Development Progress Report, weeks 16+17

Coming out of the tangled and awkward mess that constitutes the usual (and I use the term advisedly), “festive season”, I’ve had my head down with a fairly major overhaul of the game-engine.

Once I started, it was hard to stop – particularly, since once I started, the engine was pretty much broken until I was mostly done. The primary work was converting to SDL (version 2, in case you’re wondering). I spent a couple hours figuring SDL out, then dove into the conversion.

The secondary work was just as interesting, as I started doing the necessary portability work to get the engine to build and run on other platforms.

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Development progress report, week 15

Development is picking up again, with some actual measurable progress towards the next milestone. Despite, again, not being able to spend much time on it.

The narrative is up to 213,734 words, which is 5,081 words up from last week. A number of narrative glitches got fixed, and there’s only a few more character narratives to complete to close in on the target point of the narrative, that comprises the development-milestone.

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Development progress report, week 14

And we’re back after a gap of a couple of weeks. Melbourne International Games Week was a bust for me, thanks to some badly-timed medical problems, and a life-threatening illness in the family, which is no longer life-threatening, but still remains unidentified.

After a two-week gap, it  has been a bit tricky to try to get back into things, but actually enough got accomplished to be well-satisfying.

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Romance without routes. Breaking the CYOA/VN formula

Choice-based interactive-fiction comes in a whole bunch of narrative models. If you haven’t read the These Heterogenous Tasks article, Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games, you should run right out and do that. It’s excellent, and I’ll be making some references to it. I’ll wait. Promise.

Done that? Good, let’s move along.

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Regression and ignorance

One of the more involved aspects of the Argus story engine is how characters learn and express information about each-other. Some of that knowledge is just used for conditional narrative, but the most important part (currently) is how characters address each-other.

Names, titles, nationality, differing levels of formality, age, gender, and more, all get churned through sets of constructs provided by the story, which ultimately result in some form of address. That’s what I call the reference model. It’s updated as characters learn new information about each-other, and gaps in the knowledge-structure are filled in with assumptions, where no direct knowledge exists.

And annoyingly, way down in scene 360, one of the characters seemed suddenly unable to create a valid form of address for the character she was speaking to.

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That’s what you get

What do you get when you rework, redesign, extend and simplify your conditional expression evaluators? You get bugs, that’s what you get.

Thankfully, nothing was terribly difficult to figure out, once I’d actually discovered that the bug was there at all. The problem was that I didn’t notice for about a day.

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Rewriting text output

Rendering text in a graphical environment is … let’s call it ‘involved’. Assuming you want to output a single line of text in a single typeface and colour, that’s pretty easy. The interface libraries will even probably be willing to word-wrap it for you.

If you want to do other things, like mix plain text with italics or bold or text in other colours, well suddenly you’ve got dozens of hoops to jump through.

Well, I did want that, so I had to work for it.

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