Testing, Testing, … R,P,G…

I’ve been slowly going back into my old work habits, which include game-testing.  So that’s today’s topic:  game-testing RPGs.  I feel like at some point in my year-long hiatus, I’ve somehow learned to work a little smarter at what I do; should have been game-testing the kinds of games I’ll be writing – just like since I’m an sf/fantasy writer, that’s what I read – a loong time ago.  Also, I’ve learned to not wholly rely on the book from which I started, the “Hello, World!” one, but move on from there now and start studying Python from other angles – and so, currently, I’m working at the information on the learnpythonthehardway.org website – as well as now being certain to follow the instructions better and not just gloss over stuff that’s a bit difficult for me (as math is at times).  Even more importantly, I am doing the skill drills no matter how slowly they may come.

Right, so back to the matter at hand:  game-testing.  I started doing this last week first with games on Kongregate.  There are some very interesting ones there now, and I’m actually learning a lot.  For instance, I did not know there was once upon a time a precursor to the MMO standby wherein you’re in a group, you die and get resurrected by the healer… or conversely, if you’re hanging out alone and die you can call and see if anyone around could help.  Yeah, back in the days of regular old RPG, when you died, your “group” would help (it’s just that the “group” wasn’t other real people).  I’ve also seen some stuff I think is just neat, like in The Trade of Stories, wherein you’re a trader who literally collects tales, as a bard might, in a lovely-painted world.

Then, slowly, I’ve shifted over into game-testing a little bit of other RPGs.  With my husband I’ve done some of “Undertale”, for instance.  I’ve also gotten the newest version of “Dwarf Fortress” and gone into that some.  Still doing Kongregate games like today, when I’m a little low-power as the wind whacks branches and howls at the windows, and the pressure changes, so I couldn’t even answer the question “What do you want for breakfast?”  But low-power game-testing can be very useful in the end.

Like, now.  I mean, from the notes I take when doing game-testing (in any state of mind), I know that I’ve been paying attention to what mechanics are possibly being used and what’s happening that I might or might not want to do for my own games.  Things I might want to try slightly differently, at least.  In the newer “Dwarf Fortress”, for instance, I love that they stuck in new instruments and actually made instruments useful, but for some reason they won’t tell what a visiting bard (another new feature) is saying when he or she recites poetry, though they give a very intriguing description of rhyme and meter according to a made-up system, and they only give the first line of any story they’re telling.  Curious? You might want to try this one; it’s intriguing.  Anybody have suggestions for RPGs I should try out?  Any thoughts on ones you’ve done recently, that you’d change just a little bit maybe, or even better some amazing stuff you found in this or that one?  I’m always ready to try out new things.


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“Hello – again – World”!

Dear readers…

No, I have not dropped off the face of this planet or any other one.  The past year and a half I’ve been dealing with major health issues, that are sort of calming down, so last week I started back to work.  First, I finished – no, honest this time – the storyboard for “Nikria’s Menace” (that took several days last week but was very much worth it).

So, we know what comes next:  programming.  I think it goes without saying I’m a tad rusty even on the amount I did pick up the past few years before that stuff happened.  So, being damn determined to figure this out now that I’m sort of on the mend – just some things to patch up – I’ve started working my way through “Learn Python the Hard Way” (the online version though I’d like to get the actual book sometime).  Now, it’s true that a couple years back I kind of skimmed through the site, (I know, not recommended, and if the author sees this by chance he can certainly noogie me for it because I deserve that), however this time we’re playing for keeps.  I am – scout’s honor – reading the book page by page, and doing the exercises bit by bit, every single fricking one.  Who else has gone through this one?

Oh yes, I’ll be adding game-testing back in to my regimen – suddenly got the “Rocky” theme in my head lol – today, I think, since it’s a weekend.  My husband’s discovered a new game called “Undertale” and I have heard tons about it from him by now.  As of yet, though, I’m unable to sit up for too long so playing it with him is out.  The info he’s told me about it did remind me of a game on Kongregate which I remember really liking, so I think I’ll go there just now.

Anybody else play “Undertale”?  What’s your thoughts on it?

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The Name of the Thing

Hello, after a wait; I’ve been sparsely doing work on “Nikria’s Menace” or anything regarding game design, to be honest.  What I have been doing, in addition to some bits of worldbuilding here and there and putting in the storyboard – thought I’d finished that, but apparently not – is naming functions that’ll proc when Player puts in commands.  There’s been a lot of that, actually:  humandiscussion, for instance, is well past number 80 and it looks like there will be much more of that.

