Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, and seem to play havoc with my May in general.
My original plan for The Day After updates was to have one a fortnight. I even have a recurring appointment in my calendar for it! The last few months have been a little hectic and I’ve fallen back to once a month. Apologies, dear reader.
There’s a few reasons for this disorganization. I have a new lady in my life, which is awesome but requires a time commitment. I’ve managed to smash out a small project very quickly (a 2-player cooperative card game) which has gobbled up a few dedicated Projects Nights. Work has been busier than usual. On top of all this, I’ve had a crazy May – one week was my birthday and a work trip (both awesome) but then the rest of the month I’ve been sick with colds and food poisoning. Not fun.
At times I’ve wavered on The Day After and had the usual self-doubt creep back in. Luckily Past Brett has already hacked this situation and it’s all good. I have bought art and committed a bunch of resources, so to drop the project would be insane. I really enjoy the art I’ve commissioned and the notebooks full of ideas and stories I’ve created, so that keeps me back in a positive way whereas the “committed resources” ideas is a slightly negative approach.
Basically what I’m getting at is that it’s not excuses, just a realignment and redoubling of efforts. These things happen and I have the luxury of being able to progress at my own pace.
I’m trying to figure out how to do project updates. I figure these are still pretty good. My idea of the epitome of these sorts of updates are Gaslamp Games’ blog on Clockwork Empires. They are pretty frequent and full of insight and good humour. I might continue to try to do fortnightly updates as a goal, but monthly as a minimum.
Anyway, enough on the meta level, what have I been up to?
I’ve been a little coy with it previously, but I’ve been telling many friends my plans so I might as well tell everyone… I’m working on getting my characters to play a faux game of The Day After via Twitter. They currently all have Twitter accounts and occasionally post an update.
The idea is that every few hours the gamemaster (The Day After official Twitter account) will announce a game. It will select some characters and then they’ll play out scenes via Twitter updates. The game tracks their stats and they’ll make random decisions. The games will be recorded on the The Day After website so you can see games after the fact.
Inspired by the Twitch Plays Pokemon phenomenon, I’m trying to integrate voting so people can get involved. The game will announce a decision and you can vote one way or another. You can also query characters via direct messages for stats and feedback.
Why am I doing this? I’ve always wanted to make a bot, especially one on social networks. This is also a great opportunity to feel out some of the content of TDA before I commit them to the real game (which takes a lot more resources). It’s also a nice promo thing.
Surprisingly a bunch of the tricky Twitter and server stuff has come together really easily. Currently all the characters are command-line programs that can easily post to Twitter and get various statistics about rate-limiting, recent posts and the like. I’m most of the way through getting them to post idle updates automatically, but I want more content (and a better idea of how many posts is “not too many”).
So that’s progressing nicely. If you want to follow them, here’s all their twitter accounts:
- The Day After
- The Cop
- The Courier
- The Doctor
- The Hacker
- The Killer
- The Scientist
- The Spy
- The Worker
Last update I showed off the very awesome 3d model for The Hacker. It was created in Maya and converted to formats that I thought I could deal with. Currently it loads into a program using Ogre3d (which is the 3d engine I’m using) so it works. I’ve been interested in getting him into my actual game but I haven’t gotten that far. I spent a while last night trying to work out formats and capabilities. Here’s what I found:
- He kinda imports into Blender, but the skeletal structure doesn’t. This is probably user error (i.e. my fault).
- He should work fine with Maya, but I don’t have a gajillionty dollars for it.
- He converts via a Maya converter into a bunch of formats and displays fine in their previewer.
- He imports into Unity3d just fine (textures, bones and all) and I can use their ragdoll rigger to make him fall to the ground. This is amazingly cool (for me – your mileage may vary): The Hacker falls to the ground
So I’m not a lot closer to getting him into the game and being able to animate him myself, but I’m convinced that all the elements are there.
In a way, I want The Day After to be reflective of the current day and issues. I’ve mentioned in previous updates some of the modern issues I want to comment on and examine. And in ways I want to examine my game via the modern world.
Then we had the Isla Vista killings. I had a while to think about whether I want a game where I have a playable character being a serial killer given such horrific real world events. I don’t want to encourage such behaviour. I don’t want to make light of such events or exploit them. I don’t know what to say in response to such horrible insanity and sadness.
I’ve always hated the treatment of serial killers in popular culture. I constantly have battles in my head like this scene from Adaptation:
Of course, with Elijah in The Day After I’m committing all these errors in a way. I’ve toyed with the idea of dropping the Twins from the game, and may have at least announced putting them on the backburner.
But another part of me says: “If everyone does serial killers so wrong and you have real thoughts about the demons of society, why not write?” Could I do it right? Could I do it effectively? Could I do it respectfully?
I’m not sure. But I continue to think about it.
The Short and Sweet
In the last month I’ve worked on:
- Testing my 3d model.
- Writing my Twitterbots.
- Trying to survive various illnesses.
- Making a better WordPress theme than the current shitty one I have.
In the next while I’m working on:
- Improving my use of org-mode to be a bug/feature tracker for The Day After.
- Launching my Twitterbot game.
- Turning some of my notes into game systems.
- Find or write a program to do poses that work with The Hacker.
- Commission more 3d models.