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

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.

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?