Posts Tagged ‘interactive fiction’

So with a little over 2 hours left in Ludum Dare judging I’m sitting down to talk a bit about the game I’ve worked on. It’s called rot, and it’s a short interactive fiction piece about menstruation, coming of age, and the post-apocalypse.

If you haven’t played and/or rated it yet, I’d be super pumped if you did.

rot

You can play it here.

I’ll include a longer post-mortem after the cut, but don’t want to bog down the front page. If you’re interested in hearing more about the subject, about using the interactive fiction engine ink or about trying to create a varied experience everyone will still undoubtedly comment is too linear – read ahead :)
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Finding Home - Storybook game by Alex Bezuska

I had a really great time working on this project, I went into the jam wanting to test my solo skills.

I had never made a jam game entirely by myself before, I usually do most of the art for the games I work on.
I created this game with SuperPowers which is uses HTML5, WebGL, and JavaScript.

Finding Home - Storybook game by Alex Bezuska

Finding Home - Storybook game by Alex Bezuska

 

Play & Rate Today!
(Playable in your browser.)

Finding Home - Storybook game by Alex Bezuska

 

 

finding-home-branch

Update: Vertical Slice Is Complete

Posted by (twitter: @gamewritr)
Saturday, August 27th, 2016 11:37 pm

I’ve completed the vertical slice of the game! Essentially the game can go out as is and everything works. For the remainder of the jam I will be adding more story options and gameplay. My buddy John stepped in to do some artwork and my friend Cameron is working on some music as we speak.

Didn’t think it would happen, but the game is starting to come along.

Some screenshots:

View post on imgur.com

View post on imgur.com

P.S. Twine is Awesome

First pass at the game’s layout is complete

Posted by (twitter: @gamewritr)
Saturday, August 27th, 2016 4:30 pm

This being my first text based game, I knew that the aesthetics should be slightly more than just white text and blue links. I tried to spice it up as best I can. I also settled on a name for the game.

Here are some screenshots of the layout as it is now:

Screenshot 2016-08-27 14.10.26  Screenshot 2016-08-27 14.10.58  Screenshot 2016-08-27 14.11.06

Art isn’t my strong suit but I’m going to do the best I can to get in some animations to spice up the dialogue.

The Gameplay:

  • You play as an out-of-work Game Designer due to a market crash in the far, far future.
  • You have an idea to start making games using technology from the 1980’s in the hopes of standing out and making a creative statement during a recession.
  • If you release a game that doesn’t do well…let’s just say there’s a lot at stake.
  • As you progress you’ll meet new characters and be faced with difficult choices as you aim to manage your Mental Strength, Creativity, and Ambition while working on each game.

What’s Left?

  • Art and animations are needed to break up text.
  • Continue writing out the story and making content. The gameplay loop and logic is complete. Now I need to focus on creating a story with interesting choices and game content.
  • The game is technically in a finished state, so everything else is just adding content and polish.

Probably gonna take a quick nap though. Pretty tired.

Core Game Loop Complete!

Posted by (twitter: @gamewritr)
Saturday, August 27th, 2016 2:01 am

First night was a success. I created the core gameplay loop and I’m ready to start integrating it into the story. The story’s been outlined and I’m pretty happy with the direction I’m taking it. I’m striving to create a procedural narrative game and it’s definitely been challenging, but I got a good amount of the code base written out.

I’m feeling a bit vulnerable creating a text based game. They’re inherently not as pretty to look at as other types of games, but I’m going to do my best to bring this one to life and make it enjoyable for the player. Here’s a screenshot of the code I’ve written so far. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have some decent in-game screenshots to show off.

Time to get some rest now.

View post on imgur.com

I’m In!

Posted by (twitter: @gamewritr)
Friday, August 26th, 2016 7:02 pm

This will be my second Ludum Dare! I’ll be looking to up my narrative design skills by using Twine and Piskel.

 

Good luck everyone!

UNBALANCED KARMA is a Interactive Storytelling Game which has as a main character a Young Gipsy Woman that was born and raised in Brazil, under the Colonial ruling of Portugal, in the 19th century, a little bit before the country becomes independent. She is strong, independent, a fortune teller and part of the romani traditions and culture. Many historical arquetypes are present in the game (the tax collector, the merchant, the wealthy noble man, the black man and woman) and it has a deep relation to the African-american religions, specially the Candomble, which is a brazilian interpretation of the Yoruba beliefs in the Orishas.

