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Weekend Adventure Creation Challenge

 
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Garth's Equipment Shop



Joined: 05 Dec 2008
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Location: Festering Foothills

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:32 pm    Post subject: Weekend Adventure Creation Challenge Reply with quote

I am proud to announce the beginning of the Weekend Adventure Creation Challenge!

This event will suggest a basic theme or concept for an adventure and those wishing to participate will be expected to complete a short simple adventure based on the theme announced each week. PM me to suggest ideas for themes if you wish to request a certain theme or concept for the contest. I may start poll threads to vote on the final submissions each week. I am hoping if we get at least one or more submissions each week it can help generate content for a weekly ACK newsletter with game reviews, people's custom pixel art, game design tips or ideas, bug workarounds, etc.

Since this is the very first event and the weekend is half over already let's say final submissions are due next sunday so this time everyone has a better chance of finding out about it before it's too late to whip something up for submission. I'm open to suggestions in this thread as to how to better organize or run such a contest. Such as what to call it, how to schedule it, when it should be announced and when the final call should be, and so on.

I have an idea for a great theme to use later. It will work better once more people get involved and are prepared each week to submit something. The idea is to generate game content for a new tutorial adventure or ACK demo created by all of us, each area of the game created by a different author and each focusing on a specific game design topic or demonstration of a specific ACK feature or whatever. And each area could be set in a different genre. I don't know it's just an idea for now.

For the first contest let's just stick to something really simple. A scavenger hunt. The only requirement for this is that your game includes a set of related items that need to be collected by the player character in order to complete the game. The rest is entirely up to you. You can make everything happen in a single room if you wish (if you can make that work somehow and still be semi-interesting or entertaining).

The real aim here is to keep it simple and just get a quick game finished. Then if you finish early and have time left over, go ahead and tweak it, polish it, add more cool things to it. Don't go overboard and end up adding too much at once without testing things or you'll end up with a broken mess and nothing to submit. Save the initial completed game that you finished quickly before adding extra bells and whistles so that if you end up with a spagetti monster that will take way too long to fix you will still at least have the simple version to submit.

If you wish you can go ahead and try and complete a simple scavenger hunt based game right now and submit it tonight or tomorrow sometime. If enough people do that we can proceed with the voting and playing each other's adventures sunday night! Otherwise we'll wait till next week to vote (assuming somebody actually submits something by then lol).

GOOD LUCK!
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Garth's Equipment Shop



Joined: 05 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Suggestions for contest rules welcome. Including details on what exactly we are being judged on. I'm thinking some basic principles to start out which could apply to any week's theme and perhaps even work out a point system.

Off the top of my head...

1. How well the contest suggestion was implemented. This score could be affected by how imaginative or unexpected the theme suggestion was interpreted and implemented. And how skillfully it was executed, taking into consideration any nice technical work going on under the hood such as macros.

2. Playability. How playable is the game. Is the game broken and unplayable due to bugs or not.

3. Entertainment value. Is the game fun or interesting enough to keep the player's attention enough to complete the game.

4. Bonus points for replay value. How addictive was the game? Would you play it again at least once? Will you keep playing it in the future for the nostalgia?

5. Aesthetic value. Was any custom graphics or tiles or sounds used? Did they add to the game's atmosphere or character?

6. Story. Was there much of a story being told? How well was it told and how good was the story concept? For the natural born writers among us it may be easier to make a game that is mostly story driven with very little for the player to actually do but read. Which brings us to how interactive the game is.

7. Interactivity. Your game doesn't have to be Shakespearean to be good. The game might be more about exploring, finding hidden doors, or figuring out how to get past obstacles or doing jobs for npcs in return for something. How important is the player character to the game. Just a spectator on a guided tour through an interactive book? Or an active part of the game world involving less talk and more action? Of course talk in ACK can actually be a big part of interactivity with liberal use of dialog choices and macros and such. So another thing to win points on here might be how many dialog npcs the game gives the player to interact with.

End notes.
Given the time constraints of the contest no one is expecting much of a story, custom graphics and sound or much of anything else for that matter. Perhaps the biggest challenge will actually be more about time management and design choices/sacrifices based on the time limit. If the designer spent most of his or her time working on custom graphics and sound that is that much less time to spend on characters and their dialogs, macros, map design, etc.

