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Random Thoughts of a Game Developer

Archive for the month “November, 2010”

Chapter 5, Quick Play, and a Cautionary Tale

So, a while back, I decided to start putting Chapters from 16 Bit Heroes up so that people could start playing with it, and to show that when I say I’m designing a game, I’m not talking out of my ass. So, I transfered the individual chapters 2 through 5 into separate.docx files, played with the formatting a little so each chapter would look nice on its own, and started putting them up. I got a little feedback, which has been very helpful (and I am very thankful for it, believe me). Then disaster struck in the form of stress-induced writer’s block.

I took a break from more or less everything for a few days. I cooked a fantastic dinner for Thanksgiving (cooking is one of my many methods of dealing with stress – the more extravagant the meal, the better). I cleaned the crap out of our apartment. And then I sat down in front of my tiny little netbook and finished the Magic system. Yes, it’s done, spell creation is easy and fun, costs and difficulties ramp appropriately, and so on. I think it’s going to work with a few playtest inspired tweaks, and it was very much a learning experience.

Along the way, I thought “hey, after you finish with the Magic system, you should go back through the document and read everything so far, and make sure all your page references are up to date”. Word 2010 makes that sort of thing easy, so I sat down the other night to do just that. I skipped chapter 1 (since it’s basically just a placeholder now anyway) and dug into chapter 2… and started to pull out my beard almost immediately.

Shortly after I finished Chapter 2, I had a few ideas about some stuff. It mostly came up in Chapter 5, when I started putting Stats together. I thought of a new way to do things that made everything run smoother and faster, and dealt with a design problem I was having by removing it from the equation entirely. It was a brilliant idea, if I say so myself, and I ran with it. I ran back to a couple earlier chapters to change references to the old way I was planning to do things, and didn’t really see  any. At a cursory glance. At the time I thought “I’ll just do a final proofread before I let anyone read it, that’s all.”

Time passes. I get the idea to post chapters as I mentioned above. I forgot about the proofread. It turns out that in Chapter 2, there are several references to later rules that no longer exist. The moral of the story: To err is human, to proofread, divine. Ahh, well, lesson learned.

The incorrect information in chapter 2 has now been corrected, I am happy to say, and no other chapter was so tainted. More importantly, all you really have to do is if you find something in a later chapter that contradicts the version of chapter 2 you have, the later information is correct. I will, of course, be uploading a new document… but I’m going to wait until I have the rest of the book done. I know that’s not very nice, but I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again. So, I’m afraid that you’re going to have to wait for a while. Part of it is that I want the next thing I upload after Chapter 5 to have a useful index; as a friend recently pointed out to me, that’s an important thing. The other part is that I’m so damn close, I don’t want to pull things apart again and get distracted.

So, here’s Chapter 5, as promised:

16 Bit Heroes Chapter 5

And, as a bonus, here’s a diceless game called Quick-Play that I cranked out in 101 minutes after a moment’s inspiration I had while watching Penn and Teller’s Bullshit (there is no connection between the two that I have been able to discern). It was quick to make, isn’t perfect, but sounds like fun… to me, at least.

Quick Play

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Chapter 4 and an Update on Magic

Well, I’m finally getting around to posting Chapter 4, so, yay. Here it is:

16 Bit Heroes Chapter 4

I’ve been working on the Spell Creation System a lot. I thought I was done a couple days ago, but then I used the system to actually make spells. Wow. Was I ever off.

So now I’m re-working it so that a.) a caster’s Abilities have something to do with the power of the spell, and b.) the costs, difficulty, and effects ramp together appropriately. Which they didn’t. At all.

It’s okay, though – the process itself is done and I’m happy with it. It is simple and versatile, each type of magic is very different… so I’ve gone from frustration and borderline insanity to satisfaction and tweaking for proper effect. I should be done soon, which isn’t as good as being done, but at least I’m happy now, rather than going mad.

For the interested, I solved most of my problem by designing eaqch type of magic separately, but by keeping a common theme throughout. Summoning and Sorcery work differently, but then they’re supposed to. Both of those are completely done, by the way, and I’m happy with how they turned out.

In any case, have fun with Chapter 4. I did when I was writing it!

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Loosing My Mind. Oh, and Chapter 3.

