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Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

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Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Darien » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:21 pm

Edit: Game is done! Check this post for more details and a play link.

I've been thinking about this all afternoon, and what's bubbled to the fore in my head is a game structured around a philosophical conversation about whether or not a given act was just. The player assumes the role of a party intimately connected to the event in question, and predisposed to bias in one direction, and the CPU interlocutor will take an opposed tack. Sort of a riff on the Turing Test, really, but with a narrow scope.

Originally I thought about using an old Infocom-style parser, but then I realised those were a pain and were better suited to input of the form "look door" and "go north" than the full sentences I'm hoping for. So I thought about using a more modern dialogue menu, but that seems too constrained and mechanical; if this works at all, I expect the fun part to be in how you can say whatever you want to say. So I've decided to do a hybridisation of the two ideas, and have the player select a "tone" from a list of choices (happy, sad, angry, e.g.) and then type an actual response into a text field, which will then be parsed alongside the tone. The game will then (ideally) formulate an appropriate response.

The conversation will be structured in "acts," so to speak, though not rigidly; I expect player input can alter the length and the order of things. Also I'm attempting to avoid establishing one set of conditions that must be met in order for the player to win; that turns it into a sort of glorified game of twenty questions, which is not what I'm after at all. I'd rather keep it open-ended.

The format will probably be text-only, and I'll most likely write it in PHP, since that suits both my programming and artistic skillsets, while also, I think, suiting the game nicely. The focus is on the exchange of dialogue, and I think adding much in the way of graphics or sound would detract from that.
Last edited by Darien on Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Darien
 
Location: Greenfield, MA

Re: Justice Pageant -- In this world, you have the law

Postby Jonathan Whiting » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:32 pm

How familiar you with the modern (I use the term slightly loosely) Interactive Fiction scene? As far as I know there's been a fair bit of interest in doing more clever things with dialogue, and you might find some helpful ideas there.
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Jonathan Whiting
 
Location: Oxford, UK

Re: Justice Pageant -- In this world, you have the law

Postby Darien » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:20 pm

Not terribly; to be honest, it's not a favourite of mine. But I'll certainly give it a look.
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Darien
 
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Re: Justice Pageant -- In this world, you have the law

Postby Terry » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:33 pm

Yeah, definitely worth looking into interactive fiction before you start working on this (and if you're interested in ideas like this, you'll probably find you like it quite a lot).

Emily Short's games would be a very good place to start, she does a lot of nuanced conversation system stuff. Her blog discusses these sort of ideas at length, too. (Check out this article in particular)

Your "tone" idea reminds me a bit of Adam Cadre's Varicella, who could adopt a Hostile, Neutral or Servile tone depending on who he was talking to. It often had pretty funny consequences in the game world! It's not the easiest IF game to start with, but one of my favourites, and it might give you some ideas.

Actually, the tone thing also kinda reminds me a little of the dual axis decision nodes from Alter Ego, another game I love! (you can play a version of it online here, but the version to play if you can get it working is the emulated C64 version). That game basically worked by presenting you with a bunch of cutscenes and asking you to make a decision, but also asking you how you felt about those decisions, and changing the outcome accordingly.
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Terry
 
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Re: Justice Pageant -- In this world, you have the law

Postby Darien » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:46 pm

I did some research and thought about the suggestions you guys made (thanks!), and started designing the thing, and I came to realise that, while interesting in a philosophical sense, it wasn't much of a game. So I'm developing a new concept, and I'm pretty excited about it so far. I'll have more details to share in a few days; just wanted to let everybody know that I wasn't dropping the pageant. :-D
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Darien
 
Location: Greenfield, MA

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:19 am

Design is complete on paper; I'm now bonking around figuring out how to program the thing (using FlashPunk). Implementation should be relatively quick once I get my head on straight, since it's a rather modest project. After that comes... art. Wish me luck.

