Sup gang! Just thought I should post about a couple of things.
FIRSTWISE: I did an interview about this wonderful community! Perhaps you would like to read it?
SECONDWAYS: I have done away with the star rating system for games. I hope most of you don't think it's a big deal. I really only ever meant it to be used as a sorting mechanism, back for the Pirate Kart II, rather than having it be a way of giving feedback in and of itself. If you like a game, or have some criticism to offer, you should leave a comment! Communication with your peers in a supportive community is waaaaay better than watching anonymous numbers going up and down; let's do more of the first thing, and less of the second. High fives? HIGH FIVES.
THIRDWHISTLE: Soooo how are things going for you guys? Anything about the site / community that's bugging you? Any way in which things might be cooler? Just kind of want to check in.
Lots of good stuff in this latest update! Try it out!
When I last made a MarMOTS post, I was working on starting to make my scripting language do useful stuff. Well, it quickly became apparent that in order to make my scripting language do anything interesting, I had to have entities on the screen to refer to. So I've got project support working now, and am currently building an ANSI sprite animation editor! This is going to be the biggest and coolest addition to MarMOTS in almost two years. I'm hoping to get something out next week, but we'll see.
On the scripting front, I have written a simple VM for the scripts to run on, and verified that, yes, my scripts actually run and do what they're supposed to. One of the interesting features of my scripting language is that it is intended to be LIVE, all of the time. The idea is that you can edit a script that is in the middle of running and the program will actually continue to function correctly, incorporating your changes immediately. One way that I'm able to do this is by stealing the notion of failed calculations from an obscure language called Icon. (Actually, reading that now, I may want to steal more ideas from it :) Basically, if you're editing a script and have a logic bug or even a syntax error, no big deal -- it's just a failed calculation, it gets logged, and your program continues to run. No game-killing exceptions, ever. I believe that it's much better for a designer to be able to see a failure happen, and have as much information as possible about the actual problem as it occurs during play, than to be told "the computer can see this will never work! You aren't allowed to run this program."
I have ambitions.
So now that Game Maker is $40 and Construct 2 will eventually be $65, I've found myself turning back to MarMOTS and wondering what it would take to get it into shape as a game-making tool.
My first focus has been getting my scripting language / editor into shape. I lump the two together because the scripting language, while textual, is never parsed from free text; instead, the user is edits the source tree directly using a friendly structured editor, with lots of autocomplete help, and in which it is literally impossible to forget a semicolon or a closing parenthesis. For power users, it should be as fast or faster to type in programs with this editor than with a text editor, and yet newbies will still be able to discover all of their options in a nicely readable self-describing English syntax.
So over the past couple of weeks I have torn apart my previous attempt at this language and rebuilt it. I've arrived at the point where I can type in any programs I like, and add features to the language without much effort. The UI is still pretty painful to use at this point, but that's mostly because I haven't focussed on improving the interaction at all besides making sure auto-complete is usable.
I was thinking I should maybe do like a screencast or something, but the scripts don't DO anything yet. I'm thinking that the next step will be to start integrating the scripting language with ANSI layouts that I draw in MarMOTS. I'm pretty excited to start hacking on that stuff! You should be too.
So, I've been noodling some more on KlikPunk in my off hours, and good news! It's time for another release!
(If you've previously installed KlikPunk v1.0, you'll need to uninstall it manually to proceed, sorry. Also, none of your stages will work with this version, because I switched from XML to JSON as the file format, and I'm not aware of anyone actually using this for anything. If anyone cares, I'll write a converter.)
This release has many usability improvements, such as:
Give it a try! Let me know what else I could do to make it more useful!
I've also been doing some non-gamey stuff (a Boxee app that launches games and has a not-entirely-stupid way of building the list, an experiment with Twilio's SMS-sending capabilities to bug me about stuff) but I guess I don't have as much to say about it as I thought?
