Friday, January 29, 2010

A genie with the eye of a tiger...

Furthermore, we have not only to risk the adventure alone;
for the heroes of all time have gone before us;
the LABYRINTH is thoroughly known;
we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination,
we shall find a god;
where we thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves;
where we had thought to travel outward,
we shall come to the center of our own existence,
where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.
—Joseph Campbell
Hero with a Thousand Faces
Change comes from the unfinished areas, not from pretensions of wholeness.
—Michael Meade
Men and the Water of Life
All of the truly important battles are waged within the self.
—Sheldon B. Kopp
If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him
The hero is the man of self-achieved submission. But submission to what? That precisely is the riddle...schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme of return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal...future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work. . . Only birth can conquer death--the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be--if we are to experience long survival--a continuous "recurrence of birth" nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. For it is by means of our own victories, if we are not regenerated, that the work of Nemisis is wrought: doom breaks from the very shell of our virtue. Peace then is a snare; war is a snare; change is a snare; permanence a snare. When our day is come for the victory of death, death closes in; there is nothing we can do, except be crucified--and resurrected; dismembered totally, and then reborn.
...The first step, detachment or withdrawal, consists in a radical transfer of emphasis from the external to the internal world...a retreat from the desperation of the waste land to the peace of the everlasting realm. . . within. But this realm. . . is precisely the infantile unconscious. It is the realm that we enter in sleep. We carry it within ourselves forever. All the ogres and secret helpers of our nursery are there, all the magic of childhood. And more important, all the life-potentialities that we never managed to bring to adult realization, those other portions of ourself, are there; for such golden seeds do not die. If only a portion of that lost totality could be dredged up into the tight of day, we should experience a marvelous expansion of our powers, a vivid renewal of life...In a word: the first work of the hero is to retreat from the world scene of secondary effects to those causal zones of the psyche where the difficulties really reside, and there to clarify the difficulties, eradicate them in his own case (i.e. give battle to the nursery demons of his local culture) and break through to... undistorted, direct experience and assimilation of [fundamental human realities].
The hero, therefore, is the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local...limitations to the generally valid, normally human forms. Such a one's visions, ideas, and inspirations, come...from the primary springs of human life and thought. Hence they are eloquent, not of the present, disintegrating society and psyche, but of the unquenched source through which society is reborn. . . His second solemn task and deed therefore... is to return then to us, transfigured, and teach the lessons he has learned of life renewed.
—Joseph Campbell
Hero With A Thousand Faces
"All the ogres and secret helpers of our nursery are there, all the magic of childhood."

A cancer that can feed on dead flesh instead of living? Fact.

CosmoKid: Mysterio

Mysterio aka the Bubble Cluster is a region of CosmoKid's universe where bubbles and spheroids of various jelly-like kinds drift and bounce around. Doing the crude physics for the bubble behaviour was fun but fairly exhausting. Now I need to add some more incident to it since the strip it is inspired by was one of those visual gag / sudden swap ones and it doesn't translate super well to video game land. :)

In non-CosmoKid news...

Skull Craig is back from being tested and came through extremely well. :) I am also working on art for Phoenix, another indie designer's game, and an extremely good one imo. It looks really cool, with rotoscoped type art, a world that is really engaging and an interface that promises some complexity without difficulty. :)

Adding a plum to a top hat is not a puzzle that is intellectually challenging.

Adventure games are supposedly intellectual less violent etc. than shooters, and that is only logical. But there is nothing intellectual in any way about stupid people making equally stupid games where, like the borderline autistic masturbators they are, they imitate the form of a puzzle without understanding the nature of a puzzle.

Add X to Y to escape room Z could describe:

Use key on lock to unlock jail cell

Give potion to wizard so that he gives you scroll in return

Tell the guard to let you on the ferris wheel

Give the monkey a banana and it will run off, triggering the option that lets you follow it.

Then there's the other kind of "puzzle" which fits the same pattern:

Drop a plum into the upturned top hat. The top hat will then turn into a wrench.

Give cheese to the monkey. He will get very ill and a doctor will appear out of nowhere.

Push the red button to open the hatch, then ignore what you've just done and walk out through the door.

What is missing in the last few examples:



Common sense.

Puzzles in adventure games are part of the mechanism to draw people into the world, get them to suspend disbelief, and become involved in the narrative. Game wankers like to call this "immersion". This is the incorrect game industry term (no doubt used quite deliberately wrongly by the megacorporations who first used it) to describe involvement in the story. There is no true immersion in any typical game of any kind... Yet. The big companies use the term solely to manipulate the gamesheeple so that when real immersion occurs it isn't scary for the punters. But anyway.