You can choose to do one thing really good or try to shoot for a more balanced approach. Whatever you choose just make sure you don't get carried away with something and forget the goal is a complete playable game that can be made from start to finish in one weekend. That is what this contest is all about. To show people what can be done with ACK in just a short amount of time which is about all the time most people have.


Last edited by Garth's Equipment Shop on Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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joebonk



Joined: 27 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great idea. I think a week is a better contest, but a weekend would force people to get at it. :) A suggestion is a crossover, like knights meet space, or wildwest meets the future. I've got so much stuff that I wish this contest was next week. I have to get back into ack!
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Tdarcos



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd love to try, only problem is my tool of choice is Hugo, I don't know ACK and I don't see the payback in terms of the learning curve to get good enough to produce something even more than slightly worse than really bad, let alone polished, in a week. I mean, I have more than 30 years of programming experience and getting good at Hugo took me at least a month of reading and writing code using it.

Please let me know when we're going to try a challenge using Hugo instead.

As I said on Caltrops (regarding old cars and old computers), if it works it's okay. If it's really pretty but doesn't work, then it's a turd. A polished turd, but still a turd. And I am not in the turd polishing business. I want to be proud of the software I produce.
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Garth's Equipment Shop



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well considering the difficulty in learning and becoming proficient at pretty much any Interactive Fiction programming language (I'm mostly familiar with Tads 2, Tads HTML and Tads 3 but have dabbled in others) the fact that you were able to actually gain proficiency in just a month is pretty impressive. Based on that and how quickly I learned to make a game in ACK (pretty much just a few hours of tinkering is all it took really - the rest is only limited by how much creativity and polishing you put into it) I am guessing you probably already know all you need to know about ACK just from all these years you've spent reading our posts in the ACK sub-forum. ;)

I am of course hopeful that the contest will become a tradition among ACK users and possibly inspire greater efforts in the future as we gain practice working within a limited time frame, ideally leading to better design practices aimed towards focus, organization/planning and efficiency allowing us to complete projects in a timely fashion without sacrificing too much in the way of creativity and refinement.

But I am not expecting that on the first run by any means. I'm sure Chris could probably whip up an extremely creative and polished mini-game in a week but he is the creator of ACK.

For this first run, as I said in the intro, I'm not expecting anything spectacular. I just want to see our little gang get motivated to do something as a community, give us all a really easy goal we can all accomplish to get a taste of that feeling of accomplishment of actually completing something (even if it is a turd), and also begin actually generating games (no matter how small and humble at first) featuring a variety of themes to chose from that we can list along with Chris's games when people come asking what we have to offer so far.

It is flat out embarrassing to read all the posts over the years asking where all the games people have made in ACK are and basically all I can mention are those made by the creator of ACK in spite of the many many WIP threads we've all started. Problem is, like you Tdarcos, all us ACK designers have been so obsessed with perfection that we keep taking on projects that really require more time and dedication than we have to give due to things like jobs, children and/or other things we are committed to such as playing in a band, hunting/fishing/hiking, martial arts, archery, LARPing, or whatever we do on our free time.

So really the best thing to do is to put those big dreams on hold and focus on just getting used to accomplishing a lot less but at least accomplishing something. I think we all need that. We need that over and over again until finishing projects becomes simply what we do. So then when we do finally turn back to that big dream vision we kept burning ourselves out on we will hopefully be more focused, more motivated, more organized, more efficient, have a better plan of attack, all from the experience and confidence gained from completing many smaller projects.

Perhaps sharing the processes each of us used to complete small projects which each of us worked on (like a class project) and seeing which process worked best we can learn from each other and develop game design guidelines or strategies best suited to the ACK environment, thus better preparing us to tackle those bigger projects we've been wanting to do.
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joebonk



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing that I have learned is that condensing a project makes for faster and further development. I have spent days on very large town maps, making them wonderful, colorful and just cool. But spending that much time on one town map can burn you out. And then to have 20 or more towns to go. But how else do we come up with better attack plans? By getting our hands dirty and trying out ideas. But I would say that when giving time to the hobby, one is prone to spend it on dream projects rather then the small stuff.
The benefit of doing the small stuff first is that you can encounter problems and hurdles (that in my case were a complete stop in development) And after I have made half the game and some 30 or 40 macros. Not to mention dialogues.
Truly one should spend their time first on projects this thread is about. Only then can you weed out the stumbling blocks and, as Garth said, have a proper attack plan.

