Free Writing

Free writing
I watched the first couple episodes of Double Fine Adventure last night. It’s a documentary about the first huge Kickstarter and the game that came out of that. The second episode showed Tim Schafer going through the beginning of the game design process and the tools he uses. It turns out that his main tool is dedicated free writing time. He starts a notebook and just free writes until the ideas start to come out. I like this and will do it. I’ll use my bus rides every day as my free writing time.

My desktop machine is in the middle of a Windows Reset right now, so I’ll start my free writing off as a way to vent some frustration…

I think about a game that I want to make and the things I want it to have. This normally leads me to a list of a bunch of points, probably like:

  • retro shit
  • crafting
  • farming
  • exploration
  • discovery
  • synthy music
  • puzzles
  • fuschia
  • turquoise
  • 80s
  • machines
  • character unlocks
  • progression
  • character fashion
  • randomly rolled gear
  • etc etc etc

What the hell do I do with all of that? My favorite games over the last few years have been Breath of the Wild and Red Dead Redemption 2. They share a lot of similar gameplay elements and I find both of them very relaxing and rewarding to play. Immediately, the thing that jumps out about these games is that they’re huge, massive games. The kind of game that takes a big team, years to complete. Obviously, we don’t have those kind of resources, so we need to compromise.

The compromise has to start with the size of the game, right? None of the world map content in those games is procedurally generated. Everything is carefully crafted to work together. You can really see this in the way the maps are laid out. When you are near points of interest, there are multiple points of interest visible in the distance. As you move through the games, you are always teased with that next thing off in the distance. That seems to me, to be a source of the satisfaction you get from exploring.

  1. Find some point of interest
  2. See another point of interest in the distance
    3to that point of interest
  3. Satisfaction…

How tough is that to do in 2d? It seems very tough, but that’s a problem for another day. Anyway, we’re trying to find a compromise, to cut the workload. Map size is an obvious target. Does a smaller map take away these moments of ‘hey look at that, let’s go there?’ and crush our ATMOSPHERE? Seems like it might. Can you create a large map, hand build the points of interest and then procedurally generate the rest? Maybe even define some placement rules for the points of interest and have those placed by the engine too? Need to think on that.

BotW and RDR2 are great games, but yhey’re not exactly the style I want. That lies more with games like Hyper Light Drifter, Hotline Miami, or Axiom Verge. More on that later…


Guilty Pleasures?

Good Music
I don’t know why Spotify calls this a ‘Guilty Pleases’ playlist. These are good songs! Maybe not ALL of them, but most.

War Room
I have a war room setup going in my dining room. I should be streaming this! Today I’m whipping up a crafting sample: run around, pick up items, use those items to craft new items.

In my first project, I’m going to have some fun with crafting. Building recipes, checking item requirements, unlocking recipes and actions based on item inventory… all on the list for this project. I’ll also figure out how to populate an area with certain items, given a target density and list of items. I picture creating areas on the map where certain types of plants grow, then over time, plants will spring up in the designated area until a certain regional species density is reached. As you pick plants, new ones grow back to fill the region. This will require instancing plant objects and tracking overall population. Maybe a plant factory?


My Favorite Number is 19

Every year I start off looking to do better than last year. I put in a sold six months of work on the Vapor Project last year, but things took a nose dive around my birthday.

Pastel Future
Crafting, building, farming, fighting, walking, talking, and exploring all played a part in the evolution of the vapor project. Pastel Future distills these activities into an enjoyable and inspiring experience, while shading everything with a bit of nostalgia and a hi-tech fantasy. Right now, the scope of Pastel Future is more than I can handle. An immediate goal is to determine what stays and what goes.

My Future
It feels good to be thinking about and working on my game again. So yes, I will do better this year. This year, GlitchRock Games will become what I’ve always wanted it to be: a game studio.


