork… product, cut into 1/2-inch or perhaps slightly larger, cubes.

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- 1 tablespoon flour

- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

- 2+ cups water

- Some salt

INSTRUCTIONS

—————-

Heat up oil in a big saucepan!

Put pork chunks and flour in the oil, and brown it!

Put garlic, red chile, and salt to taste in there, and stir well for a minute!

Add 2 cups water, or a little more, to cover all the porks!

Simmer, uncovered, for an hour and a half to two hours or so until the sauce has thickened to a delightful consistency, and the whole dish takes on this deep, silky, vibrant red color that you didn’t know was even possible!

Now it is done! Now you can do stuff with it. What I did with it was: Heated up a flour tortilla, put some of the pork red chile in there, topped with some grated cheese, and then ATE THAT SHIT, and let me tell you, that’s some otherworldly fantastic shit there. NM food is the greatest.

Anyway, there you go. I’MA CUT YO

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The Top 100 Games: #100 Portal
Mar 14th, 2014 by Ice Cream Jonsey

#100 – PORTAL (2007, PC, Valve)

My Internet comedy partner, Pinback, and I have had long discussions about all manner of media. Video games, for sure. But also movies and television shows. One of the concepts I have floated towards Pinback is that of the "minimum we should expect."

I think that video games are an immature medium that seems to constantly fall backwards. The technology improves, sure — the most clever programmers are game programmers, and it’s sad that you hear about the long hours many of them work and the pay that doesn’t quite match what they could get for other companies. Video games have the most immature writing of any form of entertainment that I can think of.

Which leads to Portal.

Nerds did their best to ruin it like they did Monty Python and Douglas Adams. Hell, a buddy of mine bought me a "The Cake Is A Lie" shirt and I don’t think we ever had more than a couple Portal-based conversations together. It just dominated the end of 2007 and most of 2008. You couldn’t escape it if you were on the internet. and not trying to overthrow a government with social media.

The act of moving through portals is fun, and there are a few clever puzzles in there, but that’s not why this game is the 100th best ever made. Portal is so memorable because of the character of GlaDOS and the writing of Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek.

(It wouldn’t exist at all without Kim Swift. She was the lead on one of the greatest games I have ever played. I don’t want to short change the contributions of anyone who worked on Portal. I just happened to have a special, crazed, possibly unhealthy one-way relationship with Chet and Erik. The problem is with me.)

Everyone at JC knows this, but in case this gets linked elsewhere, Chet and Erik wrote for oldmanmurray.com. Without that site (and Amiga Power 2) I wouldn’t even be on the Internet. Not like this — they proved what a website could do, how it could be unique, how anyone’s voice will rise if it is funny enough. They took shots at everyone, but saved the best ones for themselves and each other. And this madcap hilarity comes through every time GlaDOS insults the player.

Telling the player that you should feel bad because you’re probably adopted isn’t just wacky for gamer dads, it’s great for everyone.

The rest of the game really is OK. It’s fine! I think that a lot of puzzle games suffer from the fact that you can sort of "see" the solution in your mind, and then it just becomes a skill test to execute. Portal is one of those games. But God, that moment where you jump off the rails and go to a very different place….

So, the minimum. Portal is the minimum we should expect from writing, plot and dialogue in a video game. Every game should have at least one character as fleshed out as GlaDOS. Most of them don’t. Most of the games that are above Portal on this list don’t, they just happen to do other things extremely well. But Portal is the minimum of what I should be getting out of a computer game if that game is going to be considered legendary. It begins our new list

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Pandora: First Contact, Initial Impressions
Dec 30th, 2013 by Pinback

Pandora: First Contact is out, by the way. Yes, it still has the worst name possible. But after three hours of gameplay, let’s take a look at my impressions!



(Thanks, AddictingGameReviews.com)

It is very much Civilization in space (or Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri), but feels simpler and more straightforward. Which I like! As tremendous an accomplishment as I think Civ 5 is, golly there’s a lot of crap going on.

P:FC does away with most of the extra stuff, and presents you with some pretty base-line 4X action. The factions (races) are all pre-set. There is no race customization. There are five different planet sizes and three different types of planets, and that’s it. Setting up a game is fast because there’s just not that much to choose from.

