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About JimVsHumanity

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  1. JimVsHumanity

    Forager: Optimization in GameMaker

    Really great article, very eye opening to the more high-end of dev in GameMaker.
  2. This is an interesting, if massive, question. As for your other questions, it seems to me that you're jumping far ahead. Before the map, before the language, before the UI and all that: you have to know the model. That is, how the game acts. What provinces, what stats, how does a stat change, what makes up that stat, where this stuff is important. If a province attacks another province, does one have a defensive number, and the other province have an attacking number, and is there a random element on top of that? There is a lot of data to consider here, and how it all reacts is another thing. So you need to model all this, and work it out. For this, you can use spreadsheets. I have worked on many games that are spreadsheeted. Most strategy games can be turned into spreadsheets. Plague Inc (and by extension Rebel Inc) are all layed out in spreadsheets, that can be imported into the game. You can start by having column A being the names of a province, column B can be the defensive stat, column C the attacking stat. You can have random number generators to add on to these inside the spreadsheets too. The next step to that is maybe building a pen and paper version, using your model. Where a player can play it, and you can act as the "computer" and calculating the data that moves around. This way you can design, model and test your strategy game long before you build it for real. It's a lot of work, but it's a proven method to create brilliant strategy games.
  3. JimVsHumanity

    Mature themes on a game I'm working on

    The two points raised above: 1) You can tackle these issues in games and 2) You will upset some people with it at the least. I think it depends on how you portray it, what gravitas you give the scenes, and what freedom the player has around it. Heavy topics need heavy research and even heavier respect. With that said, you also have to make sure these things make sense in the setting and the world, so that they don't feel needlessly placed. A good example of well placed drama in a post apocolypse setting would be the film The Road (2006). Where the brutality of world really feeds into the questionable deeds. A bad, bad, bad example is in something like the film Dawn Of The Dead (2004) where, despite the raging zombie hoard literally at their heels, the characters seem to find time to have petty jealous spats about relationships and so on. I would give the muslim/homophobia situation a re-think. Not because I think it's too touchy. but because I don't think it makes as much sense as the first scenario. In the post apolocyptic world you describe, I can't imagine someone who doesn't like gay people would have enough free time to know who is gay and who isn't. That said, Islam does have a deep problem with gay people, so perhaps it would make sense if it was quite early in the apocolypse (e.g. not total anarchy, but close to). Because there'd still be enough structure left in society to make it feel more possible. I would always advocate for portraying dangerous and dark issues such as these because I, personally, feel that what art is for in some sense. But I am the kind of man that really doesn't mind a bit of backlash and verbal combat, it doesn't bother me. TL;DR heavy research, good setting, respectful portrayal, beware of backlash, don't apologise for art.
  4. (Image by an artist, who's now deleted their twitter unfortunately) Foreword I am building a game project that includes a massive amount of characters and character writing. Writing is not one of my strong skills (as I'm sure you will see in this article) so I meet with skilled writers. I find their feedback invaluable. These meetings have taken place on rushed streets, swigging pints in pubs, through emails and through arguments. I'm confident I have met with a range of people with different opinions, but out of it all there are a few very consistent points which seem to form the backbone of writing characters. What follows are some notes on character writing that I have collected from these meetings. Complimented by the book Into The Woods by John Yorke (Notes supplemented by Into The Woods will be marked with [ITW]). Hopefully they can be of use of you. Character Versus Characterization The conflict between how we wish to be perceived and what we really feel is at the root of all character [ITW]. To see it another way: The conflict between how we wish to be perceived (characterization, facade) and what we really feel (character) is at the root of all (drama). Thus, for a character to be interesting and three dimensional, a character must be conflicted in some way. They will have a facade, built out of aspects that they think is beneficial (whether they are aware of it or not). But as time goes on, the facade will become detrimental instead. Until the character throws off the characterization, they will not win. In keeping up their facade, characters will speak according to the way they want to be seen [ITW] unless their guard is down. Hence dialogue, which is important. It should, at some level, reveal intent and how they want to be seen. Script for Apocolypse Now (1979), a movie based on Joseph Konrad's Heart of Darkness (1899) Writing the Dialogue When a character says something, and does something completely different, they are engaging, and drama comes alive. If dialogue is just explaining behavior, it is not engaging. Dialogue then, should show us character, not explain characterization. In other words, dialogue should not explain what a character is thinking, it should explain Key to getting natural sounding dialogue is having a