Now bear in mind I’m kind of shooting into the dark with this.  It popped up in my mind after beta-testing Starbound so much; whenever you set up a server in there, you get to see the Command Core, and I’ve been paying heed to it, watching what commands and/or functions go that would say what’s where.  I’ve seen it to some extent too when I played World of Warcraft, and watched it a little while that game was and while LOTRO is patching/updating.  So I’ve seen things like what shields load, what environments are going to be present.  All the same, it’s surreal and tentative doing this myself.

The functions also go along with another issue I’ve found that I need to deal with, also regarding Player interactions.  I have found three kinds of these now, which I believe I need to define and classify within the game:  1)Passive Interaction (i.e. there’s an Event going on in this or that room where the player is, but all the Player gets for the moment is a bit of text); 2)Direct Interaction (i.e. Player is talking to NPCs, getting something, or fighting; and 3)Indirect Interaction (i.e. the Player has chosen one thing or the other with regard to how he/she wants to move on, but at this time the game only has a bit of writing to show).  I think that when a complex Direct Interaction is going on, for instance when the Player is in the Ghlaanan market and he/she has a lot of possibilities, there might be a need for a kind of master function (like a main humandiscussion or something).  I’m also wondering if the Passive and Indirect Interactions are happening, they should be defined as such, but still along the lines of a humandiscussion function.  Something like passive_discussion or indirect_discussion maybe.

It reminds me of something I saw from a friend of mine on Facebook the other day: “Naming is easy; REnaming something much less so.”  My husband has said to me that I’m creating a language for the game.  I hope I’m doing it well.

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Anatomy of a Legendary Villain

I love this post, actually. Not having cookie-cutter, one-dimensional villains is important for game writing too! I mean, how often can we just shoot down the penguin’s pirate ship in Starbound without getting tired of it (which I think the writers of that one sensed, so they broadened out that storyline a little more). How often can we do dungeon crawl after dungeon crawl in, well, more games than I can name, and learn the tricks specific to this end boss or that one before we get tired of doing it?

I thought a lot about this while writing up the villain Spaud for “Nikria’s Menace.” This posting actually does help me get deeper in my thinking about it, though. Not sure if I want to apply it in this case, or the next one (which will be a Kritter game:)).

Next time we’ll be exploring other programming things. Sorry I’ve been gone for awhile; baaaad health problems got in the way, I’m afraid. Meantime, enjoy this post!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 9.14.12 AM

Before we get started, I’d like to remind anyone who wants a WAY better chance at winning my 20 Page Death Star Critique, that I have started the Dojo Diva Blog and we are talking about Beginnings, namely giving ourselves permission to be NEW. Comments and trackbacks on the Dojo Diva count double and, since it is a separate contest, there is a LOT better chance of winning.

Moving on. VILLAINS!!!!

The antagonist is the most critical part to any story. No antagonist, NO story. Villains are only a type of antagonist and though this type of character has the power to be legendary, often what we see in books, series and movies are mustache-twirling caricatures. Villains can easily become one-dimensional plot puppets.

As writers, we must get in the head of our villains as much if not more than the protagonist. The reason is that eventually our protagonist must…

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So how does a person from Kritter say “Abracadabra”?

I’ve been working on and off on spells for Kritter.  Just naming them for the moment; I started with the humans’ spells dependant on what class said human had chosen.  I have stuff like the usual healing ones, but then there’s Clurra Knights who have an elemental with them (maybe, not sure about it) but a soul-tie to their Paladin (Paladins and Clurra Knights work as a team, so that if the Paladin dies their powers are transferred over).

You know me, I’m trying to make something different, a little innovative.  I’ve been playing a lot of Dwarf Fortress lately and getting some ideas there for things (lol, though unfortunately the fortress I currently have has ended up with a very Asian twist somehow, complete with a miniature Great Wall and a Dakhma, which is an Indian burial tower – all this stuff is more suited to the Amin Durr end of the Kritter stuff, Amin Durr being the land to the east of Kritter)!  Still, I do have some thoughts…  And I’ve also gotten spell ideas from Kritter tales I’ve already written and published; “Dave Pursues the Gryphon”, for instance, wherein Dave actually travels through paintings, for one, and weather spells for farmer characters.  Because I do have a farmer class you’ll be able to play, as well as wizards, druids, kritter knights (no magic), clurra knights, paladins, merchants, a prince/princess class (they’re very good at illusion, deception, and poisons, because they have to be), and a highwayman class (that also doesn’t do magic).  There’s some class-specific spells, like goblins have one with card decks, and dwarves have the ability to create other dwarves out of stone, and harpies make rubies from menstrual blood (that last one’s from “Harpy”.   So, reading some Kritter tales, you could get an idea of what you’d be seeing in-game:).

