Friday, June 27, 2014

Dev Log: Horror Text Adventure #53... Named

Well, nothing of substance done this week, though I created a rough splash screen:

Splash screen
The key is enter. Get it, get it? Ha!
Might as well stop calling it a "Horror text adventure" and give it a name.  So there we go.

I'm sure I'll be changing the splash screen in time, but for now it works well enough.  The A being a lock is a bit cliché, but heck, it was far more cliché when I had the E be a key.  Glad I decided not to do that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dev Log: The Vortex #35 - Rules Revamp & Rogations

[Edit 10/5 to cover all changes: This post has had and will have cards removed as I get in touch with artists and ask for their permission to use their art.  I want to do things right to make sure everyone is okay with use of their art and that I'm not stepping over any copyright claims. All cards that disappear from this post will reappear in a later post with new artwork that I've been given permission to use.]

I've changed around quite a few rules now, and brought the game back to one of my original intentions: making a customizable deck-based card game.

From the beginning, I wanted to make this some kind of collectable card game, but after making so many initial cards, and getting some burnout after struggling to come up with so many unique ones, I thought I would run out of ideas and would never be able to make a full-fledged CCG.  However, I've got a few ways to expand rules and gameplay styles, so I think I can fulfill the bigger vision I had.  Of course, being that this is free and you don't buy random boosters, this will be closer in spirit to a "living card game"... or something.  I'll be rounding out the starter pack (what I've been working on so far), and then I'll start coming up with expansions later.

The rules have been modified in a lot of ways, some minor, some major.  One of the big ones was in figuring out how to allow players to take other players' cards without getting them mixed up.  Naturally, I already have that in place by not allowing more than one color of Devotee in a deck to begin with.  So if you're Blue, and you have some Red cards, then at the end of the game you can just look through your Deck and Fearful Pile and hand them back.  So there's no way there can be any confusion.

But I did have to alter rules so when you use Rogations, they don't get mixed up in the Vortex.  Instead, you just Discard them after using them.  Similarly, if you kill a Zealot, the attached Frenzy just goes in the appropriate player's Discard Pile, rather than the Vortex, so those don't get mixed up either.  I'm thinking there will soon be some cards that force Frenzies and Rogations into a Player's Fearful Pile, so it's out of the game, but won't get mixed up in the Vortex Pile.

Fixed Paradox, Excursion, and Plains of Filth. Strangest Places just gets new art.
A few fixed Location cards.
I did have to change the Paradox Location card, because applying your Frenzy to another player's Devotee would cause confusion later.  Fortunately it's not a big loss because I was never quite satisfied with Paradox anyway.  So I've got a new version that works much better.  While I was at it, I fixed a few other Locations I wasn't happy with, though primarily for their placeholder art and flavor text, so there's no gameplay change with those.

Next, I added a term: "Crusader" just means "A Devotee or a Zealot in the Field of Play".  I managed to cut out a lot of text from the rules and cards by adding that one new term.  This is especially helpful on the cards where the text real estate is small.  However, now a single color card might be referenced by about four terms, so I hope it doesn't get too confusing.

I have also now made it so Refill is one of the actions you can take, instead of happening every turn automatically.  So basically, a Location card is flipped over, and each player can do one thing (unless they play a Rogation), and then the next Round begins with a new Location card.

That required fixing a couple of other Location cards, particularly Excursion.  If Excursion stayed the way it was, it would be basically Capitalia, so I changed the rules on Excursion to provide more variety.

Plains of Filth had to be similarly modified to work with the new way the Refill Phase works, and I reworded Waterfall just for clarification.

Also, now, the rule that used to affect Red only at the end of the game, where Red gets extra points for Killed Devotees, has been changed so everyone gets a bonus.  Basically each player gets a bonus based on the number of Killed Devotees of other colors, so their own color Killed Devotees don't count for them.

Speaking of endgame, the game doesn't end after all Locations have been played.  Instead, the game is a Last Man Standing fight, where a Player loses when they have no more Devotees to Crusade with.  The points only come into play with house rules, where you can limit the game to a time limit or turn limit.  I've put a few house rules in the instructions, and I'll probably add more to help with quick games and beginner games.

