I’m going to preface this by saying that work on the user interface is probably my least favorite kind of programming. It’s tedious and boring, and doesn’t feel very productive. But once it’s done, it makes a world of difference. Since the first Possession was whipped together in a week, it didn’t have that much polish, though I think it was pretty good for being made in only 7 days. I’d like Possession 2 to be much more accessible, better-looking, and playable, though, so I’ve been doing some work towards that end.
The sidebars used to just be drawn as a simple square. I whipped up a border to use instead, and also made it adjust based on how much information needs to be shown rather than just taking up the entire side of the screen. It also shows you the special abilities you can use in your current body, and you can now press the number listed to use that ability instead of having to go through the spell screen.
One thing you can see in that picture is something entirely new: A menu that shows up when you right click on an enemy or square. It lists the abilities you can use on the targeted location, which means that the game can now be played entirely with the mouse, if you want. (Actually, that’s not completely true yet, you still have to use the keyboard to go up and down stairs).
Another other thing I’ve been working on is changing the stat system of the game. In Possession 1, every creature had a “Hit Chance” and a “Dodge Chance. But what made things confusing is that the actual hit chance was the “Hit Chance” of the attacker minus the “Dodge Chance” of the defender, so a 50% hit chance could in reality be, say, a 10% hit chance if the attacker had a high dodge score. This also led to silliness like some creatures having a 120% hit chance. I’ve gotten rid of that, and just gone to a basic “hit skill” and “dodge skill” system. Since those numbers aren’t quite as intuitive as hit chances, the game now shows you the chance of hitting (or being hit by) an enemy when you target them.
Here’s what the Monsterpedia, which contains information about the monsters you’re possessed, looks like now. In the first game, it was just kind of a jumble, the creatures were just listed in there based on which ones you possessed first, but now they’re sorted by level, and the list is scrollable. It also tracks your stats with the individual creatures, showing how many times you’re possessed a creature type, how many times you’ve exploded one, as well as how many kills you’re made and turns you’ve played as a creature.
I’d like to get some feedback on all these interface changes, which is hard to do without people actually playing with them. Luckily, it actually looks like the game’s going to be in a stable enough state (though still nowhere near finished, content-wise) to release a playable dev version soon. And by soon I mean “hopefully this week.” So stay tuned for that.
Here’s my entry to the 2014 Gender Jam. The purpose of the jam was to make a game based on your personal experiences with gender.
Collect things to balance your self respect with the respect of your bros! Which is more important to you?
I don’t really know how I feel about it, to be honest. I don’t think it says what I wanted it to say very well, and in the end it didn’t end really end up that close to any personal experiences I’ve actually had. But, it’s the first time I’ve ever made a game with a…for lack of a better term…”message,” and it’s the first time I’ve made a game anywhere near autobiographical, so I still count it as a success, at least as a learning experience. Maybe I’ll write more about it later.
Here are some screenshots:
So I apologize for not really having posted anything recently. There’s been some work going on, but a lot of it has been kind of behind the scenes (probably worth a post, might be of interest to other game dev people), and honestly, there hasn’t been THAT much work done, either. Right now my job situation just makes it hard to put as much time in as I’d like, especially considering I’m still running and working on Pleasantville by Night.
I do still have the energy to do some conceptual work, so once I do get the time to work I have plenty of creatures already planned out. I’ve also managed to make myself do the sprites for quite a few. Here’s a look at some of them:
That’s fifteen new creatures. Possession 1 had a total of 31 creatures, not counting the ghost. Only 24 of them were possessable. The creatures in that one image alone is more than half of what the first game had!
Here’s some more info on how much bigger Possession 2 will be than Possession 1. Possession 1 was five levels long, and each level had the same group of creatures available each time. Possession 2 will be ten levels long, and eight of those levels will randomly be one of three possible levels and creature groups. If each of the levels has an average of five creatures, that’s around 130. That’s already a hundred more than the first game had, not counting bosses or summonables. And, of course, there’s going to be a wider variety of level designs and level features, not to mention all the new creature abilities.
