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Embassy of Time

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Embassy of Time last won the day on October 12

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  1. Embassy of Time

    'Play From Zero' Development Philosophy

    Uhhh, what's that??
  2. Embassy of Time

    'Play From Zero' Development Philosophy

    (I have been asked about my limited writing here, and the reason is simple: My dad died in February, only a week before my birthday, and I have been... 'less' ever since. Hopefully, I am now getting back into some level action now. Hope my content will start to interest people again!) I have a problem. In fact, I have a *cluster* of related problems. One is perfectionism, in that I hate publishing anything as finished unless it lives up to some ridiculously high standards. Another is that I cannot work on something without getting an avalanche of constant ideas that could improve it. Those two sort of play off each other, driving me insane with anything that I am the sole authority over. Most people likely recognize this; it is the bane of many creatives. I am trying to solve this problem these days. I recently got back into writing the final draft of the first Embassy of Time book(s), and I have accepted that I need a new kind of structure. I'll leave the writing structure to my Tumblr blog and the like (social media is still chaos to me), but I found a way I might break the back of the problems I have with developing games. I call it Play From Zero. Think of any game you would like to develop, but have not yet started work on. Imagine a line going from 0 to 1, from nothing to a complete product. This is my and anyone's usual view of it. Finish the product, then publish. Maybe a WIP / Early / Alpha version on the way, but those are just 'test versions', not something 'complete'. What if the developer cut that imaginary line into microscopic pieces? What if every bit of programming had to leave a complete product? I'm not saying you should have complete AAA games done in a few hours. Instead, everything you do should make a small, but worthwhile, change in your game. After a 5 hour programming session, you have a tiny, simple game. After the next 6 or 7 hour session, that game has a new feature. It's not a WIP, it's a better game, fully playable. Complexity is built along the way, as tiny 'micro-features' stack up. Of course, you can plan a complex product in advance, but whenever you actually do anything, you're aiming for a tiny, but worthwhile, expansion on your game. You need to finish the game every time you work on it. There is no "this will be cool when I finish it... some day"! It's a thought. I have not yet started down this path, because I need to focus on some writing and animation first and foremost. I have pulled together enough money to dedicate 2020 to my work on The Embassy, and I need to plan more strictly than ever before to make the most of it. That means spreading myself less. But I hope to soon starting my first Play From Zero project, and hope a few in here will pay interest and give me some good, honest feedback on not just the game at any stage, but the idea of a growing, organic, and most of all playable product. Does this make sense? Tell me in the comments!
  3. Embassy of Time

    No market for 'good games'?

    Tobe perfectly honest, I am not somuch stating my own belief as stating the belief of others and thinking about it out loud. I understand both sides, but the fact that the 'negative' side has so much evidence to support it, regardless of what evidence the 'positive' side has, is worrying to me. For now, this game concept is shelved. I hope to return to it one way or another, when I understand the premises of people a little better...
  4. Embassy of Time

    Making a (bad) movie... with AIs

    Phew, not an easy question to answer, really. The AI is mostly writing the script at this point, and the challenge is bridging the gap to the actual animation.By the assignment scene, it's already code. By the boardwalk scene (the boat leaning scene is a bit weird to explain), it's using tailored code (i.e. all code blocks, but heavily edited), and by the hotel street scene where he takes a smoke (that's the hand movement, it's hard to see), it's all generic code, and we're building the first direct parser between the AI manuscripting and the animation. That's why his legs suddenly seem so spazzy, the code being designed for the AI has no idea about human proportions, it just had a few numbers to go by. We need spatial awareness, which we hope to have by the scene I'm designing now. Kinda. So in short, it starts out mostly manual, is entirely code halfway, and is the foundation of a primitive AI coding language usable by the manuscript AI by the end. Not sure how much sense that made.... my head is in a weird place trying to make this work! Edit: Also, the rig is bad, and very limited. Not only is it hard to use (it was never designed for anything beyond rough posing for background figures), the AI-to-animation coding language puts needs on it for spatial language. We're still not sure how we will mke the AI aware of physical directions, surroundings and the like, but we KNOW it will require a completely different rig...
  5. Embassy of Time

