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Showing posts from June, 2011

Kerkerkruip design journal #7: progress and plans

Thinking up cool things and then implementing them is of course a mode of programming that is a lot of fun. In interactive fiction, it is also generally unproductive: you have a story to tell, and "cool things" are often mere side attractions that decrease the time you have to develop the core game. Luckily, for Kerkerkruip this is not the case. The core game is simple, and adding cool things to it is exactly what I should be doing.

Of course, some thought needs to go into the kind of cool thing one develops: having several hundred weapons with different cool stuff isn't much good if the player can only fight an identical goblin over and over. (Be assured: Kerkerkruip does not have a goblin. It does not have a giant rat or an orc either, and the skeleton is a temporary standard monsters slated for removal.) And although I believe it is important and cool to have "special" situations that only occur in a small percentage of the games, it would be unwise to spend…

On inventory limits

I doubt Kerkerkruip will have an inventory limit. Given that almost all games which feature inventory also feature an inventory limit (the big exception being modern IF), it may be interesting to look at the phenomenon in a bit more detail.

Inventory limits come in several forms.
You can have a straight-up maximum amount of items which the player can have in his inventory. Common in early IF, but pretty unusual in graphical games and even non-graphical rogue-likes, which generally go for the second option, or a combined second/third option. It is used for weapon possession in some shooters, like Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, Crysis 2 and Duke Nukem Forever. (Some of these claims based on reading reviews.)You have a limited amount of types of items you can carry, but can stack multiple tokens of the same type in one inventory slot. There may be a maximum amount of tokens such a slot can hold, and you may or may not be allowed to dedicate multiple slots to a single type of item. Examples are…

On the design of Half-life 2

Yesterday, I finished Half-life 2. Not for the first time; I'm certain I played it when the Orange Box came out in 2007, and I might have played it before that as well. I remember I really loved it.

I loved it a lot less this time around, and in fact have major complaints against the design of the game. This is odd, because I'm pretty sure that the things I loved 4 years ago were the same things I disliked now. Let me try to explain, and I'd love to hear what you think.

Story and characterisation

The story is simply bad. There's a lot of SF nonsense about humans being oppressed by aliens from another dimension, and there's a being out of time who manipulates Freeman for purposes unknown. All very "mysterious", but the kind of mystery where you feel that the guys at Valve are not giving you a coherent story because they don't have a coherent story to give you. This feeling was certainly borne out by the two episodes that followed, which did little to cl…

Kerkerkruip design journal #6: silver weapons

Monsters and the undead

In Kerkerkruip, regular monsters are not only the main obstacles, but also the main opportunities: you gain powers by killing them, and absorbing their souls is the only way of healing. (If you kill a regular monster, you immediately regain all your health.)

This means that having more low-level monsters in the dungeon actually makes the game easier, because you can retreat from a difficult boss fight in order to kill a lowly monster and regain your health. But in general we want additional monsters to make the game harder, especially if they are generated because the player tried something risky, like opening that sarcophagus that may or may not contain treasure... and may or may not contain a monster. Therefore, we have soulless monsters which grant neither powers nor healing; and the most important class of those are the undead.

Undead not having souls makes sense and is easy to remember, and it is also easy for the player to recognise new monsters as undead…

Kerkerkruip design journal #5: regeneration

Kerkerkruip is the new name of my roguelike IF. It is a literal Dutch translation of "dungeon crawl", except that "kruip" translates the verb "crawl" but not the noun "crawl". With all those k's, I think the word looks suitably evil and fantastic for my purposes, and it will be easy to find on Google. (Right now, searching for "kerkerkruip" gives only a handful of results, some of which are machine translations of the English dungeon crawl, and some of which are forum posts by me... I have been known to coin this word before.)

I have been quiet for some time, which may have suggested that I was busy with other things. That was indeed the case. But the past two weeks have seen a lot of development on Kerkerkruip again, bringing new monsters, new items, new 'systems', and in general bringing us a lot closer to an playable alpha. Most of the things I could post about would be just me being joyous about implementing new things …