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Need some criticism and help...

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Back in the early 90's, my dad was working on a game for the Mac. He called it Rose Garden. It was tiled based and used fancy 8-bit graphics! He put a ton of work into it and even had a commercial developer interested in publishing it. However, when that fell through he gave up on the project. Kind of ironically, one of the beta testers and the man who wrote the blitter code is Andrew Welch, who at the time was working on an asteroid game Maelstrom. This went on to become one of the most popular Macintosh shareware games of all time and Andrew's company, Ambrosia Software, is still going strong and now does both Mac and Windows programming. If my dad had not given up and waited... *SIGH* Anyway, I always loved the game and am in the process of restarting the project, but with modern techniques.

The premise to the game is simple. You are in an enchanted garden and need to get out. To get out, you have to pick 11 different flowers in the correct order. All the while, avoiding bugs that steal the flowers and the gardener who is protective of his garden from beyond the grave.

In one of the very last betas, my dad added a story. Sadly, that is the copy I cannot find. So, the story was lost, save for two lines that I remember clearly. The rest is vague. The story was very short, but explained very well why you were trapped in an enchanted garden.

I have done my best to extrapolate the remaining story from the two lines I remember. The story will change slightly depending on the difficulty level you choose when you start the game and whether you are playing as a man or woman.

What I'm looking for here is honest criticism and possible help in expanding the story. I don't need a book, but it is VERY short. I am no writer, so this is really beyond my talents.

Be honest. Be brutal. Grammar police, please do apply.

Quote:

An old begger woman, the tatters she wore... (First line I remember)
“Roses for sale!”, she croned. “Only five dollars a rose!”(Second line I remember)
Shocked by the ludicrous price, you stop.
“Five dollars?!”, you scoff! “For a single rose?”
“Ah. But these are no ordinary roses, <ma'am>/<sir>!”
“These are enchanted roses! One whiff and you'll be wisked away to an enchanted land!”
“Ha ha ha! Your story alone is worth five dollars!”, you laugh as you hand over the money.
“But <ma'am>/<sir>, be warned!”
“For where the rose takes you depends on the strength of your character and the quality of your...”
You cut her off as you take a rose from her bucket...

Easy difficulty: “Ma'am, I simply do not have time for this. I am late for lunch!”
Medium difficulty: “I have more important things to do than to listen to your insane ramblings! Good day!”
Hard difficulty: “Enough of this foolishness! I have already spent too much time with the like of you!”

You take a whiff of the rose.
You vaguely remember an enchanting scent as everything goes dark. *screen fades to black
You feel the ground slipping from beneith your feet...

*garden slowly comes into focus
“WHA... Where am I? What happened?”
“Old woman... Enchanted... ROSE!”
“The rose! Must find the rose...”


How can this be improved?

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o Are you strictly talking about the text that the player would see before the main character is teleported to the garden?
o Is this the only text that the player will ever see?
o How does the player know that he must pick the flowers in an order?
o Referring to online screenshots: When does the player see image4, image5, and image6?

In terms of the excerpt:

I find it odd how the MC suddenly becomes impatient when he has been playing along with the beggar. The flow:

1) MC meets beggar, the price gets his attention
2) MC agrees to buy the rose just for the hack of it
3) Beggar is warning the MC when MC takes the rose
4) MC tells beggar that he is busy
5) MC smells the rose
6) MC is teleported

To me it seems that step 4 is out of place.

The functions of this text seem to be:

a) Show the player how the MC gets the rose
b) Tell the player that the rose is magical, and smelling the rose means teleport to enchanted place
c) Let the player select a difficult
d) Show the player that the MC is teleported after smelling the rose.

In your excerpt, how does the player know that the first choice corresponses to the easy mode?

In step 4, it might make more sense if the MC is still playing along and is fantasizing different destinations. So for easy mode, the MC is thinking of a simple place, for difficult mode, the MC is thinking of a complicated place.

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Quote:
Original post by Wai

o Are you strictly talking about the text that the player would see before the main character is teleported to the garden?


Yes, this is an introductory story.

Quote:
Original post by Wai
o Is this the only text that the player will ever see?


Hard to answer this. There will be other in game text, like when an object is found or something happens, but I am not to that point yet.

Quote:
Original post by Wai
o How does the player know that he must pick the flowers in an order?


In my dad's original game, simply by looking in the help dialog box. I find this too simple. In my version, there will be pieces of parchment scattered around the garden with bits of clues.

Quote:
Original post by Wai
o Referring to online screenshots: When does the player see image4, image5, and image6?


#4, 5 and 6 are screen shots from the help dialog box in my dad's version. The site I linked to is hosting the game, but my version will look quite a bit different. I posted that to give some idea of what I am talking about, but it can be safely ignored for the purposes of this discussion.

