Friday, April 28, 2006

Features! Features!

Theres so much in kudos in only 4 months that I worry for the sanity of me debugging it if I work another 6 on it. I think I may well be heading for an earlier than expected release. Maybe August or September?
Anyway recent additions include a new TV channel (cookery) some new sounds for your pet cat, the finishing off of the videogame mini-game, and some small bugfixes.
I dropped Karma. This was going to be a good-or-evil dilemmas related thing, but it wasn't neccesary and just cluttered the design. Plenty of games (too many?) have done the whole good/evil bit already.
I've still got to do lots of long term playtesting, and ensure that there are lots of obvious changes and new features as you play. Because I know what's in the game, I know how to play it to trigger stuff, so it's hard to be impartial about that.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Restaurant Design

This morning I revamped the tooltips for the avatars 'mind state'. This lets you get more nicely presented and detailed information on what attributes such as"IQ" and "Culture" do in the game.
Then this afternoon I revamped the restaurant code. This has been tricky to design. I want a range from the cheap burger joints that you go to with close friends, to the exclusive restaurants that you can't get into, and some middling quality restuarants that arent hip, but do good food.
I've ended up with 4 restaurant styles:

And they break down like this:

Cheapo is burger king. you go there for cheap food. If your uber-cool and have high kudos, you will lose some (temporarily) for being seen there. Its easyish to get served, based entirely on how busy they are. Being cool and famous doesn't let you get served quicker here

MidRange is pizza express or similar. The food is not bad, and theres no kudos change either way. Your chances of getting a table are slightly higher (and the food quality better) if you speak the right language (italian for pizzas, chinese for chinese restuarants etc)

Hip is what you are looking for. The food is good, and there is mucho kudos for being seen there. Despite this, its not *that* hard to get in. You find out what restaurants are hip through gossip.

Snooty is expensive and hard to get in. They give a small kudos boost. The food is superb. You need wealth, culture, kudos, the language and to pick the right day. If you want to make sure your friends have a good time, and you can get in, this is where you go.

I am quite pleased with this part of the design. Im still thinking about the long term game, and what extra stuff you can aspire to. I still have a while to code it though.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Skills for NPC

Some new stuff yesterday and today for Kudos:
I put in a pre-game 'config' screen where you can fiddle with 3 attributes for your character before you start. These are 'wealth' 'iq' and 'culture' . So you can start out as a penniless but cultured person, or a wealthy but poorly educated person, or whatever mix of the three you like.
Then, there is the new code for 'game' activities which currently include:
With these activities, you can win or lose, and therefore, you can gain in confidence by beating people. Obviously to do that you need to develop some skill, so you need to play lots of tennis (against everyone you know), then the day before your big job interview you make sure to play against someone you don't play often. That way you win, your confidence notches up a bit and you get that cool job.


Actually coding it was a pain because NPCs didnt have skills until now, and I need to do relative skill assesment to decide who wins ;(

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

None Shall Pass

Not what you want to see when on a public footpath...
Needless to say it didn't move, and we had to hurl ourselves through barbed wire as it charged at one point. But thats what holidays are all about right?
So 3 days off, and it's back into KUDOS. Luckily my sales picked up a bit over the weekend, and I even found time yesterday to do a small patch for Starship Tycoon that fixes some minor bugs. It would be a huge task, but I'm still considering doing a sequel.
Todays new kudos code relates to your friends feeling in your debt if you pay for them at restaurants etc. They will repay the debt whenever they invite you somewhere you cant afford, although that's currently unusual as your friends wealth is related clsoely to your own. Much work and tweaking lies ahead.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Q&A plus Starship Tycoon 2?

Theres a lovely Q&A with moi on my fave indie game site: which talks about Kudos quite a bit. I added some TV channels to the game yesterday, and allowed people to turn down a social invite because they don't have enough money. You can now pay for people to come and socialise with you. I need to code some stuff to engineer totally false friendships where people hang out with you because your generous, and pretend to like you.
A post of my forums, combined with 2 sales of Starship Tycoon today (its normally maybe 2 every 3 days or similar) is making me revisit in my mind the possibility of doing a sequel. ST sold very well in shops, but as you need to shift 30,000,000,000 units to actually make money from retail, thats pretty irrelevant. I reckon a done-from-scratch souped up ST2 with all my l33t new coding and design skills could sell well, and I reckon I could do it in 8 months? I already have a design for a totally original unusual game that I was planning to do post-kudos, but I'm tempted by the ease with which I could design a Starship Tycoon sequel.
I have lots to do, Kudos is good but needs more content, more features, and a ton of balancing, bugfixing, tweaking and finishing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

French Speaking Intelligensia

Several new things have gone in lately.
French-speaking people are more likely to get a good table at a French restuarant, even when it's busy, also I subdivided IQ. previously there were several things that contributed to IQ, but they did so in the same way. So sit and do crosswords all day, and your IQ went up, ditto sudoku.
Now I have IQ made up of reasoning, knowledge, problem solving and logic. You will need to combine reading, watching intelligent TV, talking with clever people, and doing puzzles to achieve the high IQ that you will need when you work on your revolutionary new scientific theory.
There is a lot of press interest in Kudos, which is a very nice suprise. I guess its good to have something to write about that isn't the same old genre.
Having said that, I'm thoroughly enjoying Call of Duty 2 right now.
Im heavily distracted by holidays right now, but from the end of April through to September will be 100% crunch on Kudos. I may be hoping to release early than October at this rate, although I'll probably continue to patch and refine it for the whole years.
I sure hope it sells.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lets go Bowling Fred!

