Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Excuse Plot

It took a few iterations and going round in circles and mentally crossing things out, but eventually I managed to construct a story that can just about excuse the gameplay I'm aiming for. Problems arose because the obvious way to get a large horde of recent civilians fighting a somewhat smaller number of soldiers is to have a revolution. Unfortunately, that doesn't lend itself too well to the stipulation that there should be several battles in a row over a long journey with no substantial reinforcements found on the way.

Written in lazy mode because my pretending-to-be-an-arts-graduate mode half-doesn't exist, half-writes at one sentence per hour. Also if I decided to use the actual names rather than these placeholder names, I'd have taken another 2 days to get this down. It probably just needs a Markov chain name generator, but for some reason I want heavy-handed symbolism and mind games. Or do I?

The Actual Plot

The City has a proud history of heroic deeds, monster slayings, battles won, bridges defended, castles sacked, dragons stabbed, etc. etc. Having accomplished, or at the very least claimed to have accomplished, these things many times more frequently than people from anywhere else, the people of The City built this huge stone monument to their great and heroic acts.


(I just did all this writing! You don't expect me to do all the artwork as well, do you?)

On the top left you can see That Person the Great leading a troop of kittens to assassinate King Thingy the Pillager; underneath is Thingummy the Lefthanded tricking the twin dragons of Somewherania into killing each other; beside that is Whatchumaface the Brave headbutting the gates of Villainy Castle, the whole of the bottom half is apparently reserved for future daredevilry, and in the top right there's a lot of very small writing in the Ancient Tongue that the scholars say was about the builders of the city and the several thousand killer elephants (or possibly bears) they slew. Those are just the parts large enough to see from this distance.

Naturally, these legends spread far and wide into foreign lands, such as the Wherevrian Empire that currently holds this country in thrall. Our King several miles away in The Capital, being mostly sensible and unafflicted by unreasonable pride, is providing Wherevria with tribute each year in order to avoid this country being crushed beneath the Wherevrian heel.

This year, the Emperor demanded our monument.

The King is aware of our reputation and quite rightly thought better of telling us. Rather, he secretly sent royal guards to The City to steal it in the dead of night. Weeks later The City's furious questions were answered by rumours among the travellers and merchants. The monument was in the imperial palace of Wherevria.

To all of us, it was immediately obvious what had to be done. Into the monument's blank spaces would be carved the story of its return to The City. But the Wherevrian armies are strong and the people of this City are clever. A bare year later, our spy meets the Emperor, the Emperor demands the King's Sceptre, The King marches every soldier in the country towards the border, the imperial armies prepare to meet him, and we have our chance.

The armies will be distracted, The City will be empty, and the people of The City will take back the Monument. [but only if the person playing the game can stop them all from dying on the way]


Hm. Being constructed with the intention of enabling specific mechanics in a game rather than to espouse any particular ideal or dogma, I'm not entirely sure what sort of subtext this thing has. It's got some regional chauvinism nonsense (The City's pride) going on, and the same people seem to be dwelling too much on their impressive past achievements without claiming that any of them were particularly recent.

Nonetheless they are forward-looking, and they seem confident that being born to a heritage of leetness is enough to carry them past a few large armies into the capital of an empire and back with a large piece of rock. I guess the barbarians managed something along these lines in the case of Rome several times, but in this case all of the actual soldiers are off in the King's army preparing to run into the imperial armies and die. Maybe the civilians spent the last year practicing swordplay in their spare time... or pitchforkplay.

On top of that, I'm probably not imagining the 300ish vibe, which would be somewhat stronger if I were making the Wherevrian Empire a ridiculous racist caricature, and if I weren't turning it upside down and portraying the non-leet hordes of barely-trained fighters as the ones to be rooted for (as opposed to the smaller groups of trained warriors that they'll be bumping into and fighting).

Well, I wish them the best. Good luck.

Or good players.

(No progress coding the game, I have some actual work-work-coding-work to do)

(Let me know if you end up sketching what that large rock looks like)

(Also who was this story supposed to be addressing? My best guess is the amnesiac mayor who should know the whole story but might just happen to be the player character)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Because reducing player performance to a number is what gaming is all about

Actual work-work is interfering with RL-work again, but I spent a free minute fudging together a scoring system for Mutant Aliens! So far (in my experience) it reliably gives negative scores for losers and positive scores for winners. Unfortunately to justify the scores to the player would require a proper postmortem screen. I guess I'll make one of those the next time I have a free minute (hour). No progress on Command, but every so often I take a moment to think about UI (I'll have to look up how libTCOD does mouse things), tutorials, how to phrase the introductory fragment of plot, actor behaviour, and so on. It won't be until mid-August that I can resume properly working on it, though.