    Making a (bad) movie... with AIs

    A friend of mine and I realized that we are boring to listen to when talking about our passions. He is into AI coding and I love coding asset management systems. So we have gotten together to see how far we can push AIs in animation! We're currently doing a very bad movie that the software called "Ghost machine fights alien monster", because we fed it a ton of bad movie descriptions. It's horrible. But it's fun to watch (I think) and the work is really interesting (I think), so I thought I'd throw what currently exists out there. It's just two minutes (the full movie should end around 20-30 minutes), so, you know, don't expect anything. Plus, again, badly made, because we still haven't built anything but some test assets. You can watch the mess here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LJll-_p52w&feature=youtu.be Also, because the AIs we're using are obsolete proprietary ones, we can't modify or share them (we're not even supposed to have them, my buddy works with AI article software), I've started messing with my own stuff. Here's a very, very simple one built along the same ideas as the infamous Botnik one but not nearly as advanced (took under an hour to code): http://embassyoftime.com/DocManus.html Any feedback is welcome, and ideas on how to do stuff like this are VERY welcome!
  6. Embassy of Time

    No market for 'good games'?

    I'm still chewing on some of the many interesting things people have commented here, it's more philosophical than I anticipated. As for the game, no, the good deeds were meant to be done in real life. It was a social experiment, of sorts, to motivate more real life action around 'good work', humanitarianism, environmentalism and such.
  7. Embassy of Time

    A social media experiment for a post-Snopes, post-conspiracy era?

    True, and that's the hurdle I'm trying to figure out at the moment. The basic premise is that instead of doing like Snopes and going Yes, No or Maybe, the site allows members to attach arguments and, if possible, concrete evidence. So a claim like "spinach gives you rectal cancer" would have claims added like comments, and each claim can argue a point and present evidence in the form of external research, news articles, etc., to back up the claims. So the challenge for the originall claim is to be backed up by as many AND as concretely proven claims as possible. The issue is, what the H passes for "concrete evidence" these days.... The idea of source reputation has been raised, yes. This goes for site members as well as external sources (NY Times vs. NY Post, for example. Or the tinfoilhat hobo on the corner). But the metrics for what constitutes a trusted source is not only insanely hard to say (right now), it's also kinda subjective..? So I'm open for ideas. Wiiiide open.... The best claim is one that is reproducable. "Mixing X and Y can cause stinky smoke" is fairly reproducable, while "continents break apart and move based on tectonic motion" requires a few steps. But some things do not have (entirely) reproducable options, meaning there will be a need for evaluating the credit of photos, video, audio recordings and, especially, personal and anecdotal accounts. It ain't easy being clean... Again, suggestions are greatly welcome!
  8. Embassy of Time

    A social media experiment for a post-Snopes, post-conspiracy era?

    That spurs a random thought... Maybe we should not make 'a website', but a software platform for crossconfirmation. Like Wikipedia is actually a wiki, and multiple independent wikis can cross-reference? Hmmm...... I guess that doesn't eactly make it any EASIER, but....
  9. Embassy of Time

    A social media experiment for a post-Snopes, post-conspiracy era?