I've also gone through the Rogations that same way I went through Locations: adding new art, flavor text, and making sure the rules are clear enough.  Also, since the game is now a deck-building game, and players are not randomly dealt Rogations anymore, a lot more balance has to be created with them.  There is already a piece of a "cost" involved, in that a player must meet a certain requirement about how many Crusaders are in play at the time, but I'm not sure if that's enough.  Having lots of Rogations might be a prime strategy, and I don't necessarily want it to be that way; I'd prefer if players could create decks with different strengths and ratios of card types, and have many play styles be equal.  So one player may concentrate on Devotees, another on Frenzies, and another on Rogations, and they still have an even chance at each other.  But that will come through in testing.

In any case, here are the reworked Rogations:

Blessing, Miracle, & Rapture
Some are wordy.  Click to enlarge.
Blessing has been hugely clarified in the text, although it is basically the same.  I think it's far more wordy this way, but there should be no questions about how it works.

Miracle and Rapture are both the same as they were before, though with Miracle, I think I changed the "<" to a "1" for requirement, and put the "less than" aspect in the text.  That way you have to have at least one Crusader in play to play it.  Continuity!

Brainwash was Bacchanalia, but it was rather absurd to require 4 Crusaders to play one Frenzy.  After all, other simple actions like that are far cheaper.  Brainwash corrects that.

Now with Resurrection, the Player can decide whether to put the Devotee in their Fearful or Discard Pile.

Palm Reading is basically the same, I think, just adjusted for the new lack of Refill Phase.

I've been going back and forth with myself on rules for Deck Construction.  I wouldn't want a Player to spam certain cards, and Palm Reading is definitely one of them that could be easily spammed.  I've been considering a cap on how many copies of a card allowed in a deck (generally one or two), but now I'm also thinking that perhaps some Rogations might be discarded after used, allowing them to come up again, while other, more powerful cards are one-shots that must be sent to the Fearful Pile after use, so they can't be spammed.  That, combined with a reasonable cap, might help to fix imbalances.

Pestilence & Burial Rites

When I originally found the placeholder art for Pestilence, I knew it was one of the standards for how I wanted the game to feel.  Although with other pieces of placeholder art, I've moved on when I couldn't find attribution, with this one, I knew I had to find it again.  This art is excellent, and it stays. Oh... rules, right... the rules are the same, I think.

Burial Rites has been reworked to fit with the theme of the card, so rather than a simple "No players may Frenzy", it is instead a little more complex and wordy, but I think more interesting, and allows the Player who uses it to get some breathing room, and also not feel it's too much of a waste of a card.

Revelation has been adjusted so instead of looking at one opponent's hand, or all of them, the number depends on how many Crusaders you have in the Field.  (I should probably rename "the Field of Play" to just "the Field" for brevity.

Phatasmagoria, Sermon, Tithe, Cure
The needle in Tithe is coincidental, the one in Cure is intentional.  I might make it a running theme if I can, though.
Phantasmagoria and Charity are both relatively untouched.  I like Charity as it is because it's like other Rogations that force Players to discard, but it's more powerful, and so it comes at a cost to you.

Sermon is one of those cards that's probably overpowered right now, especially if spammed.  To get rid of it, one player would have to waste a Crusade, knowing that their attempt at True Conversion would fail.  So this is a prime candidate for a limited number in the deck, as well as having it removed from the game after being played once.

Tithe has been fixed for the new Refill mechanic, but other than that I think it remains steady.  Perhaps I added the "including yourself" part.

Cure originally said Frenzies got sent to the Vortex, but we wouldn't want the Frenzies to get mixed up in there, so I changed it to the Player's Discard Pile.  Though I think thematically it would work better to send the Frenzy to the Player's Fearful Pile so it's removed from the game.

Prayer is untouched.  It's a simple card, and sometimes simple is better.

Warcry, Psalms, & Goodwill
I considered adding flavor text to Warcry, but it would have just been "Rrrrrrraaaaaaaaaarrrrr!"
Warcry used to allow the player to Crusade using any tactic, but I changed it to only Killing.  I'm positive that soon I'll add a couple more Rogations for Crusading using the other attributes to round it out.