In about two weeks, my job hours are going to drop to sane levels, so you should be seeing more from me after that point. My priority will be to get a playable version out. It won’t be complete (or probably even winnable), but you’ll finally get a chance to play around with some of the new stuff.
I think Taco Bell®’s breakfast slogan should be “Because if you make the worst decision of the day this early, things can only get better” but the drive-thru screen proclaims going to Taco Bell® as “your best decision of the day” which to me really seems like adding insult to injury.
It seems like a few years ago Taco Bell® finally realized that somewhere between 85% and 99.99% of their business goes to drunks and stoners, perhaps best exemplified in a taco where the shell is made out of Doritos®. It seems to be working out well for them, but apparently they’re still catering to drunks and stoners with their new breakfast menu. The problem I see with this is that, even though their breakfast is available later than most fast food breakfast (they go to 11 AM), most people aside from alcoholics, wake n’ bakers, or people still drunk from the night before aren’t going to be in those states of mind that early. Maybe if it went til 2 and was billed as a brunch menu people might have had the chance to get a few mimosas or bloody marys or bellinis or irish coffees or screwdrivers or tequila sunrises or fuzzy navels or whiskey straight out of the bottle or whatever people drink in the morning I ain’t about that life in them.
But anyway, I’m not here to review Taco Bell®’s business practices. I’m totally underqualified for that. And besides, it seems to be working out well so far. I went a little after 10:30 on a Sunday morning (I know, that was too late, I didn’t intend to go but I didn’t have any food in the house and if I haven’t eaten I don’t have the strength to fight past my hatred of grocery stores enough to actually go to the grocery store, it’s a catch-22 where the only way out was Taco Bell®) and a huge line of cars started pulling up to the drive through as things got closer to 11 and the end of breakfast. I felt a little sorry for the poor bastards working there but that feeling went away pretty soon.
Taco Bell® actually has a surprising number of things on their breakfast menu. I only tried a few because I don’t hate myself that much, but most are pretty self-explanatory. Breakfast burrito? Probably pretty good, it’s a breakfast burrito and they’re always good. Breakfast taco? Probably the same as a breakfast burrito, just folded.
OK, now that I’ve reviewed the items I didn’t eat, on to the ones I did.
The Waffle Taco comes in two varieties, sausage and bacon. I got the sausage one. If you’ve somehow missed hearing about it or seeing it and somehow aren’t able to imagine what something called a “waffle taco” could possibly be, it’s a waffle folded like a taco, containing a sausage patty, eggs and cheese.
Of all the breakfast items, this one definitely looks like it belongs on the late night menu. I could totally see myself…I mean…someone else scarfing down two or three of these at 3 AM. In the cold, sober light of the morning, though, it looks a little suspicious.
I tried to go into it with an open mind. After all, the one time I tried McDonald®’s McGriddle® (a biscuit sandwich using miniature pancakes rather than a biscuit), I liked it, and this is kind of the same thing, right? And it’s not like any of these ingredients wouldn’t be eaten together. Maybe not necessarily in the same bite, but like that disgusting kid in the lunch room who always mixed all his food together used to say, it all goes to the same place anyway.
I first tried it plain, without syrup. It was OK. The waffle was soft and actually did a pretty good job of containing the ingredients. Adding syrup definitely improved it, though. Unlike the abovementioned McGriddles®, the waffle doesn’t have maple syrup flavor already imbedded in it. And then, on the advice of my cousin who beat me to the “ridiculous review of Taco Bell breakfast” punch, I tried something even weirder, and added hot sauce to the syrup.
That’s the right way to do it, hands down. I know it sounds weird as hell, but if (God help you) you ever find yourself eating a Waffle Taco, definitely put hot sauce in the syrup. Think about it, it makes sense: syrup for the waffle, hot sauce for the eggs. Simple chemistry.