Also, ACK is very complete in itself and you may never have to use a macro to do great stuff. Since there are only so many macro commands, learning how to use them only took me a week.
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Admiral Ackguh



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure this is such a great idea. It takes a long time for anyone to develop anything meaningful with ACK. A project like this would mean lots of rushed mini-games.
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ishtenos



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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something like this could be fun in a longer context - like say, 1-2 weeks, upwards of a month tops. That way there is time to come up with a scenario (the website Seventh Sanctum, http://www.seventhsanctum.com/ could be useful for this), have time to throw together some assets, and then hammer out a small adventure. Mini-CRPGs, even with a good tool like ACK, still can be a bit time consuming.
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Admiral Ackguh



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ishtenos wrote:
Something like this could be fun in a longer context - like say, 1-2 weeks, upwards of a month tops. That way there is time to come up with a scenario (the website Seventh Sanctum, http://www.seventhsanctum.com/ could be useful for this), have time to throw together some assets, and then hammer out a small adventure. Mini-CRPGs, even with a good tool like ACK, still can be a bit time consuming.

It took me over a month to reply to this - a new record.

I agree; 1-2 weeks sounds like the minimum, for a simple adventure game. With ACK, maps and dialogues take up most of the development time. I am not blaming ACK here; this is true even in the most advanced mouse-based click-and-drop game map editors. An even bigger problem, for all game developers, is feature creep.
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Tdarcos



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 5:18 pm    Post subject: I considered your comments Reply with quote

Let's consider something.

Despite how much assistance you get from the game authoring tools - whichever one(s) you use, whether it's ACK, Hugo, Tads or you write an adventure game from scratch - probably a stupid mistake, nowadays - using a regular programming language, writing an adventure game is both an exercise in telling a story AND developing a computer program.

I will repeat that. An adventure game, even written using an adventure game authoring tool, is as complicated as any development of a standard computer program of comparable size.

This is two difficult practices that, to be done well, require some advance planning. My first book, "The Gatekeeper: The Gate Contracts" was a blast to write, runs about 300 pages and I wrote it in about a month.

My second book, "In The Matter of: Instrument of God," is a whopping 725 pages and took me Twelve Years. If you don't have a proper plan it can take forever to get something accomplished.

I've done programs without prior planning, and ones where I planned and detailed what I was going to do. And you know what? Planning really does make the work better, even if you discard the plan or rewrite it in response to changed circumstances.

But anything but a hastily thrown-together mishmash takes time, effort and some planning to get it right.
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JeepersCreepers
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



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ishtenos



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My name is Ishtenos, and I approve of the preceding message.
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Garth's Equipment Shop



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reflections upon consideration of Tdarcos' authoritative sounding commentary.

Tdarcos wrote:
I will repeat that. An adventure game, even written using an adventure game authoring tool, is as complicated as any development of a standard computer program of comparable size.


Using an authoring tool or game engine plus editors to build a game is no where near as complex as programming the same game from scratch. You don't even have to be a programmer to understand that. It's just common sense. Programming something from scratch, engine, parser, and all the rest when there are perfectly good tools that have a lot of that stuff already built in is called reinventing the wheel.

Tdarcos wrote:
This is two difficult practices that, to be done well, require some advance planning. My first book, "The Gatekeeper: The Gate Contracts" was a blast to write, runs about 300 pages and I wrote it in about a month.

My second book, "In The Matter of: Instrument of God," is a whopping 725 pages and took me Twelve Years. If you don't have a proper plan it can take forever to get something accomplished.


You weren't very clear about why the first book was so quick and fun to write. It seems to be implied by the context that it was planned out better but you didn't actually say that. You also didn't really explain how your book writing analogy demonstrates those "two difficult practices" one of which was programming. I can see the correlation between writing adventure game plots versus adventure book plots but where does programming come in to this analogy? Also those book titles don't sound very adventurey.

Your certainly right that planning helps in either case, whether writing a book or writing a program, though I don't remember anyone ever arguing against planning things. So I don't know who you're responding to in this thread.

I'm pretty sure the debate was over whether it would be better advice to new comers and people with limited time to focus on smaller projects they can realistically expect to finish in a reasonable amount of time or better to encourage them to focus on their dream project which may take years to complete and work on nothing else in all that time. As in your own example your first book was much smaller and took mere months versus the one that took 12 years.