Back in the Game

I’m trying to get back into the programming / creative groove. I’m going to do some small projects to help that along. First, I’ll make something to do with crafting. Maybe just a crafting interface? Something like a ‘Pasetllizer’ shader would be cool too.


Merry Christmas!

So this is Christmas and what have you done
Another year over, a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones, the old and the young
A very merry Christmas and a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fears
And so this is Christmas for weak and for strong
The rich and the poor ones, the road is so long
And so happy Christmas for black and for white
For yellow and red ones let’s stop all the fights
A very merry Christmas and a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear
And so this is Christmas and what have we done
Another year over, a new one just begun
And so happy Christmas we hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones, the old and the young
A very merry Christmas and a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear
And so this is Christmas and what have we done
Another year over, a new one just begun


Pastel Future

I’ve been working on a world that takes place in an alternate 2005. In this version of the world, the 90s were not the decade of grunge, blonde tips did not exist, and Pulp Fiction was a neon-noir film masterpiece. On the eve of Y2K, instead of hiding in their basements with a two year supply of canned food, people jack in and build a collective experience that accelerates the world’s technology growth exponentially.

Steve Jobs introduces the Apple Watch over a decade earlier than we are used to. It includes a feature that covers you in a protective pill shapped bubble from head to toe; very important when Infection is on the rise! Meanwhile, Quantel combines forces with Lecktrik Systems to create the world’s first line of smart clothing, with Cell Touch technology.

Miami Vice is longest running show of all-time and Don Johnson is the highest paid actor in the world. Jan Hammer tops the charts on an annual basis. What a world!

Telling a Story

I’ve written some short stories before, but nothing on the scale of this game. I have a lot of threads that I need to tie together. The story is a variation on the Hero’s Journey:

In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.

You can read more about the Hero’s Journey on Wikipedia.

Black Market Clothing

The first quest in the works has you getting involved in the black market. In our new world, certain types of clothing are banned because of how they are used in the world of recreational drugs. This particular item that you are searching for has a combination of Cell Touch and Quantel properties, which allow it two do two things:

  • Transport matter from a remote broadcast system to the garment’s internal molecular delivery system.
  • Transfer matter and data into the skin at the molecular level.

Enterprising parties use these two properties to facilitate the remote delivery of illicit substances. A string of underground clubs are built around the use of this type of clothing. These clubs are very exclusive and highly illegal. Your client wants to obtain some of the clothing required to attend such clubs and since she has something you need, you’re on the hook to find something she can wear.


Summer in the City

I’m using a set of modular city assests to mock up a sample map. I’m going to set up some interactions with some city-dwellers and work on some quest stuff with them. Maybe there is a gunsmith to build me a Sleeper?

Vapor City?


The TODO List

Project Management
I love lists. They keep me on track and they let me dump stuff out of my head so I have some room to think. Trello helps me make lists, so I love Trello and it’s simple and straight-forward design. I had more things to say about Trello, but I forget them before I could make a list.

The TODO List

Tech Design
I’m building item pickup functionality, using the voxel Sleeper Simulant to test. Here are the object so far, each lower level object is a sub-class of the object above it:

  • Pickup Primal
    • Pickup Weapon Primal
      • Pickup Weapon Sleeper Simulant
    • Pickup Bonus Primal
      • Pickup Bonus GloDots
      • Pickup Bonus Credits
    • Pickup Ammo Primal
      • Pickup Ammo Primary
      • Pickup Ammo Precision
      • Pickup Ammo Heavy

Primal objects must be sub-classed. The Pickup Weapon Primal describes the weapon and defines available properties (reserve size, clip size, equip speed, mesh, icon, etc) and Pickup Weapon Sleeper Simulant defines the values for these properties. This is pretty standard object-oriented programming. The amazing part to me is how intuitive it is to implement this design within the Unreal engine. Here’s a sample of the Sleeper’s item popup:

These entries always take me longer to write than I think they will. I’m going to do one every three days or so.