Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Straw Hat Samurai Analysis

//two days ago i was on a samurai kick and went through some flash games before i stumbled onto this (being the first).  after losing...some time to it, i started toying with thought and then started writing.  yes there will be rambling repetition and horrible grammar, but these are just ideas as they come.  this is going to tagged as game design, though a more apt description would be ramblings towards a design reboot or modification/evolution.  something like that.//


As a flash game, it's pretty tight, survival mode with a simple campaign, move the guy by clicking, any held down trace is a cut that he performs, cancel cuts by clicking before or during the start, bow to draw.  Move guy from place to place.  All in all fairly simple, but that’s what makes flash games so convincing and so enthralling.  Simple mechanics boiled into simple context for quick fun.  Don’t broke fixed etc etc. 
So how to change it.   Assumption of k/l and lets see what I an do to alter and create.
Story:
Basic story mode consists of a retainer to a lord going through territory and wiping out legions of guards, upon slaughtering a final encampment.  First thing to do is to make that longer.  Pull back and look at the war OR go even closer, ignore the war, go where your lord directs and do as you’re told.  For something like this I want to go with a traditional idealistic samurai, true to bushido rather than a noble ronin who does as they please.  The latter provides an open ended world, but hey, linear means more emphasis of the story. 
That being the case.  Id like the story to be wider arching or close.  If closer than it can span he (dreaded) follow-ups and sequels.  The first games can have flashbacks which may or may not be expanded into a full game OR have the fable path (really traditional RPG path) of the samurai raised from birth, rained (combat tutorial) teach the lessons and code of the samurai. 
Ooh!  Non standard game over of seppeku!  Player has to actually cut themselves with a strike to proceed.  If that’s not gravity for actions...then its proly an emo wet dream mixed with samurai tones, but whatever, I’m moving on
I like the idea of giving free action to the player (yes they can kill anything they want, do anything they want in a cut scene, as well as action) however that has to be restricted within boundaries to keep it linear.  In such a tight game, those questions aren’t really asked.  You have a 2d side scrolling stage and that’s it.  You never go into a village or anything like that because it’s not necessary.
Story being what it is I’m going to skip the growth of youth and keep it on grown up level.  20s, 30s indiscriminate age.  Serves a lord properly and tries to be the example of a samurai. 
The twist?:  instead of the pc (samurai) fucking shit up and needing to atone, its the lord who fucks shit up (not all that unusual in and of itself) the samurai, ever faithful retainer, serves and tries to do right by the code as the lord deals with the fallout, more often than not relying on the retainer to save him.
Keep the story.  The lord commits to a campaign and rather than offer his life (he’s a not so honourable lord) goes to battle and mobilizes troops over it.  Over time the troops fall short and while they carve a good path, they eventually are brought to a head. 
I like the idea of death being a permanent ish endeavour, so every “death” advances the plot to the next arc of the story, with the outcome being realized without the help of the samurai, in a mostly negative light.  The retainer is very much superfluous and yet has so many dependants on him. 
At every stage there is possibility of death which advances the story to the next arc.  If live then the retainer advances the plot in a more positive light, eventually winning the campaign...ish.  The army falls but the retainer keeps going to the final lord, which should be epic pain to get to.  If the retainer makes it, then the duel between the lords takes place, the retainers standing in.  This should be an unwinnable fight.  Any death of this gives an “honourable” death game over and the cannon ending. 
Bittersweet ending.  The loophole is to cut down the opposing retainer before the duel starts, like the end fight of bushido blade, which gives a dishonourable game over in which you can then kill the opposing lord.  If you try to kill the opposing lord in scene then you’re blocked by himself or more to it his retainer.
Mechanics and ideas:
Apparently there’s a second of these games which I’ll look at shortly, but first ideas and what not.   Being ever in love with RPG mechanics, I like the idea of money/honour system.  Honour should always be high and if it drops, your money to resupply weapons, upgrade weapons) (longer range, differing brush styles) drops as well.  If you die a good chunk of your “lord’s retainer fund” is cut down to pay for your medical fees.  Or and your weapons might be lost, dropped down to weapons you previously owned, but not those you died with.  Pretty much you get looted when you die. 
