At the end of January, a lot of people on Twitter saw this and then a lot of people said I should make it into a game. At the time I had a nasty head cold and wasn’t too sure if I was hallucinating everything, and now a month later I’m currently writing this post with the pain of a missing wisdom tooth which sets a worrying monthly precedent.
Anyway, as my mum always told me “never pick a fight with 12,000 people” so I’ve decided to try and turn my quirky idea into a proper playable demo with REAL pixels, code, bugs, and everything.
So what have I been doing since then, I hear you ask. Working on core features, I say.
As soon as I came up with the verb throwing idea, I just knew that other bits of text like character dialogue needed to be in the world. At the same time though, I’ve always been a fan of the low-res look as I wanted to make something with a slight retro aesthetic. This left me with a big problem…
But look! Now it isn’t a problem because I fixed it using multiple cameras and a new way of doing the pixel effect which is still as far as I’m concerned, magic.
The inventory was a feature I simply hadn’t got round to spending any time on, so that needed to change (because can you imagine an adventure game without an inventory? I know right. Crazy.)
I figured out how to do item combinations (a staple adventure game feature), and then coded up a way of pausing things when the inventory is open. This means verbs won’t go flying about and activate things when the inventory screen is covering everything up.
Plus, having things freeze in mid-air looks cool!
Adventure games aren’t just about item puzzles, they’re also about people puzzles; encountering characters and throwing words in their face (in my case).
From the very start of my idea, there had always been big scary questions about how NPCs should work. So you can throw an action at range, cool, but:
- How do I stop players triggering important dialogue from too far away? Surely a character wouldn’t just start talking normally to you 300 meters away.
- Can you move while someone is talking to you?
- What’s your favourite type of cheese?
- If the player can move, what if they leave the room mid-way through a conversation? Ah HA! What then?
All very good questions which classic point & click adventure games didn’t have to worry about.
I’m really happy with the solution I’ve managed to get working.
Firstly, NPCs now have a sense of how far away you are, and can respond appropriately:
Secondly, they know if you move away mid-conversation. This means any conversation can be stopped and also opens up some great, ill-mannered, comedy.
I’m really happy with how NPCs are shaping up. Instead of thinking ‘how should I restrict the player’ the better question was ‘how could the game better accommodate the player?’. This is the path of more effort for sure, but, it gives you a much more responsive and interesting result!
I’m really happy how the last month has gone. These sort of features are core to playing my game and it’s been wonderful to spend time on them.
Until next time!