Archive for category Uncategorized

Date: January 25th, 2013
Cate: development, Quadrilateral Cowboy, Uncategorized
2 msgs

QC Dev 004: Autocomplete

While demoing Quadrilateral Cowboy at PAX 2012, a lot of people asked for autocomplete functionality when typing commands into the game.

I put it on my to-do list and it languished there for a while. The mere idea of an autocomplete system intimidated me, and in my head it ballooned into a beast of a task.

Then one day I started implementing it, and found it wasn’t that bad at all.

The Cat Plays No Part

Here’s the sample level. There’s three doors and a window. The cat plays no part in this example.

doors

Now, let’s say the player types this in:
d

auto_d

And then presses tab to autocomplete it. What happens?

Collect

First the game iterates through all hack-able entities in the world and generates a list. In this example level, the list is:

  • door1
  • door2
  • door3A
  • window1

 

There, we now have a list of possible candidates.

Filter

We then filter out anything that doesn’t fit the player’s command. The player typed in ‘d‘, and we compare that to the above list.

window1‘ is immediately filtered out, since ‘window1‘ starts with a ‘w‘, not a ‘d‘. You’re dead to me, window1.

That leaves us with three possible candidates: door1, door2, door3A

Evaluate

With this list of candidates, we further pare it down to the best autocomplete entry. We do this by comparing all the candidates amongst one another, and evaluating what they have in common. We compare them character-by-character:

Character 1: d
All the candidates have this in common, so we continue.

Character 2: o
All the candidates have this in common, so we continue.

Character3: o
All the candidates have this in common, so we continue.

Character4: r
All the candidates have this in common, so we continue.

Character5: 1
One or more candidates has a different fifth character. We immediately stop here, and we now know what all the candidates have in common: the first four characters, door.

Ship it

We send door to the autocomplete, filling in the player prompt with: door

auto_door

Done!

Et al

I remember when Guitar Hero first came out, I was working late at Pandemic. Some guys bought the game and the plastic guitar into the conference room.

As I sat there watching our gameplay programmer tap colored buttons on the guitar, my first thought was “this is the dorkiest thing I’ve ever seen.” After a few minutes my opinion became “this is the best thing I’ve ever seen.”  There was something in the room, an energy created by the role-playing aspect and a tiny plastic guitar. He’s a rock star! He played the hell out of that song! That guitar solo ripped my limbs off!

Quadrilateral Cowboy intends to use the keyboard as the role-playing peripheral, to get that thrill of being an internationally-renown deck jockey. If I someday see someone go the extra mile and play this game in a dark room wearing sunglasses and a trenchcoat, I’ll be a happy man.

Date: September 10th, 2012
Cate: Uncategorized
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Blendo Big Boxes

Some weeks ago I made big box packaging for my various Blendo games, to decorate my PAX 2012 booth.

When looking for books to read or movies to watch, I gravitate toward the credits. Who wrote this thing, who directed it, what creative folks did what. Then I hunt down and enjoy everything those folks touched during their career. Making these boxes was my shorthand of “if you enjoyed Gravity Bone or Atom Zombie Smasher or Flotilla, maybe you’ll like this new thing I’m making.”

Some folks were interested in having Blendo big boxes of their own, so here’s the print template:

Download: blendo_bigboxes.zip (58 mb)

Here’s what you’ll get:

Here’s how they’re put together:

Here’s a step-by-step:

1. Go to a print shop. I printed on 11″x17″ cardboard stock.

2. Score the dotted lines with a hobby knife.

3. Cut the solid lines with a paper cutter. Most print shops have available paper cutters.

4. Cut the tabs/flaps with a hobby knife or scissors.

5. Fold and glue the back’s flaps to the front’s sides.

6. Done. Put the big boxes on your shelf so they rule over your puny small boxes with a firm but prudent reign.

Et al

I used to have a collection of game big boxes. Then one day I realized they were taking up basically half of my closet.

I couldn’t bear to just toss them out so. So, I got scissors and cut out the fronts of the boxes, leaving me with little game posters.

For my research, I rifled through my pile of decapitated boxes until I found something that was perfect: Mean Streets. Look at that proclamation of 256 color VGA. Look at that Real Sound badge (which was genuinely spectacular, by the way).

I combined that with Saul Bass movie posters and Penguin book covers, and ended up with my big boxes.

I don’t quite miss the big boxes themselves, but I do miss the things that were included in big boxes. Fold-out maps, in-game newspapers, bits and bobs, thick spiral-bound manuals. I guess by now I’m used to digital downloads, but they just don’t have that tactile feeling of holding something physical in your hands.

One idea I was playing with earlier in Quadrilateral Cowboy’s development was including a “Thief’s Cookbook”, similar to Indiana Jones’ Grail Diary. Basically, the guide would tell you how to bypass or deactivate various types of security systems and have schematics for various corporate buildings. Here’s the gag: the guide wouldn’t be an in-game object. The guide would be a PDF you’d print out, staple together, and refer to while playing the game.

So, as alarms blare and guards chase after you in-game, you’d be physically flipping through your guide trying to find the darn page for “Reckermann Security model TK421 vault door.”

At PAX, one of my favorite moments was when someone playing Quadrilateral Cowboy realized what the game entailed. He reached for his notebook and pen and said “I’m going to need this.” He started writing the names of the various security cameras and laser tripwires, so that he could later punch them back in to the in-game terminal prompt.

And I loved it.

Date: August 9th, 2011
Cate: Uncategorized
2 msgs

Atom Zombie Smasher on Ubuntu Software Center

Linux aficionados, Atom Zombie Smasher is now on the Ubuntu Software Center!  Here’s an action shot of it:

To access the Ubuntu Software Center, click on the Applications button in the top-left corner. Check it out, and browse through their library – there’s lots of good stuff.