Once you’re in-game, you’re comfortable right away assuming you’ve played any of these games in the last 20 years. Which I hope you have, because get this: There is NO DOCUMENTATION, other than in-game tooltips, hover boxes and popups! So that’s it, I guess. We’ve gone from 150 page printed manuals, to 50-page PDF files, to nothing.

Impressively (and because it IS so straightforward) this isn’t really a problem. You build stuff, you research stuff, you sign deals with the other guys, and you blow stuff up. That’s it. Just like always.

The graphics range from overly cartoonish to quite beautiful (some of the undersea aliens are especially striking to behold). Not on par with Civ 5, but golly, good enough. That’s probably a good way to sum up most of the game.

Extra bonus points for a clean, sleek UI that makes sense, pretty good writing, and a remarkable lack of typos and misspellings, which is becoming ever so rare.

Right now I would have to say that this is my favorite 4X game for the moment, because it’s fun, it’s fast, it doesn’t tire you or tie you down with minutiae, and it sticks to what made 4X great in the first place.

I give Pandora: First Contact an 8 out of 10! I guess? I dunno what the two points are knocked off for, as I really didn’t have any complaints. Other than the name.

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Autumn Cyberganked Update
Dec 2nd, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

This quarter’s update to the progress of Cyberganked is over here at Indie Game News.

Lots of news there that makes me happy. Randy had another successful year with the haunted house, and I was able to get a lot more characters photographed inside. (If you are ever in Denver during October, please visit his haunted house! It’s easily the best in the state of Colorado.)

One other thing that makes me happy is that I have started to implement automated tests. It’s tricky for me to do that with Hugo: there’s no “headless” mode, I don’t develop with a real IDE, and my tool of choice to script the game and test against output would be Selenium, which is not something I can use at the moment. I did finally come to a solution to these problems, which was to stop being such a baby, and do the automation that I COULD do.

Waaah! WAaaaaaargh!” — that was me irl

So I now have a system in place to pull my code from its repository and at least grep for some strings and values, and send me an e-mail if it doesn’t work. For instance, I usually set the hit points to some enemies to 1 in order to test what happens after they are defeated. Now, at least, if the Psycho of Western Hill has 1 HP, I will get a reminder to fix it when I wake up in the morning.

There’s one last bit I wanted to share about how development is going:

I can’t do transparencies in Hugo. I can’t put one image over another. Well, I could, but they would be square or rectangular images. I also don’t have the ability to manipulate graphics at a per-pixel level. This is fine, I knew this going in and I have made four other games with graphics just fine.

But there was one effect I wanted – when meeting one antagonist that wore shades, I wanted the first character in the player’s party to be reflected in those shades. I had two choices to get this effect done — First, I could create a separate static image for every single actor in the game and reflect them in the shades. There’s 22 different actors for player characters, so that would mean creating 22 different images. I could do that, or I could do the other option, which is to not have that effect in the game at all. I chose the former.

Randy has a dentist’s office room for his haunt. There are little teeth glued to the wall — the reason for this is that in the haunted house’s mythology, the dentist is extracting teeth and chucking them against the wall. It’s dark there though, so most people do not see it. Teller says that “Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” Along the same lines, I burned an evening of my life making 22 separate jpgs for this one scene in my game. I say that not because I think it is supposed to impress anyone, but because when I finish this game I hope that people who have never played one of my games before can take some solace in the fact that a crazy person made it for them.

I made a page here in case you’d like to be on an e-mail list to be notified when the game is done.

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Pinback and Ice Cream Jonsey discuss Breaking Bad S05E09.
Aug 11th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Robb: Please let me know when you have seen it.
Ben: I have seen it.
Robb: Just watching from when the garage door closes till the end over and over.
Robb: That is all I will ever be watching again on this computer.
Ben: That’s pretty much the only thing worth doing with the rest of our lives.

Robb: Walt keeps ESCALATING.
Robb: Every single sentence.
Robb: Except when his hand was up.
Robb: Every other sentence ESCALATED.
Robb: Meanwhile, Dexter still acts like nobody involved knows it’s the last season.
Robb: Just watched the last five minutes again, and
Robb: This is the first time I have ever used the “repeat loop” function of VLC for something other than porn.