New title is "Unintended Consequences."
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Darien
 
Location: Greenfield, MA

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:02 am

Okay, I think I have this broadly figured out. Game actually plays! Tomorrow I should be able to lay down the meat of the back-end and then get working on content. With luck, I'll have screenshots for you then!
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Darien
 
Location: Greenfield, MA

Re: Justice Pageant -- In this world, you have the law

Postby Jonathan Whiting » Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:19 am

Darien wrote:it wasn't much of a game.


This is not always a terrible thing. Anyway, what's the new idea then? :)
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Jonathan Whiting
 
Location: Oxford, UK

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Mon Jul 11, 2011 5:32 pm

I agree that it isn't always a bad thing, but it didn't suit what I want to do; for one thing, I wasn't really expanding my horizons at all, but just sticking with stuff I was already pretty familiar with. I decided it would be more interesting if I learned some new things, and specifically if I went for a project that would require me to do some damn art assets instead of wimping out and going text-only. :-)

So the new project is a 2D platformer that -- wait, where are you going? No, it's interesting, I promise! It's a 2D platformer focused on exploring the consequences of actions we don't tend to give a second thought to in video games. I don't wish to say too much more at this stage, except to note that I think I'm actually going to be able to get the thing done. Especially now that the Steam summer event is over and won't be devouring my dev time any more. :-o
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:10 am

Been a busy week, but I'm still finding time to bonk away when I can. I have most of the actual code done at this point; I'm choking on something stupid right now, which is probably just because I'm goofy tired and not thinking straight. If I come back tomorrow and can't solve it, I'll ask for help, but for now I want to figure it out myself. I do have a few questions, though, for anyone keen to give me a hand. In AS3 and Flashpunk, how can I:

1) Make the camera scroll only to the right?
2) Make a level that "loops" such that the player could (theoretically) travel to the right forever looping through the same set of content repeatedly?

Those are the only big questions I have; everything else I'm pretty sure I can get done myself in relatively short order. Music is at about 50%, though I'm still in need of a few sound effects. Art is... well, probably somewhere near 2%. It's my white whale.
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Darien
 
Location: Greenfield, MA

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby elegwa » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:12 pm

I've used Flashpunk before, but that is far beyond my knowledge of it -.-;; I wish I knew how to do that.
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elegwa
 
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:01 am

Solved my mystery problem; I was indeed mostly being stupid. Then I thought I lost all my project data and almost had a heart attack.
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Darien
 
Location: Greenfield, MA

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:26 am

Screenshots! I'm a bit embarrassed to be posting these right after Digitalistic's amazing screens, but, hey. :-)

Image

The main game screen, with player (represented by the enlarged version of the "player" sprite from Noel Berry's OSPE), mob (the red square), and working stamina meter. The mob walks to the left until he hits the wall, then turns around and walks right. If he hits the player, the player dies and the board is reset. The stamina meter empties gradually during play; if it runs out, the player dies.

Image

This image shows the player having hopped up onto one of the barricades at the end of the primitive board, facing left, and attacking. The attack is a melee weapon, and will kill the mob on hit. The player cannot move and attack at the same time.

Image

In this shot we see a blue square! The blue square is the pickup dropped by the mob when he's killed, and replenishes the stamina meter.

Obviously none of the art is final (except the background, which I'm honestly sort of proud of), and there are more wrinkles to the gameplay than I've discussed in this post -- I'm not ready to reveal those just yet. Mainly just wanted to show you guys that I'm not all talk; I really am getting something done. I'm excited. :-)
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Darien
 
Location: Greenfield, MA

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby elegwa » Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:45 am

Looking good, I like the Stamina bar idea. Gives you a reason to actually kill the enemies. :) (Other then, "They're blocking my path")
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elegwa
 
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Digitalistic » Sun Jul 17, 2011 7:25 pm

Consider me officially intrigued. Seems like a cool idea, and looking forward to seeing more of it.

Your clouds look awesome, by the way.
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Digitalistic
 
Location: Twin Cities Area

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