31 August 2010

An Open Letter To Blue Castle Games

To the developers at Blue Castle Games:

I read a story over at kotaku.com regarding your upcoming Xbox game Dead Rising 2: Case 0.  I was disturbed by the game play depicted within this video.

I suppose I should have been better prepared for what I was about to see after reading "[c]heck out this video showing off the game's real world beer keg foam physics, vomit viscosity and drunk punching."  And the video delivers just that: the game's protagonist runs around and fights zombies, fires a weapon at a keg of beer, consumes alcohol and then doubles over and vomits.

While I recognize that this is just a video game – one that involves fantasy violence whilst battling zombies – I am nonetheless troubled by the questionable judgment used in the development this game.  Was it necessary to depict an individual vomiting?  I suspect that this matter was discussed within your development meetings: how did you arrive at a decision that vomit would bring value to the game play, and specifically what value does it bring?

I feel that there are better methods of showcasing your game's liquid/particle system (may I refer you to Portal 2 game play as an example), and I found it disappointing that you chose such a sophomoric display as representation of your work.


30 August 2010

It's Not A Distraction If Town Is Endangered

I met up with another GM this evening, and our conversation went something like this:
Me: I have to finish testing a script this evening.
OtherGM: I think I'm going to invade town.
Me: !
[OtherGM throws some Darshak in town.]
And that was it for me.  I just can't ignore a good invasion, and as a result I got zero testing accomplished this evening.  While I may not have gotten any work done, I instead managed to have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs, and I hope that the Defenders of Puddleby had as much fun as I did.

29 August 2010

Testing, Testing... WTH?

I was, for the most part, far away from the computer for most of the day.  I spent a portion of this evening doing a little testing on some upcoming changes to a script.  I found one unexpected bug – the kind of bug where the server spews out several lines of errors unrelated to my testing, and I react by saying "well, that was unexpected!"  You know... that kind of unexpected bug.

My brain is still fried from last week, and I am entering another busy RL week.  Thank goodness we have the Labor Day holiday on the horizon!

[Edit: spelling.]

28 August 2010

Games Within Games

The crew over at Rock, Paper Shotgun recently reviewed a game called Morplee.  The basic premise for Morplee is to play as many mini-games within sixty seconds.  The game is written in Flash, and may be played over at Newgrounds.

While I was playing Morplee (my high score is 1460 – an easy score to beat if you wish to brag about it here), I was reminded of how there are numerous mini-games scattered throughout Clan Lord – games within the game.  We have the Tower of Hanoi and a sliding Fifteen puzzle, two great examples of mini-games.  And what floors me is that the scripts that power these games are relatively small, with each game having around 300 lines of code.

I would love to see more mini-games within Clan Lord.  I have always been fascinated with railroad tracks; I loved the 1980's arcade game Loco-Motion, which is basically the Fifteen puzzle merged with dominoes.  This is the mini-game that I dream of making for Clan Lord: sort of a mining-cart-loose-in-a-mining-cave sort of thing.  More mini-games in Clan Lord is definitely "on the list."

Now if you'll excuse me, I shall return to stomping on colored tiles.

27 August 2010

Living In Denial

  • I deny that I played hooky from my RL responsibilities today.
  • I deny that I alone consumed a two liter bottle of cola in one afternoon.
  • I deny that I spent over twelve hours preparing content for the update in one day.
I will confirm that my update content was delivered before the deadline.


26 August 2010

AFK, Again

I love being busy.  I love having projects and looking forward to them – but boy howdy how I prefer to have one project at a time!

The last grains of sand are now falling through the deadline hourglass.  This promises to be a challenge.

25 August 2010

Yappy's Choice

RL continues to keep me preoccupied and I find myself behind in my CL work.  The update deadline is two days away and I find myself in the position of needing to choose the projects on which to focus: some will now receive more attention than others.

I don't like having to make these type of decisions.

24 August 2010

Arty Like It's 1998

While cleaning up some of my areas from my recent move, I was reminded on how sophisticated areas have become over the years.  When Clan Lord first started, we had a very simple version of Puddleby:

And Puddleby had a very simple waterfront:

These areas were a lot of fun because it was all that we had and we didn't know any different.  As the years passed, the quality in areas increased as did the quality in art, and now we have a new generation of areas, including Metzetli Island:

And the Estuary:

I still shake my head in amazement at the level of sophistication that the artists and area designers bring to Clan Lord.  Each new area raises the standards of quality and increases the expectations in design, and it floors me that the artists and designers can still meet – and often exceed – those expectations.

That's an awesome achievement – especially when you take into consideration that both the tools and technology for designing Clan Lord areas are over twelve years old!

23 August 2010

Tee Minus Five, But Don't Wait For Me

I was AFK for a good portion of today, and my development time was nonexistent.  This pattern is likely to repeat for the rest of the week.

