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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grass and Fish

 Right, so exciting visual stuff first.  Here's the experiments for the ground in the winter, when grass is dead, but there's no snow on the ground.  To make it easier to see, I'm only experimenting with one layer.  The back layer of grass is far enough away that there probably won't be many changes.  Here's where I started, with some smooth curves - bare ground.

This looks sort of "Flash animation-y", which isn't really a bad thing per se, but not what I was going for.  Plus, grass doesn't really disappear in the winter - it only dies off.  So I went for a desaturated, shorter version of grass, using a single grass brush with a bit of size variation and scattering.

(That's the alpha release version.)

So from there, I want to add a little texture, a little variation.  It's not there to startle or distract, but I want a little . . . I don't know what the right word is.  Movement, maybe?  Variation.  So I added a bit of wind, and used a longer brush, and I didn't brush over a pre-existing curve.  I followed the same line, but didn't past the solid over the grass.  As a result, it feels less forced and more organic.  I am not entirely happy with the way the grass breaks about 15% from the right-hand side, but I figure a carefully placed tree will solve the problem.

Better, I think.

But there's still not much variation in the silhouette.  What if there's another kind of dead grass?  Leftover seed stalks or something.

I like this quite a bit, but I want to emphasize distance, and give a little further variation.  A few up-close clumps is a chance to vary color and shape.  I made the color variation pretty slight, just enough so I could differentiate the bigger stuff from the farther away stuff.

I'm not entirely happy with this; the wind isn't right, and I'm kind of ambivalent about the two-tone grass layers.  (And I have no idea how to treat the grass under snow-fall.)  Nor am I sure whether it will compete too enthusiastically against the other elements.  I do think the windswept look is an improvement, though.

A pretty quick mock-up, but that's the graphics front these days.  It gives me an excellent chance to play eye doctor: Better one, or better two?

Click to enlarge.  Now with upgraded cliff and fake grass on the oak tree for that "not pasted on yay" look.  Also experimental like whoa.  And adding blue and making the cliffs darker turned it strangely colored. 
A complicating factor is that it's easier to do dead grass than live grass; my experiments with greener hues have not gone quite as well. 

In equally exciting news (but with fewer pictures), I think I've ironed out the action flow for fishing.  Checks are run to make sure that the player's got the right equipment, and in the right place, and isn't being eaten by zombies (metaphorically speaking). 

Each room that the PC can fish in has some basic properties that limit the fish that are there.  Catfish like warm, slow water; trout like it cold; sturgeon like it deep.  A list of available fish is compiled (or maybe it's pre-compiled).  The odds for each fish type are modified by complicating factors: if the fish are hungry, if the PC is fishing with a kind of bait the fish eat, etc.  If the odds are nil or close enough, the action is ended with a rejection and advice. 

If they're not, the table is randomized, and the odds are checked every few minutes (10? 15?  20?) until one of the fish bites.  From there, it's reminescent of 2nd Edition AD&D saving throws: PC vs. fish. 

The outcome is created as a sentence or two, and a result is tallied: was the fish eating, hooked, landed?  A little extra time is deducted for each of these steps; if there's time left on the clock, the fishing loop will continue.

Afterwards, a summary is printed, with the specifics of one or two battles given a gloss, or the overall tallies turned into something more comprehensive.  (Did the PC get all his bait eaten with no hooks?  Did the PC's experience start bad but improve, or vice versa?  Was there a wide spread, or mostly failure/success?  Is the PC desperate for food or is this more likely to be a pleasure jaunt, and is the PC hungry *RIGHT NOW*?)  It's not a load of conditions yet, but it's enough to give a little variety to the fishing outcome, which is welcome.  (One of the sad things is that there's really never enough variety in the terms of things the program will print out, but even small variations makes it feel less dead.)

One of the things I'm trying to do as I finish actions is define when it would be appropriate for the game to suggest it as a course of action.  Based on fishing conditions, I'm thinking spring-fall around sunrise, or evening if chores are done. 

Once pre-alpha's filled in a bit, I'd like to do an auto "go to nearest fishing spot" thing, and a more sophisticated "when's fishing appropriate" thing, and definitely a "spear fishing" action and some special scenes where the PC can land a monster catfish or something, but I'm trying to skimp a little more on the detail to cover a bit more ground before circling back around. 

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