    Oh, it's alive and kicking (in spite of some nasty lawsuit I am a bit vague on), but the flood of fake this and fake that seems to be more than it can handle. Fact checking sites seem to struggle with the load that is mounting these days. Conspiracies and denial of (insert nearly anything) seem to need more than just fact checkers, many of which are simply called biased or, sigh, fake as an excuse to ignore them. Not that anything can completely eradicate baseless yelling, but this angle just seems interesting to me... I'll check the list, thank you! Never occurred to me to Wiki Snopes, for some reason... I'm off my game, me thinks........
  10. I honestly had no idea where to put this, as it isn't technically a game. If someone knows a better forum, let me know, ok? Anyways, I am still talking to the private investors / business angels I have mentioned before. The first project didn't pan out, but it got the ball rolling on a lot of neat ideas that they like, too, and I may end up getting some meager funds to do research on. One of these ideas is a bit out there, but I CANNOT get it out of my head! We live in a world where science denial (climate change, evolution, etc.) thrives, where conspiracies run rampant (just dipped my toes in, OMFG, QAnon...), and where truth and fake news are seen as equal verdicts on almost anything. I am an old fan of Snopes, but it looks like Snopes is just being crushed by everything from social media to the fear industry. We may need something new. This is where the idea that is currently being WIP labeled as "Snopes2" comes in. It's also something I desperately need some kind of input on, because dear lord am I out of my depths here! The basic premise is basically "show, don't tell". Imagine a website or app or 'game' or the like, where you can post a claim. "Gnomes run the TSA", "This home remedy cures male baldness", "atoms consist of electrons and quarks", anything. Then, anyone can post content, i.e. other claims, to back up those claims. The gist of it is, any claim is rated based on the rating of claims supporting it, and until some claim comes up that is hard to refute, any claim lacking that will be rated pretty low. Claims hard to refute include something anyone can reproduce or observe (good for scientific claims), extensive photo evidence that is hard to prove as fake, 'believable' witness testimony, predictions based on a claim that have yet to come true (allowing anyone to judge if/when it does), and so on. We're thinking about designing this into a very simple system and doing a 'manual test', the details of which are not clear yet, except that it will be an active discussion, not an automated process. If the discussion can sand off all troublesome issues, a more (but not fully) automated test can follow, etc. I guess, basically a 'playtest'. It's a bit of an aimless clich'e, but.... any ideas or suggestions?? As far as I can see, this is kind of gamification (I know, but I love the concept) of the scientific process, journalistic / police investigation procedures, and all kinds of proof checking rolled up into one. It looks HUGE right now, but I get the weird feeling it isn't. I'm just looking at it from a still very small PoV. Any and all input greatly appreciated!
  11. Embassy of Time

    No market for 'good games'?

    No, this is not about the quality of modern games, don't worry. At the start of the year, a small handful of 'business angels' gave me a limited budget to come up with a game, both in concept, gameplay, and code. The basic idea was "a game that makes it fun to do good deeds", and the money was meant to allow me to work part time on it for the first half of the year. Through a lot of meetings, a lot of research, and a ton of different outlines and mockups, we got a few concepts moved into the very early test stages. The period laid out is now coming to an end, so what is the verdict? "There really is no point in trying to push a way of living (doing good deeds) on people who don't want it, and the ones who already live that life don't need it." Although this is paraphrasing a lot, it is pretty on the nose. Making good deeds fun is pointless, because those who disagree won't be swayed by a game, and those who agree don't need the game as a reason to do good deeds. I understand that, perfectly. I even, much to my displeasure, agree mostly with it. But it SCARES THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF ME, nonetheless. It basically means that it is highly unlikely for anything positive to change negative behaviour, in my mind. Games won't make you try to be a better person, or healthier, or more informed in your decisions. Part of it is the flipside of "violent games don't make kidsviolent". Bad things in games don't inspire bad things in people. But apparently, good things don't inspire good things, either. I want to make the world better. I honestly hoped to find a way to press my foot inside the door somehow on that, with this project. But it seems that there is a hardcore psychology side to trying to MAKE a trend rather than just make something that follows trends blindly. I don't know how to work with or around that, or even how to fit it into my head, but it saddens me, greatly. My work with this small group will likely not end with this. They have ideas, I have ideas, they have a bit of money, I have bills to pay and hopes of doing it through something I enjoy, like making weird games. But I honestly cannot see this particular angle going much farther, and it bothers me. There are at least 5 small projects on the table now, though not all strictly games. We'll see where those go. Right now, I have allergies and cats (not related) to attend to!
  12. Embassy of Time

    When code just isn't enough...

    Basically, a game of "good samaritan", but on a strategy level. Gain points for doing good things, helping others, etc., but even more points for coordinating such things in a given area and getting more to get involved / making it easier to get involved and get results. Kind of "Pay it forward" meets "The game", to pick two ancient movies Does that make any sense?
  13. Embassy of Time

    When code just isn't enough...

    Oh, I don't mind sharing, I just respect that people rarely find my code very... elegant. It's not advanced enough to warrant protection, at this point it's mainly a few PHP file handlers and some GUI generation (text based, for now). If you want to see it when it's done, you're more than welcome! What exactly do you mean by that? It sounds interesting!
  14. Embassy of Time

    When code just isn't enough...

    Oh no, I meant "look at the resulting game and say what you would add" or something like that. My code is never pretty enough for outside viewing!
  15. Embassy of Time

    When code just isn't enough...

    Just a random thought: Once I have a very barebones version of the first test of the game, why don't you look it over and make a better one from its template? Kind of team experience, but still independent!
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