Adatir of Gondor

Ah, much to talk about. Let’s start with the stuff from the last post. The design document for Paper Zeppelin is coming along, just taking longer than I wanted. Important questions regarding the structure of things come up when you actually have to write them out instead of simply thinking about them in abstracted ways. The hard truth of some aspects becomes very apparent when it’s literally black and white. It can also save a lot of time instead of getting right into prototyping.
For example, in PZ the point of each stage is to pick up a bomb and drop in onto an enemy base. Sounds easy, but what if they don’t? So what? Now what do you do? You can’t make a player redo an entire level because they screwed one aspect, yet I don’t want to add convoluted systems that I will have to code into a language that I have a base familiarity with. Important questions. (By the way, the solution is branching level sequences).
So yeah, I’m into that. I do have the enemies and the basic engine concepted all out. Really, it’s simply faking a scrolling environment. Everything in the game that isn’t the players, like the ground tiles, enemies, background elements and so forth are all spawned on the right side of the screen. They then travel to the left side and are subsequently culled when they leave the screen. But if I make the ground and any ground based enemies go all the same speed then it appears to scroll on by, even though the player’s really don’t move around too much.
I also have the basic enemies sorted out, so I’ll get to coding those up soon and maybe I’ll get to my Break Point.
Ah, Capital Letters seems to imply a keyword there. It’s an odd little quirk of my game designs. I figure out, if there is nothing else, at what point will I know if the basic concept and gameplay is sound and interesting. In other words, the Break Point is where I have done the least amount of work to get the idea of what the game will be like on a super basic level. From there I decide to either throw out the whole thing, keep on going, redesign parts or do something else if. So that Point is what I’m working on now. It’s not pretty, I mean the BP for Thief was my Zero sprite moving around a blank screen with no platforms yet to see if the most basic of movements was interesting or not.
Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t prototype. I mean, read the other posts that start with, “I was thinking about…” and end with, “…but then I decided I hated it.” But I find the best and fastest way to do that is with thorough thought experiments. Running the would be game a thousand times in my head trying to discern unseen interactions between game systems before I code a line. PZ though, is getting to the point where coding in the very next part.

– Speaking of a game that’s past that Point, I’ve got a couple of more animators involved with Thief. So I’m going to get one of them involved in combat animations for The Knight character so I can have a full combat animation set. Then, finally, I’ll be able to really have other people test it without needing a cheat sheet explaining what the deuce a yellow rectangle on the enemy means (high block, unless the enemy is moving, then it’s a lunge {do you see what I mean now?})
Also, I continue to get smashing good musics into the game. Which I’m really very happy with. I love opening the mail in the morning and finding stuff.

– Finally, for the other site I’m involved with writing a review for The Lord of the Rings Online (or LotRO as the cool kids call it). I won the opportunity through happenstance, and the fact that my phone boops when I get an email. Anyway, I’ll be writing several articles about that. The idea is that the game is simply way too big for a thousand snarky works to really do any kind of justice. I mean, whole systems should be worthy of critique, provided they have enough meat to chew. Add to that the fact that end of game stuff can take several (dozen) hours to get to and we find that a different approach is needed.
So I’m planning on writing a series of articles, each going into certain aspects of the game itself, from starting, the main quests, PvP, raiding and so on. To that end, I’ve built me up a character called Adatir of Gondor. The name, of course, is a stupid play on words that I simply must share (even though it’s a little wanky and self indulgent). The name is two parts, “Ada” means “Again” and “Tir” means “To See, or to Look” like the Palantir that Saruman had. Put the words together and Adatir means, “So Look/See Again” or “Re-View.”
In any event, I’m 5 levels into it, stabbing boars, wild dogs and creepy bandit types and finding myself having an unnaturally decent time with it. It’s like I can see the underlying loot and abilities treadmill, the gears running just below the surface and I don’t really care. I know I’m being manipulated on a super basic level, and yet I keep on going. I kill something with a spear (or a shield bash – I love those!) and get XP and loot. I sell said XP and loot to gain new weapons, which I want to play with. Playing with sharp, pointy things nets me more XP and loot and then I’ve gained a level and have new abilities. Of course, my session wouldn’t be over until I’ve rocked out with my new Super Stab of Bree or whatever and the cycle continues. Now I’m supposed to go stab a giant boar of some kind. Not sure how that relates to the end of the Third Age, but I’m willing to have my puppet strings pulled enough to find out.
I could see that adding friends to this particular mix would create a very potent cocktail indeed.

– Ah, right, almost forgot. I’m still posting the Design Document for Paper Zeppelin….when it’s ready. Maybe soon.

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