Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rise of the Robots

Last night, I had a chance to do a little time-saving by writing a program to generate a bunch of Hugo code I need for CZK. There are going to be a bunch of animals in the game and they all need statistics and attributes and such.

I had a big list of everyone who is to be represented, so I just threw together a quick program in Java that spit out the list and had the noun field come up correctly. It was pretty CS101, but I was happy to gain enough experience developing text games with an object oriented structure, over the years, where I was able to recognize early on that I'd need to do this. Plus, it helps eliminate a few bugs along the way by using an automated process. (It let me know that I had included the Thunderbird animal twice, for instance.)

Still need to start building automated tests for the game, however. Using an accented "e" character in Necrotic Drift apparently breaks the game when played on Linux, and that's something I could have discovered if I had a Ubuntu install all those years ago (OK, I am not 100% certain when Ubuntu came out, but still) and just threw the automated scripts at the game when I went there. It's coming together for CZK.

Lots of text game things on the plate for 2008 from a variety of people. I'm still searching for my place in this hobby, and I want CZK to make it impossible to not mention in a article or feature on modern-day text games. That, and finally winning the "best game" xyzzy are my goals for this thing.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I'm still whittling away at this thing, still making progress. I've found that, on those nights where I am not into slaving away in front of a hot keyboard, deciding to code up the combat stats of one of the monsters is a great gateway drug. It seems like I've been working on the same "scene" forever. And it's had some feature creep, sure, which will result in a better game, but man, I really don't know when this will all be finished.

On the other hand, the way I wrote Necrotic Drift was to first code the bare minimum I'd need for the game to be "finished." I then went back from the beginning and filled in with extra scenery and situations and depth. But the whole time I was against deviating much from the story. It made the game linear, I'd imagine. I'm trying something different with CZK, which is to allow for as many crazy situations as the writing leads towards, but it means it looks (to me) like I am not getting as much done.

I'm trying to keep the reality that I'm coming up on a year of solider development. The source code to CZK says, "April 18th, 2006 - November 21st, 2006" for the first phase. There wasn't a lot of development there, and I went entire weeks without doing much IF related. The second phase started on 11/21/06, and I have been going as hard as I can go for this game since then. Well, as hard as I could go within reason: I'm not taking vacation days to work on it or anything. (Well, not yet, I'll take some time off around Christmas that I will hopefully be able to use for the game.)

Meanwhile, the life events that are going on now include the monitor breaking in Spy Hunter, the Milker running a Haunted House (that I will help work on tomorrow night) and my desire to get my MAME cabinet running.

Anyway, this seems like a serious downer. If I weren't having fun developing the game, I wouldn't expect anyone to have fun playing it, and it's still the best concept / game idea I've ever had, and I'm pouring my soul into the writing. Steven Spielberg was once asked which movie he wanted to be remembered for, or which one he wanted to take to his grave or what not, and if I remember correctly, he replied "E.T. and Schindler's List." I get what he was trying to say. What I'm striving for is the kind of game that I'd include in such a question 50 years from now. I want it to be significant, and it fuels me every night I spend on it.