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CalvinCoder

INK, Macromedia Director, point'n'click games

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Hello, I figured out I wanted to post some thoughts on some technology we have been developing in hope to get some feedback, suggestions and comments from the all mighty users of these forums. I am not enterily sure which forum this post better belong under so moderator, please move to a better place if this is forum is not well suited. This post will probably end up being rather long too so my apologizes for this. I am sure not everybody is fan of reading long posts and ramblings here, but I give it a try nevertheless. Well, enough gibber-yabber. We have for some time ago developed a technology we call ‘INK’ (Interactive Narrative Kit). This is a technology targeted point’n’click games for div platforms. Some of the games developed with this technology are Silent Hill Mobile 1+2 (Konami) and Investigators (Sony Ericsson, preinstalled on many SEMC devices) among others in addition to a number of titles lined up. Each game is scripted and created in Marcomedia Director 10.4, which is our authoring tool for creating the games. We have developed a number of scripts, resources and tools that compiles, exports and builds the data chunks that is further used by the engine. The data chunks consist of everything from script to graphics to audio etc. Basically the engine acts like a player and script interpreter. Our initial idea was to target a “niche” marked with point’n’click games for handheld devices. We started out with the engine on J2ME devices and later ported (or currently porting) the engine to other platforms like Symbian, Windows Mobile, iPhone, BREW and similar. However, we like to expand this further and we are currently planning/evaluating whether or not we should bring the engine to other platforms targeting PSP, DS/DSi, PSN/XBL etc. In addition, we are strongly considering going open source with our technology. An important thing to understand is that we don’t use all features of Macromedia Director, i.e. our engine is not a shockwave player. It exists several cons using Director, however, at the time we felt it was a good choice to use as authoring tools and we basically “translated” some of Directors jargon and philosophy into something that suited our point’n’click games. For instance, our games does not use Directors chronologic timeline. Instead, each frame in the timeline is a room/location in the game and hence the game jumps back and forth between frames. Likewise, each frame contains Director sprites, where each sprite corresponds to a “room object” in INK. Among other things. Up in all of this, it raises a number of concerns and thoughts I was hoping to get some feedback on. Maybe this is not the correct place to even get that feedback but nevertheless, something is better than nothing. Some of my questions and thoughts are: 1) What do you guys think about point’n’click games in general on handheld devices and other platforms like PSP, DS, PS3(PSN), XBOX 360 (XBL)? 2) Anyone would be interested in using such technology if it was available? 3) Going open source may or may not make Director a “bad” choice as authoring tool and we might be better off creating our own tool. What do you guys think? (of course both as its pros and cons and we are aware of that) 4) Are there a lot of you out there actually using Macromedia Director or does have basic knowledge or competence using the software? I appreciate very much the time you take to read my post and giving feedback. All comments and questions are welcome.

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1 - Games using point an click technology should be limited to platforms containing devices to facilitate pointing and clicking. A good example is RTS styled games, while possible to play on XBOX or PS/2/3, its much more intuitive and fluid to use a mouse. Handhelds should be limited to things with touch screens.

This all really comes down to how much moving (and how fast) the player is going to have to do. Action games using point and click should be limited to point and click devices, the users will feel pressured by the game. if its slower paced than users won't be as affected by this caveat.

2 - I don't know if I would ever use such technology, but there are always people who would make use of it.

3 - I would go open source, but that's just me.

That's my 2 cents :)

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Thank you very much for taking time to reply neoaikon, its really appreciated.

Quote:
Original post by neoaikon
1 - Games using point an click technology should be limited to platforms containing devices to facilitate pointing and clicking. A good example is RTS styled games, while possible to play on XBOX or PS/2/3, its much more intuitive and fluid to use a mouse. Handhelds should be limited to things with touch screens.

This all really comes down to how much moving (and how fast) the player is going to have to do. Action games using point and click should be limited to point and click devices, the users will feel pressured by the game. if its slower paced than users won't be as affected by this caveat.


Certainly. This is valid for all kind of games really; target platform put limits on game mechanics and other elements part of the game and hence game genres. CPU speed, memory, keyboard/mouse/joystick available, storage/disk space, speed of internet connection, 3D support etc are all factors that put limits on games.

And I absolutely agree with you that point’n’click games do not fit well on all platforms and hence my post as I like to hear others opinions about this. However, lack of mouse is in my opinion not a factor that necessary sets a limit for such games. But that’s like you say, “it really comes down to”… This is really more about adopting the game design to the target platform regardless of game genre.

Several of our INK-based games, such as Investigators for SEMC and Silent Hill Mobile 1+2 for Konami all are successful games with great reviews and positive feedback from players so obviously, at least a group of players like to play such games on mobile phones.

Further, although we have a philosophy to create games we like and because we like to create games, there is a business side behind all of this too. If we can support more platforms with very little effort, regardless of if the platform is a perfect choice or not for point’n’click games, it may be a good thing.

Quote:

2 - I don't know if I would ever use such technology, but there are always people who would make use of it.


Sure, not everbody makes point’n’click games :)

Quote:

3 - I would go open source, but that's just me.


May I ask why? We embrace open source many times, but in many situations it is simply not the right business model.

We have already released the source code for two of our old mobile games, which had rather large download rate. We did this to help the community but investing thousands of dollars into INK and just go open source with it, we better have a good reason for doing so. Embracing open source is not enough for us in this case :)

However, if we decide to go open source with the tools and engine, what do you think about that the tools are depneded on a propritary software like Macromedia Director?

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Well your decision to go open source should be business based in that case. Most of any commercial projects I have programmed for have not gone open source, but if I had been able to choose for a few I would have, others are custom tailored to certain clients, obviously with those we want a profit.

You could also look into CPL (Common Public License) licensing. This particular license was created to allow you to sell your product commercially, while also keeping it open source. I'm not expert on software licensing, but I believe I've been involved in projects where that's been use for that purpose.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Public_License
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/os-cplfaq.html

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