Oh yes, it’s the most productive time of the year!
Well, maybe last year I got ahead of myself. The 36-feature plan I gave myself three weeks of holiday to complete in the end took more than six months (bar one remaining feature, the Towers of Hanoi puzzle, for which I have some lovely ideas). Plans, it seems, are not really my strength.
What, then, shall this festive period hold for my still-unnamed magnum opus?
I’m always late to the party, but I never let that drag me down. I first heard about Strafe when it was half-built and it looked interesting to me; a shooter in the classic fast-paced style, full of crunchy low-poly levels and laser guns, albeit with procedurally-generated levels.
Having recently finished grinding my way through Dragon Age: Origins, I followed that up with Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition (hence the, er, lengthy blogging hiatus), which left me somewhat in the mood for something a little snappier. As is always the way, Strafe recently released its powered-up Millenium Edition and went on sale…
Oh, that thing where you just get out of the way of writing regularly, and then it gets harder to go back to it the longer the hiatus lasts.
I might have decided to replay Dragon Age: Origins and its expansion pack and then moved on to Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition, which amounted to… well, rather a lot of time not spent working on my own game, I’ll tell you that. I didn’t have much of note to say about either, so I just didn’t say anything.
Now, though, after that holiday, it’s finally time to tackle a problem that’s been lurking at the heart of my engine for a long time now: its use of animations.
I fuckin’ love dinosaurs. There’s something ineffably cool about big walking lizards, with their scaly skin, razor-sharp claws and teeth as long as your forearm (regardless of how anatomically realistic they actually are). When aliens and monsters are designed for games and films, it always irritates me how they end up being mostly-mammalian and very few creature designers seem to turn to our favourite prehistoric pals. (Risen 3 did and it’s amazeballs.)
The Jurassic Park films are not my favourite films in the world but I do love dinosaurs and the escalation of the Jurassic Park franchise is a bit wobbly — so here we are, back again to take a meandering examination of what went right, what went wrong, and what could have been salvaged with a few choice tweaks.
Unfortunately I was a bit off the boil when we recorded this, so it’s mostly Chris rampaging and me failing to articulate a few choice observations. Ah well.
This might be the sixth time I’ve reworked my level generator. It’s incredibly complex and every time I think I’ve got it right… Well, after each rework, everything goes smoothly until I start to layer on another system — then suddenly the architecture can’t hold anymore and it’s causing more pain than gain.
Other times, yes, I’ve just been too clever for my own good and tripped over my own shoelaces. Is this one of those times? Erm, possibly…
You know that thing where gog.com offers you a DRM-free version of a thing for literal pocket change, and it includes all the DLC you never had the first time? Yeah?
Well, I hadn’t played Dragon Age: Origins for a few years and I was kind of in the mood so, £3.49 later, here we are. In playing it, I’ve remembered just how… well, broad it is. In order to manage your party of companions effectively there are a lot of decisions to be made about how to equip them, and though in the right doses that’s quite fun I feel that maybe Dragon Age has gone a bit overboard…
The player Neutral Passive in Warcraft III is a special bonus player. As the name suggests, units owned by Neutral Passive are neither allies nor enemies to any other player; they offer their services equally to whomever happens to be nearby. As befits my tendancy to reimplement Warcraft III (to eventually allow for similarly structured RPG scenarios), I am now working on adding my own Neutral Passive characters.
Needless to say, due to many holes I’ve dug myself over the last three years of developing this game, this is not so easy. The key stumper at the moment is that clicking a neutral unit should not trigger the player to attack them. Instead, it should trigger a friendly reaction. When is an attack not an attack? When it’s a frob.
Drakensang is a lost gem. Back when the world was lamenting the lack of Baldur’s Gate-a-likes, Drakensang slipped out without much fanfare; I picked it up on a whim seeing it on the shelf in Game (remember when Game had PC shelves? Good times). Based on The Dark Eye system rather than Dungeons & Dragons, it nevertheless promotes the same ideals: a player-created character leads a tight-knit strike team as they vanquish evil in real-time-with-pause combat based on a tabletop system.