I think Psalms used to force the (non-)Converted Crusader to be discarded, but I prefer that it remains in play.  Though this is basically Sermon for a different Attribute, so I still need to think carefully about how to keep it from being overpowered and spammable.

The flavor text from Goodwill came from a fortune cookie.

Hex is the simpler, less nasty version of Charity.  It and Raindance are pretty much untouched.  Wedding has only been clarified, but is still the same rules as it had before as well.

Rally, Mercy, & Whispers
Rally going a bit more with the Amphitheater of Noise theme...
Rally used to move cards from the Fearful Pile to the Discard Pile, but I didn't feel that was true to the spirit of the card, nor was it terribly useful.  However, immediately Reinforcing with those Fearful Devotees would be too powerful, so the compromise is to put them in your uhand.

I think Mercy and Whispers here are both the same as they were, just clarified a little in wording.  I could have said with Whispers "Immediately Reinforce", but the wording of the rules in the rulebook gives you different options for Reinforcing (you can also remove cards from the Field if you wanted).  So this clarifies you only positively Reinforce.

As far as the complete instructions goes, I'll post the full text of it later (posting it here would make this twice as long, and 90% of the instructions remain the same as before anyway).  I've still got to finalize them, do some editing on them, and make sure they're consistent.

After making sure the core rule set is up to snuff, and after reworking the Frenzies and Devotee cards in the same way I've been doing with the Rogations and Locations, then I'll either expand the core "starter" set, or I'll come up with expansion sets.

I always overscope my projects...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dev Log: Horror Text Adventure #52

The barrier description function has been bothering me for a while, so I fixed it up thoroughly.  Now I no longer have a bunch of If statements trying to figure out what type of barrier it is with unique descriptions going in each direction, just to get the direction word (e.g. "north") right.  Instead, the only distinct barrier it looks for is a wall, and skips the description for that direction.  After that, it checks to see if the barrier is open or see-through, and if so, says things like "there is a bedroom beyond the counter to the north".  If it's neither open nor see-through, it just says "there is a door to the west" or whathaveyou.  I also fixed up the sextuple duplicate descriptions by using a For loop that uses the indexes of the directions, with a constant vector of directional strings with the same indexing.  I knew there was a simple way to get around all that extra code; I just had to put two and two together.  I even got good grammar in there.

I also changed up the visuals so it's not so plain; I want to give it the feel of old DOS text adventures, so I changed the font, borders, background color, etc.  I also made the window wider to accommodate the style.

The game, now in DOS mode.
Now it looks like you're playing a DOS game on six oddly-shaped screens.
I also fixed a bit of the grammar, so the directional descriptions differentiate in style the direction, so you can see something "to the north" but only see something "above", rather than "to the above", which would make no sense.  Had to correct that in two places... so far.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dominion: Industry #8

A few fixes, and PDFs at the bottom:

Luddites, Water Wheel, Pawn Broker, & Automaton fixes.
Revised Luddites, Water Wheel, Pawn Broker, & Automaton. Click to read.
After examining Luddites again, I decided to tone it down and reduce the price.  Luddites now only costs five, but the players affected by the attack only trash Action cards, rather than any card type.  This is a little more in line with the concept of the card, and not being too abusive.  I also had to fix an error in it that could cause massive devastation.  Before, there was no limit to the attack, so if five Luddites were played before your turn, it is entirely possible you'd have zero cards when your turn came up.  So that's mitigated somewhat here by saying that after players trash the card, they then draw a card, bringing the number of cards in their hand back up.  I'm still on the fence about its price however; I'm not sure if it should be worth the five I've now set it at, or if it truly is as evil as I think it is, and should raise it back up to six.

After playing with some of the regular Dominion sets like Seaside, I reconsidered the price of Water Wheel.  It is probably far too expensive at six, so I've dropped the price on it as well to five.

There was also a fair bit of wording errors to fix to bring the cards to what I intended them to be:

I also fixed the text on Pawn Broker so you reveal it from your hand at the start of cleanup, rather than during cleanup.  This is because cards which happen at the start of cleanup happen before the player discards their cards and draws new cards, while cards which happen during cleanup happen after discarding and drawing a new five cards.