Ben: Didn’t watch Dexter yet.
Ben: They were on at the same time.
Ben: My wife and I both expressed relief, since it meant we wouldn’t have to watch Dexter.

Robb: Yeah, I think the ultimate insult to Dexter and ultimate compliment to BB would be to just not download the last episodes of Dexter.
Robb: Just never know how it ends, because fuck that fucking piece of garbage and fuck it again compared to this.
Ben: Breaking Bad also didn’t do any favors to the show that premiered after it. Same thing happened with Walking Dead when it started. I’m sure it’s a fine show, but Jesus, everything looks like packaged, steamed crap after that.
Robb: They put Walking Dead on after Breaking Bad?
Ben: Yeah, when it first premiered.
Ben: And I was like “this suuuucks.” Which I now disagree with, but I mean… come on, AMC.
Robb: AMC’s schedule should have been the last five minutes of this show. Even back when it was not created yet.
Robb: It should have been a title card that said, “Hank Confronts Walt Scene”
Robb: And leave that up for two hours afterwards.

Ben: I enjoyed the Star Trek discussion.
Robb: Yes.
Robb: I liked the part where those stoned idiots were not aware that the replicator was not in TOS.
Robb: It was all excellent.
Robb: And it would have been a better episode than 50% of TOS.
Robb: And 100% of Voyager and Enterprise.
Ben: Hahha
Robb: And to clarify, I mean Matt Jones explaining the episode > all of Voyager, all of Enterprise.
Ben: Yes.
Robb: If they filmed it, clearly so, but even the version we got.
Ben: That scene was better than every episode of Star Trek except for Best of Both Worlds and the one Harlan Ellison wrote for the original series.
Robb: Let’s not get crazy, but yes.

Robb: I also like that lots of people lost weight, because they are famous now.
Ben: Aaaaah! Interesting. Interesting.
Robb: Badgur, Hanq and Skylarr all lost weight.
Robb: They are all now truly, irrevocably famous, forever.
Robb: And I think Skinny Pete dropped half a pound.
Ben: I didn’t notice that. NICE CATCH. Skaylur was thin to begin with, though, then ballooned, so maybe she just saw herself in a mirror in between shoots.



Robb: The black guy seems to have gained some, but, welp.
Ben: Mostly on the top of his head.
Ben: …mostly.
Robb: OH MY GOD
Robb: DID YOU NOTICE THAT
Robb: YOU ALSO NOTICED THAT
Robb: I started fucking around with the “pincushion” button on my monitor.
Robb: I thought I was going to have to buy a new tube!
Ben: The top of his head is the pile of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters.
Robb: The top of his head is where the American missiles shot out of in “The Day After.”
Ben: His head is Stewie Griffin sideways.

Robb: I will post this as our Breaking Bad analysis.
Robb: Oh, I can’t Select All from gchat anymore.
Robb: Thanks Google.
Robb: Fucking thanks, Google.
Ben: you have to download their Chrome Select-All App now.
Robb: :(

(Editor’s note: the last bit concerns the fact that Ben lives in Albuquerque and ordered a pizza from the place where the pizza pies come from in Breaking Bad. Ben and I have had previous discussions about how nobody that works there knows how to take an order over the phone and nobody that works there seems to comprehend that if you show up, you might order some pie. They act like you are an idiot for calling them or asking them about pizza.)



Ben: Oh dude.
Ben: Venezia’s (Pizza), right? Because of BB…
Robb: Love that place.
Ben: Check it, I got the 24″ PARTY PIE.
Robb: What?!?!?!?!?!
Ben: Just like on the show.
Robb: I’ve never dared!
Ben: The giant fucking pie.
Ben: They’re $3 off on Sunday so everyone was gettin’ ‘em.

Ben: The greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
Ben: And I was able to get it without any of the staff apparently understanding what was going on or why I was there!
Robb: You got one for tonight’s show?
Ben: Yes. Breaking Bad Party Pie Yo!
Robb: They have no idea why anyone was there tonight.
Robb: How can you not know? If you work there.

