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

Blog crash and mega-playthrough

I’ve had database issues on my server which thankfully should now be sorted, and I won’t have to gnaw off my own leg in frenzied frustration every time I try to make a new blog entry now. It was something to do with SQL processing limits or some such. We never used to have these problems with text editors, grumble grumble.

Today, after doing a small bit of classic ‘work’ I did a very long play-through of the game (Kudos 2). The game was originally design to last 10 years, like the original. (With the option possibly to keep playing..maybe..not sure).

The thing is, having done a four year playthrough this afternoon, I’m thinking that’s possibly long enough. One of the things I’m concerned about is the long-term playability and re-playability of the game. The last thing I want is for the game to feel like a chore towards the end. I’ve already made enough changes and design tweaks to it that this is far less of a concern than it was for Kudos 1, but I’m still seriously considering changing it to be five years instead. The thing is, five years sounds weird.  The other option is to do ten years, and double the rate at which time goes by, basically by skipping every other month. Would that seem weird? Or I could change months every 3 days instead of every seven. Decisions…decisions…

BTW I got The Starship Tycoon data off that old disk. i’m going to attempt to tidy up a bit each weekend then release it one day.

New Sounds, New data… how big a deal?

I bought some new stock sounds for Kudos 2 today to replace some of the sounds that are still in there from the original game. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I can imagine some people who own Kudos 1 will be annoyed if (for example) they hear the same sneeze sound from the first game. After all, you have paid for a new game right? But on the other hand, does it *really* matter? There is a lot of new content and art and features in the new game, but to be honest, the sound of someone sneezing is the sound of someone sneezing. Does it really matter? Did they change the MP40 gun sound between COD 2 and COD 1? I have no idea, and doubt I would care or notice, but obviously I want my customers to be happy.

Clearly
its cheaper and easier and quicker to leave in old sounds (and text where applicable) rather than pointlessly redoing things for the sake of it. I’d rather spend that time and money adding new stuff like the stand up comedy night, new books, new jobs and new sounds etc. I’m interested to know what people think, especially if you bought Kudos 1. Would recognizing some sounds and text annoy you?

Share dealing and Birthdays

So I took all the money that remained from my insane specualtion on marks And Spencers, and this mronin hrough the whole lot on the commodities market ‘Short Lead’, which as it stands is up 6% today (although it was already up 4 when I bought).

Charts:

http://www.selftrade.co.uk/quote.php?symbole=1uSLEA.L

It has to be a better bet than M&S, who amazingly dropped AGAIN today.

perhaps I better stick to trying to make a living from games? Today I have got some of the ‘year-end-summary’ screen looking nicer. This used to be a bit bland, but now it is effectively your birthday party, and even pleases or depresses you depending on how many guests show up. It’s like a once-yearly reality check for you to see what your friends think of you :D

This afternoon I plan a long playtest again.

BTW WordPress is causing me grief. very buggy. grrrrrrrr.

Balancing middle and late game code

I’ve been working on the balance of the game today. Stuff like how easily you put on weight, how much money you earn etc. I’ve made some big changes and hopefully tomorrows playthroughs will show an improvement in the long term balance.

The problem with testing a simulation game is it gets too easy to just play it the way *you* play those games. I have quite a specific style of management game playing. I tend to eventually gravitate to a single variable (like population size in sim city, or profits in Vegas:MIB, and almost ignore other aspects of the game as I zone out on trying to maximise that variable. When I play kudos, I tend to be very career-focused, so I need to ensure I don’t polish and tweak that area of the game to the exclusion of other areas. I also tend to never finish games, but keep restarting with different tactics, so the middle and late games can get a bit repetitive. I’m aware of this tendency, and keen to fix it this time around.

One of the ways I hope to do this is by unlocking content as the game plays. The mechanic for this is social events organised by you, the more you do, the more options you unlock. If you play the game naturally, this means you are still unlocking some new options after an hour or more of play, so the game stays fresh all that time at least. By the time the game is finished I hope there to be enough content and variety that the game stays fresh throughout all ten years.

What will Kudos 2 be like?

I thought it might be worth summing up what to expect in the next game, so here is a rough description of the differences:

Kudos 2 will have proper music, composed to fit the game, not just stock music that I thought I could fit around the game, like the original did.

Kudos 2 will have much better avatars, with some degree of chopping and changing, rather than just selecting preset images. They will be hand drawn art, not computer generated poser stuff

Kudos 2 has more depth to the careers. You don’t have a generic bad day at work, but a bunch of stroppy customers as a waiter, or an exciting new experiment as a physicist. It just adds some colour to the jobs

Kudos 2 will not have that confusing social networks screen. Nobody understood it anyway :D

Kudos 2 will have a revamped GUI that looks 100 times brighter, cleaner and generally more pleasing than the down-beat murky look of the original. Goodbye greys and dark blue!

Kudos 2 will have a far more efficient and stable graphics engine, meaning the system requirements may even be lower than before, and its compatibiltiy with video and sound card combinations should be much higher

Kudos 2 has some greater depth to a variety of the existing components, like restaurants, reading books etc.

Plus there will be more items to buy, more social and solo options, a different video game to play, totally revamped GUIs for a lot of the game. etc etc.

In other words, it’s the same concept and approach as the first game, done with a massively higher level of polish, effort, time and consideration. I can’t imagine anyone who liked K1 not liking K2, and the plan is that some people who didn’t even try the K1 demo (or didn’t enjoy it) will look at K2 with fresh eyes.

That’s the plan…

“bad wolf”