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

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…

Computer stuff and power requirements

So recently I ordered a ‘Kill-a-watt’, a gadget that lets you plug it in between a device and the power supply that tells you how many watts, volts, amps yada yada it uses. In these times of insane energy bills (mine is now £100 a month combined gas and electricity) I think it’s a smart move to work out where all the power goes. Sure, some companies quote figures, but can you trust the seller of some kit to say how much it costs to run?

The Kill-a-watt cost me £19.95 from here: and arrived this morning. Here is what the little beastie looks like:

So how do all my bits and pieces of hardware stack up? First lets try that nice flat screen monitor:

The Monitor

The monitor in question is an IIyama 19 inch ProLite H481S. It’s pretty lovely, but looking a bit small these days. this gets auto-turned off by vista when I’m away from the PC, and I also turn it off each evening. It’s guzzling 30 watts, which isn’t to be sneezed at, that’s the equivalent of 3 energy saving light bulbs.

The official power consumption for this model is 40W, so it ooks like they actually overestimated its usage. I’m running it at the native res, but the (very poor) speakers were not in use.

Edit : It seems that I can push it 1 watt higher by playing ‘painkiller’ by Judas Priest through the inbuilt speakers. I think i generalize this to playback of any heavy metal.

The Printer

The printer is an HP deskjet 960C, which I often leave switched on when not in use. Looks like it only uses 2 watts, probably for that little green LED. No great worry there.

The Router

I use a very flaky Linksys wireless-G ADSL gateway router. Obviously it’s always on, and because it gets upset when turned off (sometimes this piece of crap won’t turn on until its been left off for 30 minutes…) I leave it on all night too. Looks like all those flashing lights only use up 8 watts, which is not irrelevant, but not a disaster either

I can’t find any official information on what power this unit is supposed to draw, so you heard it here first!

The PC

Holy cow, the main PC base unit really does guzzle the power. This reading (160 watts) was taken after windows had booted and settled down, its an Intel dual core 6600 2.40GHZ CPU  (2 gig RAM) vista machine with a Geforce 8800 GTS video card. Interestingly, I tried some experiments with heavy processor use (rebuilding my current game project, the sequel to kudos), and some mega disk thrashing (copying huge amounts of files) and the power consumption didn’t really change much at all. Make of that what you will, maybe the disk is always drawing a lot of power anyway, or maybe neither processor core is idle, or steps back its power drain when idle.

The Game

I tried starting a 2 vs 2 AI vs Me skirmish game of Company of Heroes, set to 1280 1024 res with everything set high, to see if maybe the video card could push the power consumption higher. A noticeable change, but nothing dramatic to report. maybe those people trying to sell 300 and 400 or even 500 watt power supplies are overstating their case?

Sleep Mode

ZZZZZZZZZZ. I set vista to go to sleep mode if left for 15 minutes or more, and am very happy with how it springs back to life damn fast. I still make the effort to completely power down the beast overnight, and a BIOS timer wakes it when my alarm clock goes off. is this worth the hassle? In sleep mode it looks like its drawing a measly 3 watts, less than the flipping router.  Interesting stuff :D

So there you have it. later today I might check out what the TV, the Wii, the other gadgets and gizmos draw to see if theres anything stupidly hungry that I’m leaving on (although generally I’m obsessed with turning all this stuff off).

What is this thing you humans call kudos?

One of the things that emerged from recent playtesting was that the actual value of ‘kudos’ in Kudos 2 was a tad irrelevant. In some ways, it was an unoffical ‘score’ in the first game. getting more kudos was good, because thats what the game was about. it enabled a very few things to be unlocked, and it would slowly degrade (and have a static element based on friendships).

This sucked a bit, and needed re-jigging. I did part of that today. Kudos is n longer a seperate score, next to the current cash, and it’s now an attribute like health, IQ or Culture. You build up your kudos just like any other attribute, and its the games shorthand for ‘cool’. So buying trendy sunglasses, going to nightclubs and hanging out with trendy people raises your kudos. You need kudos to become a TV presenter or other cool udde, but if your character becomes a C++ programmer or lawyer, it’s pretty irrelevant.

I think this (currently) works better than the previous approach.  Kudos is just another thing you can concentrate on, like IQ, money, happiness or whatever, depending on how you choose to prioritize for your character. The good news is the game seems to have a lot of potential right now to enable you to play in lots of different ways, whilst still providing a challenge, and lots to do. it’s already so much better a game than the original. There are of course, lots of bugs to fix, improvements to make, and content to add, but this will be the most complex, polished and feature rich game I’ve ever developed, once it’s finally done :D

Kudos 2 play-throughs & cloned!

I’ve done two one-hour play-throughs of Kudos 2 today, fixing bugs and tweaks as I have encountered them. I still need some more artwork, and tons and tons of bug-testing, plus some game play redesigning to make the actual value of kudos in the game more relevant. here’s my fix list for today:

FIXED *** shrink mind-state button doesn’t work
FIXED *** takes forever to build muscles
FIXED *** movie eat popcorn button needs to shuffle up 4 pixels
FIXED *** fitness maybe degrades a bit quick, esp from weightlifting
FIXED *** if some social event costs 0 and we have negative funds we still cant do it :(
FIXED *** calendar “time for two activities” doesn’t update
FIXED *** soccer needs higher max invitees
FIXED *** food item tooltips are wrong
FIXED *** more police days should be fit ones.
FIXED *** police workers should be immune to muggings surely?
FIXED *** tooltip for job search needs to indicate it shows current job details too
FIXED *** if you keep repeating the same activity again and again, you should get bored
FIXED *** maybe a police sound for when you do the police job?
FIXED *** do sunglasses have any effect?
FIXED *** golf should boost fitness a little bit

This is basically the way I work these days, keep playing the game with textpad open to make a list of stuff that’s broken. then when the game gets unplayable due to one of them, go through and fix them all, then repeat. The game already feels pretty addictive, and filled with stuff, which is good. It’s so much better than the original game.

In other news I see that a major games portal have cloned Kudos : Rock Legend. Meh. Mine has more personality. mine is FROM THE HEART. :D