Monday, November 3, 2008

Multiple predefined levels

I'm averaging about one hour a week of work on my little game project. This week, I added support for multiple predefined maps. I'm thinking it is time to create a new test map that can help me answer questions about size: whether the game will primarily center around guarded compounds or if there are interesting things that would include surrounding city as well.

The prospect of creating a larger map using a text editor is daunting so I'm considering whether it might make sense to have a simple in-game editor. That is a pretty big change to how things work, though.

Other things I've done this week:

I bought Gothic from Good Old Games and have played it a little bit. I had played its sequel Gothic 2 several times, including with its Night of the Raven expansion and I have always wanted to try the first game in the series. It's been an interesting experience because Gothic 2 included Gothic's map as a subset of its world (albeit with some major changes due to war) so I am finding that I already roughly know my way around.

The Good Old Games folks are doing a great thing by fixing up old games so they'll run on modern computers and selling them without DRM. I had a terrible time trying to get my original Gothic 2 discs to run on my recent computer due to the execrable (StarForce or SecuROM, I forget which) DRM they employed. After getting the runaround from Gothic's publisher and some ineffectual assistance from the DRM company I ended up just buying the rerelease of the game, which (as is common) omitted the DRM. I suppose I'm sending the wrong message to the publisher by re-buying the game. (I tried looking for no-CD cracks first, believe me.) If I could personally deliver a good stiff whack with a stick I would.

I picked up John Christopher's Tripod series of young-adult sci-fi books at the library and have started reading those. They got made into a BBC show which I haven't seen. The setting is Europe a few hundred years after Earth has been enslaved by alien overlords, who use mild neurological pacification to maintain the remaining humans in a feudal state. Humans are fitted with “caps” at puberty; most become contributing members of society. In a small percentage of people the procedure fails, producing mentally ill vagrants. It sounds darker in my telling than it seems to me as I read it.

I played a bit more World of Goo but am stuck on a level in the Fall world now. This game is charming but it's not really my type, I think. Each level seems to consist mainly of finding the one trick that is necessary to complete the level, so it is more of a “get into the designer's head” than an avenue for creativity. My two-year-old likes watching me play, which makes my wife uneasy (there is a macabre undercurrent in the game which mostly goes over toddlers' heads).

Finally, I have been reading up on motion planning. I found a good survey paper here and an excellent textbook here.

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