Time traveler video
Friday, 29 October 2010

This isn't about video games, but it amuses me. :) Ok, there's this video clip that's going around from 1928 with someone that vaguely looks like they are talking on a cell phone. I don't have the link any more, but I'm sure Google could find it pretty quick. So some people are asking the question of whether or not it is a time traveler.

This is probably just someone trying to get hits on their website, but really? A time traveler? My programmer brain immediately points out 3 "small" flaws. 1) Where exactly is the cell tower that is hosting the cell phone call? 2) Are you really trying to tell me that a future human civilization has built a working time machine, has travelled back to 1928, but still uses cell phones? 3) They travelled back in time once, but they didn't bother to go back in time again to fix their screw up?

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Tweets 10
Friday, 22 October 2010

Here's some of my latest tweets from twitter / facebook with a bit more explanation.

Trying to think of some good names for some of our new demons today, naming things is hard. :( I don't know about anyone else, but it takes a while for me to come up with names.

Added new monster today - 3 major versions, 5 variations each, 2 uniques + 1 legend for each combo = 60 names I had to come with today. Usually there are only 20 for each type of monster, but this one has 3 major variations. Anyways, 60 names is a lot of names.

Added 2 new demons, a level clear bonus, and 3 dungeon size options to the expansion today. The 3 size options should let people tailor their dungeon a bit more.

Thinking up new quest ideas today and trying to not go overboard. Yeah, I've gone overboard on the NPC stuff since this tweet.

It's funny when I search for something on google for research purposes and my blog pops up as the #1 hit. Off hand I forget what I was searching for but it was something along the lines of dynamic quests in RPGs.

While testing needed to bash down a door, the fire elemental on the other side had the same idea except he set the door on fire. I really like when I'm surprised by my own game.

While organizing my quest notes I came across invested with spiders, hmm maybe that should be infested. I for some reason don't think people should invest their money with spiders.

I'm so going to go overboard on the NPC quests in the expansion. I just can't seem to help myself. Yep, already happened, technically still happening.

I entered Din's Curse into the IGF today. It would be really cool to be a finalist.

Having NPCs run around town to do activities is cool, but strange. I'm so used to them standing still (unless the town is attacked). Right now I do have them doing activities a lot more than they should so everyone is constantly running around in the town.

Added happiness and activities to npcs in Din's Curse expansion today. Npcs can now drink, try to solve quests, leave town, go renegade, give personal quests, and argue/talk to other npcs (happiness related).
Din's Curse expansion: NPCs now have money (gambling, get upset if in debt, buy food to prevent starving, give gifts to the player, etc). Added some faction/relationship stuff to npcs today (Din's Curse expansion).
More npc stuff added today - jealousy, gossip, praise, marriage (blog coming soon about all of this npc stuff). These are all about the new NPC stuff which I blogged about here.

Finished up some of the NPC relationship stuff today, now on to making these new things actually impact the world and player. All of the happiness, money, and relationship stuff isn't really my focus. The important part is how to effects and changes the world and impacts the player.

Now that NPCs have money, leprechauns running around town causes a lot of havoc. This is probably one of the many things that I didn't really think of directly that are going to create interesting interactions.

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NPCs with Depth
Thursday, 21 October 2010

NPCs in the Din's Curse expansion now have three things that drives their lives: happiness, money, and their relationships with others. This is going to sound like the Sims for a bit, but don't worry I will get to the point soon.

Happiness is just how happy they are with their lives and with the town. When they get really happy they are labeled a local hero (I still need a better term) and get a large bonus to combat. If they get really unhappy, they will eventually leave town or go renegade. There are a ton of things that change the happiness of the NPCs: winning when gambling, talking with other NPCs, friends/family dying, gossip, flirting, etc.

Money is what it sounds like. NPCs now keep track of their money. When they give you a gift that costs them some money. They need to eat occasionally and that costs money. Drinking and gambling uses up money. They do have jobs and ways to make money normally to balance this out though.

Relationships are also pretty common sense stuff. Each NPC keeps track of how much they like each other NPC, anywhere from hate to love. NPCs can even get married and divorced now.

So far this all sounds like the Sims doesn't it? Well happiness, money, and relationships are just the way to get the NPCs to interact with the world and the player more and in fairly realistic ways. All of the little daily things they do isn't too important. What is important is what it leads them to do. Note: all of the previous stuff works so far.

Now here's the parts I haven't fully implemented yet, but here's my thoughts about where we are going to go. When NPCs get really unhappy they will start doing riskier things like gambling and drinking. They are also much more likely to betray the town in some way or another. When they get into debt they will start acting more and more desperate. Some might be fairly honorable ways like trying to solve quests in the dungeons, but some will take more evil paths by betraying the town for gold or even stealing from their fellow NPCs. When they run out of money they can even starve to death. When someone really dislikes or hates someone they might even get into fights with them (or maybe they were just drunk).

This last part is where the player starts getting involved. You might need to figure out who poisoned the town's water supply (and then fix it) or who stole all of George's gold. Fixing Sham's starvation will be easy, but you probably don't have much time to do it. You might even need to break up fights to prevent them from killing each other.

I'm also thinking of a bunch of world modifiers that impacts all of this: poor town, rich town, seedy town, gamblers, misery, etc.

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Arcen financial issues
Friday, 08 October 2010

The Arcen (AI War & Tidalis) guys have been having some financial problems lately. First they blogged about it and then PC Gamer posted an email from one of Arcen guys giving a lot of interesting financial details. From a developer standpoint this is pretty cool, because most people (including us) don't share much detailed sales/financial information.

I don't mean any disrespect for the Arcen guys, however I suspect that this is pretty much the normal state of affairs for most indie companies. Our expenses are pretty steady, but our income has really large spikes around release and sales and then they very quickly fall (actually retail works like this also). If you don't plan for the income to fall off the cliff and you let your expenses get too high, you will go out of business or at the minimum need to lay off people.

So basically Arcen's expenses are much higher than their current income and they are quickly burning through their cash reserves. We were very much in Arcen's state most of the last year. We even took out a small loan to stay in business. For us, it wasn't that I didn't expect the sales spike and drop off, it's mostly that our 2nd game (Kivi's Underworld) didn't sell nearly as well as our 1st (Depths of Peril).

Which brings me to my last thought, it sounds like they did exactly what we did, ship a fairly hardcore game first (AI War in their case, Depths of Peril in ours) and then as their follow up shipped a much more casual game (Tidalis for them and Kivi's Underworld for us). It sounds like that worked out just as well for them as it did for us. As in, not well at all. I haven't really said this publicly, but Kivi's Underworld was basically a mistake. I still think it's a really fun game, it's different from everything else out there, and I'm glad that someone made it. We even have some fans that think Kivi is the best game that we have ever done. The problem is that it just wasn't the right game for Soldak to make. I wonder if this was the same for Arcen and Tidalis.

Anyways, just some random thoughts.

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Monster/dungeon quest ideas
Friday, 01 October 2010

Right now I'm thinking of lots of cool things and quests that are very town and npc centric for the expansion. This part is great, however every time I try to think of quests that involve the dungeon or monsters I get side tracked and get back to the town and npcs. So to spur some ideas, what kind of dungeon related quests would you guys like to see?

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