Super String Theory

Right off the proverbial bat, I still can’t get the C# compiler to notice that I have a text file that lives among the code. It won’t do it. I spent the better half of an hour researching importers and loaders to no real avail (although now I know the theory behind adding 3D models and meshes to a game). In an odd kind of seething fury, I hacked the loading functions right out of the code and assigned a string of letters to be looked at. Then, it almost worked.
So basically, I skipped a step. Before I tried loading a text file, taking the contents of that file and making them a string of letters/numbers and then I tried reading that string. No, I just told it what the letters are supposed to be and had the computer read that.
That breakthrough however came just as the promised drowsiness of Tylenol PM kicked my brain into lizard mode . So I have an idea of how, but now I still need to apply. Provided I can remember of course. Either way, it’s part of the larger goal of reading from text. So if that works, I could add a bit later to fetch the data from someplace else. If it doesn’t, I could always just assign the variables in the code itself, which is also text. That’s a win regardless.

Usually I don’t post half finished theories on the diary, and today is really no different. The real reasons are:

1) Look at the site! It’s so clean now, and uses pages even.

2) If you look at the little box that I’ve called “Re-Sources” you’ll see a lot of the stuff from before. (although by the time anybody reads this, I may have changed my mind and called it something else)

3) You’ll notice that the design document for Paper Zeppelin is up, or at least the parts I have done.

Couple things to notice if I could direct your eyes yonder. There is no Break Point listed. It seems odd that I would wax philisophically about it and then not include it. I got hung up on an issue before I could add it. Issues, I will add comments for in purple. Right now I’m having a design issue regarding player progress and how I can combine a drop in and out style of multiplayer gameplay with a merit based system of level advancement. That will make no sense unless you read the thing.
Next you’ll notice that it’s really quite short. The Thief enemy defense AI was longer than this. That’s because PZ uses very few mechanics, but they’re integrated in a way to cascade the mechanics together. The pieces all link together somehow, so my short design and limited ingredients is set up to create an assortment of emergent gameplay. At least, I hope that it will.
Finally, there’s no numbers in it. Everything is described (at this point) in relative terms. Numbers are the most variable of variables, so there’s no point in trying to make them concrete, especially at this early stage.

Someone out there, assuming that they read this (which I doubt, seriously) may be asking, “Why would you put your work up for someone to steal it?” The answer is simple – it’s worthless. That’s not quite right, it should say – it’s fuggin Worthless. Ideas are crap. Garbage. Even basic designs and documents aren’t worth the digital paper they may or may not be written on.
“No,” the people cry, “ideas are powerful and wonderful and rare!” I’m sorry to burst the bubble, but they’re not. For some people, they may have a good idea once or twice and hoard it like the Gnomes of Zurich.
Others, get ideas all the time. I have lots of ideas. They float on through and sometimes they get caught by my brain. Others float right through and are discarded. But I’m not most people. I’m a designer of systems and a prolific writer of prose. I decide a dozen ideas are crap before I leave my house in the morning.
But it does lead to the point, the only thing worth anything is doing. If Founders just had an idea for a Declaration of Independence it doesn’t mean anything. They have to do something with it. Further, it’s the act of doing that will shape the outcome. A single idea can be taken and made into different things based on who does it. So like, The Thief’s Tale is based on the idea of the original Prince of Persia (oddly, a game I had never played). Obviously Jordan Mechner based his game off the same idea. Our games are quite different because of the people making them.

To wit, here’s a list of ideas for games I have cooking in my head at this very moment. Some I may have mentioned here, others have never been and probably never will again. They are, in no particular order.

The Thief’s Tale – We know about this one. You can play it over there =>
Silver Knight – Side Scroller Action Hell with inside out storytelling
AeroKnight – Tactical RTS featuring fantasy airships.
Legend – A cycle of games featuring downloadable content. 3D action with destructible environments and physics.
SHADOW – A stealth spy game featuring characters with different skill sets, set in a Renaissance world.
The SHADOW TCG – A TCG based on the above property.
Thrae – 3D shooter focusing on Action Movie tropes and basing the mechanics off of them.
Sword of the Slayer – 3D weapons based fighting game (cancelled)
Paper Zeppelin – 2D sidecrolling multiplayer shooter.
The Star Frog EP – The first “Game Album” – mechanics based on Time, Loss and Failure
– Track 1 : Inevitability
– Track 2 : Time
– Track 3 : Entropy
– Track 4 : Fatalism
SF : Learning to Smile Again – The second “Game Album” – based on Love, Hope and Freedom
Psi-Kye – Metroidvania with psionics, physics and multiplayer.
The Adventures of FlyBoy – 3D flying game featuring a would be superhero.

These are just things that I happen to have written about. Some (like SHADOW) have extensive background that I’ve worked on. In the case of SHADOW, it’s also a comic book script I’ve developed.
One of them hurts a little, but I’m happy for it. When I was young I played a lot of Street Fighter 2, and thought that the game would be better if I had weapons. Oh, and it should be 3D. Virtua Fighter was 3D, and it was so smooth and pretty. I called it Sword of the Slayer and I designed a dozen characters, wrote out move sets and drew a ton of pictures (I was like, 12 so I had lots of time). I even had the idea of making the female character the “heavy” – slow and powerful.
I set it aside and got thinking about other stuff. One day I was at the local arcade and they had Soul Calibur just sitting there. It was almost exactly the same idea that I had, and executed so perfectly that it brought joy. I then realized that my game, would never be this good. The idea executed too well. Namco had simplified and streamlined, balanced, perfected it. So instead, I played the hell out of SC.
My idea was good, but the doing was the important bit. I’ll always remember that, and then get back to coding.
So yes, I share all of my ideas in one way or another. I mean, seriously, how many thousands of words have I thrown at internet describing my ideas? So here’s an idea – take anything I’ve written above, and make it. I’ll do the same. We’ll see how different those seeds will grow.

– I had once regaled with the tale of chatting with the dudes from PAX. I think it’s here. I came across something this morning, and had the weirdest feeling. At PAX East, they had an indie area. Not just the PAX 10, but an indie area with booths and stuff.
I’m not saying that I had really anything to do with that, but maybe just maybe, the meme got inserted and rattled around a bit. Maybe when planning the thing it rattled back to the fore.
Else maybe I was one of a legion of indie developers that have posited that same question. One more straw onto that particular camel.
This year, I’ll tell them that their booth should have cookies…and blackjack.

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