I’d like more environmental interactions.  Walls and passages, though keeping to the 2d plane does condense this.  More controls would be nice, giving camera pan to the wasd or arrow keys as well the direction scroll. 
Most mechanics should have the options to change them.  If you want to enable directional camera, toggle.  If you want to enable arrow movement, toggle over the click to move.  Slicing draw mechanic takes priority in the stack, with clicking to move or arrow key move still cancelling attack.  I’d like a run toggle key, also enable-able. 
Scratch strategy mode, didn’t really like it and it kind of removes from the flow in my mind. It does provide variety of game play but it wasn’t necessary. 
I like having a variety of enemies and areas.  I like having smaller retainers standing in your way cutting down your troops and then eventually being overwhelmed should you fall.  I like the idea that if you alone plough through all the enemies, you become a legend and a retainer to be trifled with, the difficulty curve rising to meet you.  If you die before the conclusion of every acc then the difficulty ramps up a bit but never past 1/3 or ½ of what it would be if you never die.  In this way there is an implicit difficulty setting.
And on the subject of difficulty settings, there should definitely be them at main arcs. Or within the arcs.  The lord may give the retainer the choice between paths, and their difficulty may vary, as may there objectives.  This story splitting also allows for some variety in game play.  Not always hacking through legions, but killing specifics or besting specifics. 
Oh, weapon variance for Sinai as additional weapon.  No kill but unconscious, if remain on map for too long then.  Weapons should be available, each with their benefits.  Each uses the same slice mechanic, but the brush of the slice can very as can the slice speed after the slice is finished.  A weapon might include a teleport or a distance before the slice can commence. 
In 2 – shunpo, multiple strokes, finishing moves on downed enemies, launching strikes, more linear stage movements, within stage longevity in a more old style kill on move further via cut scene continue to the end of stage, proper boss fights! 
Well right there that’s some stuff better. 
--
Preset combo moves.  Every city has a dojo or two which can set a key strike move, starting with the samurai in place and ending in the same place, a set kata available at a keystroke as opposed to a slash.  While this would cut down on challenge a lot, it would have downsides, specifically a chiburi that leaves you open to attack, as well as a shorter spline length (maybe) or a thinner edge (maybe) depending on weapon and grade of dojo.  In cities or in temples along mountain paths.  Dojos let you practice your kata (redefine moves for a cost, unless the temple is already under your domain.  Not a conqueror/occupied temple.  Each new dojo offers another kata (assigned key) available to be learned.  Another kata option is by learning the specific strokes, a larger combo is preformed.  All kata, pc made or pre coded end with chiburi, which is the major downside, keeping them as finishing moves or moves with high cost of life. 
--
My main concerns with the second game are the lack of story once again.  Mechanic upgrades, but in comparison, there’s a fraction of story.  A handful of stages and then it kicks you to the To Be Continued, which I can understand as it’s a solo project, yet at the same time, it makes the game feel unfinished, like the author grew weary, gave it a cut and moved on.  I like the added shunpo and finish move, though I can’t get the hang of the launches, though the air juggling is mandatory for the mountain stage.  The bosses were challenging, though not terribly innovative.  I found myself liking the robot samurai duel far better than any of the larger scale fights.  The downside is while the shunpo is a fun feature, it is an incredible game breaker, especially if you walk into boss fights with a full gauge and knowledge of when to exploit it, but hey, that’s have the fun.  Multi beheading a screen full of standing and flying guards and then turning time back on to see all the heads fly off is something that hasn’t lost its charm.  
Oh, and I'm not fond of the fact that he has a mostly revealed face.  Less is more especially with the title being what it is.  Projection on an unknown warrior is far easier with a hidden face.
A good step in the right direction, but not enough.  The concept could benefit a team.  I’m surprised it isn’t on a short list of easy ports to NDS as the slice mechanic seems perfect for the touch screen.   I believe there’s a clone/port for ipod/phone, though I’ve no clue if there’s a relation beyond the slice mechanic.  


