skyknyt: (tycho is crazy)
So Lise gave me some topics to talk about in my journal, and since I've wanted to get back into the whole, you know, writing stuff that other people actually read thing, here they are:
1. More Madoka analyses!
2. I remember you saying a while ago you were leaving your job to work on a comic script. But I also know you're working at Blizzard again. So what happened in there?
3. What are you writing lately?
4. Books/anime/TV/movies that have caught your interest recently
5. Why so many anime have Neal Stephenson endings.
6. Skyrim is awesome, but still not as awesome as Morrowind - and why
7. Why people should read Michael Swanwick

Phew, it's hard to know where to start here. I've got a lot of stuff to say on all of these subjects.

Right now I think the easiest one to start with is:What are you writing lately? )
skyknyt: (Default)
So Lise gave me some topics to talk about in my journal, and since I've wanted to get back into the whole, you know, writing stuff that other people actually read thing, here they are:
1. More Madoka analyses!
2. I remember you saying a while ago you were leaving your job to work on a comic script. But I also know you're working at Blizzard again. So what happened in there?
3. What are you writing lately?
4. Books/anime/TV/movies that have caught your interest recently
5. Why so many anime have Neal Stephenson endings.
6. Skyrim is awesome, but still not as awesome as Morrowind - and why
7. Why people should read Michael Swanwick

Phew, it's hard to know where to start here. I've got a lot of stuff to say on all of these subjects.

Right now I think the easiest one to start with is:What are you writing lately? )
skyknyt: (tycho is crazy)
So Lise gave me some topics to talk about in my journal, and since I've wanted to get back into the whole, you know, writing stuff that other people actually read thing, here they are:
1. More Madoka analyses!
2. I remember you saying a while ago you were leaving your job to work on a comic script. But I also know you're working at Blizzard again. So what happened in there?
3. What are you writing lately?
4. Books/anime/TV/movies that have caught your interest recently
5. Why so many anime have Neal Stephenson endings.
6. Skyrim is awesome, but still not as awesome as Morrowind - and why
7. Why people should read Michael Swanwick

Phew, it's hard to know where to start here. I've got a lot of stuff to say on all of these subjects.

Right now I think the easiest one to start with is:What are you writing lately? )
skyknyt: (team rocket romance)
skyknyt: you're like "what if mulan was actually a female impersonator and it wasn't discovered until after her marriage"
gamoid: why am i googling this
skyknyt: hahahahahh
gamoid: WELP. it exists. that's enough internet for one day
skyknyt: oh my god does it, I made that up
skyknyt: (Default)
skyknyt: you're like "what if mulan was actually a female impersonator and it wasn't discovered until after her marriage"
gamoid: why am i googling this
skyknyt: hahahahahh
gamoid: WELP. it exists. that's enough internet for one day
skyknyt: oh my god does it, I made that up
skyknyt: (team rocket romance)
skyknyt: you're like "what if mulan was actually a female impersonator and it wasn't discovered until after her marriage"
gamoid: why am i googling this
skyknyt: hahahahahh
gamoid: WELP. it exists. that's enough internet for one day
skyknyt: oh my god does it, I made that up
skyknyt: (lucid flash)
skyknyt: (Default)
skyknyt: (lucid flash)
skyknyt: (artistic vigilante)
1. The Goal
The goal of a satyr's life was, primarily, to tell the story of why a particular character would ever choose to become a satyr. Ideally, in doing that, it would demonstrate my ability to tell a story using map design, gameplay mechanics, and good old fashioned dialogue. I chose the WC3 world editor because I'd had experience with it, and a lot of experience with its predecessor, Staredit, and it meant a minimal amount of time fiddling with graphic assets.

2. Initial steps
Knowing what kind of story I wanted to tell influenced my original concept for the map, and the design of the map fed directly into how to tell that story. I wanted it to be about exploring a ruined city, at the same time that it was also about exploring the main character's memories of that city, and ultimately why he ended up a Satyr.

This meant that I went with three tiers of story - a location based one, that would reveal more about the personality of the characters, and a chronological one, that would reveal more about the backstory, and an event based one, that would escalate the conflict. Inspired by Dear Esther, I knew I could have a certain amount of narrative mismatch compensated for by the player's brain. Thus, the design of the level lets you mix the three narrative tiers to a large extent.