This promises to be one helluva update week.

22 August 2010

The Eviction Of Yappy

One of my helpers recently contacted me to resume a project on which he had been working.  He wished to confirm that he still had ownership to the group of areas that I had assigned to him earlier in the year.  I told him plainly that those areas belonged to him, and I felt that there was no need to discuss nor investigate the matter any further.

Earlier today I received a submission from that helper.  Whilst importing the areas into my editor, I immediately recognized one of the area assignment numbers: I recognized this number because it was one of the areas on which I had been working.  Moreover, all of his submitted areas occupied the same areas that I had been using for my own project.  There was a conflict: both the helper and I were using the same areas.  If I were to import the helper's areas, then they would completely overwrite my areas.

I was confused.  My initial thought was that the helper accidentally used my areas, but I then recalled his diligent letter of area ownership, and I felt that sinking feeling that one feels when one realizes that they are the cause of a mistake.  A quick review of our email conversations from earlier in the year revealed, indeed, that the areas in question were assigned to him and that he rightfully held ownership to those areas.

This situation is my own fault.  When areas are assigned to me by UpdateGM, then they are marked as "Yappy."  In turn, when I assign these areas to helpers, I mark them with the helper's name.  I failed to do the latter in this situation, and if I had, then I would not be in this situation.

So now I begin the process of evicting myself from the helper's areas.  I await for an assignment of new areas from UpdateGM; once I receive these new areas, I may then begin the process of transferring my areas from the helper's areas.  This procedure includes a thorough cleaning of my project areas, ensuring that none of my other areas accidentally lead to the helper's areas.

While I am waiting for assignment of my new areas, I think that I shall go train some Mentus.  Clearly my current method of area management – "I-don't-need-to-write-it-down-because-I-can-remember-it-just-fine" – ain't working too well for me.

21 August 2010

Chasing Bugs

I spent a portion of this afternoon chasing down some bugs.  No, not scripting bugs – I was shooing away fruit flies.

Early last week I bought some fruit at the market and saw the fruit flies in my kitchen the following day.  The numbers grew as the week progressed; today I must have swatted close to a dozen of them and there's still another dozen buzzing around.  I found it difficult to concentrate upon the computer screen whilst frequently interrupted by dive-bombing fruit flies.

If anything good came from this experience, it was an inspiration for a new Clan Lord monster.  I think that we can all be grateful that I did not draw this inspiration from experiencing bed bugs!

20 August 2010


As the first week of my RL commitment concludes, I am growing aware of the impact it has had on my CL development.  I am further behind in my CL work than I had anticipated, and now the focus of this weekend shall be to catch up on projects rather than to pull ahead.

Small steps forward are still steps forward.

19 August 2010


As a designer, there is a certain quality that I strive to achieve.  While creativity and stick-to-it-tiveness are certainly valued, I think that one of the most challenging qualities to develop and exhibit is to recognize when a design is not working.

I recently spent a lot of my time into implementing a quest.  Although I did not author the quest, I still felt that it was a clever quest and I liked a lot of the elements within it.  It seemed like a great idea and I was excited about it.  I put the quest aside and continued to work on other projects.

When I came back to the quest with fresh eyes, it no longer glowed like the great idea that had shined earlier.  I now saw some potential problems with it, and my solutions to address the problems all seemed contrived.  The best solution was to abandon the quest.

It pained me to throw that quest away, as I still like the idea of the quest and I placed no trivial amount of time installing it into the game.  Throwing it away was a hard decision but it was the right decision.

On the bright side: I get to start over again and do something new!

18 August 2010

One Sucky Fighter

This reminds me of my 2nd circle fighter.

17 August 2010

Divide By One

A real life project has fallen upon me and I now find myself in a position of having to divide my CL development time with this new RL commitment: two projects divided by one Yappy.

As such, I was unable to do any development today, other than reorganize and prioritize my TO DO list.  Does anyone know where I can have a robot built by Thursday?  I plan to send the Yappo T-1000 to handle my RL responsibilities.

16 August 2010

Read Instructions Before Assembling

I have started designing a new script.  I have outlined the tasks and behaviors of the script, but I did not have any of the details of how the script will accomplish these tasks.  I needed some guidance, therefore I spent this evening doing the unglamorous job of researching and reading scripts.

I had around 15 semi-related scripts opened at once (and I will say that I really enjoy the way that TextWrangler manages multiple documents).  After choosing and reading a script, I would visit an out-of-the-way area to see examples of the script in action.

I can't say that this task was glorious and exciting, but it was informative and inspirational.  I've read the instructions; I think that I'm ready to assemble this new script.

15 August 2010

Power Scripting

I scripted for ten hours today.