//the first game, the second game.  I'll be posting more game design ramblings.  happy holidays and new year on this, the ultimate day of the year. - a//

Saturday, December 04, 2010

365 days done, nostalgia and updates

It's been ages since I've been to here. one of my friends asked me a question about a store i had at cafe press (the link should still be some where to the right) and i headed off their to answer his question. while wandering through the crap that was the store (it is...i understand how old i was and how lazy i was and still partly am, but it was still just...yeah...), i found myself thinking of the other places that i frequented and installed back in the day five or so years.
Around then i also signed up for Deviant Art/ and while I've used the site many times over the past half decade, didn't upload much. I've started too now, and after this post I'm going to work on uploading EC to a folder their. // http://echo-mlb.deviantart.com/
I might get around to making some logos and things for the store, if for no other reason then for giggles. my last epic project is finished so...
Wait a second, that's right! 365 days of writing are done! huzzah! for all the many, many projects that get filed under the "not completed and most likely never will" list, that one gets put under the "DONE! AHAHAHHAHA" list. the second last line:
92,929 words, 92 Black Book entries, 176 pages, 365 days.
i am pleased as punch. and while on the subject of writing, last summer i finished a manuscript for my first book, Volumes of Tea, which I'm passing round for editing and will hopefully see in self -print, as the hunting down an agent and shopping to a house is...unlikely. but hey! things have been done.
A few nights ago i was awake too early and decided to pull the web cam towards me. what followed was three ~30 min long tangent heavy reviews for House of Leaves, Let Me In, and In Defense of Food, all good books that i felt like talking about. i proly would have looked into a place to throw them online, if the audio hadn't been horribly corrupted somehow. I'd never heard a 30 min sound clip compressed into a minute.
I have now. it is unfortunate.
If i can find a way to realigned the audio i might post them somewhere. i like the idea of talking about books. they don't get enough press, at least not in the circles i frequent, which may have More to do with my circles then those at large.
I'll try to make use of this more, now that i don't have a doc on my desktop i feel compelled to write in every day. i definitely want to finish the big 4 stories on my desktop, so maybe i can crowbar myself into doing those.
In the mean time, i have to pack and finish my finals. assuming i pass my exams, i get the lovely christmas gift of graduating. then i have to sit down and ask that wonderful and frightening question.
What's next?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 318

Still writing essay and procrastinating as all hells. Found myself wandering around the nets and got to deviant art, someplace i haven’t been active on in a long time. Which led me back to this blog, which i used to use until i don’t remember why. I’m still writing. Todays 318 and 337 was my start. A full year, with writing every day. Alot has happened. Maybe i’ll make use of this space yet and post some of the things i’ve been doing. Maybe not.
Yesterday i spent time working on a language and wrapping my head around phonemic structures and characters, annoying though they are, still, useful i think they may be.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 18

- Black Book -

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 17

- Black Book -

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 14

- Black Book -
Part 4 - Fourside's Game

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 13

Today slips past and I have little doubt that tomorrow will do the same. What have we done that we can remember the day for? Was the time well spent? Did we deserve the day any more then the last?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 12