Tdarcos wrote:
But anything but a hastily thrown-together mishmash takes time, effort and some planning to get it right.


Does this concluding remark imply that your first book was a hastily thrown-together mishmash since it took so little time to finish? Earlier the context seemed to imply it was better planned than the 12 year book yet here you seem to be implying that your first book wasn't planned while the 12 year one was. Are you as confused as I am?
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Tdarcos



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Garth's Equipment Shop wrote:
Tdarcos wrote:
But anything but a hastily thrown-together mishmash takes time, effort and some planning to get it right.


Does this concluding remark imply that your first book was a hastily thrown-together mishmash since it took so little time to finish? Earlier the context seemed to imply it was better planned than the 12 year book yet here you seem to be implying that your first book wasn't planned while the 12 year one was. Are you as confused as I am?


Consider what I said. It was a book, just a book and it took one month, which is reasonable. (Look up "NANOWRITEMO" sometime; the purpose of which is to encourage people during November to create, in one month, at least one book of 50,000 or more words.)

If you write a book without planning, worst case it's either unreadable or it has plot holes or inconsistencies. If you do a computer program without planning, it can fail, not work, or work erroneously. At least with a book you can have something readable even if you have a few errors in consistency (like a requirement that a magician has to say "Abracadabra" every time he casts a spell, and you have one part where it works even though he didn't, because you forgot it.) But a badly done program can result in something completely useless. (One of the games I bought from GOG won't do anything beyond starting up and showing a menu, I can't get the game itself to start.)

The whole idea here was to encourage the development of a complete, finished adventure game in one or two weeks. As I said, an adventure game, even when using the specialized tools, is comparable to a regular computer program of similar size in terms of the work involved.

And a lot of people do work equivalent to programming complexity even if they don't realize they are writing code. If you're creating routines to handle features - even if there is a good library of prewritten routines to handle the major actions - there's bound to be a few things that either aren't handled by the library or are inadequately handled. And that means writing code or code equivalents to provide the missing features or capability.

And doing, say, a 500- or 1000-line adventure game in maybe a week or two is the sort of thing that is very likely to have bugs and errors. Unless very carefully planned out in advance, which would take anywhere from several days to a few weeks at a minimum if done right. The action of planning and designing the project generally improves the quality of the work even if the plan ends up being tossed.
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Admiral Ackguh



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JeepersCreepers wrote:




LOL!
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Garth's Equipment Shop



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow lots of great stuff in this thread that we can use to fill a Game Design Productivity page or pages in our future ACK newsletter!

While rereading the thread a simple solution occurred to me to the problem of time constraints and related issues.

Each month we pick an ACK adventure kit to work with and we take suggestions for themes which will then be used to populate a poll where we can vote on which one to make the official theme of the month.

After the results are in if your choice didn't win and you don't like the winning choice you can still go with your choice. The poll would mostly be for those who might otherwise have trouble deciding what to do for the contest that could be completed before the month is up. It would be interesting though to be able to compare different designer's approaches to the same problem or challenge or creative task.

And there's also that idea I had about the collaborative effort. Maybe using a kit with plenty of prefab stuff in it to work with we could simply pass an adventure around, each of us adding a new quest or whatever to it.
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ishtenos



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Garth's Equipment Shop wrote:

Each month we pick an ACK adventure kit to work with and we take suggestions for themes which will then be used to populate a poll where we can vote on which one to make the official theme of the month.

After the results are in if your choice didn't win and you don't like the winning choice you can still go with your choice. The poll would mostly be for those who might otherwise have trouble deciding what to do for the contest that could be completed before the month is up. It would be interesting though to be able to compare different designer's approaches to the same problem or challenge or creative task.

And there's also that idea I had about the collaborative effort. Maybe using a kit with plenty of prefab stuff in it to work with we could simply pass an adventure around, each of us adding a new quest or whatever to it.


Snipped the quote just a bit...

The prefab idea where each person adds a quest or area is rather cool. Kind of like chain stories in old role-playing threads I used to participate in.

A monthly creative theme is solid, in my opinion, and could work nicely. At the very least, it would help get some activity here, which may in turn help us see some projects through to completion. Whether it's using a kit or just a general theme would work. Obviously no hard rules about having to follow it, but as a guide it could spur things along.
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