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About this blog

An open complaint/thought/late-night-epiphany blog for my latest game

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The Water is Wide; the World is Big(?) Sizing Worlds in Video Games

I feel as though I've spoken about this before, but here it is, cropping up again:   In my game, the world is literally an island. Well, literally in that the game's world is an island. The real world is a little more than that, I'm afraid. (clears throat) Still, none of the maps of said island are what I'd call "big". But I've seen games where the maps were trying to outsource the RTP maximum on several occasions, with maps several hundred "squares" wide.   Open ended debate time: folks.   Big maps or smaller maps, and why? Can be from both developer and player standpoint. I wanna hear your opinions!

JuJu

JuJu

 

SUPER TIRED, REALLY ENDING SANITY, SUCKS!

It's hard to be a student. It's hard to be a college student. It's hard to be a graduating college student who's maxed out on financial aid and can't afford to fail a class, but is barely hanging on by the skin of one's teeth and praying that the minimum grade to pass will suffice, because that college student bombed one test.   As a college student, I already have over $17,000 in debt thanks to the American educational system. I'm expected to start paying this back in no less than six months after the date of my graduation, regardless of employment status. And I attended a community college: those attending universities have double, if not triple, the amount due.   As a college student, I have grippling anxiety due to grades. My grades reflect my future. For the average college student (in America at least), this is the chain that awaits those who don't stay vigilant on their grade point average.   a bad grade -> a bad GPA -> no career opportunity -> can't pay back student debts -> wage garnishments -> sinking below the poverty line -> never retiring -> dying an old miser with no more money than I had the day I came into this world.   Not to mention the social anxiety that comes with the thought of letting down friends/family by failing, as well as the mental stigma of being a failure in general. Even if you tried your hardest, you still FAILED. Which means that, naturally:   All your hard work, gone. Just like that. Poof. It's nothing.   And people wonder why college students have some of the highest suicide rates in the world? Why they have mental health issues, anxiety issues, depression issues, develop eating disorders, insomnia, and a whole slew of other bad habits/unavoidable consequences. What sort of pressure is that to put on kids that, until joining college, never had issues with grades?   Those are just some questions to ask, as I bite my nails to the quick and constantly update my Blackboard, hoping to see visible proof that I'm done with school and won't have to admit to my parents that I have joined the other failures at the bottom of the heap.

JuJu

JuJu

 

#Finals Week

if (energy != workload) { motivation = 0; drive = 0; break(heart); }   else { DrPepperIntake = energy + (workload * 2); }     Finals week has me in a hole. I sleep, breathe, eat, and drink code right now. I'm dying a little each day.

JuJu

JuJu

 

"Socioeconomic Disparity." (or) Video Game movies, good or bad?

"Socioeconomic Disparity."   So, my brother and I decided to see the Ratchet and Clank movie this evening, despite the less than stellar reviews on it. Still, as I was delving into critical rants about the movie, I noticed a trend: Critics didn't like it at all, but actual moviegoers were pretty mixed. The thing most people was saying was: "it went over the critics heads, I think, because of the in-jokes". And I can see what they mean.   Personally, I have no hopes for this movie other than being entertained by a story I grew up playing over and over again on a beat up PS2 during summer vacation in the hopes of beating it 100%. I want to go into the movie, sit down with my popcorn, remember some good times, have some nostalgic factor, laugh at the Sheepinator, and say that it wasn't a $6 wasted for a matinee.   I have no expectations of morals: it's Ratchet. And. Clank. (well, the game had morals, but it was more funny than preachy) I have no reason to see it more than once: I know the story. I have no reason to see a sequel: Why? The movie shouldn't end on a cliffhanger. I have no need for exposition or character building: I already know the characters and their motives.   That, I think, is probably where the critics are turning up their snoots. They don't know about Ratchet and Clank, or Captain Quark, or any of the villains. They have no idea what's going on, so to them--it's a bad movie, and I can legitimately see why they would give it only 1 or 2 stars.   So here's my open ended question of the day, or leading up to it, anyway. This movie is, I assume from my readings, made more for fans of the franchise than anything else. It got me thinking: Are all video game movies like this (I'll admit that I haven't seen many)? Of course some are just trash, I'm sure, but are there any video-game movies that you personally love, even when everyone else (critics included) hates it?

JuJu

JuJu

 

Johnny Depp is Not My Favorite Pirate

I get really sad when people tell me that they've never heard of Gilbert & Sullivan.   Most of the time, I say: "Yes you have! You mean you've never heard the Major General song?" to which they reply, "The what?" to which I reply (with a sigh) "The opera song that goes really fast and is sung by an old dude." To which they reply "Oh, yeah!"   As you can see, I'm not surrounded by cultured people very often. But I like good ol' G&S, and my favorite play by them is, by far, the Pirates of Penzance. After all, who can't love a song where they're , or a brilliant song that will have you singing every time you hear someone say " "? And it's an absolute crime to NOT watch it on a leap year, naturally.  But while I do adore Jack Sparrow's rambling mind, my heart belongs to the Pirates of Penzance's king, Kevin Kline. Only he holds my heart, with his antics. The best thing about him is that while being the best pirate, he's also the worst. He never kidnaps anyone who claims to be an orphan (leading every person to claim to be an orphan), he has hardly any income, he's tripping over his own feet, but his charm and charisma is what keeps him as the infamous king of pirates.   Even in my game, where the main character, Lisa (who you've met in an earlier post) is kidnapped and wed to a pirate captain named Norio. Norio is a lot like Kevin Kline's character (whom he's based on). He hates pillaging and plundering, but being a pirate captain is a primogeniture-based career and as he is the head of the family, it's his job to uphold the tradition. Still, he's got a soft heart and mostly rides on his (falsified) stories of how cruel and cunning he is. It ends up being a good foil to the straightforward and sarcastic Lisa, with whom he's very much in love, though she often berates him for his silly, jovial crew and their antics.   So, the moral of the small story is, watch Pirates of Penzance. Enjoy it. Learn this . And remember that when you're born in a leap year, you're always very young.

JuJu

JuJu

 

Excel: My Love/Hate Relationship with an Otherwise Okay Chart System

Oh, Excel. You try. So hard.   I am a very organized person. Looking at the clutter around my house, you wouldn't think so (or my parents don't think so, when they come visit). But I am incredibly organized, to the point that it wouldn't surprise me to make a list of lists that I have. Part of it comes from my situation in life, I suppose. My full-time job has a myriad of tasks I have to complete each day that is ever-changing, plus I'm often in charge of other people, so I have to get them working as well. On top of that, I'm also a full time college student with online as well as in-class classes, so I have to keep all my homework and tests straightened out. Organization is the key to not falling behind and getting super stressed out.   So, when I first set out to plan my game, I made a very neat Microsoft Excel sheet with various tabs that almost mirrored that of the RPG layout in the maker. There's a tab for classes, enemies, skills, items, etc. And in those tabs, there are various columns. The items tab, for example, has each item name, whether or not it's a key item, where it can be found, and how it can be used. The enemy tab has the enemy name, picture, where it's found, what its stats are, and what level the player should be when they encounter it for a smooth battle. The actors tab has the name of each actor, a small description, a list of key items that go with that actor (if applicable), and their class.   You can see that it makes for a very neat, efficient blueprint for the game, that I can modify easily without having to sort through documents and derp around for too long in the maker itself. It also cuts errors almost in half, since I can change values in the spreadsheet and cross-reference them in the maker, just to make sure that everything is running as smoothly as possible. I even have a page for the scripts that I'm using, and everything that I have to mention in the credits so that I won't forget to... well... credit anyone!   But. BUT.   While Excel is fine and dandy for stuff like this (though not hte original purpose of it, I suppose), I do have many, MANY qualms.   1. Enter doesn't work well. Well, Enter doesn't work at all. Maybe it's just too much to ask that when I press the Return key, it goes to the cell beneath the cell I was working in. Why is that so hard? Why does Excel think that I want to go back to the first column, next row? Why? WHY? (clenches fist) At least Tab works the majority of the time.   2. When you make a typo, it's much easier to go up the top and fix it, rather than wrestle with trying to fix it in the cell and having to rewrite the entire thing. Why can you not just edit like you would in Word? It's still ding-dang Microsoft Office, for God's sake! I don't like having to go all the way to the top; it messes with my rhythm. I become... upset.   3. This is more formatting than anything else, because Excel IS supposed to be a math thing, I guess. But the numbers are on the opposite side of the cell compared to words. I wish there was an option to get rid of that. (there may be, and I just don't know about it, but I doubt it)   And these are only some of my grievances, but they're the main three. Still, it's not enough for me to sacrifice Excel for a chart in word, simply because it IS such a neat, organized layout for my database stuff.   Even if I do temporarily become Emperor Kuzco sometimes.

JuJu

JuJu

 

Philisophical Gaming: A.K.A. How Heavy Can You Get?

So, here's a question for the blog, rather than my usual spiel about internal thoughts.   How heavy can you get?   Let me explain: People like thinking. Well, let me amend that: MOST people like thinking. And game that make you think, are the best. Games that give you deep, heartrending questions and choices with no clear answer. People like that because... hey, that's how life really is!   So, what's your favorite game that made you think? Alternatively, how dark adn heavy should games get? Is there a line that shouldn't be crossed? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

JuJu

JuJu

 

I want to call it Paradox Mapping

My brain is weird sometimes. I want to say "paradox mapping" when I mean "parallax mapping". This is really just because they both start with par and end with x, I believe.   My relationship with parallax mapping is a weird one, anyway. I have this strange love/hate thing with it. I love the way it opens up the world to new ideas and stuff, I mean--that's great! But I can't stand the rules that have to go around with it. In the back of my mind, there's always a small voice claiming "There has to be an easier way!" though I think that copy/pasting is about as easy as you can get with it.   And I'm always trying to cram too much into the map, too. I think about my own house, with stuff littering the counters and piling up in strange places around the edges of my living space, but in games that's usually too much for the eye to take in (I think so, in any case). Still, it's a great way to show the lives and personalities of the characters without even writing one line of dialogue!

JuJu

JuJu

 

Character Development: Lisa (A.K.A: The Character Grows with You?)