When I playtested Automaton, I discovered I left out the most important word in the game: "may".  The cards should read "You may trash one card"; otherwise, it's implied that you must.  Oops!

I also added a bit more to the instructions to explain how cards work during Cleanup more fully.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dev Log: Horror Text Adventure #51

I fixed up the Open command a bit so now if the player tries opening a barrier without specifying a direction, it can still understand what was said.  So if the player tries opening a door, and there's only one door in the room, it works.  If there's more than one door, it asks you to specify which door you'd like to open.

Then, after seeing how simple, clean, and short the Open code was, I basically just copypasta'd the code to the Lock command, since the Lock command was getting confusing, unruly, and error-prone.  Since they essentially work the same from the point of view of the Interface class, it made far more sense to just do that, and let the Barrier class take care of the specifics.

And now knowing I've got c&p'd code, I bet there's an even better way of taking care of both and combine them.  That'll have to be during another round of code cleanup.  But at least when I figure out how to lock or open items, it'll be easy to do the other one.

Unfortunately, this post won't be as huge as the last one.  But fortunately, this week led to striking things off the to-do list, instead of adding anything.  And now that the Open and Lock code are much cleaner, I don't dread making it work for objects so much anymore.  But that part's still on the to-do list.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dev Log: The Vortex #34 - New Location Artwork & Flavor

I began changing up the placeholder art to get more in line with the feel I'm going for with this game.  I'll be altering the mechanics in a big way soon, so the game text on these cards is still likely to change, but I think the addition of flavor text helps individualize the colors' personalities, motivations, philosophies, and beliefs.  I'll be doing the same with Rogations, Frenzies, and Devotee cards.

I also changed the background of Locations cards so when the card is flipped, the color of the player who goes first is more obvious.  The color that goes first in that Location is most at home there, or in some other way knows how to best utilize it, or at least knows how to deal with the present obstacles and oddities of the location.

I also made sure to give proper credit for each placeholder image.  I tried to use real names when possible, but of course sometimes all that's available is an internet handle.

Anyway, here they are, in semi-random order:

The Crystalline Tower, Yellow Fields, Dimmension Zed, & Earth
Click each set of cards to enlarge so you can read them.
Each of these four are good representations of each color.  Green (The Infinite) is rational and scientific, so The Crystalline Tower is a bit of a sci-fi version of an ivory tower.  Yellow (Solidity) is very strategic, and have pretty much taken control of the universe with their tactics.  Since Yellow is the warmongering king of the universe, Blue (Emptiness) is their rebel counterparts, passive as they can be, given their situation.  Red (The Noise) is barbaric, taking joy in killing.

These cards are also representative of the art style I'm going for.  The Crystalline Tower shows off the sci-fi elements; Yellow Fields is an example of the almost abstract landscapes; Dimension Zed is surrealist fantasy; and Earth is a... well, down-to-earth art style showing more realistic scenes.

Treetomb, Cremation, Trail of Emptiness, Brim of Despair

You can see here the differing philosophies of the opposite factions.  In Treetomb, Green wants to use the dead for study, to prove their religion.  In Cremation, Red postures that their religion is correct unequivocally, and if you don't believe them, you soon will, when you get to the other side of life.

My attempt for Trail of Emptiness was to really give Blue a peaceful native feel, and I hope with this card you can imagine a gentle people who live one day at a time, communing with nature, and trying to mind their own in the quieter corners of the universe.

The flavor text of Brim of Despair can be taken on multiple levels.  Of course it's a joke of a quote, but it's also part of Yellow's beliefs--they are torturers and inquisitors who forcibly convert others to their way.  So if you die as they torture you, that's fine with them, because you wouldn't have the fortitude to understand their religion anyway.

Fortress of Noise, Observatory of the Infinite, Denial, Blue Blazes

I love Fortress of Noise. That is all.

Observatory of the Infinite helps to show not only Green's quest for knowledge and understanding, but also their hubris in their attempts to get it.

Denial is an interesting one, and it took me a while to find both a great picture and come up with a good quote to go with it.  It's a bit of a stretch, but when I came up with 'Denial' as a location name, I knew I had to use it.  As far as the flavor text goes... I think there's a ring of truth in almost everything Yellow says, as dastardly as they are.

