SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
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.

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.

Bundle in a Box – 7 Hours Left!
Apr 2nd, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey


Bundle in a Box, yesterday

I did a terrible job promoting the Bundle in a Box on my own site, which is unacceptable, because my game Necrotic Drift is part of the Bundle in a Box. I have some incredible excuses as to why I am typing this out with seven hours left to go. Rich, layered excuses. Think of these excuses as unlockable extras. Here we go!

- I went on my first vacation in a couple years, visiting my family in lovely Rochester, NY, right as the Bundle dropped, away from my PC.
- Both this site and my other site at Caltrops managed to go down for extended periods of time.
- I decided to sell my pinball table and needed a day to vacuum the cat hair off it.
- I took a Centipede cabinet as part of the trade for the pin, and it fell on me, almost snapping my leg and arm in half, on its way downstairs. Argh.

… It really is quite painful. Flying to Rochester, I mean! hrewhrwhrwehrwe

But seriously, Benjamin “Pinback” Parrish said that if the Centipede game took my head off, my body should have sprouted another one. Jonathan “Roody Yogurt” Blask said that he would have appreciated the irony if I were maimed by a “crushing” game like Dig Dug. I feel that should I ever get into real trouble and bleed out on my floor, the IRC logs of my death are going to be hilarious. I’ll be entering “9 1 1″ into a high score table as I take my last breath to a cackling cacophony of wiseguys, as I get @kicked from life.

All right, so now that the apologies are out of the way, let’s talk about the Bundle. Here is the link that takes you to the page where you can buy it. The price is obscenely low. A lot of websites are obsessed with telling you how great their wares are, and why you should give them money. Since I screwed up, and managed to blog about it with seven hours left, I’ll instead link to this scathing review at Capsule Computing. Mari Shishido hated it! The people who dislike Necrotic Drift tend to dislike it a lot. Top this, Braid:

Necrotic Drift is a chore to play. Between the unbearable characters and the long parts of the game where nothing but awful banter happens, the game is not enjoyable. Having to guess at the exact word the game needs to move forward is boring and frustrating, while the rest of the time it is monotonous in that it will repeatedly allow one simple word to continue. This is a waste of time, even if it was free. Having to pay any money for it at all is unthinkable. It is not even so bad it is good, it is so bad that it is bad. 3/10

I’m glad that there’s a site out there off the 7 through 9 scale, but I have to think that a 1/10 is reserved for games that kill you when they boot. In all seriousness, I want to thank Mari for taking the time to play. Of course I wish that the game was more her thing, but the best thing about the Bundle in the Box is that you can’t beat it for the number of games included. There’s nine other games, and as soon as I have the functioning use of my nervous system again, I will be playing all of them.

Rock Paper Shotgun did a writeup on the Bundle here, so if you don’t trust me, trust them. And here is a review at GamingMomentum, where the reviewer seemed to enjoy it. I hope you get a chance to pick the bundle up. Every cent I get from it will be used towards my next game, which I’ll start blogging about here. Thanks, as always. :)

Hugo Open House Competition 2013
Jan 6th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Here are the entries for this year’s Hugo “Open House” Competition 2013!

C.H.U.M.S. by Jason McWright

Clockwork Boy 2 by Marius Mueller and Roody Yogurt.

Cyberganked Proof of Concept by Robb Sherwin. Not a text adventure, but a tech demonstration of using Hugo to make a CRPG.

Patty Flinger A game where you fling patties, by Paul Robinson.

Waiting by Paul Lee, with source code.

The authors have been playing each other’s games the first week of January, and you can read (and contribute!) some reviews here.

Enjoy the games, everyone.

Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion ’12 Games! (Part Two)
Oct 24th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

The Lift by Colin Capurso

More so than any other type of game, weapon pedantry is really annoying in CYOA (“OH NOES YOU CHOSE THE KNIFE WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE CHOSEN THE CROWBAR!”). Starting off with that kind of situation was an instant fail in my book. The only nice thing I can say about this piece is that the premise recalled the Outer Limits episode “The Elevator” for me.


The Test is Now READY by Jim Warrenfeltz
(I played the first version)

Starting your game off with someone shouting “run, you magnificent bastard!” is pretty funny.

That said, I hate games that explore morality (I saw another review call it ethics and maybe that is the better term). How I play games doesn’t have enough of a correlation to how I view the world to have any kind of meaning, so you’re really only signing up to hear what the author has to say about it. Even if the author’s point is about the ambiguity of it all, again, it’s a meaningless exercise that bugs me enough that I intentionally avoid it.

Oh, yeah, I had something to say about the intro, too. I think I would have preferred the fake-prompt method to keep the intensity up, where each keypress equals one letter in the prompt, although the full-command it does here will definitely be useful if somebody plays the game on something like the ifMUD’s Floyd bot. Also, the pedant in me doesn’t like the fact that the introduction uses a command that I can’t use (“LOOK BACK”).

Response-wise, the game could use some work:

Frank says, “God, Harry, I thought we were dead for sure – I mean… well, metaphorically dead, you know, not like… well, the walking dead.”