The good news is that I got a new quest script mostly working.  As I mentioned yesterday, there is a good amount of math involved with this script.  I got almost all of the algebra resolved, but somehow along the way I started adding numbers instead of subtracting them – or something equally as goofy as that – yielding predictably confusing results.  I still need to resolve that problem.

The bad news is that my tush is sore from ten hours of scripting.

14 August 2010

More Math

I was AFK for most of today, but upon returning home I went straight to the computer and began writing a new script which, alas for me, contains more math.

At least it is simple math – just addition and subtraction – but there's a lot of it.  And it's that fuzzy Z=X-Y type of math that relies a lot on variables.

If my math teacher had told me "pay attention Yappy (my math teacher called me Yappy), because one day you'll be applying algebra to one of the coolest MMORPGs on the planet Earth," then I would have... you know... attended classes.

Does anyone know where I could rent a time machine?  I need to go back to school.

13 August 2010

Friday Is Bugday?

I began the process of cataloging the voluminous listings of bug cases that were imported from V660.  Topping the bug list have been weather-related bugs, which, based on the bugs that I have processed so far, are split between praise for the technology and the leaky roof within the Estuary Hut.

I managed to research and catalog close to 30 bugs – which is roughly one quarter of the reported cases.  Now you may be thinking "but Yappy, Monday is Bugday; why are you handling bugs on Friday the Thirteenth?"

Because I felt lucky.

12 August 2010

Artte, Ye Olde Fashioned Wayye

I am in the process of designing some art.  I had tried using Photoshop to design the images, but I found a disconnect between my hand, the mouse and what I was seeing on the screen (which is probably related to my being left-handed and clicking the mouse right-handed).  My solution was to turn off the computer and do the artwork the Olde Fashioned Wayye: pen and paper.

It has been a while since I've drawn on paper, and it was satisfying to undertake an activity that did not involve a computer.  As a side benefit, I found that I had completed the process much faster than if I had attempted drawing the images digitally.

I am amused that I found it more efficient to use an old form of medium (pen and paper) for creating content for a digital game.

11 August 2010

Welcome to V663

I stopped by the fairground for a little while and chatted about nothing in particular for several hours prior to the update.  CrumblingGM stopped by for a visit and, coincidently, the body count started increasing from a prior count of zero.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and enjoy exploring V663.

10 August 2010

Spot The Differences

I spent some time this evening debugging a new script – and by "debugging" I really mean "comparing the functionality of one script to several others."  I felt as if I were searching one of those "spot the differences" pictures.

The purpose of my new script is to preform one specific task.  While this script is functional, it is not functioning well.  After giving the problem a little thought, I began reviewing similar scripts to see how they addressed the function.

I'll say this: Clan Lord has some very creative scripters!  Some of approaches used to undertake a specific function are simply remarkable.  And after reading these scripts, I despaired a little, as they reaffirmed how little I understand about the Socks scripting language.

I consoled myself in knowing that I was never very good at those "spot the differences" pictures either.

09 August 2010

Winning Through Losing

I enjoyed a small diversion this evening by ambushing a group's hunt.  I had started by sending a large force upon the group.  I then set up a secondary force in a flanking position, followed by a tertiary group in reserve to cut off any retreats.  I was convinced that I could rout the players and force a retreat from the area.

Even with this strategy, I still got defeated – all the while making a sincere effort to vanquish the group.  There were enough surges and retreats throughout the battle that the outcome of the battle was never obvious; there were numerous times when I thought that I had finally defeated the party when a couple of healers and a fighter would break off, regroup, and rescue the fallens.

Even though I lost the battle, I still consider the event a victory: it was fun, there was a lot of group participation, and I felt pretty good about running a challenging battle.

Now all I need to do is balance the monsters!

08 August 2010


I watched Get Lamp today.  The short review: I enjoyed the documentary for its nostalgia factor.

Director Jason Scott tackles the very broad subject of interactive fiction, covering the history of text adventures, the rise and fall of the industry during the 1980s, and the state of interactive fiction today.  There are interviews – and perspectives – from both developers and players (including fascinating interviews with several visually impaired IF players), and an amusing segment on puzzles.  There are also bonus feature-ettes which cover the Bedquilt (the RL caverns on which the original Colossal Cave/Adventure game is based), as well as a segment that focuses upon the history of Infocom and its games.  And that's all on disc 1!

The documentary is without a narrator leading the viewer from segment to segment – that is to say that Morgan Freeman is not there to tell the history of interactive fiction via lots of exposition.  Instead Scott allows the interviewees to tell the story, and this technique gives the film more of a low-key, intimate feel.  The pacing is pensive; Scott does not rush though topics nor does it linger on them.  What we're left with is a very large, broad overview of the world of interactive fiction.