Quote:
Original post by Wai
I find it odd how the MC suddenly becomes impatient when he has been playing along with the beggar. The flow:

1) MC meets beggar, the price gets his attention
2) MC agrees to buy the rose just for the hack of it
3) Beggar is warning the MC when MC takes the rose
4) MC tells beggar that he is busy
5) MC smells the rose
6) MC is teleported

To me it seems that step 4 is out of place.


I agree and this is where my lack of writing talents come into play. The original story was quite a bit longer, but again, it has been lost. I'm trying to fill in the bulk from the vaguest of memories and this part of the story just isn't there.

However, as written, #4 is where the character's incredulity reaches its breaking point. It isn't a matter of impatient, but rather that the beggar stretched the character's imagination past the breaking point.

Quote:
Original post by Wai
The functions of this text seem to be:

a) Show the player how the MC gets the rose
b) Tell the player that the rose is magical, and smelling the rose means teleport to enchanted place
c) Let the player select a difficult
d) Show the player that the MC is teleported after smelling the rose.

In your excerpt, how does the player know that the first choice corresponses to the easy mode?


They wont. You'll select the level you want to play, the difficulty, your character's name, sex and I am toying around with the idea of race prior to actually starting the game. The story will be part of an introduction after the character generation is complete, but before the game actually starts. The choices the player makes in the character generation will determine how the introduction plays out.

Quote:
Original post by Wai
In step 4, it might make more sense if the MC is still playing along and is fantasizing different destinations. So for easy mode, the MC is thinking of a simple place, for difficult mode, the MC is thinking of a complicated place.


Again, read above. The story will be presented statically. The player will not guide the story as it is being presented.

Step #4 is based on this line:
"For where the rose takes you depends on the strength of your character and the quality of your..."

Your character shows his/her, well, character at this point. Even though you choose the level (garden) at the point of character generation, how it is presented during game play is decided by the difficulty.

To clarify the word "level" in the context of this game, this is not a leveled game. You don't complete one garden to move on to the next. I'm going to make various different gardens for the player to choose from as well as include a level editor for the player to create their own. The gardens are huge. When I was planning to make this tile based as in my dad's game, I was going for 64x64 pixel tiles with a tile map of 1024x1024 tiles. At 90 DPI (my monitor's resolution), that works out to be over 60 feet (18 meters) on each side just in screen space. Each tile would have represented a 16 square foot area in real world scale, making the real world size nearly a mile (4096 feet, 1.25 km) on each side.

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Your dad has great potential for this game and I am glad that you took the initiative time and care to bring the game back as the story says back from the grave. The keeper of the garden.

From my initial thought of the view of the garden, I wasn't expecting the garden to be such a very large size. I have not seen a mile wide or long garden before unless your talking about a garden pasture. The premise of the game sounds intriguing, but what about the replay value?

I wouldn't mind taking the time to replay the game but what will it make it interesting to keep going other than the story line and matching the rose colors to move along the course to the next area of the garden.

I think it would be a suggestion to have different themes from garden to garden to have for the player wanting to explore your storyline.

Have waterfalls and animals and classical music for some parts of the garden and then when something is about to happen use subtle change of the music to hard rock music or suspenseful music like the roses are being taking away from the birds and bees or whatever will be taking the flowers away.

I think you should have the roses in their different colors be the puzzle part of the game. Find these elusive roses and bring them to the keeper of the grave so he can hold on to them for the player so he or she can escape from the enchanted garden. Weather effects would be a nice addition to the game as well.

Mood and music helps a story come to life.

For the beginning of your story concept.

1900's London
Early morning. 9 am.
Foggy.

An old woman wearing tatters eagerly waits for customers to buy her roses from her bucket. A few men and women walk by. Some adults with children in hand. One child walks by with her hand in her mother's. The rose peddlar leans down, smiles and the child returns her smile. The adult was uncertainly not having any sort of this and pulls the child away. "Come on child." The mother scorns.

The old woman stands up while watching the child dissappear into the London Fog.
The rose peddlar smile becomes a sigh. All she wanted to do is put a smile on someone else's face.

In the distant from the rose peddlars' left. There was heavy foot steps clunking on the cobble stone steps. The steps became closer and closer. She sees a man or woman in a hurry. She looks back at her rose bucket and gathers a blue rose and announces that her roses are for sale.

"Roses for sale. Roses for sale" The rose peddlar repeated. The young man or woman in his/her mid 20's hears this bantering from the peddlar. Scoffs and mouths under his/her breath. "Wonderful" he/she says. "Why is this person trying to sell something that could be fake, or cheaply made? I have no time for this. Must keep going. I'm late to work."

"Roses for sale. Roses for sale" The peddlar called out again. The young man came close to her and looked down trying to be unseen. "Roses for sale. Sir! or Ma'am. Would you like to by a rose from me?" she politely asked. Within the young man's fourth step away from her, his cane felt into a knotch within the cobble stone steps. Making him catch his step nearly falling foward onto the sidewalk.