Ben: “Hi, I’d like a 24″ pie with pepperoni, please.” “/quizzical look… hands off to coworker standing nearby.”
Robb: Ha hahahaha
Robb: They don’t know why you would just call up and order a pizza…. and they don’t know why you would order from them, tonight.

Ben: “Lemme get this straight, A, you want a “pizza”. B, you want it NOW.”
Ben: “Let me talk to my manager.”
Robb: Employee’s index finger does circles around her ear
Ben: ‘By the way, “how long do you think that’ll be.’ “30 minutes.” I came back in 12 minutes, because I know more about pies than they do, and a minute later it was ready.
Ben: I think she thought that since it’s twice the size of their normal pie that it takes twice as long to cook.

Robb: I feel that we know more about them and what they will be doing at that job.
Robb: We could show up and predict what their evening would be like, and to those animals it would be like when the one guy who knew science in 1312 could predict eclipses.
Robb: “13 minutes from now the pie will be done”
Robb: “You will get an uptick of business at the time a certain show starts on AMC”
Robb: “Two people will ask you not to cut it”

Ben: HAhahh I almost… I almost…
Ben: But I knew it was going to be enough of an ordeal getting them to prepare any kind of food product.
Robb: Just bringing the thing into the world, though it be their raison d’etre would be tough enough, you felt.
Robb: We would literally be like dark seers, or witches, except for the fact that we’ve had so much of their pie that no witch clothing would fit us.
Ben: The WIDE TEMPLAR.

Ben: Alright, that’s it for me.
Ben: TREAD LIGHTLY

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Cyberganked: Character Portraits and Weapons
Aug 11th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

The process I have been using for actors in Cyberganked is as follows:

- I place an ad (or ask a friend) if they can run through Randy McLellan’s haunted house at The City of the Dead, when the haunted house is up. (September and October, usually.)

- I get 400-500 source photos.

- The rest of the year, I incorporate these people in the game.

I don’t know exactly what I’ll need when people go through, so I try to hit every room and get a little of everything. With over 10 actors shot, I now have enough source material that I can “greenscreen” my friends if they don’t live in Colorado. My friend Chris Monahan is one such actor, and I hope to shoot Rob O’Hara next month in Oklahoma.

The haunted house is filled with items that could be used as weapons. I am trying to get “realistic yet funny” weapons in the game, along with “realistic and painful” ones. So one such made-up weapon might be a Windex container that is duct-taped to a flash that sprays acid. Another might be an AK-47.

I don’t have all actors with the same weapons. So one thing I am trying to do is depict the actors that were using certain weapons. If you equip your character with a weapon I have a picture for, the appropriate graphic becomes their new character portrait.

Because screens are fun, here are couple examples. Megan Spielhagen found a revolver in the haunted house (thanks, Megan!) and Chris had a Beretta. If you create a character and choose either one of them as the actor for your characters and give them those weapons, here is what you will see when you >look at them in-game, or if they are doing things that cause their portraits to show.



(You can click for the larger image.)

Cyberganked is being written in Hugo, and is really more of a character role-playing game than text adventure. No ETA on when I will be finished with it just yet. I have a “Cyberganked” tag on this website if you’d like to see past updates.

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Cyberganked: Year One of Development Update!
Jun 27th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Next week, I’ll have invested a year into Cyberganked. This is a good time to give an update and talk about what has gone right and wrong.

In 1998 I decided that I wanted to try making computer games. I checked out the text adventure language Inform and the Bard’s Tale Construction Set. Inform was (and is) a better environment for game creation. Though I would say I enjoyed text adventures and Character Role Playing Games (CRPGs) equally in my teens, the BT Construction Set wasn’t something you could do serious, new work in.

I continued making text adventures, switching from Inform to Hugo, because the tools, community and support were so good. Additionally, making a text adventure is simply easier than a CRPG, and there is more of an emphasis on writing.

Last year I had decided to research the possibility of making a CRPG using Hugo, the text adventure language I had grown familar with. I had demonstrated bits and pieces of RPG actions in some of my other text adventures: I’ve implemented turn-based combat in A Crimson Spring, Fallacy of Dawn and Cryptozookeeper. I’ve created lists of enemies and illustrated them. So, a lot of this I knew was possible. The big thing that concerned me was handling the names of a player’s characters.

