The Day After Dev Report #17 – The New Year

I’d say it’s a good time to make New Years’ resolutions, but the first month of 2014 is almost over. Gosh! Game dev slowed a little recently due to holidays and other stuff going on. Nevertheless it progresses!


Almost literally the first thing I did in 2014 was get the compile working for my game. It went surprisingly smooth. The game works on my new machine with a new setup so onwards!

The break has given me some time to think strategically about the game and its development. I’ve made two decisions that I’d like to try out:

  • Move the codebase to 64-bit and ditch any support for 32-bit CPUs. It’s about time for all software to be 64-bit. I hope my libraries agree.
  • Ditch any notion of using DirectX and only use OpenGL.

The latter one is a funny decision. Ogre3d allows me to use both at will. But DirectX means another library to manage, and it’s always been the weird child of the panoply of libraries I use. The newest DirectX versions offer me nothing, and Microsoft seem to be iterating quickly between operating systems and god knows what that means for DirectX.

I’d prefer to support Steam OS when it comes out, so OpenGL it is. That covers Unix, Windows and Mac without having to worry about different codepaths for different platforms. At least for graphics. At least to an extent.

Moving to 64-bit is annoying because some libraries don’t suffer the transition well. Windows compilers are funny about 64-bit, so myeah. It’s not desperate to follow up because I don’t do anything tricksy in my code and I want to focus on gameplay rather than engine code for a while.

I’ve also been writing tool code. By which I mean, tools so I can efficiently make the game. I’m making local web apps, because it’s fun and I can smash it out very quickly without worrying about writing proper programs. For example, my scene writer uses Python and Javascript to give me a lightweight interface. AJAX bounces off the server and throws data down into text files that I can import into the game. Well, in theory because I’m still writing it, but I don’t need to worry about how to display graphics if a web-browser can do all the heavy lifting.

My ideal there is quick drag-and-drop elements in the browser, type in code and have data files populated in the game directory. It’d be fairly lightweight, so I could bring it with me without bringing all the game code.


I’ve also been thinking long and hard about the game. I’ve made some cuts and compromises there too.

The first is that I’m shelving The Twins for now. Their gameplay and story is fantastic and interesting, but they introduce so many problems at the same time. As a unit and as interactions with the other characters, they increase the complexity more than the rest of them combined.

So first content update will have them. For now, I’ll focus on the six other characters. Unfortunately this breaks the gender balance I had – now it’s 4 females (The Cop, The Courier, The Spy and The Scientist) versus 2 males (The Doctor and The Hacker). I don’t want to bring any new characters in to address that balance because that hardly solves the original problem. Plus Alice the Artist is very busy doing cool projects so more art would be tough.

In any case, it wouldn’t hurt a modern video game to have more female characters than male. And no, it won’t be a harem game.

My next focus is to ignore multiplayer at the moment. The system is prepared for it to an extent. I haven’t got the network code in, but everything is engineered to accommodate it. Multiplayer brings a variety of issues that you might not consider until you’re down in the guts of it.

For example, how do you address gameplay synchronization? Not server/client data synchronization but actual “someone’s read the text before someone else, do they have to wait?” Do you let people force the game forward? Do you have timers? What if your scene depends on a character making a decision but they’ve run off to the toilet? What do you if the team splits? Can you keep them roughly in sync in terms of world and gameplay progression?

How do teams decide on things? Democratic voting? A leader? I had a mechanic from very long ago in the dev process where you have energy as well as health. You can expend energy to do strenuous things. You might also use it to force a vote to resolve a certain way. But if you have these power struggles between players, is it fun? Is it just bookwork? I want people to feel like they are making important decisions in a disaster zone, not having lengthy discussions deciding on UN Resolution 2378.

I’m keen on just creating the minimal viable product and evolving that. I’m prepared for multiplayer, but I want to focus on the single-player experience, so I’m doing that.

In any case, you can look around the indie games scene and see some very simple games. You don’t need much complexity for a successful game. I’d like to optimize for success first, complexity second 🙂

The Short and Sweet

What I’ve been working on lately:

  • Sketching out ideas
  • Designing gameplay systems
  • Learning how to write web apps for my dev tools

What I’m working on in the next run:

  • Cleaning up the gameplay source code branch
  • More web app dev
  • Maybe the scene code.

The Linear Journal of Aeona Tycheweaver: Twisted Sisters

This is the character journal of my character Aeona Tycheweaver, an Oracle who exists at a fraying of the fabric of space-time.

Before and after the Christmas break our intrepid heroes were investigating a haunted house. Because of the break, I’ve not been writing Aeona journals. We are now Level 6. Aeona is comfortable in her combat role of chaos-bringer and general helpful gal. Occasionally she can bring the noise… sometimes not.
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The Linear Journal of Aeona Tycheweaver: The Third Arrow

This is the character journal of my character Aeona Tycheweaver, an Oracle who exists at a fraying of the fabric of space-time.