As for Blue Blazes... I had a lot more context for that quote, and I struggled a fair bit trying to articulate exactly what it means in the space of a little box on a card, but I kinda think it ultimately works when it's more of a mystery.  The meaning is for me to know and you to ponder out.

Path of the Righteous, Vista of the Infinite, Strangest Places, Monument of Solidity

My original placeholder picture for Path of the Righteous was an actual path, but when you use enough Google Fu eventually you hit upon really cool combinations.  This card shows you the humble conviction of Blue, with a metaphor of the adversity they have to face.

Vista of the Infinite is a bit of the opposite of Observatory of the Infinite in terms of obtaining knowledge and truth. Ironically I think Green perhaps makes the most inaccurate quotes of all the colors.  They're a bit annoying, like Vulcans.

Strangest Places is blank intentionally.  Each color has one Location that leaves them speechless.  Here, for Red, it's the discovery that books are useful for something, in this surrealistic world.  They aren't big readers.

I had a hard time finding a good piece of art for Monument of Solidity, because I tried to find big rock statues or palaces carved in the side of mountains.  The point of the Monument is to show how strong Yellow is, and I figured a ginormous rock sculpture would be the ticket.  But no matter what I found, it always looked a bit flimsy.  Just something wasn't sitting right about it, and I was getting very frustrated because it was the last card I found art for.   The original art was that giant statue of Genghis Khan on a horse, which I think was the original inspiration for the card in the first place; but I couldn't get a war horse statue picture to save my life.  Eventually I settled on the city you see, which works in a much different way that my original intention, but it helped to drive the flavor text in a new direction.  Sometimes inspiration comes out of left field, but still works well.

Forsaken, Cave of the Weeping, Grime, Station Station

Red is always looking for people to join their cause.  They say "Join us," and if you don't, they'll just kill you.  Forsaken is one of the worlds where they go to pick up recruits.  Naturally, The Prison World is run by Yellow, like all big government structures, and it's full of people (not all criminals) eager to join another cause.  This is definitely a card I could write a story about all on its own.

Cave of the Weeping is Blue's "silent card".  This was the first card that I decided would have no text.  I kept trying to come up with something to say that would capture the feeling of being inside the Cave of the Weeping, but ultimately staying silent would be the most respectful thing a follower of Emptiness would do.  At first I wanted this one to be the only blank card, and I think its impact might get diminished a little by the other blank cards, like the joke Strangest Places card, but I suppose as long as you're in a serious mood when you view this card it works out well enough.

Grime is a planet under the iron thumb of Yellow, of course.  Yellow ultimately wants power, and wants to use their subjects to stay in power.  They want the population of Grime to work hard for their food, or die trying.  This is another one I think could be its own story.  I do particularly like cards that really help fill out the universe like this one.

...And Station Station is the opposite of those completely.  I considered a different bit of flavor text, but anything different would have changed the initial joke of the thing.  Station.

Limbo Rock, Paradise, Dreamscape, Battlefield

The initial picture for Limbo Rock was Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill, which is exactly what it's meant to be.  But I didn't want to have a direct visual for the reference of the title; unfortunately there's not too much in the way of paintings of rocks that captures that feeling without seeing Sisyphus himself.  Oh well.  It's better to have the card appear deeper by hiding the inspiration a few notches down the chain.  Also, I kinda like what I did for flavor text, if I do say so myself.

Paradise, The Ice World is that old joke about Greenland.  But it's the kind of place Green would be bound to visit because, being so logical, they wouldn't want Frenzies to affect them and get in the way of their thoughts.  I tried my best with each Location to have game text that made sense for the place (for the cards that have game text, anyway).

Dreamscape has the first quote that is probably copyrighted, so I felt the need to add the writers on the side for that one.  I called it an "Ancient Lullaby" in the Vortex, but it's actually some of the lyrics to Barenaked Ladies' "When You Dream".  I used that once before in a short story.  I guess that's just one of those songs that really sticks with me.

And if you wanted a card that is polar opposite to Dreamscape or any of the others for that matter, Battlefield is it.  Battlefield shows how brutal Red really is, and if there is one faction that could really challenge Yellow for control, it would be Red.  Of course, they're a bit more on the side of anarchy than totalitarianism, so Yellow is pretty safe in its position as rulers of the universe, and Red is mostly a pest.

