Summer in the City

Greetings again readers! I have come to tell you what has happened during the summer while I was off doing other things. And the answer is… a whole lot of not much. Exciting isn’t it? I haven’t done much updating in the past two months simply because there hasn’t been much to post about. There isn’t much to say now, either, but I figured that I can’t ignore WordPress for much longer. So without any further ado, here’s what I did this summer.

First things first, I did complete my chapter on player types. It rounded out at about 15,000 words, and it’s been with the book editor since July. I have been assured that sometime in September I’ll know more about when the book is coming out. I’ve started throwing around ideas in my head how to expand this project and how I might take this into the realm of my Master’s thesis. At the moment, I’m thinking that I’ll need to run some sort of quantitative study on the components I found, and I feel a portion of this should be done with configurable games. I haven’t decided quite yet, though.

Second, I have continued to work at Phoenix Online Studios on The Silver Lining. I’m not going to talk a lot about my work at Phoenix Online Studios simply because the game isn’t out yet, and I would really prefer not to release any information early. I’m not under any sort of non-disclosure agreement, but it’s good practice to be guarded about a large group project’s information before the project is out in the public sphere.  Suffice it to say, I am enjoying my time working on the game, and I feel I made the right decision in June. I’m not making any money right now, but I certainly am earning a wealth of experience.

This summer I’ve also been kicking around an idea for a board-game-like computer RPG, using an infinite hex map and focusing on exploration. The project took up much of my free time for about two weeks, after which I was holding off until I heard more about how my semester was going to shape up. I think I’m going to wait to make anything of it, though. It’s an idea that I’ve thought about on and off again for a number of years, and it can wait a little longer.

The reason for my reluctance is this: I knew that I would have to make a game this semester for my Game Engine class. I waited on the project for some information from my instructor about what language/libraries we would be programming the games in. He got back to me the week before classes started, letting me know that we would be using C# with XNA. My first class was Thursday (about eight hours ago). In that class, we were assured that we could make any game we wanted, and we could even work in groups (!) but that the game must be 3D. Ah 3D, how I hate you as a requirement. I decided that the board game idea would be better off being 2D. So much so that I was recently going through an excellent XNA 4.0 2D RPG tutorial by Jaime McMahon to get my C# up to par for the class.

So now I have to decide on a game to make using 3D programming. I want to be sure that it is something with fairly uncomplicated 3D programming. I’ve tried to make 3D stuff in the past, and I’ve always failed at it. So I want something simple, almost simple to a fault. Well, I have a simple game that I have been wanting to make for a few months now. I’ve decided to transform The Epic of Sadko the Street Performer into a 3D game and make that. This solves an issues that I was having with the original 2D concept. I was really worried about players being able to read the map. After many attempts with various blend methods and shadows, I found something that was visually readable by me and my friends, but I thought that a whole map of those tiles might end up just confusing everyone. 3D means that the player can see the depth firsthand, and the confusion is negated.

I’m currently making some changes to the way that The Epic of Sadko works. Not only am I transforming it to a 3D block system, but I’m messing around with some of the mechanics. The previous iteration required a lot of combat, which was really difficult to reconcile with the theme of the game. Instead, I’m going to use monsters as more of an obstacle than as combat, but one of the characters might have some more standard combat ability to capture that trope of RPGs. The game still needs to be an RPG, so I need to make sure I capture those tropes.

And that’s about it. As I’m working on The Epic of Sadko again, I should be updating more often. I’ve set up a light semester for myself, so I should have a bit more free time in the upcoming months. This will change if I find myself a paying job somewhere, but I’ll try to remember to update the blog every once in a while.

As a complete aside, the title of this post is from the title of a song by Regina Spektor. While it is one of my least favorite of her songs, I still felt it to be a bit relevant.

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