December 14, 2010

amoebaRL in Chrome Web Store

As you might already know, Chrome Web Store opened a week ago. Having a keen interest in all things Google I could not resist and put up an app for amoebaRL here. Which took somewhere around 15 minutes to make. Turns out Chrome apps are pretty much the same as extensions. The main difference between the two is that you only have to have a starting page for your app while in the case of extension you have to define some way of displaying this starting page like putting a button on the toolbar. The app icon just appears in the apps list in the starting page after installation.

So I changed manifest file that defines the app (I already have an amoebaRL extension so it was trivial), submitted the zip file, edited the description and that's it. No silly approvals, no long discussions with the publisher, that's it. Well, you do have to pay $5 developer signup fee but I skipped even that, having made extensions before. There are probably some hurdles if you want to charge money for your app but apart from that it looks like a very promising digital distribution platform. There could also be a potential problem with Chromium not yet supporting apps, I haven't checked that out.

Okay, back to trying to think up an interesting design for Dr. West....

November 14, 2010

Doctor West

As I mentioned I'm currently working on a new Lovecraft-inspired project. "Doctor West" is a game where you play a cold and asocial doctor of medicine hell-bent on perfecting his crazy theory - that you can bring the dead back to life if the body is injected with a chemical solution. Unfortunately, the further theory improvements require human bodies, preferably very fresh. The good doctor is forced to haunt the local hospital and cemetary to find new specimens while keeping low profile to avoid public suspicion and earning money for his living. There is an option of hiring an assistant to help him with his work - the quality of which is a random factor while his or her loyalty is lowered with each new solution test as the assistant begins to understand what a terrible thing the doctor is doing. There is an option of explaining the theory to the assistant in the hopes of gaining more of his or her loyalty. And fortunately, the assistant could be disposed of, providing the freshest new body.

The other parameters which you need to keep track of are doctor's money, his equipment and chemical supplies. Money is needed to buy equipment and chemicals for the experiments and can be gained by reading lectures in university. While being in university you can also try to steal equipment and hire new assistant. There are other minor details, but that is the short version of design. It will probably change somewhat after I implement the prototype completely and test it. I also intend to post the original design notes and possible changes in the future.

While I'd like to make the game using HTML5 canvas element + all graphics instead of my usual simplistic style but we'll see if I will be able to pull it off (the main problem is to find graphic resources). Also, after spending some time tweaking the simple image-displaying HTML5 prototype I suddenly realized that the UI representation is not at all important for this design but will take up some amount of precious time and energy if I will implement it in parallel with core gameplay so I switched to console-only input/output using Python + ncurses for now.

Two hours of work (mostly spent remembering how to code in Python) later I have a prototype that looks and plays somewhat like the oldschool text adventures but is nonetheless the same game that I first envisioned as a overhead town view with location icons on top of it opening menus. The only difference right now is that graphic representation allows me to have the notion of distance - that is, travelling between different nodes by the lines that they are connected could take one or more action points to move from point A to B to C. That is not that convenient to use in console mode with a simple list of locations so I scrapped it for the time being - each movement takes up one action point no matter where.

Hello, world

I've finally decided to make a blog related to my gaming projects. I've just thought of a nice game design, wrote a prototype and we'll see how it goes from here. The new project was conceived to be something small but this may change because I have a few ideas I'd like to try out in it. It is a game loosely based on the Herbert West novel by H.P.Lovecraft. The next few posts will be all about this project as I take a break from implementing the next Evil Cult release.