We’ve finished Burnt Offerings and begun The Skinsaw Murders. We’ve levelled up 5, and I’m starting to come into my element. That element is chaos, and is glorious. We’re past the point of being able to rejig our characters, which is okay. I wish I had gone solely for DEX rather than STR and DEX, and spent a feat getting Weapon Finesse (hands) so my melee touch attacks would be effective and I wouldn’t have spread myself so thin on attributes. No matter. Aeona’s a tough customer – kinda of a Suicide Girl with a hidden boxing hobby.

This post combines two sessions, as I’m trying to explore Aeona and time rather than be slavishly recounting our adventures in detail.
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The Linear Journal of Aeona Tycheweaver: Déjà Vu Agàin

This is the character journal of my character Aeona Tycheweaver, an Oracle who exists at a fraying of the fabric of space-time.

Last time we had travelled straight as an arrow towards the boss villainness and killed her (or more aptly, let death fall upon her). We felt bad that so much loot, I mean, plot had been left behind in our wake, so we returned to Thistletop to get answers and gear. Surprisingly, we levelled up again. Aeona at level 4 has a bunch of tricks up her sleeve and an Ozymandias complex. Read more

The Linear Journal of Aeona Tycheweaver: A Slice in Time Saves Five

This is the character journal of my character Aeona Tycheweaver, an Oracle who exists at a fraying of the fabric of space-time.

Our games have been sporadic recently with people away for various reasons. Last time we battled our way through the front of a fort made of brambles and almost were eviscerated by a cougar. While maybe half a day of adventuring in-game, this episode was split over a month of gaming and non-gaming. We also levelled up halfway, so I’m beginning to get powerful. Read more

Not a Hero

We find ourselves in a peculiar quandary. If we look at pop culture and ask “What is a man?” we can readily find a few archetypes.

Superman is by his very definition, the pinnacle of man. He’s strong, reliable, moral, unyielding. He loves and is loved. In his true form, people fear and respect him. It takes extraordinary circumstances to even just bend his knee.

We take his darker alternative – Batman. A man born into a good life and laid low by tragedy. But he takes that tragedy and rebuilds himself to superheroic standards – world class athlete, fighter, inventor, detective. He opposes the darkness in the world and always gets back up, no matter what they throw at him. He is prepared and resourceful. He is endlessly strong.

Although these examples are fictional and exaggerated, they represent symbols that men should aspire to. There’s a long cavalcade of similar examples, real or fictional: pinnacles of physical perfection, hyper-intelligent sleuths, confident masters of their world.

On the other hand, if you asked for the stereotypical characteristics of males, it might include violence, dominance, sex, confidence and a lack of emotion. We have an amazing cognitive dissonance here: the stereotypical man is a dangerous brute, but one of the greatest known men of all time, Shakespeare, still astounds people with his understanding of the human condition and nuanced exploration of the texture of life: death, war, jealousy, age, and, of course, love. Einstein, that great man of science, was a man of peace.

Even further, normal men are none of these extremes. They don’t solve their challenges by punching them. They don’t swing into a party and make all the women swoon. They aren’t masters of their universe – they get buffeted about by chance and unfavourable design. They make mistakes. They get depressed. Normal men aren’t heroes.

One in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime. And it’s not necessarily a product of tragedy. Some very successful, intelligent, hard-working, friendly men will find themselves laid low by the black dog of depression. It’s not a rational thing, depression doesn’t work that way. It’s a stronger villain than any laughing madman. It knows all your thoughts, weak points and ways of seeing things. It can make nonsense sound sane. It can amplify the smallest of issues. Depression can make a man retreat from his closest friends, ignore the things and people they love, drink or take drugs, imagine opposition from their closest friends and family, run themselves ragged, break their hearts, or sabotage their life in a myriad of dumb ways. Depression can destroy men without raising a single finger.

Four out of every five suicides in Australia are committed by men. In 2011, almost two thousand men took their lives. Depression is an incredible foe.

Historically and even now, men are encouraged to endure this onslaught and not seek help. Men should “man up” and stand against their sea of troubles, without support, without tools. Women are twice as likely to seek help from a mental health service provider than men. It’s ridiculous.

The good news is that depression and related mental illnesses are treatable. There’s a wide variety of treatments available and are customized to the person. But society’s men need resources, education and support to seek help when they need it.

I’m supporting Movember to bring in donations to help exactly this. Please consider a donation, no matter how small.

Normal men are not superheroes. They don’t shape the world by their very existence. They may find themselves struggling from day to day. They may be loved and respected and find success, but still have to reluctantly drag themselves out of bed every morning.

Support the men in your life. Make sure they’re going okay and help if you can. If they are depressed, get them to seek professional help. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. It may be the start of a new life. A new life where depression pops up every so often like a villain-of-the-week, but at least it’ll be manageable. It’s better than the alternative.

A single man might not have the strength of a hundred, but with his friends, family and support services, he can get damn close.