Part 2 - Fourside’s Game
Jim was tired. He had lived a long life full of hard work and rich lives. His family had been there for him until the end. He knew he was dying but had put it off until he could no longer. He had to provide for his family after all.
Jim took his responsibilities seriously. He always liked to draw, and even thought of a career as an artist, but decided against it. He had given up dreams for his family, but he didn’t care much. What good were his dreams, he had once told himself, if they take away from those I love? He was, by all rights, a good honest man.
He and his wife had moved to Fourside from the nearby city of Threed soon after they had met. They had started a new life together in the Bronze district, where both worked steady jobs. When Jim's wife became pregnant, they took turns raising the child. Jim's son grew to be a strong man, like his father, and moved away, to start his own life. Jim didn’t feel bad about the way things had worked out.
Jim hadn't drawn in years. There were always pictures lurking behind his eyes, waiting in his arm to be released onto paper, but his arms and hands were not those of an artist.
Jim walked alone now. His final wish had been to have a quiet walk through central park alone. His family had been with him constantly for the last few weeks. Now, nearing the end, Jim wanted some privacy.
As he walked through Central Park, he stopped in front of a dirt patch. The grass had been torn up recently and the rain from the last few nights had made the ground a blank canvass. Jim stared down into mud and his life filled it, drawn through the years. He slowly knelt on the ground, his bones and muscles straining.
Behind him, unseen and unheard, a figure stopped it's walking and moved closer to Jim, peering over his shoulder.
Jim shakily reached a hand down to the ground. Slowly, smiling, he drew his index finger through the mud. Lines formed, thick and thin. The sun sunk into the sky as Jim work on his drawing in the mud. All the time, the figure behind him watched silently, smiling to himself.
Jim was getting tired. The sun was setting and he had finished his drawing. For the first time in many long years, he felt the artistic urge to create. Unfortunately for Jim, his life was over. But not before the figure standing over him said softly,
It’s very beautiful. Very creative.
Jim smiled. And then, smiling and looking down at the picture he had drawn in the mud, the sun setting behind him, he died.
The figure gently lay Jim down on the ground. He then took a bracelet out of his pocket and tied it around one of Jim’s wrists.
The bracelet was silvery white, drawing to mind a band of silver, white gold and mercury, all in the same instant. It blinked in the dying sun.
The figure smiled and walked away.
His Game would soon begin.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 11

Part 1 – Fourside’s Game
Though it doesn’t happen often, sometimes worlds collide. When people try to imagine this they picture big explosions, natural cataclysms, and the stuff of doomsayers. But that isn’t the way of the universe.
Well that’s not true.
It’s not the way of the universe we know. Nor is it the way of many of them. In all of reality there are few universes that go ab0uot things that way because, well, if they did they wouldn’t be around very long.
What happens is that universes sometimes step on each others toes.
And it’s not at all how people think. That’s because people have a remarkable ability to ignore things even when they are staring them directly in the face. Universes merge. They blend and they split.
The interesting thing about universes is that they work a lot like gods do. Gods are born through belief and die through obscurity. Universes are molded on belief and interaction. Rules are laid down and if they work, they spin worlds.
Once, in another time far away, nine universes all got to the same place at the same time. That doesn’t happen very often. It could only happen once actually, and it did.
What made it such an event, was that each universe had something similar but different. They weren’t copies, but they shared a lot of ideas. They all contained the same planet for example, more or less. The planet was bigger in one of the universes, and in another it didn’t have much in the way of people on it. But that’s how things are.
These nine universes converged and the result was a new universe, a mix of them all. They each gave concessions, but they all wanted to keep the planet in question. It was a very important planet, after all. And universes tend to be very selfish as individuals.
So each universe molded part of itself into the planet. And the outcome was a new universe with a very small planet that held a lot of impact. No one wants to be left out of the party after all. The rest of the universe sorted itself out, but the planet stood as a testament to the merge, and as such was keenly watched by the forces of the newly born universe. The merge had pushed people realities apart into a planet to share. The continents had shifted around and the world had reshaped itself in ways most couldn’t begin to imagine. Here in a new state there was a clean slate on top of existing worlds, which made it the equivalent to an experiment of the mad scientist that was the new universe.
And as a step towards the “oh wow” point, the only residents of the planet that survived the merge redubbed the planet Nonaverse, though few understood why. What’s in a name anyway, they said.
It’s on this planet that we find a figure. In his city he was much like every one around him. He obeyed the rules that built his city, his life, and followed the path that was set for him. Everyone in his city played a Game. They all knew about it, but it wasn’t something to be feared. It was just what came next. His people were old and sparklingly new. Of all those on the planet, there were none who argued that they were the most technically advanced society. They wouldn't hesitate to say that, if only they knew that his civilization existed.
But the world didn’t. His civilization lived on a disc suspended over Deep Darkness, the south western continent of the planet, built out of the eastern mountain range lining the coast. They called their disc Lux, and watched the planet removed, save in certain cases.
That’s another story though.
Lux had Games in all of its cities. They were necessary to keeping the flow of the place in order. It was the only place on the planet where the game was played, because it was the only place that knew how to play, which was one of the reasons why Lux was the way it was.
Lux had many wondrous places and unique features but that was one of them that set them further apart from the rest of the world then most. Their games were one of the most important parts of their lives, and most people living in Lux didn’t know about them, at least not until they played, supposing they got a chance to.
The elders of Lux knew the secret. That had been one of the reasons why they had survived.
The figure also knew the secret, but was not one of the elders.
The figure had dark blue hair and fair skin. He was fairly young but conveyed that sense of aged wisdom that some young people do. He was slender and not especially strong. His job didn’t require him to be fit in body.
He ran some of the Games occasionally. They were enjoyable and he knew that it was his duty to run them to the best of his abilities. Still, he often thought of the world outside of Lux.
On this day, he stood leaning on a balcony, overlooking his city of Arcanum and thought to himself,
Why couldn’t I run a Game in a city outside of Lux?
Then he set out to make it happen. This isn’t the story of how he made it happen though, grand tale though it is. This is the story of some of the Games he ran.
It’s also the story of a different place in the Nonaverse, the place where he settled and started his Game.
It’s also, in a way, a story about a creature called Dom.