Carnival, Excursion, Cosmic Disruption, Haven

Carnival was a tough one, to try to find the right (short) quote to capture how flippant Red is about life.  Carnival, in this case, is not just a travelling circus, but a psychotic planet with that theme.  For some reason, dark carnivals always crop up in my work.

If Excursion were a Blue card, it would probably fit right in without explanation.  But it takes on a different meaning when it's Green.  To me (as if I'm interpreting Green like I didn't come up with it), Green is basically saying "If you make discoveries and gain knowledge in new places, others will be interested and come to you."

Cosmic Disruption shows that even if Yellow considers itself the king of the universe, the universe is still bigger than Yellow.  The universe has a mind of its own, which is a big part of how The Vortex works.  You pop from place to place in your Crusades because The Vortex decides it ("decides" being open to debate, depending on your opinions of the universe's sentience).

The joke of Haven is that even though it is the real paradise (unlike the other Location with that name), it's just about impossible to find.  The "Elder Proverb" is a quote from one of my dad's short stories, and I don't know if he got it from somewhere else.

Abyss of Emptiness, Capitalia, War Machines, Bottom of the Universe

Abyss of Emptiness was another one, like Blue Blazes, where I was going to try to give the flavor text more context and resolve the ambiguity of it, but the point of half of what Blue says is to be ambiguous.  So, you figure it out.

Capitalia is, as the name implies, the capital planet of Yellow.  It is their most populous, and they rule with absolute authority.  Another card I've spent too much time imagining the stories of.

War Machines originally had an awesome piece of art, but I had a hard time finding the credit for it, so I had to move on and grab something else.  This is the Trojan Horse, and it definitely gives this card a different feel.  Now, Green and Red are bitter enemies, and you would expect a card called War Machines to be a Red card.  The original implication was that Green is smart enough to use technology for war when they must.  But with the Trojan Horse image, it becomes something different entirely.  The flavor text came naturally the moment I saw the picture.

The original picture for Bottom of the Universe was the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars, which is the exact image I had in my head (maybe mixed up a little with a particular Douglas Adams location).  I didn't think I'd ever find a picture that captured such a "wretched hive of scum and villainy"... but then I did.  This picture is great: an alien bar fight with a sixties Star Trek fashion sense.  Perfect.  As far as the flavor text... well, I assume that even if you didn't understand the quote on Station Station, you'll certainly get the quote of this.  Of course, I took it as more of a threat than a helping hand in this instance, as Red would say such a thing and carry out the results of the other's decision, no matter which they choose.

Gate of Influence, Eclipse, With the Fishes, The Signpost

I feel like Gate of Influence is both too obvious to explain and too difficult to explain.  So I won't.  You get it, right?

Eclipse has the only photo of the bunch, while the rest are paintings or other forms of artwork.  I knew that's exactly what I wanted it to look like from the beginning, and the previous placeholder art is near identical (I just couldn't find the exact same picture again with a credit).  As far as the flavor text goes, this is a bit out of character for Green, but the rather lengthy quote I had was hard to phrase and would never fit with the game text.  So I just opted for another joke piece of text.  Not one of my proudest moments.

With the Fishes:  if you wanted Red to seem less like barbarians and more like mafia, this is your ticket.

The first concept for The Signpost was a sign floating is space, which I originally got burned into my head from the Jetsons at age eight.  But The Signpost got this cool image mainly because it was hard to find a picture of an actual signpost without words on it, or at least words I could justify.  So instead, The Signpost became a being that might verbally direct you where you wanted to go.  Of course, it's probably one of those annoying beings that always twists your words and sends you off in the wrong direction.  But as far as the flavor text goes, it's another one of those cool little Blue sayings.  They're just full of mysterious-sounding life lessons, aren't they?

Trenches of Otherworldly Sorrows, Mirage, Red Skies, Aetherworld

Now Trenches of Otherworldly Sorrows is just downright creepy.  As if trench warfare weren't enough, I can only imagine that quote from Yellow as being from a torturer to a victim.  Geez these guys are sadistic.