>talk to frank
That’s not a verb I recognise.

>ask frank about dead
There is no reply.

>

Between the lack of implementation and discovering that it was a morality game, I closed the book on this one after finishing the first section.


howling dogs by Porpentine

All of the slow, looping prose felt like the CYOA-equivalent of unnecessary-IF-pauses. While being far from deducing What’s Going On, I enjoyed the ideas of martyrdom/saintdom and its relation to the persecution of women and how it is injected into a futuristic setting, but the pace was far too plodding for me and I eventually threw in the towel before completion.


Kicker by Pippin Barr

By the end of a playthrough of Kicker, it’s clear that it isn’t really much of a game (nor is it trying to be). In it, you play a football (or “American football”, for non-US people) kicker. The entire game seems to be based on random outcomes. Even when it is time to kick the ball, your success seems to have no correlation to how many times you’ve >PRACTICEd, >STRETCHed, or >EXERCISEd (I couldn’t think of any other commands to improve my chances).

While not a small amount of work to code, I imagine, I can’t say Kicker is really “IF comp material” nor is it really enjoyable. It seems to me like it’d have been better done as a Textfire game or something, where it would have had the good graces to end after one quarter. Oddly enough, the Textfire games were released in the 90s, which is also the last time I really laughed at a kicker joke.


Valkyrie by Emily Forand

According to the blurb on the IF comp site, this game is a collaborative effort among community college students. I don’t think this is a successful game as it is, but I don’t want to be harsh. Technically, there are misspellings and ill-constructed sentences. After reaching a dead-end (yes, it’s a CYOA), the ‘go back to the start’ link didn’t even work.

I don’t think the tone of the writing works well as text, but I found myself imagining that it could work in some sort of audio-based CYOA system (isn’t that a thing? I thought there was a thing) where they read the passages aloud. That might force some urgency.


STAY TUNED FOR PART THREE!

Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion ’12 Games! (Part One)
Oct 21st, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

Transit by Shaye

Transit is a game from the perspective of someone separated from a friend at a foreign airport, with no means of communication. Looking over the prose again as I write this review, I see humor where I missed it before. For me, I think the humorous/surreal/exciting elements really need to be turned up some notches; it was really a struggle to care about the story when I initially played. It was only the small size of the game and a feeling that the author wasn’t ill-intentioned that kept me playing.

That said, I am biased against CYOA, and since I didn’t feel this piece elevated the form, I gave it a pretty low rating.


Shuffling Around by Ned Yompus
(I played the first release)

It seems that there are a fair amount of IF players who enjoy these wordplay games. I, for one, don’t since these games always seem to have a fair amount of puzzles that are stupidly arbitrary, allowing one word but not allowing another reasonable word. This game seems to try to avoid frustration by empowering the PC with a hint gadget, which I thought was interesting.

Still, I thought a game about anagrams that only accepts one word commands kind of keeps the limitation of the implementation on the brain. Also, the sad fact is, I couldn’t even finish the tutorial area when I couldn’t find some guard, but I was kind of happy to be given an excuse to quit.


Signos by M4u
(I played the first release)

This was an interesting game. I mean, the first time I played, within a handful of moves, I had gotten myself stuck in some dark room where I (seemingly?) couldn’t do anything. I thought that was enough to determine a score, but I figured I’d play around a bit more just the same. I have to say that I’m intrigued by the philosophy angle the other rooms I explored had, even if I didn’t accomplish anything meaningful in any of them.

It was kind of odd that the game provided options to GET characters. I imagine Quest has the capabilities to specify what kind of default commands are allowed with objects and characters and that the author just hasn’t learned how to do this yet. That’ll be a big improvement when it’s fixed.

I also thought the background music contributed positively to the mood of the game. While not successful in the making-making-me-want-to-play-it-to-completion category, I thought the tone was nicely not off-putting, so even though the game’s flaws really weigh it down, I also feel oddly endeared to it.


Changes by David Given

Changes starts off with a disturbing gory scene, and a pause. After the keypress, there’s enough of a scene change to make the pause’s existence justifiable. A couple of turns in is where the true moment of horror is, though, as I read the prose and thought, dear god have I woken up as a furry??

Fortunately, Changes doesn’t go as far down that path as one would worry it might. Overall, it’s one of the better comp12 games I’ve played so far. There are enough rooms to require mapping for somebody like me but not so many that I felt weighed down. The efficiency-lover in me wonders if it could be trimmed further, though. There’s also a certain daemon that is really tiresome if you trigger it before the plot calls for it.

The game is strongest in the “game proper”; the sci-fi backstory stuff is interesting but the prose is not really engaging yet. Maybe that could be improved.

Overall, the puzzles are intuitive enough, but the execution of some could be improved (like the [rot13]qvirefvba bs gur qrre ureq[/rot13]). The only real stinker is the last puzzle (ohvyqvat n gevcbq bhg bs fgvpxf) which was so bad that it docked the final score several points. I think Changes could be a fully-successful game with some polishing. Hopefully, it gets there.


Lunar Base 1 by Michael Phipps

First off, I was a betatester for this game so I will not be rating it.