3. Starting construction
My map basis was the buddhist wheel of life, this let the player start at the hub, and choose which direction they wanted to explore, in what order pleased them. But how was I going to allow multiple endings? I kept this in mind as I built each of the 8 locations the player was going to visit.

Ultimately I decided on two endings - one from the character accepting the past by confronting all 8 memories, and the other if the player destroyed the ruins and fought the ghosts that inhabited them. I've flirted with a third ending, where you complete all the pre-requisites of both (since right now doing all of one set deactivates the triggers that do the other), and fighting some secret super-hard boss. This would have necessitated a rebuilding of the experience provided by enemies and the difficulty of enemies, though, since it doesn't take a lot of work to max out as it is. (and the "Good ending" boss is extremely hard already).

The first draft of my game script was pretty straightforward - I wanted to make it as accessible as possible, and I didn't want to load it down with Warcraft jargon. I simplified it even further in the second draft, before showing it to some folks to get edits. The third draft was mostly keepers - though some of it changed in recording. By this point, the map itself was almost completed on the first draft of scripting - there was no dialogue but you could play through the entire structure of the game to reach both endings.

4. Recording
The recording sessions were very strong - and most of the ad libbed stuff made it into the keeper track. However, there were some major hurdles here logistically - the files weren't in any particular order, and it was a pain in the ass to keep track of which files were which. Serena came up with a naming system for them, and corrected the script for all the ad libs. A few errant files and takes were redone or recut, and the process of integrating the script and the recordings with the game was very straightforward. If the file structure and naming system had been figured out before recording, it literally would have removed about 30-40% of the work of this stage.

You just can't underestimate how important logistics are!

Now the only problem with all of this - the recordings were done at separate sessions, almost totally removed from what was actually going on in the map. This means that for some of them, I'd like slightly different recordings than actually got put in the map. I guess this is why Blizzard starts with placeholder files and iterates towards the final ones! This wasn't really feasible for me, so it's a matter of working with what I got.

5. Testing and polishing
At this point, it was time to run through the map a whole lot, and find any inconsistences and prevent as much sequence breaking as possible. I'm not totally happy with pausing the gameplay for most of the dialogue, but because of the size of the map, it would have been way too easy to sequence break or overlap triggers in the queue. Remembering how much I hated overlapping sound files in Dear Esther, I picked the lesser evil and used cinematic mode for most of the dialogue.

I also went in and used blinky doodads and similar on the map to denote quest locations. This way even if players miss the quest text, they still have an onscreen guide to find the locations of interest. I didn't want to make it TOO easy to find the "bad" ending, so the instructions for that are still fairly arcane - I figure if someone is experimenting they will find it on their own.

Now that most of the testing for the rest of the map was done, I created the opening "dream sequence" and double checked the ending sequences. With a couple of tweeks to introduce some thematic elements, the map was basically done. I think I'm going to polish a couple more segments, but that was it!
skyknyt: (Default)
1. The Goal
The goal of a satyr's life was, primarily, to tell the story of why a particular character would ever choose to become a satyr. Ideally, in doing that, it would demonstrate my ability to tell a story using map design, gameplay mechanics, and good old fashioned dialogue. I chose the WC3 world editor because I'd had experience with it, and a lot of experience with its predecessor, Staredit, and it meant a minimal amount of time fiddling with graphic assets.

2. Initial steps
Knowing what kind of story I wanted to tell influenced my original concept for the map, and the design of the map fed directly into how to tell that story. I wanted it to be about exploring a ruined city, at the same time that it was also about exploring the main character's memories of that city, and ultimately why he ended up a Satyr.

This meant that I went with three tiers of story - a location based one, that would reveal more about the personality of the characters, and a chronological one, that would reveal more about the backstory, and an event based one, that would escalate the conflict. Inspired by Dear Esther, I knew I could have a certain amount of narrative mismatch compensated for by the player's brain. Thus, the design of the level lets you mix the three narrative tiers to a large extent.