Green has quite the respect for the Infinite, especially in regards to things they haven't yet figured out.  Mirage is one of those things.  They study The Desert Castle, but it is a mystery that has not yet been solved, and many have gotten a little too uncomfortable with it.  I imagine a Green philosopher taking someone to Mirage and giving this warning before they reach it.

Red doesn't say much; they aren't a particularly verbose bunch.  Usually when they do speak, it's a threat hidden behind humor.  This time, in Red Skies, there is no humor present.  You've probably made someone very, very mad to elicit that statement.

The quote of Aetherworld is just the opposite; it's short as well, but rather than getting your hackles up and trying to put you on edge, Blue tries to calm you down with as few words as possible.

Plains of Filth, A Child's Imagination, Holiday, Paradox

Earlier, with Grime, Yellow tries to keep the population down.  At Plains of Filth, Red uses the poor and downtrodden as a recruitment tool, quite possibly in the, er, "lighter" context of the phrase "Come with me if you want to live."  This is also a similar place to The Prison World in Red's eyes, though Plains of Filth is not so much under Yellow's control.

Getting rather surreal in this Green one, you can see that The Vortex doesn't just drop you off in macro locations within the universe, but also occasionally in the inner spaces.  As far as the flavor text goes, it's a bit like Yellow's Monument of Solidity quote, in that they aren't quite aware of just how ironic they're being.

Holiday shows that Yellow isn't all bad.  Ha.

Paradox is digging yet deeper into the surreal pool.  I was certainly never satisfied with the original placeholder art, but finding a replacement for a place called Paradox when I don't have much of a visual in my head is tough.  I tried some Escher first, of course, then Dali, but nothing is quite what I'm going for... probably because I don't know what I'm going for.  The visual is a bit of a stretch here, but imagine who those three characters in the scene are, and compare it to the flavor text and the game text, and it may make some sense.

Waterfall, House of Solidity, Green Pastures, Amphitheater of Noise

Waterfall is yet another bit of Blue philosophy.  This one is certainly easier to understand than others.  Give it a shot.

House of Solidity is Yellow's "silent card".  Nothing could be said to make the House any more foreboding than it is.  If you talked in the House, you'd probably have your tongue cut out.

Green Pastures is Green's "silent card".  In this case... I just ran out of things to say.  I think this is a similar instance, like Vista of the Infinite, where Green would put down the notebook of calculations and just enjoy the beautiful view.  And all that can be said in that regard was already said on Vista of the Infinite, so there's no need for a repeat.

If the barbarian and mafia takes on Red aren't your style, Amphitheatre of Noise has you covered with a more metal feel.  I kept looking for painting of amphitheatres, coliseums, arenas, and so on, and nothing was ever quite what I wanted.  In desperation I randomly typed "rock concert", and I realized I was trying to get a little too historical before, and this was more along the lines of what I was trying to capture with the card.  As far as the flavor text goes, of course it's a morbid joke.  That's Red for you.

...And there is all forty-eight Location Cards.  I'll provide a PDF of them once I've altered the mechanics a bit, mangled the instructions, and redone all the other sets of cards in the game.  Consider this the beginning of The Vortex, Alpha Version 2.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dev Log: Horror Text Adventure #50

I cut out the way descriptions were generated in favor of an adjective-based set, and also made it so common area items could have specific adjectives applied, while items in random areas would have randomly generated descriptions.  This also will apply to general room descriptions and barrier descriptions.  I first made it work on items.  Each item has a particular set of words to describe each aspect of it, so far with height and width (just as a generic test), but it can be applied to any item for specifics.

To get adjectives working with randomized (non-common) rooms, I removed the older, placeholder stuff about temperature.  So now adjectives work with rooms, so you can "look at room" or "look at [room type]" and you'll get a description with the adjectives.

A screenshot showing some of the stuff in action.
The adjective being "large" at the moment, but hey, I've got a thesaurus.
As I was testing that, however, I discovered a very intermittent bug.  On one test, the room I started in appeared to have no way out (the directional description box was empty), but after testing each direction, I was able to go up, and the directional box correctly displayed the directions for that room (except the way back).

