Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stage One: Addendum

I have to say I'm pretty blown away by the response to Half of Everything Is Luck. My last post on it had a whopping six viewers. That's the equivalent of everyone who follows this blog reading it once! It's pretty gratifying when you can reach 100% of your audience.

Anyway, I've made a couple post-deadline improvements to the game based on feedback from one person, and I figured I'd post 'em here for anyone who's interested. And really, even if only half of the people who read that last post are interested, that's still three people -- enough to play a multiplayer game of Goldeneye! The mind reels.

So here they are.

Instead of spending Rounds and tracking Ammo Reserves, every weapon has a row of check boxes and a set of coins (pennies, nickels, or dimes). The boxes represent its Clip. Every time you roll a 1 on a Shoot die (regardless of whether it's “kept,” if Aiming), check a box. When the last box is checked, the Clip is empty, and you need to Reload.

A Weapon's coins represent the Ammo for it you're currently carrying. When you Reload that weapon, clear its Clip boxes and spend one of its coins. When you spend its last coin, you're out of Ammo. Ammo Boxes have two coins, while dead Guards and Crates have only one. You can only have a limited number of each type of coin at a time, as shown below.

PP7: □ □ / 3 pennies
AF7: □ / 4 nickels
Sniper Rifle: □ □ □ / 2 dimes

You start the game with one penny and no nickels or dimes. If you get one or more coins for a Weapon you don't have, you get the Weapon instead (and no coins).

Every map segment has a minimum number of Guards it must have: 4 for Drop Point, 6 for Roadway, and 8 for Dam. If the dice give you less than that, roll a number of additional dice equal to the difference, right on the page. This time, though, reset 4s to 1s, 5s to 2s, and 6s to 3s – in other words, every die is a Guard.
For example, if you've only rolled three Guards on Roadway instead of the minimum of six, roll another 3d6. Let's say those dice come up 1, 4, and 6. That gives you two more Level 1 Guards and a Level 3 Guard.

There you go. Play in good health.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stage One: Half of Everything Is Luck

After doing some grueling research tonight -- plugging the N64 back in and playing Goldeneye 007 to refresh my memory -- my entry for Stage One, Half of Everything Is Luck, is done.

I agonized for some time over the name, and nearly settled on one of several really bad puns, but playing the Facility reminded me of the dialogue at the end between Bond and Trevelyan (which the movie ripped off word for word, BTW). "Half of everything is luck" seems like a pretty accurate summation of this game.

I've seen people posting about the layout they've done for their entries, and my reaction has been, "Man, layout? For reals? I'm just trying to squeeze everything on the page here." So it's not pretty, and it's not fancy, and it's probably wordier and crunchier than most submissions, but I'm willing to bet it's one of the only one-person games made for this thing, so that's something, anyway. Honestly, it never even occurred to me to make it anything but a solo game, given the source material. That means giving the opposing forces (many, many guards) behavioral scripts, which ate up its fair share of space and brainpower.

Playing the Dam again was an interesting experience, that's for sure. There's so much I just remembered wrong. For example, why did I think there were two modes of movement, roughly equivalent to walking and running? Uh-uh. It's all just walking.  Fast walking, sure, but walking nonetheless. And why did I think there was some PP7 ammo in there somewhere? And why did I think there was more than one sniper rifle? Most of these tricks of my memory were fixed in the final game, but some of them -- like the sniper rifle thing -- weren't, for the sake of gameplay. It's just better, IMO, if all guards in towers have sniper rifles. Makes things a little more interesting.

I'd also misnamed two of the weapons. AK-47? PPK? What was I thinking? No -- AF7 and PP7. Duh!

I'm rambling here. Practically speaking, it's an hour later than it really is right now, so that's my excuse. Anyway, check out the game, give it a whirl, and tell me what you think.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stage One: Goldeneye

Well, hello blog! Yikes, it's been over a month. I hate when that happens.

Anyway, Jonathan Walton -- Master Chef of Game Chef for the past few years -- has a game design contest going right now that's captured my attention and imagination. The challenge: Make an "analog" version of the first stage or level of a video game. The whole thing has to fit on one sheet of paper, front and back, and the deadline's this Sunday, the 6th.

The first thing I thought of was Goldeneye N64, because some part of my brain is constantly thinking about Goldeneye, so that's what I'm doing. Goldeneye's first "level" -- or map, anyway -- is Arkhangelsk Dam, a rather straight-up Point-A-to-Point-B mission, which makes it pretty well-suited for this kind of thing.

Don't just stand there!
I'm representing the map itself with three sheets of college-ruled notebook paper, corresponding to the Drop Point, the Tunnel, and the Dam itself. These are pretty major abstractions of the actual map, of course, but obviously a good deal of abstraction is necessary to make this thing work at all. On each sheet, the player -- it's a solo game -- rolls 8d6. Wherever the dice land, that's where a thing is. The numbers on the dice tell you what those things are, whether guards or crates or whatever.

Movement and distance are measured in lines on the page, and your goal is to get from the "bottom" of the first sheet of paper to the "top" of the third. Time is measured in ticks, and the difficulty level you choose (Agent, Secret Agent, or 00 Agent) determines how many ticks you get. Everything you do in the game costs one or more ticks. Run out of ticks and you fail your mission.

Of course, you can also just get shot and die. Difficulty level also limits how many hits you can take. At Agent you're a virtual tank; at 00 Agent, a paper tiger. You take hits when you're within a guard's range and roll poorly (although even rolling poorly can kill a guard), so if you charge in there AK a-blazin', you're going get shot up real good, much like in the source material. Your best bet is to aim and shoot 'em from a distance with a silenced weapon before they're aware of you.

Along the way, there's the possibility of one or more secondary objectives to accomplish, like hacking into the installation's mainframe with your rad 14.4k modem. This costs ticks, like everything else, and if you try to do it where a guard can see you, you will be shot unto death.

It all looks playable, faithful, and even fun to me, which is great, but meeting the space requirement is proving to be nearly impossible. With some severe margins and small type, right now it all fits onto two pages (or one page front and back, if you will) with about two lines to spare -- but part of the contest also involves including guidelines for playing through Stage Two. That means the Facility.

For England, James. And, y'know, revenge.
The Facility is awesome, maybe the best map and/or level in the game, but it's also a little complex (no pun intended) to describe in two lines of text. I'd do the Facility in four pages, I think: Hallways, Pipes, Labs, Plant. You need a key (found on one of the guards) to get from Hallways to Pipes and from Labs to Plant. There's a secondary objective here, too: making contact with Dr. Doak, who's either in the Pipes or the Labs. In the interest of simplicity, I'd forgo worrying about civilian casualties.

So there's that, in a nutshell. I'm going to have to decide pretty soon whether I want to be eligible to win the contest -- possibly getting the game published in a short-run small-press thing, which would be super-cool --  or just create a game I like. If the latter, then I don't have to worry about space restrictions. If the former, then... I'm going to have to find a way to either outline the Facility in a couple lines (the above description is not enough, IMO), or edit what I have even more to make room.

Either way, when I'm done, I'll put the PDF online.