3. Starting construction
My map basis was the buddhist wheel of life, this let the player start at the hub, and choose which direction they wanted to explore, in what order pleased them. But how was I going to allow multiple endings? I kept this in mind as I built each of the 8 locations the player was going to visit.

Ultimately I decided on two endings - one from the character accepting the past by confronting all 8 memories, and the other if the player destroyed the ruins and fought the ghosts that inhabited them. I've flirted with a third ending, where you complete all the pre-requisites of both (since right now doing all of one set deactivates the triggers that do the other), and fighting some secret super-hard boss. This would have necessitated a rebuilding of the experience provided by enemies and the difficulty of enemies, though, since it doesn't take a lot of work to max out as it is. (and the "Good ending" boss is extremely hard already).

The first draft of my game script was pretty straightforward - I wanted to make it as accessible as possible, and I didn't want to load it down with Warcraft jargon. I simplified it even further in the second draft, before showing it to some folks to get edits. The third draft was mostly keepers - though some of it changed in recording. By this point, the map itself was almost completed on the first draft of scripting - there was no dialogue but you could play through the entire structure of the game to reach both endings.

4. Recording
The recording sessions were very strong - and most of the ad libbed stuff made it into the keeper track. However, there were some major hurdles here logistically - the files weren't in any particular order, and it was a pain in the ass to keep track of which files were which. Serena came up with a naming system for them, and corrected the script for all the ad libs. A few errant files and takes were redone or recut, and the process of integrating the script and the recordings with the game was very straightforward. If the file structure and naming system had been figured out before recording, it literally would have removed about 30-40% of the work of this stage.

You just can't underestimate how important logistics are!

Now the only problem with all of this - the recordings were done at separate sessions, almost totally removed from what was actually going on in the map. This means that for some of them, I'd like slightly different recordings than actually got put in the map. I guess this is why Blizzard starts with placeholder files and iterates towards the final ones! This wasn't really feasible for me, so it's a matter of working with what I got.

5. Testing and polishing
At this point, it was time to run through the map a whole lot, and find any inconsistences and prevent as much sequence breaking as possible. I'm not totally happy with pausing the gameplay for most of the dialogue, but because of the size of the map, it would have been way too easy to sequence break or overlap triggers in the queue. Remembering how much I hated overlapping sound files in Dear Esther, I picked the lesser evil and used cinematic mode for most of the dialogue.

I also went in and used blinky doodads and similar on the map to denote quest locations. This way even if players miss the quest text, they still have an onscreen guide to find the locations of interest. I didn't want to make it TOO easy to find the "bad" ending, so the instructions for that are still fairly arcane - I figure if someone is experimenting they will find it on their own.

Now that most of the testing for the rest of the map was done, I created the opening "dream sequence" and double checked the ending sequences. With a couple of tweeks to introduce some thematic elements, the map was basically done. I think I'm going to polish a couple more segments, but that was it!
skyknyt: (artistic vigilante)
1. The Goal
The goal of a satyr's life was, primarily, to tell the story of why a particular character would ever choose to become a satyr. Ideally, in doing that, it would demonstrate my ability to tell a story using map design, gameplay mechanics, and good old fashioned dialogue. I chose the WC3 world editor because I'd had experience with it, and a lot of experience with its predecessor, Staredit, and it meant a minimal amount of time fiddling with graphic assets.

2. Initial steps
Knowing what kind of story I wanted to tell influenced my original concept for the map, and the design of the map fed directly into how to tell that story. I wanted it to be about exploring a ruined city, at the same time that it was also about exploring the main character's memories of that city, and ultimately why he ended up a Satyr.

This meant that I went with three tiers of story - a location based one, that would reveal more about the personality of the characters, and a chronological one, that would reveal more about the backstory, and an event based one, that would escalate the conflict. Inspired by Dear Esther, I knew I could have a certain amount of narrative mismatch compensated for by the player's brain. Thus, the design of the level lets you mix the three narrative tiers to a large extent.

3. Starting construction
My map basis was the buddhist wheel of life, this let the player start at the hub, and choose which direction they wanted to explore, in what order pleased them. But how was I going to allow multiple endings? I kept this in mind as I built each of the 8 locations the player was going to visit.