"Ma'am / Sir." Roses for sale?" She said to the young man or woman. The man or woman gathered his/her self up and straighten his/her hat, his/her scarf and his/her coat. The peddlar stretched out her right hand with a blue rose in it. "I heard you the first time madam." He/she said without looking. I am late for work.

Can you not see that?" he/she turned to face her. "Yes and no" she said. "Yes and no?" he/she repeated and grabbed the cane out of the crack and walked right up to her and lifted his cane to his hat and lifted it off his head onto his cane. "Well, I see you are in a rush. In a furry as well, and you were on your way to some where important." she said. "True. And the No part?" he/she countered. "The no part. Well you were intrigued."she answered. "What do you mean by that?" he/she said. "You were in a rush, you came back and wanted to say something to me. You wanted to hear my offer. But you didn't leave. You had all the right to move forward. But you didnt." the peddlar exclaimed. "Fine. Be quick about your sale. I am running late." he/she said.

"Roses are five dollars." she said. "What! For a single rose or for the whole bucket?" he shouted. Then looked around hoping no one heard him. "Sir or Ma'am. These roses are no ordinary roses." she exclaimed again. "Five dollars? No! You have certaintly wasted my time." He/she said closely to her and walked off.

"Sir or Ma'am! These roses are enchanted." She shouted to the young man or woman. "So are the soles of my feet. "One whiff and you will be wisked away to an enchanted land." the peddlars voice traveled down the narrow street.

The soles of the young man's or woman's feet came back to meet the peddlars. "Your story is worth five dollars. The young man/woman hands the money to the old woman.

"But <ma'am> / <sir> be warned." "For where the rose takes you, depends on on the strength of your character and the quality of your...”

The young <ma'am> / <sir> cuts her off and takes the blue rose from the peddlar's hand.

You take a whiff of the rose. You vaguely remember an enchanting scent as everything goes dark. *screen fades to black*
You feel the ground slipping from beneath your feet...

I hope you like the added version and some edit to your story Mark.

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I like it! There are some minor changes I would want to make, but that is near perfect! I like the London setting in the 1900's. That will help with the character model and clothing. Of course, five dollars in 1900's London doesn't make sense, but five pounds would and would be a ridiculous sum for the times.

About the size. The garden is not an ordinary garden and doesn't have to exist anywhere on earth. My dad's original game used a tile map of 257x257 tiles. It had great replayibility. The reason for such a large increase in my version is because monitors have increased greatly in resolution in the past 15 years (his game was full screen at 512x384 pixels!). It really is not as big as it sounds. There will be different gardens available with different themes.

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Your quite welcome.

When I read your dollar amount several times I was thinking it would be a modern storyline, this story came to me instantly and went for a 1900's look. I did think this was strange for the amount of the revision of the story but I left it up for you to change.

I am glad that the revision to your story is what you are looking for.

The tile setting. I wasn't thinking about the past version of screen resolution. I see what you mean now. Yeah. Your choice of screen resolution would be perfect.

How many themes are you thinking of for the storyline or game in itself.

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[quote name='Ghostknight' timestamp='1294898488' post='4758160']
How is your project coming along? Any new ideas, or suggestions for your project? Would like to hear them. Would you like some more help your project?
[/quote]

Thanks for the interest.

Right now, the project is indefinitely delayed. I am struggling with whether to make this a top-down 2D game like my dad originally did or covert it to 3D. Either way, the coding will not be too difficult, but I have to decide before I can get to the graphics. And that is a whole other issue. I am NOT an artist. Any artwork I make will be very clearly programmer art and I cannot afford to pay for professionally done artwork. Then there are sounds and music. This is even further beyond my talents than the artwork.

So, I do not know where to go from here.

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Hey Mark, Glad to hear from ya again. You better believe it. I am still interested in your game. Glad to see that your still working on your dad's project with or own spin on things. When I read your dad's storyline and then made my own stoyrline path with the England visuals, I was at that time and still leaning toward the 3D version. It will give you and your dad's game more depth. Immersing the players into that era and place on Earth. Which ever decision or decisions you make, don't second guess yourself. The game design document as tons of potential of beginning a new lease on life with your knowledge from your dad's. Keep up the great work and don't let little details bog you down from over seeing the bigger picture. The more you pratice at programming and better you design the art, it will look great no matter what. Patience is the key my friend. And from the looks of it, you still have it and working diligently to get the game loaded to play the final product.

Will be looking in from time to time and see how things go with your project.

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My advice?

Post in the Help Wanted section of this forum. Gather a few artists and revive your game idea :) IMO, a 2D game won't be able to show much of art, won't be as pretty as a 3D game - so you will have to focus on the story through words. a 3D game may tell stories through enviroment, as Portals did for instance - very little words, but some flavour in the spaces you could uncover and explore. Don't worry about stuff you don't know, find someone who does and collaborate with them :)
I for instance am a writer, and the game world sounds pretty poetic - should you allow me a knack at it, It'd be a very interesting thing to write ^^

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