Later on it happened that my starting room had one apparent way out, west, and the western room had one way out, east.  I thought there must be something wrong with the way connections are made at first, or walls being put up when rooms were adjacent.

Eventually I realized it was just that I had forgotten to make directional descriptions for counters, so nothing was being displayed when there were some.  But it took until a room full of counters appeared to start in before I even noticed the problem.

Of course, it makes pretty much no logical sense to have counters be above or below, unless the world is topsy-turvy.  So next I made two sets of barrier types: those that can go north/south/east/west, and those that can go up/down.  Perhaps I'll add ladders, too.  Although, it might be even more interesting to have ladders be objects, and you have to set them up to be able to go up/down to rooms.  Unfortunately, the more I think of this game as just rooms, the more I imagine the movie Cube, which is not what I'm going for.  Must add outdoor areas to the to-do list and logical connections.

After splitting up the barriers into those kinds, I thought I encountered a bug where doors just didn't show up.  I made doors identical to windows in definition, and windows showed up, so the problem wasn't there.  Next I checked what I had just made: the directional barrier list, to see if I had forgotten to add doors, but the doors were in there, and listed second, between counters and passages, which both worked, so I knew it wasn't that I was leaving out an index at the beginning or end (that sometimes happens when I use length-1 to check through a vector when I should use just length, or vice versa).  But, alas, after much testing, I discovered it was just an unlucky few random startups where doors were simply rare.  That's the nature of randomness, I suppose.

To combat that, I'll have to put in parameters and statistics for how likely a barrier (or room type, or item) is to come up, instead of the equal opportunity I have now.  Added to the to-do list.

Next I made it so the player can open closed barriers, like doors and windows.  If the barrier can't be opened, like a wall, it properly tells you.  If it can be opened, but is already open, it tells you that.  For the moment, you specify which barrier you want to open by listing a direction, so you'd say "open west door", even if the only door in the room is west.  Right now it doesn't actually matter what you're trying to open, you just need to say "open west".  Next for this is to improve the functionality so the player can just name the barrier type (if there's only one), as well as using adjectives to describe which barrier to open.  Also, opening items that are containers or otherwise can be opened.

While I was taking care of that task, I finally decided to stop fooling around with directional numbers.  Basically, barriers are contained in a vector in each room, so the north barrier has an index of 0, etc.  I always mix them up, so I created a few extra constants so I never need to remember which barrier is which index again.  This also makes the code far more readable, so you know that the string DIR_NORTH ("north") clearly goes with DIRNUM_NORTH (0), and I can forget that the number behind the direction even exists.

Next, I added some detail to the school common area, by finally adding chalkboards, chalk, and erasers to each classroom.  As I create each kind of item, I'll not just add them as possibilities for random rooms, but also put them in the school.  Of course, my to-do list of items to add is very, very large.  But before I go throwing items around, I want to make sure I have a use for each one, so in general that will require new verbs with each item.

Next I doubled back and made it so the player could examine barriers, by setting up adjectives and editing up the examine command.  It's junky placeholder at the moment, only giving a height description (and half the time it's grammatically incorrect)... but it works.  I also added a function for properly converting the directional number to the corresponding string, which I'm surprised this is only the first time I've needed that--though I think I've probably just done it multiple times in other places and forgot... spaghetti!  For now, it examines the barrier type you specify, and gives you descriptions of all barriers of that type.  So I have to do the opposite of the open command, and incorporate directions into the commands.

Code made of angel hair pasta.
I'm pretty sure there's a way to condense this slop.
Also, plenty of code cleanup, as usual.  I had a function referenced multiple times to set a room's common value as true or false, but it could all get deleted because I already made it so a room gets a common value assigned on instantiation, and that's a value that doesn't change, so it was not necessary to have all the extra functionality.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back on track!

I'm going to go back to posting two days a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Each Friday will be an update on the text adventure, and each Tuesday will be... something else.  I've got Dominion: Industry to balance and come up with suggested sets for, and I'm hoping to get back to some other old projects here and there, perhaps the Doom mod "Sacrifice" or add some levels to the HeroQuest Monthathon.  I'm also going to rethink the mechanics of The Vortex a bit after playtesting, so that'll be coming back up, as well.

Got a lot to work on!  So time is of the essence--we must go!