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Links: Newbies, Curses, and Addiction

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A bunch of links this week.

First, Shamus talks about how to get started with programming, and how to get started with graphics programming specifically:

http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=3519

The first, and very valid, point that he makes is that if you want to learn to program, starting with graphics programming is a difficult way to do things. In addition to just learning how to program, you'll also have to learn a bunch of math and computer graphics theory. Math with things like geometry, trigonometry, linear algebra. Computer graphics involves stuff like polygonal primitives, texturing, lighting, animation, etc. Unlike Shamus, I did go to college to get a CS degree, and almost every CS or math class (or even physics) I took has some relevance towards graphics programming.

When I was first programming back in the early 80s as a Jr High student, the school had a lab with some Color Computers. Inspired by "classics" such as Pyramid 2000:



I took to programming text adventures in BASIC (the Color Computer booted directly to BASIC). That was a great way to learn; simple enough for a Jr High kid to actually do it, but I could still make something "interesting" in just a short period of time. The key lesson for me was just to learn that a computer exactly follows whatever instructions you give it, and to learn how to turn my thoughts and plans into those instructions.

I'm not sure what the modern equivalent of that is; I'm completely out of touch. Making a match-3 game or Tetris-clone in Java? Something in Flash? I just don't know. Shamus recommends C++ for learning graphics programming, which I think is a terrible idea. Too much complexity, too much rope to hang yourself with.

Next, Coyote has an article on cursed items in RPG design:

http://rampantgames.com/blog/2009/06/rpg-design-cursed-items.html

He describes the 3 types of cursed item:

  • Out-and-out cursed items. The items that look like a nice magic item but is really completely negative. Like sword that looks like a Longsword +3, but starts attacking you as soon as you wield it. Popular in old-school D&D, not so much anymore.

  • Mixed-blessing cursed items. So, maybe this time the Longsword +3 is a nice item, but every once in awhile it attack the wielder instead of the target. Items like this have always interested me, if done well.

  • Story items. By taking the Longsword +3, now the player has to go on a quest to find the Holy Grail. These items are used to move the plot or quests along in the plot of a game. A valid tool in a game designers workshop, though they can seem heavy handed and arbitrary if not done well.


Anyways, good article.

While searching for a picture of a cursed item (didn't find anything good), I ran across this article about cursed items:

http://inkknight.blogspot.com/2009/04/give-your-cursed-items-reason-to-exist.html

Also well done.

Last, Jeff Vogel discusses "Addiction Based Design":

http://rpgvault.ign.com/articles/986/986323p1.html

MMORPGs tend to be the heaviest users of addiction based design; after all, they get a monthly fee if they keep you coming back:



RPGs in general, though, also feature luring the player on with the promise of "just one more level", "just one more item", and so forth. Diablo 2 perfected the formula, but any RPG designer should keep this in mind when designing his game. After all, making the player want to keep playing is our goal, and we should use any tool we can!
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For teaching how to program to someone who doesn't take programming very seriously (ie, typical person who doesn't dream of being the world's leetest hacker), I'll recommend GameMaker. It reels you in with a point-and-click interface, but after you get hooked you *have* to type snippets of code. And you're set.

For someone who wants to code as a more serious business, I'd recommend Python. Many people do :)

Also, concerning cursed items: there's also the rogue-like model, where a cursed item gives you negative buffs (ie, -3 strength) but you can't take it off. But RLs are cruel! :P

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Original post by Jotaf
For teaching how to program to someone who doesn't take programming very seriously (ie, typical person who doesn't dream of being the world's leetest hacker), I'll recommend GameMaker. It reels you in with a point-and-click interface, but after you get hooked you *have* to type snippets of code. And you're set.


I'll have to check that out.

Quote:
Also, concerning cursed items: there's also the rogue-like model, where a cursed item gives you negative buffs (ie, -3 strength) but you can't take it off. But RLs are cruel! :P


I think that kind of thing fits under the "out-and-out cursed" category. In Angband, and earlier Moria, the RLs I've played the most, these items are pretty much a waste of space; you just learn early on not to wear un-identified items. Items like some of the mixed-blessing artifacts are much more interesting in terms of the decisions they force on a player.

Geoff

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Original post by Jotaf
Also, concerning cursed items: there's also the rogue-like model, where a cursed item gives you negative buffs (ie, -3 strength) but you can't take it off. But RLs are cruel! :P
I think that kind of thing fits under the "out-and-out cursed" category. In Angband, and earlier Moria, the RLs I've played the most, these items are pretty much a waste of space; you just learn early on not to wear un-identified items.
I guess a lot of people fell into this mindset, because newer roguelikes also tend to make some of the best items near-impossible to identify.

Equipping a random unidentified cloak near the beginning of the game may give you 100% fire and poison resistance for the rest of the game, or may leave you stuck with itchy wool that gives you -3 focus [wink]

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