Ultimately I decided on two endings - one from the character accepting the past by confronting all 8 memories, and the other if the player destroyed the ruins and fought the ghosts that inhabited them. I've flirted with a third ending, where you complete all the pre-requisites of both (since right now doing all of one set deactivates the triggers that do the other), and fighting some secret super-hard boss. This would have necessitated a rebuilding of the experience provided by enemies and the difficulty of enemies, though, since it doesn't take a lot of work to max out as it is. (and the "Good ending" boss is extremely hard already).

The first draft of my game script was pretty straightforward - I wanted to make it as accessible as possible, and I didn't want to load it down with Warcraft jargon. I simplified it even further in the second draft, before showing it to some folks to get edits. The third draft was mostly keepers - though some of it changed in recording. By this point, the map itself was almost completed on the first draft of scripting - there was no dialogue but you could play through the entire structure of the game to reach both endings.

4. Recording
The recording sessions were very strong - and most of the ad libbed stuff made it into the keeper track. However, there were some major hurdles here logistically - the files weren't in any particular order, and it was a pain in the ass to keep track of which files were which. Serena came up with a naming system for them, and corrected the script for all the ad libs. A few errant files and takes were redone or recut, and the process of integrating the script and the recordings with the game was very straightforward. If the file structure and naming system had been figured out before recording, it literally would have removed about 30-40% of the work of this stage.

You just can't underestimate how important logistics are!

Now the only problem with all of this - the recordings were done at separate sessions, almost totally removed from what was actually going on in the map. This means that for some of them, I'd like slightly different recordings than actually got put in the map. I guess this is why Blizzard starts with placeholder files and iterates towards the final ones! This wasn't really feasible for me, so it's a matter of working with what I got.

5. Testing and polishing
At this point, it was time to run through the map a whole lot, and find any inconsistences and prevent as much sequence breaking as possible. I'm not totally happy with pausing the gameplay for most of the dialogue, but because of the size of the map, it would have been way too easy to sequence break or overlap triggers in the queue. Remembering how much I hated overlapping sound files in Dear Esther, I picked the lesser evil and used cinematic mode for most of the dialogue.

I also went in and used blinky doodads and similar on the map to denote quest locations. This way even if players miss the quest text, they still have an onscreen guide to find the locations of interest. I didn't want to make it TOO easy to find the "bad" ending, so the instructions for that are still fairly arcane - I figure if someone is experimenting they will find it on their own.

Now that most of the testing for the rest of the map was done, I created the opening "dream sequence" and double checked the ending sequences. With a couple of tweeks to introduce some thematic elements, the map was basically done. I think I'm going to polish a couple more segments, but that was it!
skyknyt: (Default)
Thanks to finagling on the part of Lise, a tiny, delicately printed chapbook signed by Mr Swanwick is now in my possession. I really like his writing, guys! Big shocker there, I know. Ugh, back to work again tomorrow. I really like my wacky weeks funded by my enormous backlog of vacation time. I'll have to stop doing them to preserve that enormous backlog.

My WC3 map is allllllmost done. Just have a few more background scripts to tweak, make some of the counters and loops functional, and then it will be ready to play.
skyknyt: (Default)
Thanks to finagling on the part of Lise, a tiny, delicately printed chapbook signed by Mr Swanwick is now in my possession. I really like his writing, guys! Big shocker there, I know. Ugh, back to work again tomorrow. I really like my wacky weeks funded by my enormous backlog of vacation time. I'll have to stop doing them to preserve that enormous backlog.

My WC3 map is allllllmost done. Just have a few more background scripts to tweak, make some of the counters and loops functional, and then it will be ready to play.
skyknyt: (Default)
Thanks to finagling on the part of Lise, a tiny, delicately printed chapbook signed by Mr Swanwick is now in my possession. I really like his writing, guys! Big shocker there, I know. Ugh, back to work again tomorrow. I really like my wacky weeks funded by my enormous backlog of vacation time. I'll have to stop doing them to preserve that enormous backlog.

My WC3 map is allllllmost done. Just have a few more background scripts to tweak, make some of the counters and loops functional, and then it will be ready to play.
skyknyt: (Default)
Assuming the world doesn't end in the next week, I'll have been on this silly thing for 10 years.

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