Lets go Bowling Fred!
Initially it sounded like a good idea. If you go bowling often, and stay sober and energetic, you will eventually be asked to join the local bowling team. If you turn up every week for the weekly games, you earn kudos.
But that means a scripted event each week with a fixed selection of people you know.
And that means they can't accept or make other offers that night.
And I have no support in code for such a system
And I have just coded most of the bowling team stuff.
Drat and Blast. Somehow, I need to make it work.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Publicity, progress, overweight avatars
Getting tons done... The game is coming along great. I released a few screenshots unto the net, showing what Kudos looks like these days. Hopefully I'll be arranging the odd preview in the next month. The game is really coming together, which is welcome as it co-incides with a slight sales dip for Democracy.
My bank balance isnt too bad thanks to high Xmas sales, so what the hell, I'm going to buy my own 'trainer bow' and accessories. I miss archery!

Codewise I've added some more classic books, and redone one of the avatars to look less cliched and sexy. The default poses for women in poser 6 are a joke. I don't know any woman whose default standing pose makes her look like a stripper. Maybe I don't know those kind of women?

Does anyone know an easy way to make clothed people fat in Poser 6? if so, PLEASE tell me. I think Poser 6 is good in many ways, but the lack of variety for the models, and their clothes is severely limiting. If you are a 3D MAX artist with time to kill, knock up some conforming clothes and hat props for poser 6, and bung them up for sale at $2-3 each. You will make a fortune. Its insane that there isn't a huge market for this.

Monday, April 10, 2006

E = MC Hammer
I love that as an equation. Sadly if I put it in the game I know a lot of lawyers will pounce on me. This is sad, as I'm sure any sane person would think that this was hardly a put down of MC Hammer, and if anything, he would probably benefit from the name recognition. Sadly lawyers have no interest in actually making a company do well, just saying *no* to absolutely everything.
There will be no segways in Kudos. I emailed the makers of segway and asked them for permission. Apparently they couldn't even be arsed to reply by email with *no*.
So fuck em.
Anyway, I'm adding science theories and songwriting today. These are 2 new solo activities your character can do once you have a lot of music or science experience. (yes I'm adding scriptwriting too). I haven't really tried to do any silly theory names yet, but I was quite taken by E= MC Hammer.

E = MCH4 MM3R?

I'll have to sneak my wifes phd title in there too.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Enthusiasm Gap
Thats my new phrase. Its my description of the delay between being excited about something that goes into an entertaining product, and then seeing it through to the final version.
For example, in Kudos, I decided that if you go to a nightclub, the post mortem screen will briefly play some dance music and have flashing lights. I thought this would be kinda cool, unexpected, and a bit of a laugh.
I still do.
But its tough to keep that same spark of an idea throughout its implementation. That involves:

Finding some suitable dance music sounds, buying them, downloading, converting to ogg, and setting them up.
Recoding the music so it pauses during this new sound.
Looking at some video of nightlcubs for inspiration.
Coding a system of flashing lights.
synching it all up to the nightclub screen and checking it works

By the time you have done all that, its tough to remember why it was so cool. Its similar to a comedian who has a standup routine I suppose. Do they REALLY think any of its still funny after going through it 100 times? It's a big problem, and its worse if you work alone, because there is nobody to ask "is this still cool?"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A company is NOT the same as its Owner
Microsoft didnt buy peter molyneux they bought the company, complete with its staff and property. There actually are OTHER PEOPLE at lionhead other than the guy with an OBE. This irritates me beyond measure and shows what crap most games journalism is. Nobody working there will EVER escape from peters shadow as long as this crap continues which is why everyone who wanted to get anywhere left. Some people just get sick of people they hardly ever see taking 100% of the credit.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Let us sit and READ
One of the fun things about kudos is making the book covers. You can buy books, and read them each evening, and they give you certain abilities, or skills, or affect your attributes. Doing sudoku increases IQ, there are classic books which boost your culture, books that reduce your stress etc.
heres a few:

Game design is coming along nicely now. Very happy with it. Sales of Democracy arent so good, but C'est la vie.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Still tearing the game design apart regularly
Yesterday I did some more rethinking and have put together a design for the social relationships part of the game that is more complex, possibly more accurate, and I suspect makes for better gameplay.
You will benefit (in kudos terms) from both a large social circle, and a social circle that has 'inter-mixed'. Basically, you score points for creating new friendships. If you notice one of Bobs friends, and one of Janes friends are both trekkies, you can introduce them to each other at an event you organise. Providing the event isn't a disaster, they will probably get on, and if you continue to invite them both to good events long enough for their relationship to mature to a self-sustaining level, you will have created a friendship , and earn kudos.
So in terms of defining success in the social sphere, its a case of having
a) lots of friends
b) some GOOD friends (with a strong relationship to you) and
c) lots of interconnections between friends
So a good player (in the social side of the game) will be like a 'connector'. Somebody who knows everyone, and everyone knows them. Effectively you will be the person everyone says hello to at parties.

This isn't exactly my personality (unless Im drunk), but its a popular personality that many (esp young) people aspire to be.
Theres was an advert for something, might have been some beer, with 2 guys getting jealous of someone at a bar. He arrives in a ferrari, meets 2 gorgeous leggy blondes, all the guys in the bar know him and are pleased to see him, and the waiter greets him as "doctor" something. So this guy has it all - Money, Respect, popularity.
In a sense, that advert is my game. They say that every game lets you live out a fantasy. Often that fantasy is to be a sword-wielding warrior or a gangster. I never understood the gangster bit. I'd only like to be a gangster so I got lots of money, respect, and hot chicks. Kudos lets you get all that without the chance of being gunned down.
Just got to code the poxy thing now...