Legends of yore

This game has awful graphics.
Which means I love it.
You should go play it now.


Resource Micro-Management Games

Yesterday I posted about PlayMesh games.

I’ve taken a more intense look at the games they put out.

Originally, I thought the idea of taking exactly the same game, reskinning it, and attempting to foist it off as something new was stupid.

And yet I downloaded every version and played them.

I admit I did so mainly to find out what the equivalent of buying land in the vampire game was, or what the equivalent of the Godfather was in the robot wars game.

So, obviously Playmesh is not an innovator. It is a company like Blizzard, which takes a solid game concept and refines it to an enormously polished game.  There is another company, Storm 8, doing the same thing and with the same business model.

It is the business model that is absolutely brilliant. The game is a relatively fluffy abstract game of limited resource management. The limited resource is “energy” (or mana, or fuel, or whatever), which is spent to perform money making activities which can then be used to upgrade equipment or purchase income generating properties.  The reason that energy is the limiting factor is because when it is depleted it takes a certain amount of time to recharge.

Which shows once again that the only real commodity ever is time.

So, the business model is this: sell exactly the same game. Have a free version that gets you a very few cheat points, or a more expensive game that gives you a lot of cheat points.

If you buy cheat points, you don’t have to spend time doing the mundane tasks early on in the game, and you can do more advanced mundane tasks.  In essence, you trade “real” money for time, and you got the “real” money in the first place because you spent time in real life doing something to earn it.

So,  a very smart business model, although from what I’ve seen in their reviews is that they are rather polarized. Lots of people think the games are stupid, and lots really like them.

However, if they are going to go with themes, then they should really go further.  The most “disturbing” one was Vampire, but culture has made Vampires completely campy long ago.  Same thing for Mafia.

Be bolder, I say.  Be edgy. Make an evil cult theme. Make a porn star them.  Make a serial killer/rapist theme. Make a corrupt politician theme.  Make a drug addict theme.  Make a homeless person theme.

Even better, make a “freedom fighter” theme, and release it along side the “terrorist” theme.


Space Trader for XNA is GO!

Space Trader is a game for Palm, and it is my desire to port it to XNA.

Of course, it has periodically been my desire to port it to the Yahoo! Widget Engine, JavaScript, and plain C#. I have taken up the project a number of times, and failed at it. I’ve got lots of stray code to show for it.

The original was written in C, and is heavily forms based (as one might expect for a Palm app). Fortunately, all of the resources for the UI, strings, alerts, bitmaps, etc were recoverable using the PalmOne tools (they extract them into a nice XML file).

It is also GPL, which means I don’t even need to talk to the author to do this port. And I haven’t.

There is already a C# port for windows, but it has some differences in it that I don’t like, including the “put all of the screens on one window” thing that I don’t care for.

The screens are all 160×160, which really can’t give too much information at a time. Currently, I’m working on it in 800×600.

One of the first things I did was to make a utility app to scan in the resource xml files. I did this mainly for the large number of string and alert resources. The forms I just have to duplicate by hand, since they need to grow in size anyway.

Which brings me to control issues. The Palm version used (duh) the stylus, for which the windows equivalent would be the mouse. However, in XNA the target controller should be the 360 controller and the keyboard (the two controllers that both windows and the 360 support) but more importantly, everything should be doable from a game pad. It’ll be interesting to see what I can come up with for equivalent controls.


Some Stuff

I figure I’m due for blogging about blogging, so here I go.

Why do we actually make blogs? There are lots and lots of them, and for the most part, I don’t care about very many of them.

Typically, when I am regularly doing a blog or blog like thing, I will get discouraged at some point because I’ll take a look at the stats, and it becomes patently obvious that few are reading, and even fewer are commenting, which indicates that, just like I don’t care about most blogs, mine is just another one hidden in the woodwork.

But then again, am I saying anything worth reading? Not really… I mostly blither on and on about the development of my games.

Lately, with Diamond Maze, some things have been happening:

1) I am mildly disinterested in progressing because I am pretty much doing a clone of a game I already created. Sure, I changed the number of types of keys in the game, but that doesn’t exactly make it a different game, you know?

2) I’m having another “why am I writing games in the first place?” moments. I don’t play my games. My wife plays Connect!, but Diamond Maze has not, to my knowledge, been heavily played by anyone.

3) The group project I joined on sourceforge has dried up. Good luck next year, Tom.

4) I decided to actually play some games. I like Castle Wars although I’m not entirely certain it has been properly balanced. I played the first Submachine game, and I found out that Stick RPG has been finished, so I played that a little, but quickly lost interest.

5) The desire to write one of the big three games is back again. For those who don’t know, the big three are Dungeon Delver, Island Interloper, and Medieval Micro-manager.

And really, anymore, I would divide Dungeon Delver into multiple distinct games:

A) A text-based interactive fiction design tool and player

B) A roguelike game

C) A graphical adventure creation system and player (a la ACS on the C64), something Inaria-esque.

Island Interloper could also be Interstellar Interloper, and the game would basically be the same, it is still a “travel between outposts and trade commodities” games. I would also like to port Space Trader to XNA. Basically, it is turn based Elite. Of course, I have a long history of starting ports of this game but never finishing.

Medieval Micromanager is like Hammurabi on steroids.

There are also a number of BASIC listings of games that need to be brought up to the current generation of tools.



So, due to completely random circumstances, I found this:


Which means not only is there a new item on the blogroll, it also means I found this:


In my brief investigations, it is an engine that may suit my nefarious needs.  (Ok, my needs are hardly nefarious, but they are still needs).  The scripting language is suitably javascript-esque, the price is right (free), and the applications are stand alone.

Sure, the engine is designed for point-n-click adventures, but, like most things, it can be abused to make puzzle games or really anything else I feel like.  I’ll investigate it further before too long (JetLag, anyone?) and then I’ll have a new platform (like I needed more).

Anyway, enjoy killing the Queen, or whatever you have Phlegmwad do.


Now With Themey Goodness!

So, I took the suggestion of a comment writer, and Connect! now supports themes.

Of course, at this point the themes consist of the original color scheme, and now a new, totally pink and purple theme called “lovey-dovey”!

Lovey-Dovey Theme

Yay! Lovey-Dovey!

Later I can always put in all sorts of other themes, now that the support is there.

As far as what sort of value this adds… it actually allows me to address the color-blind issue, by handling it with themes.

I’m also starting to notice the creeping complexity and size of the UI buttons on the side. When I first wrote the game, I wrote it with no buttons at all, and to start a new game, you actually had to refresh the page. It also had zeros in nodes with no connections. It also had all black nodes and connections.

Actually, blogging the development of this game has been pretty cool. Already I can look back (a whole week and a half) and see the various permutations it has gone through. It goes to show that even a game as simple as Connect! goes through a refining process.

And now that there are more than two colors on the board, it is really getting to be time to put in some instructions. I think I need to do that before anything else.