What I love about this film is that it was done by an independent filmmaker who unapologetically loves the subject.  After watching Get Lamp, I wanted nothing more than to play Zork 2 again (and that's exactly what I did for the remainder of my afternoon).  If you ever played IF games and loved them, then I would recommend supporting this independent filmmaker and picking up a copy of Get Lamp.

[Edit: clarification on narration.]

07 August 2010


My copy of Get Lamp arrived in the mail today.  As I was oot-n-aboot, I did not have the opportunity to watch it today, but I am excited about seeing it.

I find it hard to believe that I've been waiting eight months for this movie.

06 August 2010

V663 Is In The Mail

Man.  Am I ever so glad that that is behind me.  Thanks to the GMs and helpers that worked with me for this update.  That was a lot of content to schlep through.

I think I'll go celebrate this accomplishment by routing town.  Or making a benevolent visit.  I haven't made up my mind.

05 August 2010

Down To The Wire

It is the eve of my content submission and I did not do a lick of work today.

I should feel guilty or anxious, but in truth I just feel weary.

04 August 2010

Did You Say Subclass Or Suckclass?

In Yappy Lord, I had mentioned that Healers would be revered and Mystics would be feared.  I had been thinking a bit about Healer subclasses and was reminded of some notes that I had for my take on them.

I'm fairly embarrassed to share these thoughts publicly, and the reasons should be fairly obvious why they have not been seen in game.

• Earth Healer: this subclass would eat lightning and fire for breakfast and then go brush their teeth with broken glass.
  • Strengths: lots of histia, physically strong, self-heals well.  Does anyone remember the human female healer Jackie?
  • Weakness: Heals others poorly.
  • Cool unbalanced ability: "Share the pain" – any incoming damage is distributed evenly amongst those cross-sharing the Earth Healer.
• Moon Healer: this subclass would be the Shepherd of the Dead.
  • Strengths: lots of sespus, lots of respia.
  • Weakness:  physically vulnerable
  • Cool unbalanced abilities: "Soul Herding" – bring a body from purgatory to the Moon Healer's location (like an indulstone stone).  "Second Chance" – if a character falls, then it is immediately healed again to one pixel of health.
• Sun Healer: the know-it-all specialist of healing
  • Strengths: fast healing of others, training bonuses to their specialized version of Eva
  • Weakness: smaller spirit capacities
  • Cool unbalanced ability: "Leech" – transfer health between cross-sharing patients, either between the healer and the patient, or between two other patients
The idea behind the design of said subclasses is that they would be strong within their own realm, but weaker in a neighboring realm.  The problem with these classes – I mean besides them being just awful – is that I don't think that they would be fun to play.  Slarty had a better grasp of involving the healer in active, fun play.

This is why I stay away from designing subclasses.

03 August 2010

Apples, Oranges, And Ironwood Giants

I was discussing some of the bug cases with a couple of other GMs the other day, and the conversation went something like this:
Me: There are numerous bug cases for reviewing monster experience.
OtherGM: Compared to what?
Me (confused): I don't understand. The complaint is that some monsters are too hard for their experience payouts.
OtherGM: If the complaint is that a monster is too hard and its experience is too low, then there must be some sort of comparison to a monster that is likewise in difficulty but with a good experience payout, right?
I did not have a response to this question, but the question has been on my mind for the past couple of days.  A brief sampling of bug cases revealed that many of the experience-related complaints read thusly:
Ironwood giants have one of the worst, if not the worst exp to difficulty ratio; needs a boost.
And now I understand OtherGM's question: the ironwood giant gives poor experience for its difficulty – compared to what?  What other monsters are out there that are just as tough as the ironwood giant but give more reasonable experience?

I think that if players were to cite an example for comparison, then that would help the GMs a lot.

02 August 2010

Four Eyes

A footnote regarding yesterday's entry: while it is true that the trigonometric functions that I wrote for my script were not functioning properly, it turns out that my logic was very, very close to the correct answer.  One of the other GMs volunteered to review my script and my error (errors?) got corrected.  Even though I was wrong, I am pleased with myself for almost having the right answer.  If only "almost" would have given me a passing grade in math back in my school days.

All I need to do now is to give a little polishing to the rest of the script.  Thanks to the GM for the loan of the extra pair of eyes!

01 August 2010

Putting The "O No" In Trigonometry

I am writing a script that relies heavily on math.  Not just any math, but trigonometry.  As I have previously lamented, math is a personal weakness of mine, and I struggle to understand the functions on which I rely for this particular script to work.

Of course the script is not doing what I want it to do, because I do not understand its functions.  This has resulted in an evening of experimentation: I would change a line of code, compile it, run it and review the results.  This process was typically followed by muttering and more changes to the script.

Work continues on this script, and I am keenly aware of the time I spend debugging it.  This is update week, and time is running down.  Tick tock.