The Cinnabon® Delights™ are little fried balls of dough, dusted with cinnamon sugar and filled with frosting. I’m not sure if they’re new, but they’re billed as part of the breakfast menu and I’d never tried them before, so I picked some up.
They’re pretty good. When you put the balls in your mouth, warm, delicious, gooey white frosting gushes out. If you don’t put the whole thing in your mouth, sometimes some gets on your face and you have to lick it off. And no, there is literally no other way to describe that.
They’re super tasty, but I’m not really into sugary breakfast. Honestly, even as sugary breakfast goes these seem way too over the line. They’re actually even sold on the dessert menu later in the day.
The A.M. Crunchwrap™
You might have heard about the A.M. Crunchwrap™ already, and anything you’ve heard is true. I mean, I’m not gonna say angels sang when I bit into it or anything but it was really good. It comes in three varieties: steak, bacon, and sausage. I got the steak one because I’m bougie and also because what is steak even doing at Taco Bell®.
Unless you skipped the rest of the review, you probably know by now I wasn’t too sure about the whole Taco Bell® breakfast thing, even after eating the other stuff. The Waffle Taco was better than I expected, but was it good enough to justify Taco Bell spending millions (or billions? I have no idea how much things cost) of dollars on rolling out a whole new menu, adding coffee makers to their stores and expanding their opening hours into the morning? Maybe not. It’s kind of a gimmick item in all honesty.
The A.M. Crunchwrap™, though, is clearly the item that is going to make Taco Bell breakfast a success. In all honestly, it’s probably the entire reason Taco Bell® even considered making a breakfast menu in the first place. Some misunderstood, underemployed genius on the food line came up with it, and the stoners in upper management were so impressed that they actually put down their bongs for a few seconds.
“Dude,” one said, “We have got to make a breakfast menu. We are gonna make trillions off this thing.”
“But, we can’t make a menu with just, like, one item, man! We’re, uh, respected businessmen?”
“Man, I dunno dude, let’s make a taco out of a waffle or something.”
And thus the Taco Bell® breakfast menu was born. It was morning, then it was evening, and on the next day the Taco Bell® execs rested and raked in the money, over the bent and broken backs of the working class.
OK, so, the A.M. Crunchwrap™ itself. It’s based on the same concept as Taco Bell®’s Crunchwrap Supreme™, which is also pretty good, but the A.M. Crunchwrap™ is smaller and better. It’s filled with eggs, cheese, hash browns(!), and sausage/bacon/steak, depending on what you chose. If you’re a hot sauce person, put hot sauce on it, if you aren’t, don’t. I am and I did, but it’s good either way.
Taco Bell®’s food has never really been the kind you could eat while driving. Tex-Mex or southwestern or whatever the hell it is that Taco Bell® is bastardizing isn’t exactly the neatest food. The A.M. Crunchwrap™ changes all that. I’m a somewhat messy eater, and I was at a table so I wasn’t even being that careful, sometimes putting it down or opening a hot sauce packet or stopping to cry at what I was doing to my digestive system, and only two little bits of egg fell out the entire time.
It doesn’t even make sense. They must have hired MIT graduates to work on this thing. Not only is it the least messy item Taco Bell’s ever made, it’s probably the least messy fast-food breakfast item anyone’s ever made. Your precious Chik-Fil-A® biscuits crumble to pieces and get crumbs all over the damn place, don’t even try and tell me they don’t because you lyin’, that’s just what biscuits do. The A.M. Crunchwrap™ is the perfect size to fit in your hand, and it doesn’t make a mess at all. It may not be the perfect drive-thru breakfast item, but it’s as close as our flawed species has come so far, and it may indeed be the closest we ever come.
I’m working two jobs right now, and the past few weeks have been pretty busy for me. I have managed to continue working on Possession 2, just not as much as I’d like. Today’s post isn’t really focusing on any one aspect in particular, just highlighting some of the things I’ve been working on.
