Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Asset Effects for Kudos 2

Some of the things you buy in Kudos 2 have ongoing effects that happen every day (like the newspaper its assumed you read, or owning a fast car or a pet). Some have effects that happen only when you use them (like weights or a chess set). And some have one-off purchase-time effects (like a fashionable outfit).

The problem with the ongoing daily effects is the player had no way of knowing what they are, so I’ve spent a big chunk of this morning coding this sort of thing so they can see them:

It’s amazing how long it takes to code something like that and ensure it a) works, b) looks nice and c) is bug free. It also exposes a efw other minor niggles that then needed fixing. Oh well, slow but steady progress!

Magazines for Kudos 2

I’m currently writing the code for magazines for Kudos 2. Magazines are something you can buy, but only read once. The upside is that they come out every week, so that you never get into the situation you had with the original game, where you read all the books and thus had ‘finished’ that part of the game.

The downside is that the magazines are an expensive and slow way to pick up knowledge. I’m trying to balance stuff so it’s an interesting decision to make. You can buy books and magazines at your leisure, effectively putting you in control of when to learn, as opposed to evening classes. This means they must have some disadvantages to counteract this. One option is for the magazines to only cover the basics of each profession, scientific_principles_1 basic_law etc etc. The problem si that it’s exactly the ‘late game’ stuff I need to expand on, not the early stuff.

This has cropped up because I’m trying to decide if magazines need a pre-requisite system or not. I’m guessing not. magazines are by definition mass market things. I reckon I’ll make them beginners guides only, just like books, but more relaxing.

Another option is for magazines to be auto-read. Assuming you read a few pages each day, just like I assume with newspapers. This would be possibly the more interesting choice. This does slightly ‘break’ the ‘one-task per day’ paradigm of the game, but it’s already borked with pets and newspapers anyway, both of which have daily effects without user intervention.

I think that might be better…

Overweight Gaming (The Sisko Dilemma)

I’m having a design quandary about characters who become overweight in Kudos 2. I need to really nail down the game play effects of letting your character become jabba-sized.

There are some effects already, in that a few acting jobs require you to be below a certain weight. I could probably extend that to the police jobs, but beyond that does it really matter? The obvious negative side to being overweight is the health effects, but to be honest most of the activities that increase weight are reducing health, and health is directly used in calculating illness. What I may do, is have a locally used (not shown to the player) calculation for obesity, and use that as an extra accelerator in determining illness. Then you have the age old problem of conveying this data to the player. kudos 1 did lots of clever stuff the player was never told about, and I need to be more aware of that this time around.

The other possible uses in game terms for ‘weight’ are all a bit ‘dodgy’. Should being overweight reduce confdence? Should I reduce your chances of getting a job in general if you are overweight? I might not mind how big people are, but is there a real world prejudice there? and if there is, is it ok to represent it in game? I currently don’t have black avatars (another worrying, but budget-related situation), but if I did, should I give them less chance of a good job to reflect society’s racism? For that matter, should I reduce your chance of romance if you weigh too much? Is that just reflecting society as it is, or is that encouraging prejudice?

I guess I’m half way between Ben Sisko and Kassidy Yates on the whole ‘We shouldn’t pretend the world is better than is’ (Ben) and ‘Lets just enjoy the way it should be’ (Cassidy). I’m glad I’m not programming a holodeck.

What do you think?

“You think with a financial statement like this you can have the duck? “

I’m working on the code for restaurants yesterday and today, specifically how you get into the hip and trendy or expensive ones. This is code from Kudos 1, but I’ll be improving on it.

Great timing then, that last night ‘L.A Story‘ was on TV, which was the inspiration for the idea of hip restaurants in the first game. The best scene in the film is when Steve Martin is trying to book a table at a hip Hollywood restaurant called L’Idiot (pronounced ‘Lidio’). The evil French waiter (played by patrick stewart) is interrogating him to see whether he is the sort of person he wants in his restaurant. He scoffs at Steve Martins job (TV weatherman) and demands to know his bank records, the value of his house and where he takes his holidays, before eventually conceding he can have a table in eight weeks time as long as he only orders the chicken and not the duck.

Even better, is the scene later in the film where someone with an upper class English accent (Richard E Grant) books a table no problem with a 2 minute call. I love that :D

Kudos always had lots of factors that determine if you get to eat at the best places, but I’m really going to town this time. For maximum results, you will need to be a highly cultured french-speaking food critic with bags of cash, a smart suit and designer sunglasses :D. Hey it’s not normal game-fare, but we have slain enough dragons, we need games where the end-level boss is a pompous waiter now.