So, work commenced on the Magic System a week or so ago, and I’m finding that developing the Spell Creation System is making me loose my mind. No matter how I put it together, it’s just coming out awkward and overly complicated – and determining spell costs is turning out to be a psychosis-inducing nightmare. So… the Magic System may, in the not too distant future, be completely revamped. By “Completely Revamped” I mean “Changed in such a way that nothing outside of the Magic Chapter will need to be changed”. A simple improvisation system may be implemented, or I may just create a list of spells (lifted from a particular 8 or 16 Bit RPG that shall remain nameless) to use just for play test. This second option has the advantage of letting me see how magic affects things before making the Spell Creation System, but the first option would be more… well, fun, as far as I’m concerned. Of course, it also has the problem of being exactly wrong, flavor-wise. Meh. I’ll decide which I’m doing later today. I’m as tired of delays as I’m sure my four readers are.

In any case, to continue my series of full chapter excerpts – here is Chapter 3: Races and Personalities. The Race and Personality Creation System is missing – sorry ’bout that. The system exists, and will be included before the full Alpha is done, but for right now I haven’t gotten up the energy to write it up for public consumption (even in an alpha state). The system is held in a .txt document, written in the most haphazard and confusing way possible. I’ll get it in there eventually (it’s on my To Do list) but getting the rest of the game playable has to take priority. In any case, without further ado:

16 Bit Heroes Chapter 3

Chapters 1, 2, and an Admission of Idiocy

So, apparently, I don’t know my chapter structure as well as I thought I did. Below are links to both chapters 1 and 2 from 16 Bit Heroes. Yesterday, I claimed that Chapter 1 was the Introduction. It isn’t. It’s the Abilities Chapter. The Introduction isn’t a chapter… it’s an Introduction. Of course,

I admit it - despite being a 10 year Open Source Advocate, this is better than LibreOffice Writer. Of course, the rest of Office 2010 is pretty much a toss-up with the Document Foundation's work, but no one's perfect.

Image via Wikipedia

Microsoft Word 2010 takes a different view of things, which I allowed to confuse me. I do not blame Word, I only blame myself. For the record, I think Microsoft Word 2010 is the best edition of Word since ’97, and it’s the only one that I’ve used in preference to LibreOffice

Yes, it's the same thing, but without such tight corporate attachments. By the way, if you install their current beta, you'll loose whatever install of OpenOffice.org you already have - no big deal, but noteworthy.

Image by rinoshea via Flickr

(OpenOffice.org‘s new name, in case you didn’t know), which I’ve used exclusively for, oh, 6 years or so.

In any case, as promised (although a bit later than promised), here are Chapters 1 and 2.  Have fun!!

16 Bit Heroes Chapter 1

16 Bit Heroes Chapter 2

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16 Bit Heroes Chapter 2

Today is the day I’ve decided to start putting out each chapter from the 16 Bit Heroes Playtest Alpha. Some of these chapters are more or less complete (especially the earlier ones), while others are set for playtest, but incomplete (for instance, when I get around to posting Chapter 5: Skills, the Advanced Skills are missing complete descriptions, but characters can’t get those until level 25 anyway, making them superfluous for starting up playtest). By the time  I’m done, you should have everything you need to make and play characters for the alpha.

Today’s chapter is Chapter 2: Abilities. This chapter is one of te more complete ones, and it goes over the basic Abilities of a 16 BitHeroes character, and how you can use them to make Tests and such. This chapter also has the first step in the character creation chapter.

Why not start with Chapter 1? Well, it’s the Introduction, that’s why. The Intro needs to be re-written before I let much of anyone read it. Writing an Introduction before you’ve finished the rest of the book is a pretty dumb thing to do, and I’m not going to revise it until I finish the rest; you don’t really need an Intro for a Alpha Playtest Document, after all.

In any case:

16 Bit Heroes Chapter 2

EDIT: Well, I feel like an idiot. I apparently can’t read my own writing, which is sad, considering the writing was done on a word processor in a perfectly legible font. The posted document is, in fact, Chapter 2, but Chapter 2 is Character Classes, not Abilities. I will make a new, revised post later today containing bother Chapters 1 and 2, explaining for the whole world to see that I don’t know the chapter structure in my own damn book.

I’m SO embarassed.

In the meantime, you can still grab Chapter 2 here. Chapter 1 will be up later today. *facepalm*

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