Archive for the ‘script writing’ Category

Golden Medallions and in-game programming

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Once the low level code for a Naked on Pluto bot is written in Scheme, it’s added by the game using secret commands which program the game inside itself, while it’s running. This means the game can be changed while people are playing it – which makes it much easier to add new things without worrying about the disruption caused by restarting the server. We can also work on the game collaboratively, at the same time this way.

(Programming a spybot with it’s behaviour)

Eventually the plan is to be able to program the bots fully within the game client – this is still a long term goal, but there are of course some fairly complex security problems with this idea.

(dressing a AudienceBot with another object)

Not all players have the ability to use these secret commands right now, in order to access them a player has to be carrying a special object (also known as a “Golden Medallion”). This allows you access to all areas of the game, including an “administration room” and various other secret powers.

Call for testers

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

“Good news everyone!”

We have reached the point where we can start having some players test and try break things with the current pre-alpha-thingy-candidate version of the game. We are looking for just a couple of testers who can cope with the fact that they will get early spoilers and experience a not entirely finished game narrative and interface. On the other hand you will greatly help us stabilize things, spot a few more bugs and make final improvements!

Take into account that you will have to use an issue tracker to report us problems (ie, using a website with a form to check for existing known problems and report new ones) and that we will ask you some questions after you played.

Use the contact form in this blog to get in touch with us :)

Sprint @ BALTAN Laboratories, day I

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

logo BALTAN laboratories

Monday October 11, the first day at BALTAN Laboratories in Eindhoven! We walked to the SWA building, through Phillips Complex S, and at the 8th floor gasped at the enormous space of the lab. After a grand tour by director Angela Plohman, we set up and started to write down the master plan for this week. Lots of decisions to make, especially after the playtests we’ve held. The feedback we received made sure we zoomed in on the parts that needed the most attention first.

First task was to make the interface more user friendly. Most playtesters were too busy trying to figure out what to type and how to type it, instead of discovering the game world. We decided to simplify the vocabulary, write more elaborate help texts in case of an error, and write a general “help” that gives an overview of the vocabulary, what each word does, tips to speed up navigation through the world and all this with clear examples.

NIMk Sprint day 5

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Our last day of intense work! This consisted of mopping up the details and joining the sections we’d finished from the previous days. It’s still hard to know how it will feel to play, and there will be much tweaking – but at least we have a lot of situations and game play which thread together into a complete path from the start to the end of the game.

Being careful to not give too much away, one of the things I’m looking forward to is a gradual opening up of the game as you progress. It moves from quite a fixed path, and opens up into problems with less rigidly defined solutions. The playtesting will be essential to get a real idea of how well it actually works, and allow us to fine tune/radically change sections.

NIMk sprint day 3

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Today we worked on the map and quests situated at the beginning of the game. To prevent spoilers the words are blurred. We continued working with post-its, they are extremely handy during a brainstorm in which everything changes every 2 minutes. The whole map is color coded, blue for locations, green for situation, yellow for actions and pink for inventory (items, coins, etc.). The arrows and dotted lines are mostly there to confuse cause we kept moving notes around.

Zone II on post-its

At 16.00 we presented Naked on Pluto to the crew of NIMk and we were very happy Angela Plohman from BALTAN Laboratories came to join us (we’ll be at BALTAN in October for the next sprint). We discussed the project in its current state, and talked about the steps in development we’ve taken so far, the biggest problems we’ve encountered and the next steps. Explaining these things at this stage of the project was quite a test for us. We’ve been submerged in the game’s logic for 3 days now, and we’re starting to loose our sense of reality ever so slightly…

NIMk Sprint day 2

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Today was all about taking the themes from yesterday and making them into concrete game mechanics we can use. We started by mapping out possible constraints imposed by multiplayer activities. We want a large amount of what you do on pluto to be coordinated with other players – and this impacts on the logic of the game world. For instance, doors can be locked – sometimes in a room full of people we only want players who are carrying a key to be able to get through the door, at other times a single player might be able to unlock a door for everyone (perhaps for a limited time).

A locking conundrum.

This sort of play requires a way for players to coordinate with each other, for example using a realtime chat system. A minor crisis involving the details of how to handle this feature was narrowly averted and we escaped to the shores of Ljsselmeer to begin considering the vertical slice, the moustache as core game feature, community service and mandatory fanny packs.

NOP Sprint at NIMk started

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Today was the first Naked on Pluto sprint day at the Netherlands Media Art Institute. We focussed on script writing and created this little masterpiece:


It’s an inventory of all our reasons for wanting to make this game and an attempt of integrating them into the game design in a meaningful way. We made lots of progress on the world and non-player character design. Tomorrow we continue with the design of a vertical slice and we’ll break our heads over some scalability problems.

bots, bots, bots…

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Today I have been working on Elastic Versailles Love-bot revision 1, a very buggy red velvet chatterbot that tries to make visitors feel loved, attractive and confident. Love-bots are part of Elastic Versailles’ intricate ways of entertaining visitors and putting them into the right mindset to freely share personal information with its agents, soak up mountains of advertisements and spend coins like there’s no tomorrow. The Eliza-effect is not quite there yet…

astounding stories of super-science

Love-bot: Talk to me honey (more…)

Games design

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Our design for for Naked on Pluto isn’t (all that) public yet as it’s very much in the sensitive hand wavy might all change our minds stage, but it will be sooner or later. In the meantime, here are two of the games design practises we are trying out.

User centred design

This one I was taught at a design workshop by Ylva Fernaeus, Sara Ljungblad and Mattias Jacobsson from SICS, but I recognise it from elsewhere, and it was good to have it explained in full.

One part of ‘UCD’ (as I’m sure it’s abbreviated to to confuse the initiates) is called user stories. You make up a fictitious person who might play your game, and describe who they are, why they are playing and what their motivations are etc – you can get quite carried away with this, and within sensible margins, it seems to help.

Then you describe the experience of the game from their point of view. This means you can leave out all the details and focus on what you want them to feel – from the inside. (more…)

Plutonian clothing strategy

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

How naked do we want to be on pluto? This is a big question for us planning this game. We wish to explore notions of privacy in a socially networked world, but at the same time we risk hypocrisy if we fail to honor our players with anything more than complete transparency concerning what we are doing with their data.

While privacy and facebook has been a hot topic of debate recently, I’m unclear how much as been discussed about the rights given to facebook applications when you agree to give them access to your data. Depending on your settings, it can use your session id to do anything you can do – access your friend’s data or post on your wall (as most games like to do for advertising).

From my initial reading, the facebook privacy policy is fairly clear and well written concerning your responsibilities as an application developer. Firstly there is a distinction based on where the data comes from: (more…)