Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Design Diary, July 15

Materials is a little better, but not totally.  I'm trying to nail down the Table of Excessive Properties into just a few useful qualities.  Does it burn?  Does it break?  Does it decompose?  Those are the biggies, but plenty of minor issues are coming up.  For instance, burning implies that the material feeds the fire.  I'm basically doing this by weight - for every pound of straw or wood or cloth or paper you put into the fire, the fire will burn for X minutes.  (I considered a more complicated scheme involving BTU's, but then I got better.  This is close enough for almost everything, and the exceptions are not things the player is going to run across often.) 

I'm also struggling with the names for materials where there isn't really a material.  Glass, wood, metal, leather: all pretty straight forward.  But what about stuff like linen?  It's made of . . . linen, but there's no point in having linen be a dramatically different kind of material than cotton or silk.  Fiber?  Cloth?  Hair?  Bonus question: what is a pumpkin made out of?  (It cannot be plant or vegetable; those are taken.)  Flesh is what I'm leaning towards for animals and people, although it's a little weird.

So, basically, there's substances, which are values, and each substance has some properties which determine the qualities of the object.  This sounds crazy, until you calculate the difficulty of determining the difference between a wooden jug and a ceramic jug, and then it looks pretty nifty.  Of course, in real life, there are ways to make wooden objects less flammable, etc. 

I have not quite figured out all the coding complexities with things like candles, which should burn and feed the fire, but also be essentially non-flammable, but also be on fire sometimes and able to set other things on fire.  Original design plans called for calculating light levels for various activities, but that feels fiddly and unwieldy now.  If the PC only has one candle to read by, then by golly she's going to read by a single candle.  I would like to strongly encourage the PC to sleep at night and work during the day, or at least have a regular schedule.  If any light is as good as every light, that sort of hurts the whole schedule thing.  (Lumberjacking by the light of a single candle is where I draw the line.)  Light that isn't the sun is relatively precious, both historically and in-game.  You can make candles, which takes energy, time, and precious materials.  At some point, you'll be able to press oil from a few foodstuffs, but it requires equipment, quite a lot of the foodstuff, and time at a point in the season where it's a precious commodity.  I'd like light to be a precious resource to be carefully conserved, and without artificial constraints, that's a bit harder.  It may very well be something I need to let go of.

Also did a bit more slogging on the graphics front.  Bare ground - that is, winter ground not covered by snow - was formerly a smooth set of curves the color of dirt.  I bumped that up to dead grass.  I don't have the color balance fully fixed yet - it's a bit fiddly getting the right look - but even the current stuff is improved.  I need to do something with snow, too - the smooth curves are a little too artificial.  I keep trying to get nice snow drifts, but it's actually quite hard.  I think I need some shadows and blur, but can't quite visualize what I should be doing.  Next attempt is going to involve highlighting the "crest" of the hill, trying to get some of that crisp reflective feel, and a blurred brush to soften the edge between hill and horizon for that soft feel. 

I also did a seasonal merge with the first load of trees. Good golly, it's a lot of clicking.  (Each tree needs to be actively toggled each season, multiplied by 11-ish seasons.)  I'm also doing some cheating by leaving some trees in the season before/after the one I'm toggling to.  It provides more variation in color overall, and saves me a little time.  I've grown to appreciate conifers, which only have a "normal" and a "snow" layer.  Stupid deciduous forests, with their seasons and their leaf dropping.  But it's worth it to be able to click through the layers and see the seasonal progression. 

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