Lack of logic, lack of intuition and basically lack of professionalism distinguishes amateur from indie. Just as in film or any other branch of art. This also explains two other phenomena that are staggeringly common particularly in the AGS community- the "Gunnar" and the "parody / tribute".

Now one of the games I am currently doing is arguably nothing more than a parody / tribute itself- the one this blog is devoted to. But there is at least one key difference- I bothered to read and understand the sources first. My game is an informed attempt at pastiche. Insofar as it succeeds, it's in good company. The entirety of the comicbook industry is nothing more than a self-consuming pastiche factory at this point in history.

The AGS revenant class of creator however, choose "parody" as shorthand for saying either or both of the following:

1. the creator lacks confidence and doesn't want to the peanut gallery on the forums to criticise them;

2. the creator is ignorant- of the source, of the coding required, and almost certainly lacks any artistic talent.

So rather than let the above two points trigger an educational ramping, the AGS peanut gallery is quite happy to continue a cycle of encouragement of mediocrity, which is little more than levelling behaviour. Perennial failures of the peanut gallery can at the same time heckle, and keep everyone at their own level. Hence also the deliberate use of a term such as "amateur" rather than "indie". "Amateur" to me can only mean one thing- not for profit ever. If any of your work is saleable or for sale, or if you are or are going to be selling work, or being rewarded for it on a contra basis, or anything similar- you're indie, not amateur.

Further, since to the best of my knowledge even the most "expert" coders in the AGS community frequently dump modules and code fragments littered with egregious errors, and since there is no diploma in AGS programming or AGS game design, "amateur" in any sense is a term loaded with implausible logical consequences.

The AGS community is an active community of indie game designers, with unfortunately a large section of not so much amateurs as time wasters.

And when one considers that compared to the other game design communities AGS is actually remarkably active and productive... Wow.

Spaceman Spiff in: Escape from Zorg

Since I have a sick addiction to Amalgam Universe stuff, I read that as Escape from Zork, mixing "classic" adventure gaming with Spaceman Spiff predating my own effort. But no, it's a Spiffy Loderunnder thingy. :)


CosmoKid: Eyepatch

In Gzuppie, the city of the Tplogs, we discover that the tiny one-eyed aliens are deeply prejudiced against multi-eyed beings. This leads to our hero wearing an eyepatch.

After equipping it, the GUI buttons, and the character, change to the eyepatched version of the sprites. Most amusing. Not amusing to put all the new sprites in, but amusing to look at.

I have added checks to prevent use of the eyepatch where obviously not appropriate, but also left it loose enough so you can have a good long use of the altered views. :)

CosmoKid: shops, more spriting

Adding various bazaars and shops, as well as the space pirate den. Also continuing to sprite more monsters, from the teeny tiny Gruzzle and Tplog to the enormous alien horrors of Planet X. :)

CosmoKid: Mud Maze (Room 318)

The Mud Maze. Destined to be "one of those puzzles". It's quite a Monty Haul room, with objects here and there, as well as a friendly Mud Grub alien to talk to and maybe get a quest off of (it's a nonlinear game in some chapters so you may or may not get the quest, or even want it if it's offered).

If it was just a question of scampering wherever you please on that surface, that would be one thing. But of course, it's not. The walkable area is NOT a blank sheet. It twists and turns. And as you cross it, various zones provoke the random movements of four "steamballs"- swirling spheres of scalding steam. Each one inflicts random 0-4 damage on you. But with four of them, moving at random, it can be a lot harder than it sounds to explore the room.

To stop it being one of those retarded pointless puzzles or screens that are just hateful and silly, the Saucer spaceship your hero owns is parked right on screen, and you can interact with it at any range to immediately jump out of the situation. This room follows a voluntary risk strategy for the player. IF you want stuff on that screen, then yeah, you will need to risk scalding. Or save a lot, or whatever. IF on the other hand you just can't be bothered- fair enough. There's a lot of paths through the game. :)

Were I playing it rather than writing it, I think it would be entirely dependent on how late in the game I hit it. If I had already got through some chapters, developed some rivalries with the baddies and so on, this might not be as appealing. Early on though, I would almost certainly explore the hell out of this sort of room and cop the potential nerve wracking and frustration of the wandering steamballs of death. :)