The game relates to the theme of Growing – as the character takes actions and uses her skills to foretell the future, so she makes choices that make her Karma grow, and has to deal with the consequences of it.

It has a profund meaning related to inner growing and self-awareness. Also, it presents many aspects and assets of the brazilian culture, history, society and manners. This is due the fact that the team intended to put elements of edutainment in its conception and development.

Along with the Game, we have produced also a Transmedia Project, called UnBalanced Project – which also has (and shall be developed soon) a Board Game, a Card Game, an Infographic and an E-Book with the continuation of the Game’s Narrative.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD!

 

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The Game has been developed by two Studios and an Study Group from Bauru.

TEAM

Caio Ribeiro Chagas – Game Designer, Producer & Concept Artist
Janaina L. Azevedo – Screenwriter, Translator & Transmedia Developer
Pedro S. Zambon – Writer & Producer
Ana Heloisa Pessotto – Assistant Writer

TECH SUPPORT

LUDARIA Studio – www.ludaria.com.br
TLON Studios – www.tlonstudios.com.br

PET-RTV – Tutorial Education Program in Television & Radio Development Lab
UNESP Bauru – Paulista University “Julio de Mesquita Filho” Campus Bauru

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An special thanks, FROM ALL OUR TEAM, to our Professor, Antonio Francisco “Dino” Magnoni, PhD at UNESP Bauru, who helped us, let us use the PET-RTV lab for the development and has given us an incredible support. THANK YOU!!!

How I planned Ludum Dare and what went totally wrong

Posted by (twitter: @pseudavid)
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 8:40 am

A confession first: the subject and the mechanics of my Twine story for this Ludum Dare were decided and thought way before the theme voting started. It was going to be a story about the life of an ethically-challenged guy and a game about telling other characters tre truth or some lie and getting away with it.

twine

This was my game after 2.5 hour of work.

My intention was adapting the idea to the theme once it was announced. This was really a crazy bet: some of the most arcade-oriented themes would have forced me out of this Ludum Dare. Fortunately, You are the monster was the best theme for me, since my head was already full of storylines that allowed the character to become a child psycho, a teen womanizer or an adult corrupt leader.

Since I knew what I was going to do, I had a luxury that many participants lack: I could plan. This plan, that I laid down using Todoist, was the only game-related thing I did before the compo. It was also the most important thing I did.

 

First step: adapt idea to the theme.

I allocated 30 minutes for this, but used more like 30 seconds.

 

Second step: configure environment.

Not that Twine has a lot to configure, but I created a git repository. I also used the Twee2 tool to write Twine from a text editor, which had been released in alpha 3 days before. Twine writers: check it out.

 

Third step: code the game logic.

I allocated 5 hours for that, thinking that it would take 4. This is a hypertext game and the logic is absurdly simple, right? I spent 6.30 hours: 162.5% of my initial estimation.

hofstadters_law-355x239

Got image from http://ghiasi.org/2013/10/hofstadters-law/

First I worked fast enough, but then all the silly details like making sure variables are given a value at the beginning so there’s never a division by zero started raining on me. By the time I finished, I was a bit down. I had no idea what was coming.

 

Fourth step: put a debug method in

Twine has its own debug mode, but apart from that I wrote a footer passage that printed all the variables in a readable way. Twine writers: do this. And don’t forget to remove it.

 

Fifth step: write an awful lot of text

This is where everything derailed. I estimated 10 to 15 minutes to write each scene, averaging 200 words, no revisions, no care about style, just churn the bastards out. With that I expected to hit 50 scenes with ample time to rest. I wrote down the ideas for the storylines and started writing the story.

That night I had 13 scenes. Each one was taking 30 minutes at the very shortest: I was generating content 3 times slower than planned.

Why? Well, did I mention that I’m not a native English speaker? But that was a lesser problem than actually making up the story. Not having a tight plot but vignettes scattered across the whole life of the character left lots of room for improvisation, but my writing skills simply didn’t cut it. Hofstadter’s Law again.

Since content was needed for the player to appreciate the gameplay, I was in serious trouble.

 

Sixth step: polish the CSS a bit

Very easy part and a relief from the stajanovist story hell I had written myself into. Twine authors: Google web fonts are your friends.

 

Seventh step: write another awful lot of text

Until I broke down and thought of quitting. It wasn’t going forward.

 

Eighth step: lay down and plan again

feet-449163_1280

This saved my game.

When you’re so behind schedule that the schedule is going to go round the world and get you from the back, is taking a long rest at bed a fine idea?