// Happy birthday Leela, hope you feel better. -a

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 10

- Black Book -

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Day 9

“Tait –toi, caulis, donne moi la fiche et vatant.”
“c’est ici, c’est ici. “
“merci bien.” My phone rings. I pull it out of my pocket. “Je vais te voir demain, oui?”
“dix heur, dehors avant du batiment.”
“Bon soir, Simon.”
“Bonne matin a ce point ci.”
I answer the phone, not bothering to look at the number.
“Matteo LeBeau.”
“Matt?”
“Oui?”
“It’s Madison. Madison Demi.” my mind reeled, switching languages and jumping back years of my life. Madison. A voice out of the past.
“Hi.”
“Hi jack, how’ve you been?”
“Eu…” my mind ground the clutch as it struggled to recall what I one lived.” “Not unwell. How about you? It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you.”
“Yes, yes it has. Listen, do you have time to catch up? I really could use someone right now, and I was thinking of you.” She was thinking of me. I hadn’t thought of her in years. Back when I knew Madison, back when I a different person.
Madison was one of those people who touch your life, but you never realize how much until long after the fact. We had gone to school together and were intimate friends for some time. They had been good times. Then our paths diverged and we had fallen out of contact. Until she had called. And here we were talking as I stood alone at my window, .looking down on the city below.
“Sure” I said. “Where are you?”
“I’m on a street corner.”
“Okay… what city? Where are you Madison?”
“Ummm, yours.”
“Mine.” I didn’t have a city. Not anymore. I lived across the country, sometimes even across the seas to the other continents of the world. “I’m in Bruss right now.”
“Bruss? What do you mean Bruss? You aren’t even in Winters?”
“Not since ‘63.” // 10,463
“God’s it’s been a while.”
“Yes it has. Why are you calling Madison?”
I told you, I just needed someone to talk to for a bit. You came to mind. We use to talk.”
“I remember. I use to be your sin eater.”
“We use to be close.”
“Time changes things I suppose”
“Any way I’m in Snowhead right now. I’d like to see you if I can. Are you planning on coming back home anytime soon?”
The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. Home. My home hadn’t been there for some time.
“I hadn’t planned on it. Travel out of Tagaryt doesn’t come easy, especially these days.” What was going on?
“Alright, well I’ll see what I can do then. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
That awkward pause. Ii could picture her eyes darting back and forth briefly even across the line. What was she talking about seeing me soon?
“Alright. See you soon Madison, sleep well.””
“Bye matt.”
The line went dead. Was she planning on coming to find me? What did she want from me? It had been so long since we parted ways that I hadn’t expected to see or here from her again. It probably wasn’t that long ago in real time, but it felt like ages, the way all people from our past’ feel like their stepping out of stone. I hung up the phone and looked back at my desk, filled with papers, my life here. I sighed and started packing up for the night.
I didn’t know it yet but Madison would be on my doorstep all too soon.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Day 8

Why shouldn't we take advantage of what's laid before us? if an opportunity arises, with no harm and only shared creation, why deny it? why does so much harm stem from choices that spawn happiness?

By the by, what kind of spawn point would happiness have?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Day 7

So I come back to my keyboard after busy days and writing in books, as opposed to on screen.

I find myself saying the same things over. History repeating to routine. Thankfully its not predictable routine. But I feel like I’m going through the motions none the less.

Life goes on. You can’t save a person from drowning if they drag you down with them. You’re not responsible for other people’s happiness. Tomorrow’s a new day.

Smile here. Small joke here. Comfort in silence. Physical reassurance. Bash the adversary. Generalize and minimize impact of situation. Grand life dilemmas, pivot’s that govern the lives of everyone around, yourself included, structured on a extensive game script. I’m no different. A parable or two, reminders, perspective, reset, rerun the sequence, hard boot and log back on, back at what drove you to wherever you got to. Life shouldn’t be so deconstructable. I guess that’s where the joys of faith come in. if you can hand wave most of life to a simple, “if God wills” then there will always be a mystery to find out, regardless if you ever shall.

I came home to deer in my back yard. My house was mostly dead and four of them were directly out of my back door, grazing in the snowy grass. Three fawns and a doe. I remembered the feeling of being humbled by nature. I don’t feel that as often as I should, as much as I’d like to. I try to appreciate the beauty of nature, but even in the last half week I find myself slipping back into the world of grind. And I’m not sure I want to go back willingly. Not to the monotony. To new things, sure, but boredom and learning should never be hand in hand. Here he two of them are stapled together, duck-taped, chained and forcibly bolted together in most cases.

I resized and built the Nonaverse’s globe recently. It was wonderful, visiting old places. A few days ago I started drawing out the districts and city layout of Fourside, on the north coast of Edge island, Eagleland. I’m finding myself less interested in people around me again. My sleep patterns don’t help with that, but I haven’t missed a class yet.

Today’s tarot of the day is the Hanged Man, which is also my bookmark in World Without Us.

Day 6

- Black Book -

Day 5

Life returns to routine.

Day 4

- Black Book -

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Day 3

The snow falls fast around them, swirling in circles. It flurries and amasses it, pummeling them, trying to get in between them, to break them apart. The snow wants them separate, alone, where it can wrap them in ice, cold and alone. The snow lightens for a few minutes, trying a new tact. Perhaps they will break apart from each other; perhaps the storm is what drove them together. The snow tells the wind to soften, and it does, down to a gentle breeze. Its streaks of movement vanish as quick as they came up. The snow falls gently around them, waiting for the moment to strike, to get in between them. They keep walking down the street. The laughter now flits through the air, threading through the winter afternoon. The snow grows furious. Their laughter insulting, the snow draws itself up in roar, crashing down its might on them. They are blanketed by wave after wave, a cold deluge of solid snowflakes. They pull each other closer still. The snow screams into the sun, filling the air so thick that they can’t see more than a few feet in front of them. Shrieking with the wind, the snow flies off, away from they who giggle to each other. The wind leaves them be. They walk on through the light snow falling on their hair and shoulders. The sun starts to shine.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Day 2

Today the world ended. the sea's didn't swell up and splash their life upon the buildings of man. there were no cataclysmic events, no great prophecies fulfilled through fire and lightning, hail and brimstone. the world is still turning, dancing its way through the heavens. for nearly every one on the planet, you and me included, life went on as usual.

Save that somewhere, quiet and alone where no one could reach or think to look, a child cried.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Day 1

A new year. Four hours of sleep at midday. A year closing off with soft skin and smiles. A new year beginning with games and food. Tomorrow I’m going back to my home, to another term of school. I’m not sure what’s to come. I’m content. In between satisfied and happy, more to the former then the latter. I think it a worthy goal to move towards happiness, but at what cost? When do you divide up your world and limit your happiness as a function of other peoples? Why can’t there be more Dorian Gray’s in the world? And why hasn’t there been a Dorian Gray where the lead is female? I guess that’d just be playing into stereotype then. Its poignant when a male sells his soul for youth and beauty but when a woman does it its expected and trite. Insulting to both sexes. Sleep comes soon. I finished my books. My break is coming to a close. The week and a half flew by in a wonder. Where next? what’s next?

Day 365

Happy New Year, to my friends, my family, and those who couldn't be among the previously listed.