I’ve made some more AI improvements. Smarter creatures now try to avoid dangerous terrain, such as lava and fires, while dumber creatures will just walk straight through.
There’s also a few areas that are still very much in progress, a nature preserve (full of flammable grass and trees!) and the ruins of a demon city.
Speed is a problem in turn-based games. It’s much easier to just have everyone move once per turn. Anything else just gets complicated, both from a programming and a gameplay standpoint. But given that the differences between bodies are such a big deal in Possession, I really want there to be some creatures that are weak but fast, and some that are strong and slow. Not to mention the possibilities of spells or obstacles that speed/up slow down creatures, and let the player (or their enemies!) run away or escape more quickly.
(I’m going to warn you right now, this post is a bit more in-depth in the development process than other posts have been. If you’re not really interested in game dev it might not be that interesting, but I’m putting it up so hopefully someone facing the same problems might be helped by it).
At first I tried a simple system where certain creatures either got an extra turn or lost a turn every X number of turns, but implementing it got kind of ugly and annoying. I decided to look into what other people had already done. I found this post, detailing a wide variety of time systems used in roguelikes, and decided to go with an energy-based system, which is apparently what Angband uses, which is somewhat appropriate I guess because even though I don’t really like it much now, it was the first roguelike I ever played.
Anyway, the basic way it works is, every creature has a “speed” rating that is added to their “energy” stat every turn. If their energy stat is above 100, they can move, and 100 is subtracted from it. If it’s above 200 they can move twice, above 300 three times, etc. Most creatures just have speed 100, meaning they move once a turn.
|Creature||Speed||Energy, Turn 1||Energy, Turn 2||Energy, Turn 3|
|Bat||150||150 (moves once, reduces to 50)||200 (moves twice, reduces to 0)||150 (moves once, reduces to 50)|
|Zombie||50||50 (doesn’t move)||100 (moves once, reduces to 0)||50 (doesn’t move)|
|Caretaker||100||100 (moves once, reduces to 0)||100 (moves once, reduces to 0)||100 (moves once, reduces to 0)|
Same goes for the player, of course. If they have above 100 energy, they can move, if not, a turn happens without them. If they have above 200 energy, their move is an “extra” move. They still move, as does any creature with more than 100 energy, but nobody’s energy increases that turn.
This system worked pretty well as-is, but it does run into a weird problem. I had bats and ghosts both faster than normal, but the ghost was slightly faster than the bat. It got an extra turn every two turns, and the bat got an extra turn every three. This resulted in, one turn, the ghost would move twice and the bat wouldn’t move, the next turn the bat would move twice and the ghost wouldn’t move. It didn’t make much sense.
So, the get around that, I made it so that if the player is faster than a creature, the creature saves up enough energy to take an extra turn, it doesn’t actually take its extra turn until the player takes their extra turn. That seems to work pretty well so far. Might take some more tweaking as things continue, but we’ll see.
Not only will Possession 2 feature greater variety in its regular levels, but there will also be several “special levels” which you will sometimes visit instead of a regular level. The special levels are themed, featuring special tiles and design, and creatures that fit the theme. More interestingly, they usually feature special tiles, features, effects or layouts.
The Tombs are the first special level I’ve made. They’re a series of rooms connected by corridors. Inside, you might be lucky(?) enough to find mummified kings sleeping amongst massive piles of treasure!
Being a ghost, you don’t really have much use for gold. But the mummies don’t know that, and if you touch their gold, they’ll come to life and attack!
There are also cultists scattered throughout the tombs, who wander until they find a mummy, then begin worshipping it. While the cultists aren’t very strong (and the mummies themselves are a bit on the weak side, too), if you’re not careful you could find yourself being chased by a mob!
There’s an upside, though. If you possess a mummy, unaligned cultists may start worshipping and following you instead!
There are other creatures in the tombs, too, such as deadly sphinxes, adventurous archeologists, as well as our old “friends” the tourists: