Monday, August 24, 2015

import/export of good ideas...

...But mainly of variables for adult text-adventure games. I have decided to skip a bit ahead and work on the function to export/import variables now, instead of later, because I felt like seeing how it works, considering it's one of the few features I never had to use before. I am taking notes as I add to the list of things the game should remember between chapter 1 and 2. There are some quests with a lot of possible outcomes (Verania can end in 4 different ways, for example), and that's going to be fun to work with, when we get to the sequel. 

Right now, I am doing the busy work of simply adding all the variables I would need to the list, and also decide what to do with some of the easier ones to tackle (for example, you'll get to keep your money, and in Chapter 2 I'll probably add some extra base money, so let's say if you don't import the data, you start with 10000 credits, and if you import it, you'll get the 10000 plus whatever you had in the bank already). This will need some work in chapter 1 (making sure you can't make huge amounts of money and put the balance of both chapter out of control), but it's hardly something I wasn't planning on doing anyway (right now, I am in the embarrassing position of not knowing how much money you can make in the game in total, which I need to address, and I'll probably have to ask testers how much they make and spend on their average run, once the ending is in the game), so it will be a fair amount of work, but not something I wasn't expecting, nor something overwhelming.

I am also trying to figure out if there is an easy way to export data about items. I might have to create a long, LONG list of variables, if I need one for each item I want to track. I mean, just the small items you can use to decorate your room can be a headache, if that's how I'll have to deal with them, and I certainly wouldn't allow players to lose their belongings, after they spent money and time collecting them in chapter 1.

All in all, there is a lot to consider, and now that I am actually working on it, I realize I'll probably need to work on quite a lot of details. The main stuff like quests and factions will be easy to export, but the items list will be a nightmare, and the combat stats will probably need a lot of thinking: I could straight up port them, but I figure I need to strike a balance if people want to start from chapter 2 without going through chapter 1 again (if you don't have an export file, I'll probably provide players with a short list of questions, to set how some major plot points ended, rather than pick the starting point myself, but I can't do this with combat stats). I also need to consider if I want to port the bought upgrades or just the stats and then tweak them a bit (I will probably just work on the stats because it's easier, but again it's not that easy to tell people not to mind stuff they took a lot of time and effort to buy). I also wonder if I should port the extranet "as is" and then add new entries, or if I should consider changes (this might lead to me needing to export many more "minor" variables to make sure both the old and new extranet work truly in the same way, and show the same data).

I have been thinking about stuff, more than actually working, but I hope this is going to make things better in the long run. Also, I am considering releasing a super short teaser for chapter 2 together with the final version of chapter 1: that way, people will be able to test if the variables are properly exported, and they'll get an idea of where I want to go with TOTDC, before I take my break from it and work on another project for a while.

So, that's what I have been up to, a lot of staring at my PC and doing nothing, but I think I have some nice ideas already because of it. I should finish the variable list for the main stuff soon enough, and I'll probably put together a basic "pretend I am chapter 2" game file for my testing purposes right after that, and see what comes out of it. I hope you found this post interesting, I'll see you guys next week! ^_^


  1. Not sure if you're going to lock/unlock content based on your import (or lack of one). If you do, it'd be nice to allow faking the choices that make changes if you don't import. Eg. If you get a special quest based on who you dated in TOTDC, allow people who don't import to choose someone. This would be especially nice for any choices that can't be made just before the game ends / become locked partway through.

    1. Well, yes, content is definitely going to be locked/unlocked depending on your choices, as it happens in the current game as well. The imported data is used to continue your playthrough and see what the long-term consequences are, so you could say that's specifically why I am adding it in the first place. You won't get special quests, but you'll definitely get content related to the love interest you have pursued. The game will have an option to answer a few questions, if you don't have the file to import (or if you don't want to play chapter 1 a second time), so you can pick more or less what happened in the past, although the questions probably won't cover everything (I want to reward those who play through chapter 1, and I don't think players would sit through 40 or so questions that easily, it's just too clunky to set every variable this way).

    2. Woo! Going the ME direction with relationships! Now all we need to do is have you kill off one potential love interest in the grand finale :p

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    5. You'll get to pick your blue, red or green ending. ALICE is actually a really ancient AI that controls everything, and the color only changes the filter I use on her pictures. :p