Yes sir. I did and it saved my game.

All the time I had been writing from a loose and fuzzy list of story ideas. I had no measure of progress, no indicator of completion. That was what took my energy away.

So I lay down on the bed and thought of what I had left. I went through all my story ideas, fleshed them out and divided them into scenes. Then I went back to Twine, created the empty passages, went back to bed, thought of another block.

It took 2 hours but at the end I knew exactly what I was going to do.

 

Ninth step: write according to plan

Now I wasn’t just churning out content: I was filling some empty boxes. When all were filled, I would have a mininum viable game. A completion indicator totally changed my attitude. Soon I was writing the best and fastest text in the game. I knew when and how I was going to make it, and now it was only a matter of physical resistance.

Two hours before the deadline I finished the minimum planned game and could take some time to add extra content.

 

Tenth step: wrap it up and upload

Hint: Hosfstadter’s Law again! IT TAKES LONGER THAN EXPECTED.

The final Twine with its glorious 44 passages.

The final Twine with its glorious 44 passages.

A conclussion

I wrote some conclussions about content and jams here and here.

Had I not planned in advance, I would have not overcome the insecurity when I saw everything taking twice as long as expected.

I finally couldn’t test the game thoroughly. I barely found one bug, but the gameplay is not quite balanced and according to comments most players like the game but don’t get quite what they were expecting.

Yesterday I removed all the code, counted the words of actual game text and was totally amazed to find out that I had written 8,500 words. Lots more than I believed, quite long by Twine’s standards. I think that the biggest problem with my game is that it’s too short.

Truth be unbound: recap 2

Posted by (twitter: @pseudavid)
Monday, August 24th, 2015 10:31 am

(Recap part 1)

Story and style

Truth be untoldLimited content may explain some of the writing’s inconsistent style. My idea was to be all over the place regarding story and style. The game is a biography with a pretty general theme (truth vs lies) and I intended it to touch lots of genres: school drama, teen romance, political thriller, silly over-the-top comedy, psychokiller horror and more.

Lots of alternative storylines were planned for each section of the game, so that the player in one playthrough could be a child animal harmer, a teen seducer and an adult psycho, and the next playthrough have him be a mischievieous child, a solitary teen and an adult corrupt politician.

This would be more obvious if all these storylines were available. But I wrote half of them.

Stop and plan

With 8 hours to go I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it on time. My writing grind to a halt. But then a couple of hours later I was churning out the least bad best writing in the game (late section, dear players; see if you find the nickname list). The trick is: stop and plan. I stopped improvising content, sat away from the computer, thought thoroughly the scenes I was going to write the rest of the day, wrote down some notes and structure and had the most pleasant time of the compo writing what I had planned.

Plan is an antidote for block

I don’t know if I’ll do a Ludum Dare again, but I’m really happy I did it and I’m not really disappointed with the results. Thanks everyone!

Truth be unbound: recap 1

Posted by (twitter: @pseudavid)
Monday, August 24th, 2015 8:24 am

ludumdare33-4

Yesterday I couldn’t post anything during late-compo frenzy to get something shippable so I’m posting my recap now.

It was my first Ludum Dare, game jam, first finished Twine story, and here’s my biggest lesson:

Don’t do a game jam if you are gonna need a lot of content

That simple. In a 48 compo you can write some logic that luckily generates a lot of interesting gameplay combinations. You can add a bit of high quality content, or a bit more of basic content. But if your game depends on a large amount of content that you need to create manually, you are not going to make it according to plan.

 

Mechanics and content

Truth be untold

Truth be untold is a game about lying or telling the truth. It is more story-oriented than gameplay-oriented, but at the same time I think it has more mechanics than typical exploratory Twines. Each choice you take is calculated from multiple factors that include all your previous choices, NPC knowledge, randomness or a hardcoded level of difficulty.

This mechanics could allow for some interesting progressions. For example, you could get a NPC that initially doesn’t trust you to believe your first lies due to pure luck, increase his trust, and eventually be able to make her believe the craziest stuff you throw at her.

All the pieces are in place to get that kind of gameplay. But I would need to write a lot of different scenes of interaction with that character. Handmade content is needed to allow the gameplay to emerge. And good handmade content is exactly what you can’t deliver in a 48 hour jam.

Of course, I knew this, but I overestimated my writing speed.

(More later)

29 Twine passages and counting

Posted by (twitter: @pseudavid)
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 7:54 am

I don’t know if there’ll be a game at the end of the day, but some learning will have be done. (For example: Ludum Dare is for games that depend on a mechanic but not on content.)

ludumdare33-4

Done with programming

Posted by (twitter: @pseudavid)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 9:44 am

3 hours later, I have progressed from 4 passages in Twine to 6 passages. Over the top productivity. Did I mention that I’m not a developer?ludumdare33-2

On the good part… I think all the programming is done. The game does all it’s supposed to do, and now I can actually write the stories that you play.

You’ll read a scene where you’re given a choice. A number of factors will affect the outcome of that choice, including the style of all the previous choices, the results of previous choices, chance, difficulty of each particular choice… The game recognizes whether you have met an NPC before or it’s the first time and their attitude towards you is considered.

So the rest of Ludum Dare for me is fiction writing almost totally. At last.

(On the other hand, fiction writing is the hard part. Oh shit.)

Gameplay mechanics halfway there

Posted by (twitter: @pseudavid)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 5:38 am
twine

That’s 2.5 hours of productivity. Crap.

Unlike typical Twine, Truth be untold will not use direct links from one scene to others. Because each scene will link to:

  • Only one scene, that will be the only option to go on.
  • This option will be randomly picked from a list of possible options.
  • The list of possible options will depend on the decisions taken by the player within the current scene and previous scenes.

After 2.5 hours, my game does all this:

  1. I can write a content passage that defines a whole scene:
    1. the description text
    2. the available decisions and their success chance
    3. the results of these decisions
    4. the possible places that the story can go next
  2. The game logic:
    1. picks the proper scene
    2. prints the text
    3. lets the player pick a decision
    4. picks a result
    5. prints the result
    6. picks one of the possible next scenes for the story
    7. links that scene to the player.

Which is, more or less, half of the game’s logic. Now what’s missing is mainly the “picks a result” part: it’s a random placeholder now. I have to define variables that track the player’s previous decisions along the game and pick a result of each new decision depending on that.

Isn’t this crap boring?

 

Late start

Posted by (twitter: @pseudavid)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 2:35 am

I’ll be writing a Twine game for my first Ludum Dare. My plan goes something like this:

  1. Write a few passages of game logic, totally isolated from the text.
  2. Write a few passages of text.
  3. Test the hell out of it.
  4. If it works, the development is done, since there will be little or no hardcoding of game logic within the game text. So I can write text and more text until the compo is done.

I hope to get to point 4 in the next 5 hours or so.

Tools: Twine, Twee2 (pretty new), Brackets, git, a Pomodoro timer.

Working title: Truth be untold.

Ready Set Go: Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @rurounikz)
Monday, December 8th, 2014 8:01 pm

Update3-B

Play Ready Set Go!

TLDR: It’s hard to focus when you have more time than you’re used to, but everything worked out as planned.

Since me and a friend were making a Twine game – he was responsible for the art and me for the design of the narrative -, our reaction when the theme was revealed was not the best one. Each one of us made a quick brainstorm alone (about twenty minutes) and then another one, a more extensive one together via Skype. While we were discussing the theme, we both panicked a little, specially when you consider the idea for an interactive fiction to have all the game on one screen.

Given the limitation for our chosen technology (as well as personal skills), I took the liberty to be creative with the usage of the word “entire” on the theme. Not to give spoilers, but let’s just say you can get to the end of the game through the first screen.


 

What went wrong:

  • Time management

This was my fourth game jam, but my first Ludum Dare which I worked from home. Since those who were participating on the Jam had one more day (total of 72 hours), I found it hard sometimes to focus on the tasks I had to do. Also, having one more day than I had at previous jam entries contributed to my dispersion.

  • Lack of “game” aspects on the final product

At the beginning of the Ludum Dare I tried to come up with gaming aspects that I would develop in Twine. Inventory (which I had already did at another jam), a simplified quest log and a combat mechanic. In the first day (saturday) I gave up on this functions because they would take too much time, and I wanted to focus on the narrative this time.


 

 

What went right:

  • Exercise a genre of writing I had not yet tried

After our initial brainstorm, we decided one of the main references for our game would be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from Douglas Adams. Needless to say I had a blast writing all the script, dialogues and coming up with crazy, nonsene puns. I enjoyed a lot writing comedy.

  • Make updates about the game and even write a Postmortem

This Postmortem is my sixth post on the Ludum Dare’s site while the jam is still happening (to be fair, I started this post before the deadline ended). Anyway, this is my first Postmortem ever and I am super happy to be able to finish a game jam making one of this.

  • Finish the jam with a more polished game

We had time to go over a few points of the game and the artist even got time to make a poster (check the image below). It feels good to set your scope right so you can finish everything on time.


Lessons learned:

  • Balance other areas of my life during the jam

Since I made the decision to spend almost 14 hours either with my girlfriend, my family or recording a podcast with friends, I had a glimpse on how my life will be when I turn this hobby into a full time job. Even though I love making games and am anxious to become better at it, this is still a job. I was happy that I managed to do all of this while was taking part on Ludum Dare.

  • Trust someone you have worked with before

I must admit that on the first day of the jam I was a little skeptical to work with another person even one I’ve worked with before remotelly (not face to face) above it all.

poster

Play and rate Ready Set Go!

A game about words: RMBR

Posted by (twitter: @Pitoum)
Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 2:25 am

RMBR is probably my most important game since I started to bake some pixeled stuff 2 years ago.

RMBR_01

 

If you have trouble to understand the concept of the game you can watch this Vine. Or try to imagine a Twine game where you “drag” the words and not just “click” on them. That’s a bit synthetic but it’s the closest description I can write with my poor English skills.

There are two main ideas behind RMBR. The first one was, I wanted to make a game about Alzheimer. I actually have a grand-mother who suffers from it, and I wanted to try to explain feeling you can have when you speak with her, but also what I imagine (from what I see and what she tells me) being her mind. How words are losing their meanings, how memories are becoming blurry and fade away, and how some of them, the oldest ones, are in contrary back vividly.

To be honest I totally failed to do it correctly, mainly because I needed a lot more time to write and include some contents. Time I didn’t have during the jam. But more on that later.

The second idea came from my recent interest in french surrealists. I’m presently reading a lot of novels/poems by Breton, Leiris, Desnos or Queneau (about whom I already develop with a game called Milmiliar – only in french right now sorry about that – which was inspired by Hundred Thousand Billion Poems). And Leiris specially worked a lot on the words and their meanings, how each one of us have their own  personal dictionary. If we think that the meaning of a word is shared by everyone, that’s an illusion. Because we all have our own experiences of the word, our own memories, our own understanding of it. So he decided to write his own dictionary (Glossaire j’y serre mes gloses in french, I didn’t find any translation of it sorry about that).

And because he was a surrealist and a poet, Leiris decided to write only definitions with puns.

For example in RMBR you can find this definition of “game”: a gem. This is something very personal for me. It represents the way I feel about games – well some games at least – and at the same time is an anagram of “game”.

This is what RMBR is about. You start with a very simple little story, told in few words. And then you can explore it like you would do with a landscape or a building in an adventure game, by exploring the words and what they mean in context. Until you finally find a definition like the one above.

The exploration is mainly about two points of view: mine and my grandmother’s. Exploring her mind or mine produces different results. In the boy’s mind things gets accurate and are a lot in the moment. In her mind things are confusing, words fade away. Well that was the intention at first.

I had a lot in mind while doing RMBR. But because it was my first mobile game so I spent a lot of time struggling with basics mobile dev problems, and didn’t get enough time to include all the content I wanted or all the features I imagined. But the main concept is here and the feedbacks I got surely convince me that I had something.

I like this idea of navigating in a text like you would do in an adventure game. As a fan of Simogo’s Device 6 I sure want to explore news ways to build a bridge between literature and video games. And mobile phone or tablet are probably the best media to do so.

That’s why RMBR is my most important game. I think I finally got something that’s really merging these two objects. And now I want to push it further.

I’m currently working on a full version of the game which will not be only about exploring a text but also will integrate puzzles and enigmas. The structure of it is a bit uncertain at the moment while I’m mainly trying to improve the “engine” and testing some mechanisms. But I’m also rewriting all the content, in french this time. Because I can’t do something good in a language I can’t really master. Two people are going to help me.

David (Badabing): He did some SFX and music for the jam version (at the last moment, thanks to him) and will be in charge of the sound design.
Violette: She will work on the English translation of the game. We’ll work together, because a lot of the texts will not be directly translated but in fact entirely rewritten.

So I hope this little post-mortem gave you some interest in the game. If so, you can:

– try the jam version http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-29/?action=preview&uid=7969 
– stay tuned via my twitter @Pitoum
– take a look at my unfinished website http://www.pitoum.net
– leave a comment if you have any question :)

Thanks for reading/playing!

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