This is the sort of use case I wanted to be available:

>shamino, drop gun
>snake, equip amiga
>look at karen

I wanted those names to be anything the player could think of. Or, I wanted the player to be able to create a name and have it added to Hugo’s internal dictionary. This proved possible – I implemented it over Labor Day, 2012. I can do full names and nicknames – unfortunately, the only non-awkward way to implement it is to make the nickname (no space or weird characters) be the one you use in-game.

The other big concern I had was saving characters to disk and restoring them. This also works. (On editing this, I realize that I didn’t have much to say, but I don’t have much to say about this one!)

That brings us to this update:

Things Going Well

Maze Automation

CRPGs typically have lots of “mazes.” You’re often expected to map them. A CRPG maze is different than a text game maze. A text game maze offers obscurity and frustration due to the sameness of the room. They typically use exits that “double back” on themselves. Mapping them is done through dropping objects and seeing what happens when you move about.

A maze in a CRPG is meant to be explored. There are usually options for easily getting the x/y coordinates of the maze you are in. Dropping objects and having them persist is usually not possible, and the mazes usually have a grid-like structure.

I am not sure how many mazes (or “levels”) I want in Cyberganked. I want each room to get special attention to some degree. That means a description and a picture. To aid this effort, my friend Paul Robinson wrote a Pascal program to help out.

The program (dubbed “The Genesis Device” by Ben Parrish) takes parameters for a grid — the number of rooms along the x and y axis, the maximum chance that a fight might occur, the base names of the room and so forth. It then generates Hugo code – with linking exits! – for that maze. The algorhythm used ensures solvable mazes. Paul made it so that the maze itself is displayed in ASCII (using a fixed font) in the source code. Furthermore, the graphics for these mazes are based on the x and y coordinates, so I can create the graphics, plop them into the game and they appear with no manual code changes.

It automated a lot of work and will eliminate a ton of bugs. I no longer need to ensure that the open mazes have correct exits.

* * *

Arrow Key Traveling

Jonathan Blask was kind enough to implement something called “travel mode.” In typical CRPGs, you need the arrow keys to move around. In Cyberganked, the game is laid out with the four primary compass directions. That did make it a pain if you just wanted to wander around town defeating enemies and building experience…

Well, enter travel mode. In travel mode, the game only takes input from the arrow keys, as they correspond to north, south, east and west! You are effortlessly brought into combat. If you see an NPC to speak to, hitting ESCAPE gets you out of travel mode and back to the regular interface. It’s rather slick, in my opinion, and really makes this CRPG / text game smoother.

* * *

Day and Night

I am also enjoying the construction of a day and night cycle. I’ve been trying to shoot landscapes in night and day conditions, but there is some photoshop fakery involved as well. It’s not too obvious, due to the four color CGA palette the game has. Well, it’s obvious, but I can get away with it. I definitely recommend making games in four colors or fewer.

Things To Improve

When you create your six party members, you have many choices for character portraits. I am having the same actors and models do the same thing at the City of the Dead Haunted House in Denver, Colorado. This means that if the game has to say, “The fifth character is trying to make a call on a pay phone – go get the picture for the fifth character’s model and display it” that there is always a picture for each model.

This creates a problem, in a way – I need the models to be IN Denver for me to shoot them. And I have about a two-month window for photography, as the haunt is not open year-round.

Additionally, and there is no PC way to say this – I live in a state with mostly white and Hispanic people.

If money and resources were no object, I’d be flying actors in from all over the world to be shot in this game. I’d have 10 of each race on earth represented. I had placed ads last year and the only replies I got were from Caucasians and Hispanic people.

I could try contacting a modeling agency, I suppose, but at the same time I am trying to keep upfront costs low. I am already a ways in debt with this game.

So what I will try is to create a sort of “actor pack” with photographs that show the shots I need. I could then, possibly, try to get with models anywhere in the world and say, “This is what I need” for payment. I’ll see if it is too awkward to really get good results from.

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