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

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”

Good Day For Bug Fixing

Here is what got improved / changed / fixed on Kudos 2 today:

  • FIXED *** re-jig when romantic offers are made so they come after a social event
  • FIXED *** only highlight npcs for romantic invites if they are your partner
  • FIXED *** heart icon not drawing on NPC window or icon.
  • FIXED *** Activities should be unlocked based on how many social events you host
  • FIXED *** Gender not right in job title
  • FIXED *** Charisma should be reduced by irritating people
  • FIXED *** its too easy to boost relationships at the start
  • FIXED *** post mortem relationship change meter needs visible midpoint
  • FIXED *** people shouldnt say they had nothing in common with other people if its just you and them.
  • FIXED *** locked activities are still shown in the list.
  • FIXED *** expanded skills interface is screwed up.
  • FIXED *** tv subscription cancellation dialog doesn’t trigger
  • FIXED *** correct avatar name not saved properly
  • FIXED *** first day of new job doesnt seem to raise stress
  • FIXED *** short bus journeys are too cheap
  • FIXED *** after work screen title is in wrong place
  • FIXED *** staying in reading a book should boost loneliness and its not.
  • FIXED *** commute distance should be shown on job instance details.
  • FIXED *** need to show the controlling attribute as well as the displayed one when viewing debug windows
  • FIXED *** make extraverts more likely to meet new people doing solo activities and vice versa.

Plus a long palythrough gave me mroe stuff for my todo list. This game is HUGE, there is just too much to do…

Skills GUI

I made a decision with Kudos 2 that I was going to get everything working and looking how I wanted, regardless of how much hassle was involved. Partly this just means changing my state of mind when I’m typing out my ‘todo’ list as I test the game. Rather than mentally editing it to take into account technical difficulties, I just jot down how to improve the game and tell myself not to worry about what’s involved. Then when I go to implement them, I just do it, regardless how awkward some things are.

An example of this was the panel that shows the players skills. This panel just sat there and didn’t have the status update balloons which flash up when you change your attributes, but when playing it occurred to me that this would be a good idea, especially on the ‘post mortem’ screen where many of them change. Making them show up at all involved a ton of recoding. Then I hit the issue that you can have a lot of skills, and they looked horridly cluttered on that post-mortem screen.

So eventually I had to write a bunch of extra code for the skills GUI that rebuilds it just for the post-mortem screen, showing just what’s changed. This is great for the player but was a bitch to code. Hopefully, if I can keep developing like this, the game will have a far more polished feel than anything else I’ve done.

BTW server is a bit slashdotted today…