If you delve back deep enough into the history of the site, before the Klik of the Month Klub was conceived of, before we were even sure what the fuck a glorious trainwreck was, you will discover the pre-announcement in 2007 of a game called "Hatworld: World of Hats". Hatworld: World of Hats was, sadly, never made; no code was ever written, no art assets ever drawn besides the animated gif, no design document ever created.
Well, wait. Actually, we did write a design document. Sort of.
You see, Six had intended the post as just a silly gag; he had no concrete ideas about what Hatworld: World of Hats would be, and no intention of actually making it, really. But I immediately fell in love with this mythical game, and I wanted desperately for it to exist so that I could play it. Every few months, I would post somewhere about it, just to remind everyone that I had not forgotten and that I expected Six to make the game one day. I even wrote a theme song.
Finally, in late 2009, I decided that I needed to get directly involved. Google Wave was out, and it seemed the perfect tool to do some hardcore collaboratin'. And so I convinced Six to flesh out his ideas with me for what Hatworld: World of Hats would be, and together, we would build it, and it would be glorious.
Well, we never built it, but it's glorious anyway. Please enjoy HATWORLD BRAINPOOPING WAVE: The Official Hatworld: World of Hats Design Document. Converted to a publicly-viewable Google Doc because who knows when they're going to shut Google Wave down.
So, I've finally reached the point where my FlashPunk tinkering may be of interest/use to others!
KlikPunk is a tool for quickly composing "scenes" for games. You simply drag graphics from the bin at the left to the stage in the middle, arrange them as you please, and click the save icon to store a friendly XML file, ready for importing directly into your game.
To ease the process of creation, the bin full of graphics at the left-hand side of the screen is constantly updated with whatever you have dumped into the directory (and subdirectories) where the scene is to be saved. No irritating import step! Just save your graphics and use 'em.
If you're interested in using this, feel free to let me know what other features you might like to see. Custom properties I think are next on my list, so you could specify, eg, how things move, if they should collide, etc.
Tab - show/hide overlays
PgUp / PgDn - move selected graphic forward / back
Arrow keys - nudge selected graphic 1 pixel
Scroll wheel - scroll sidebar bin / zoom in or out
It's an Adobe AIR app, so you may need to grab the AIR runtime to install and run it.
Have you ever really seen a rainbow?
Have you ever really touched the blue, blue sky?
A hack of the Gargoyle interpreter to add a "Techno Kitten" mode. I've bundled up just the Frotz interpreter alongside the Z-machine port of Colossal Cave Adventure.
You should just be able to drop libgarglk.dll and technokitten.mp3 in with any of Gargoyle's interpreter binaries, and add "technokitten 1" to garglk.ini, to enable Techno Kitten Text Adventure mode with basically any piece of interactive fiction.
I decided to upload it now because I'm going to be without high speed internet for a while. Have a fun Klik of the Month and a merry Klikmas if I don't see you then!
So, for the past couple of months, I've been poking at the idea of interactive fiction without a parser. I had a grand idea, years ago, for a graphic adventure game with a comics-based interface. My idea is essentially that the entire story is always available at all times, and that you can make the protagonist do things, or, undo things, at any point in the story. I realized recently that I could bring many of the same ideas to text, which is much quicker to write than comics are to draw.
So I began to build it.
So today, I'm ready to release a little tech demo, for people who might be interested in such things. It doesn't even really demo the tech that well -- I don't use any world state, though the capability is there to do so, and there's not even any branching like Choose Your Own Adventure. The interface is still kind of rough; I definitely haven't worked out all the kinks in deciding when to show which options to the user. I don't even know whether I should be showing or hiding clickable words. (Right now they're hidden because that's the last thing I tried.) Basically, I'm still exploring the idea, but I'm interested in your comments.
Anyway, if you like, you can try it out and tell me what you think. Click on words that are clickable to get a menu of things you can do. Once you've seen everything in the game, maybe you'd be interested in peeking at the story's source code (not the engine's source code) to get a feel for what writing IF in this sort of system might be like.