Lisa, as she is now, was never meant to be; still, her story is quite a tale.   EXPOSITION PART: (skip if you don't care about my poor high school self) ________________ She came into being during my school years (not college, but actual school-school). At the time, she wasn't even Lisa. She was just a regular woman from the modern day who lived in a fantasy town. It was a parody of businessmen that leave their housewives on calls for weeks at a time, coming home on the weekend after working hard all week in other towns to help support their family. Only Lisa's husband wasn't the average businessman... he was a pirate captain. (Norio, of all the characters, has changed the least over the years.)   I wrote about Lisa, cataloging her stories with no order to them--they were just short stories about this world she lived in, the baker who was her best friend, the redheaded brother and sister who lived in the town and caused mischief, among other things. Her husband was barely wrote about, as he was always gone pillaging---er, making business trips.   I forgot about Lisa sometime in high school. I didn't remember her again until I was cleaning out a plastic bin of old folders. When I moved out of my parent's house, I had taken the folders with me without going through the contents, but there came a time when I needed the bin and so I decided to salvage what notebooks I could still use (that hadn't been drawn all over) and get rid of the rest. Then, coming across a certain book, I found Lisa again. She was right where I'd left her, still in that nameless town, and without a name herself. I decided then and there that I'd not only retell her story, but also make her a new one, this time in a game. ______________   ACTUAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT PART: (this is probably what you came for) ______________   When thinking of a name for her, I had to think about the world she came from. Lisa is, for all intents and purposes, a modern human being. The world she lives in as a child is parallel to a second or third-world country today. It's a mashup of old and new. Lisa lives in a shack on the edge of society with her mother in the beginning. She has no heat or air, nor shows any sign that she knows about it, but she owns a telephone. Her mother makes a living sewing up fishing nets, but they have bills for hospitals and medicine. Lisa sees ships sailing out to sea with real sails, but talks of electric lights and boardwalks at night. She wears castoff clothes from sailors, but knows of people in country clubs with finery, and regular Joe's with jeans. Even her hair--I wanted her to have short blue hair, and so instead of just having the usual anime hairstyles going crazy with the color scheme, Lisa merely dyes it. Even on the island, Norio brings her hair dye from 'the mainland' in bulk so that she can continue to keep her hair her favorite shade of blue.   Lisa has two older sisters, both of which stay unnamed in her main story. This is because she has no good feelings towards the eldest, and the middle sister is merely unimportant to her. Her mother she calls "Mother", and so only she ended up needing a name. Thinking about her personality, I realized that I wanted a short, simple name to match her short, simple style. So, after throwing around ideas like "Alex", "Kat", and "Patty", I decided that "Lisa" was the one that I wanted.   The story goes that when their father disappeared, the family fell into poverty and, when she came of age, the eldest sister left to find her fortune. She never returned, and the middle sister, when she too came of age, left to find her own fortune. When Lisa came of age, there was no one left to take care of her mother except her, so she gave up any thought of ever finding her destiny and instead settled down to taking care of the housework and keeping her mother as healthy as possible. This gives, right off the bat, an idea of the type of person that Lisa is.   When the pirates invade her house, she argues with them over them taking all their (few) possessions in the world. She's short-tempered, a little sarcastic, very brave, and she has means behind her high-talk-- it's well known throughout the town that she can hold her own in a fight with the sailors. Then the captain comes in, full of charisma and charm and completely ignoring every insult she throws at him. He is about to make off with all their stuff when she points out that a music box (the only thing she ever had from her father before his untimely disappearance) is HERS, and he can't take it. It follows that (in the main story at least):     And, before she knows it, she's entered into a pirate's marriage. And she isn't happy about it, but he offers her a trade: her, for all the gold in his ship. Her mother would never have to worry about money again. Unbeknownst to her, he even leaves a strapping young lad with her so that the old woman would never have to lift a finger.   At first, Lisa's body has to react to the magic of the island and by the time she's accustomed, he's already gone off again to plunder more booty, since he truly gave all he had to her mother. And during his absence, Lisa comes to see that maybe he's not such a dastardly man after all. Happy ending, right? No! Of course not! This is a normal person we're talking about. He comes back, and she STILL doesn't like him! She's not going to be super sappy just because she's seen that he isn't all killing and pillaging towns. There's a whole thing of them earing each other's trust, etc. etc. etc. that makes for a pretty good story, in my opinion.   But Lisa herself had to change somewhat for the game. She had to learn how to give more, take less. Her journey with Simone shows just how much her new experiences on Tochiko are making her learn and grow as a person. Her relationships with her husband, with her friends, even with her enemies also show this sort of marked change between the volatile girl that fought sailors and the pirate's housewife that lives by the sea. Hopefully, players will enjoy her and find something there to relate to and love.

JuJu

JuJu

 

Downsizing Your Story: How Much is Too Much?

As a writer, it's hard to stop writing things.   I've been writing since the day I realized that stringing letters together made coherent sentences (sometimes). I love writing. I love writing fanfiction, which accounts for 80% of all my day-to-day word based activities. I love writing my own stories, telling the depths of my imagination through a medium that others can see.   The problem lies with turning writing into storytelling.   Not that writing isn't storytelling already! It's just when it stops becoming words on paper (internet paper?) and becomes something visual as well as wordy. See, the thing is that I, as a writer, am used to having to give large amounts of descriptive clues and context to my stories. Naturally, people can't enjoy a story or relate to a character if they don't know what said character looks like, or sounds like, etc. etc. etc. But with video games, you see them. You see their world, their characteristics--heck, my game even has voice acting, so you know what they sound like!   So I find myself having to downsize the script for the game. A lot. Compared to the story itself, the script is bare bones. But here's my problem: how bare bone is TOO bare bone? I wish that it would be easier to tell this sort of thing! You'd think that having visual aids would make this job easier, but it's becoming harder. I don't know how little is too little. How much will the players be able to gain from context of the world around them in the game? How much do I need to tell them myself through dialogue? I hate games that feed you every mystery with a baby spoon, but I don't want to make my own game too hard. Sure, I know how to beat it, but will the players?   Has anyone else had this problem? Any friendly advice?

JuJu

JuJu

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