As you can probably tell by now, Kritter will be at least a 2d world (I don’t want it a sidescroller, though).   I don’t know how to do that yet so I’m just doing the written stuff for now, which is why I started with spell-naming.  And that’s requiring me to figure out what races I want to be playable.  It’s a nice high-fantasy world, and I’m comfy in it, so the spells aren’t too difficult – figuring out their characteristics will probably be more so.

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LOTRO: Looking on the BRIGHT SIDE…

I needed that just now! Thanks, Tsu:)


bright side of life LOTRO

Almost weekend, and login issues aside, hope to enjoy with 3 days of LOTRO morning bliss…

If it all works out I should have earnt enough TP for Mirkwood expansion and my RK adventures with Tsukuld will take a step closer to END GAME (whatever the hell that is!??)

But whatever happens I will be looking at the bright side of life 🙂

‘Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…
…always look on the bright side
of life…
Always look on the light side
of life…
If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you’re feeling in the dumps

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High Fantasy

Well, it’s official:  the storyboard for “Nikria’s Menace” is finished as of a few days ago.  Woo hoo!  My husband the Audiophile:) is currently working at putting it into a spreadsheet format so it’ll be easier for both of us to deal with.

I myself am waiting on an upcoming operation, and dealing with intermittent pain here and there, as well as just tiredness.  So in the meantime I’ve begun setting up “Kritter” for game design.  I know that I want that world to be more like The Elder Scrolls, i.e. various games based on the various stories I’ve written about it.  I’m organizing the scattered notes I’d had from the DNDoG stuff from back when I’d considered doing a platform for them, which actually was to have been within Kritter.  I learned a lot from that experience even though the project fell through, and I have a good deal of stuff to work with therefore!  Since the organization of it all is relatively low key for me, it makes sense to do; the place will be set up for when I have more brain-power and energy to devote to more intense game design.

The irony is that when I do world-building, which is really what this is just now, I generally do work in spreadsheet form if it’s on a computer.  For some reason or other though I didn’t do it for Kritter!  Ah well, I started this last night and realized I still had to do it differently than if I were just writing:  There need to be descriptions for everything under the sun, no matter if I’m doing text or 2D sidescroller, because even if the player is going to be seeing Sir Kline moping in the Inn, I need to know what he/she WILL see.  Descriptions I can do right now.  That’s fine.

Yet again I find myself fascinated by the differences between writing stories and writing games.  As a writer I would just say a Knight’s grumpy, might state his age or something about him hating Urchins, and that’s it – but as a dev I need to show in the spreadsheet what his armor looks like, the color of his eyes and hair, any scars, and every single thing within that room down to mug rings on the tables.  Other things the player will never see would be all the behind-the-scenes stuff about spells and character design, like harpies might get a boost during full moons and so on.

So far I have found a number of different concepts I’ll need to wrangle here:

1)Race – As I’ve said before, I want to include various races than the generic, and I want to give players the option to be other peoples than just Elf, Dwarf, Human, so I’m going to work at the descriptions and characterizations of each very hard to make people interested in trying something new there.

2)Class – This might be one of the more difficult parts for me; I’ve figured out I want classes like Prince/Princess (who are good at poisons and deception/illusion spells), but I also might need to figure out how to roll the numbers for each – or how to do something completely different!


4)Spells – Also difficult, potentially, for the same reason as in Class.

5)Religion – This’ll just be basic part of characterization, I *think*.

6)Currency – Lol, my poor husband who suffered through 24 hours of Albion gave me a death glare when I mentioned I was thinking of having currency have weight, because money in that game does and it therefore impacts the player’s decisions about how much to carry.  Buuuut… I’m dying to someday put in the Knapsack Problem, into some game…

7)Rooms – You might think I had this one down, but I don’t.  On and off, yeah, I’ve been futzing in Minecraft, making models of parts of  Wenterly City or something, so I have a better idea of what it actually does look like.  Drawing, too, helps.  Need something more tangible – I’ll need to calculate distances too in rooms, all that, how long it takes a Piptid to get somewhere as opposed to a Human.

8)Events/Instances – This one I’m leaving to the end of my world-building, because it does bleed into whenever I actually get down to writing the game (s) it/themselves.

I think this will take awhile to figure out, no actually I’m sure of it.  Kritter’s a big, well-developed land with a ton of regions within it.  There’s a lot of change between “Nikria’s Menace” and that.  Not the least of which is that I want Kritter games to be visuals.  Yep, that’ll take awhile!

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