The other year, I wrote a review of his previous game, Hallow Eve. You can find it here.

Some may call his new game disappointingly railroaded, but I think that compared to his earlier game, it is nice to see the ideas within more easily accessible.

The game is odd within its own right. Things like, why are astronauts taking the time to reminisce about childhood? In a game like this, the point is not so much about realism as it is about telling an earnest story.

I imagine there are still some annoyances. I hope you can now look out that one window if the other astronaut is not in front of it. Some of the phrasings and punctuation didn’t sit right with me when I played it, but I never got around to compiling my issues for the author since in a way, those things are not the point of this kind of game. It tells its story well enough and is a fun little romp and succeeds in being more engaging than your average game.


STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO!

The Status Whine
Jul 29th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

First off, apologies that I didn’t properly categorize my last IF-related post so it didn’t show up until now. That said, I have another annoyance to share with the IF world. I figure shouting out to the “planet IF” crowd is as good a way to get word out as any.

 

I have no problems with scoreless games in themselves, but I hate the common  Inform game thing where there is just a floating turn count number in the status bar. If your game is timer or daemon heavy and you want to keep the player appraised of time passage, change it to “TURNS: #” or  ”MOVES: #” or something more informative. I find the only-a-number look ugly and imagine it’s confusing to new players. Alternatively, don’t even print any turn counter in your status bar.

 

I imagine this might be somewhat a new-author thing, kind of like the olden days where it was considered a success if the author managed to compile the game with debug mode turned off. I know nothing about how easy it is for Inform authors to change this; I imagine there are helpful extensions out there but can’t say for certain. Anyhow, authors, if you agree with me, I encourage you to look into this.

Pause Pet Peeves
Jul 13th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

I just want to put something out there. More and more often, it seems, modern IF games use waiting-for-a-keypress pauses for dramatic effect. What many authors don’t realize, I think, is that not all interpreters (like Parchment, to pick a popular one)  instruct the player that the game is waiting for a keypress. If things were my way, authors would avoid unnecessary pauses altogether (I believe these moments will still maintain the intended effect, if written well), and in those instances where there is a pause, be sure to add some in-game “press a key” text so that all players on all interpreters know what’s up. Alternatively, you could give your game an optional no-pause mode so certain environments can avoid them altogether.

 

(This isn’t just an Inform thing, of course. This happens in several systems.)

 

Anyhow, I’ve been meaning to say something about this for a while. I’ll go back to yelling at the kids on my lawn now.

Endless, Nameless Review by Roody Yogurt
May 5th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

Endless, Nameless by NamelessAdventurer (Adam Cadre)

Official Web Page
IFDB Link

This write-up doesn’t aim to be a proper review. The first bit is just some hints for people who have already begun the game but are a bit stuck. The second has some thoughts about the game but doesn’t try to cover it exhaustively. I’d only recommend the second block to someone who has played most- if not all- of the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

PODCASTING
May 4th, 2012 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Flack and I did an episode of You Don’t Know Flack about text adventures, which you can listen to by going to this link.

When Cryptozookeeper came out, I sent a link to its page on the Internet Archive to bloggers, reviewers, journalists, my mother and others. A good number of people said, “That’s great, but can you send me the direct link?” So if you’d rather not see a whole bunch of tech and retro podcasts laid out for you… if that’s REALLY going to make the difference here, well, here is the direct link.

(The You Don’t Know Flack site is in a deep cyan though, so really, the colors between here and there won’t require you to restart your browsers so that your changes take effect next time.)

And look, here’s the thing. I just invoiced Ben Parrish for a new microphone. But even with a new microphone, there is some kind of interference on my side for this podcast. Flack did his best to overcome it, but… well, here’s how I would describe where I was when calling in:

- In Cleve Blakemore’s Fallout Survival Bunker
- On the surface of Mars
- Towards the gooey end of the ocean’s mysterious and inexplicable “Bloop”
- In the process of getting a full body scan from the TSA
- Fighting the X-Men
- Desperately trying to build a bomb that will blow up the breadbasket of the United States thanks to the treason and sedition I read from textfiles.com and boy FBI you’d better try to >use reason
- In a remote cabin in Belfair, Washington
- Looking for that icon that lets Atari 2600 E.T. go home
- Watching Panic Room
- In a world I never made

So, sorry for all that.

Flack had to sit on it for a while because he was waiting for technology to catch up to where it needed to be to fix the terrible sound from my point. That technology never came, but enough time passed to where Kate Upton got famous for doing the cat dance. So enjoy the future we have instead of the one we thought we wanted, Past-Me.

UPDATE: I have been told that there is a fair bit on The Bard’s Tale in this, for which I apologize. But in our defense, it’s because we were taking savage shots at The Bard’s Tale Construction Set, which has been quietly keeping to itself for 20 years, not hurting anybody. It got a job at a local library and helps under privileged kids study for their LSATs. It thought its time being a game everyone hated was well in its past, but revenge is a dish best served cold though, motherfuckers!

(I also did some segments on The Don Rogers Show, but maybe all that should be a separate post.)

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa