As I said earlier, this project is in its infancy. I’ve been knee-deep in developing a Choicescript game for some time, but the way they structure the licenses to use their engine rubbed me the wrong way so who knows if that project will ever see the light. So I’m using Twine which I also used for Traveler. Though it doesn’t necessarily have the polish that I’d like to see, the flexibility is out of this world. Thankfully there’s an active base of people working on Twine (it’s open-source) and improving it steadily.
So that’s all fine and dandy, but what about the meat and potatoes of the project you might ask. Well, again it’s early, but I can tell you a few things. It revolves around the story of three thieves (and yourself) trying to break into a prince’s manor and steal his treasure. The game has a rudimentary class system, a branching narrative, and player choice is built into the story from the ground up. I’m looking at making a game that will take about twenty to thirty minutes to run through if you’re somewhat careful and read mostly everything. Of course, that means basically making at least an hour’s worth of reading content because of the branches in the story…
Anyway, hopefully it will be boss and I’m working hard to ensure that it is. No sleep til’ it’s finished. Jk?
My notoriously shitty calculation skills suggest that I’m around 5% done with writing for the Untitled Adventure Game or UAG for short. Of course that doesn’t factor in the coding end of things, editing, or playtesting — so I think I’m closer to maybe 2% completion of the project, but hey, progress is progress, right?
For the nerds in the audience, so far there are 12 variables making up the core of the system, of those twelve, eight of them are boolean variables (two state variables, think of them as true or false variables). The other four are designed to contain text-strings which can output things like names on command. I have no idea how many variables the game will need in total, but I’m expecting a pretty high number since every single time you need the game to remember something, you more or less have to do so with variables and in a game with multiple branching narratives where your decisions actually matter, there are a lot of things to remember.
I’m thinking about including a very basic inventory system (the key word here being ‘basic’ since I’m a one-man army, not much of a coder to begin with, a writer working on other projects, and attempting to hold down a job). It’ll be a while yet before I even decide whether or not it’s worth the effort.
Maybe the next update will include a little example of some of the game’s text. Stay tuned.
One of the very cool things about using the Twine engine to make this game is that since the engine is made for hypertext, one of the things you can do is link various words to independent passages. One of the ways that I’m using that is to create flavor text, or little passages that you can read that don’t always directly influence the game, but can give you a sense of what the game-world is like. For example one of the early pieces of flavor text reads like this:
The grim likeness of Arigest, the Thunder-Singer holding his gnarled harp sits atop a dais. Elsewhere in the garden you can see Torivang, or He-Who-Takes-Beast-Shapes captured midway between one horrible transformation to another.
All the gods anyone could ever want and all of them silent. It’s fitting that they should line the prince’s garden, in their luxurious repose they will not keep his treasure safe.
This little vignette tells the reader a few things. First of all, there are multiple gods in the world. It doesn’t tell them whether these two gods belong to the same pantheon, but depending on the companion you choose in the beginning of the game, they might offer that information to you. It’s interactions like that that I’m hoping define this game as something a little bit different that a lot of the text adventures out there: a level of dynamic interaction that actively reflects your choices and tries to make those choices meaningful in various ways. Of course it won’t be totally dynamic (again, I’m just one guy writing this increasingly massive game) but I think if you pay attention you’ll find that there are plenty of moments where your choices count, and are suitably rewarded (or punished).
I updated yesterday so I don’t have too much to add, I just wanted to include a couple “fun” facts about the project so far.
Currently there are 60 passages (which the Twine reference refers to as “the basic narrative unit” but you can think of them as pages or scenes if you like), 54 links (which are connections between passages), 5570 words, and 8 lines of CSS. Whee!
Before the end of the project, I’m projecting that all of those numbers will probably be tripled if not quadrupled.
Progress continues, albeit slowly. To be honest it’s at the bottom of my to-do list, so it’s getting a bit shafted as I try to put bows on various writing things, but I have implemented a ton of good ideas and identified core elements that need to be shored up. It would be nice to have an actual programmer writing code specifically for this project, but alas…
Anyway, this just to say that the project is still very much alive and I’m still at work. I’m trying to figure out a way grant early release access to those willing to pay a few bucks for it (no more than three dollars or so) but even that is quite a ways off.
Stay tuned for more info.
PS. The title of the game isn’t actually “As Worlds End” that was the name of another project that I canned, but reused the framework for this one.
This “update” is more about lateral motion than progress, well it is progress, just not on the writing portion of the project. Instead I’ve been playing around with the aesthetics of the thing, trying to pin down the font size I’m looking at, testing things out in different browsers and operating systems, introducing a few new visual elements and moving the project into a dropbox/shareable framework so that I can easily get people to look at the alpha version (once its ready, which, again, is a way off).
I’m finding the CSS/coding aspect of this project incredibly fun, but also a challenge because my knowledge of CSS is so hodgepodge. Half the fun of this since the beginning has been the learning aspect and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon, unless I suddenly wake up with triple my current programming knowledge!
Check back soon for a preview of one of the game’s three companions!
Micro-update. The game now has a name and a teaser image! It’s alive!!!
So if you’re paying attention at all to the state of this project you’ll have seen a rather miraculous jump today from about 7 percent completion to around 31 percent. I just wanted to explain what that means.
The way that I’m calculating the completion level of the game is by writing and coding in discrete ‘chunks.’ Each significant area of the game gets its own chunk. Some of those chunks are incredibly small, and some, I realized today, are rather redundant so they won’t actually need new writing to complete. That revelation cuts down on my workload a bit, and bumps up the general done-ness of the project. But I want to emphasize that while some of these chunks are smaller, some of them are also a great deal larger and take much more work (writing, coding, graphic editing, etc.) to complete so you might expect to see the completion level of the project hang once I start to encounter some of these bigger, daunting chunks.
That said, I promised I’d reveal one of the companions from this game. The companions are NPCs [non-playable characters] who accompany you on your quest/heist and assist you in various ways.
As the game takes place in a fantasy setting, the first character I wanted to introduce is Salt. He’s a Spirit-Speaker, or this world’s version of a magician. Spirit-Speakers are able to communicate with two of the four types of spirits that exist in this world which makes them geniuses of sorts. Salt is the youngest companion and possibly the most mysterious. As the story revolves around the main character and his companions executing a robbery of a prominent noble, the question is why someone with such a powerful gift would stoop to petty thievery. Furthermore Salt is not his real name, which only adds to the question of who he is and why he wants to rob this noble.
Perhaps there’s a path through the game that will answer this question?
Hello, folks. Just wanted to let you know that the project isn’t dead, despite radio silence for the past month. I’m actually still making my way through it, dealing with the inevitable bugs and trying to turn out a product that’s worth your time.
The game has branching pathways through the story. It also has little nooks, pockets of information that you can read to enhance your understanding of the game world, or skip altogether if you want a more streamlined experience. The bug that I combatted today essential stranded the reader/player in those pieces of flavor text and gave them no way back to the narrative beside the browser’s back button. An inelegant solution to be sure.
Such is life, my friends. Such is life.
Sorry, but in the meantime, I’ve got another project that’ll be just as worth playing and probably twice as filthy.