character you can mentally draw forth rather than having to think about each individual line. That part comes later. Countless are the writers that sit in front of a page, thinking of something for a character to say. Instead, we create the character and they speak for themselves. For now, creating the character is first. To create a character, you must consider it as much as possible, from as many angles as possible. Here are some questions to consider about a character. They're not exhaustive and they're not the even the best, but they are a starting point: In public, what are they like? Are they kind, short-tempered, rushed? As soon as they lock themselves in a toilet, away from the public, what are their first wandering thoughts? Where do they come from and where are they going? Are they from a poor place or a place of riches? A quiet place or a busy place? Do they bounce between places? What do they like? What don't they like? If they are on a date, and their food is ordered for them and they don't like it, how do they react? Can they drive? Do they like driving? How do they react to traffic? They find a picture of themselves from the past: depending on when the picture was taken, and with/by whom, how do they react? And so on. The more questions about a character you consider, the deeper and more engaging they become. Eventually, the character becomes so concrete that the dialogue writes itself. A woman, between 26 and 29. Through-out school, her social life was mediocre. With little to do, and not many people with things in common, she leaves town the instant she graduates. In a busier city, she plucks up the courage to go out for a drink. After all, there are thousands of people of in this city, the chances of meeting someone is pretty high. She enters a pub. She has to push her way in. Immediately she notices she is the least fashionable in the room. It takes her a minute to find a spot to sit, but she finally settles in. After two hours, she is approached by a man. "How are you?" he asks. After a beat, she replies "Allright. Thank you." "I'm good, too" the man says. "Oh. Of course." she says. The man clears his throat. The man is obviously more experienced, and some what full of himself. He does not wait for her to ask him how he is, instead get its out of the way. "Oh. Of course" the girl replies, in surprise; partly because she considers this an oversight on her part, and partly because the man was slightly rude to her. She is not used to the short-handed, rushed city life that the man experiences. The man is expecting a conversation at the same pace as city-conversation. He realizes his mistake, clears his throat in embarrassment. The subtext here is that they both have much to learn about each other. Their lives run at different speeds and if they are to become good friends, they will have to learn from each other and grow. A better example of this in action is the opening scene of the film The Social Network (2010), where the characters talk past each other. There are a myriad of videos analyzing this scene from a writing perspective, so I wont go through that here. A quick search will enlighten you easily. The opening scene of The Social Network (2010, David Fincher) So, to create dialogue, we must create character. The better the character, the easier the dialogue is to write. In some ways writing character dialogue is acting out the character. Channeling what the character might say if they were here. Gathering Character Reference You need stuff to create stuff from. In all creative output, the input is just as important. People are characters. You are a character. You put a character out instead of yourself, as we have discussed further up. Therefore, you must talk to people to gather material. People hold a hundred stories about themselves and others. Nearly everyone relishes telling you about themselves, so just ask. Then listen carefully. I had a talk with an alcoholic in a pub. He was, in his hay-day, a good property developer and property salesman. We talked for a long time. One of the interesting things he said was his theory about dwindling men. This claim was thus: In the 70s and 80s, men's clubs were shut down en-masse. Because of this there was largely nowhere for men to hang around with other men (that is: without wives and women). Except for betting shops. Therefore the demand for betting shops spiked and many, many, many of them opened. Lots of men dwindled away in betting shops. I asked him if the closing of the mines in the North (and the subsequent massive unemployment) also added to the demand of betting shops. He agreed, satisfied with addition to his theory. But then he tapped his temple with his finger and said "But people like, like us, don't end up- you know, people who are switched on. We don't end up dying slowly in betting shops. Mug's game..." With a triumphant nod he drank his way through what was probably his 25th pint that week. In a dark pub in the afternoon. Conflict personified. Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, has hours of talks along this line. Collecting and retelling stories from real people until they take on a life of their own. Looking up any of the talks of Chuck is a must. Along with talking to real people, you must also read stories written by authors. And private blogs released by anonymous writers. And listen to confession podcasts. And character study documentaries. And so on. There is a documentary on a handful of influential flat earth advocates called Behind The Curve. It is it not a very deep slice of the flat earth ideology or belief, but it is great character study of these characters. One of the characters is a woman called Patricia Steere, who runs a Youtube channel centered around discussions and daily chats on flat earth theory, the flat earth community, flat earth news, and so on. She's stand-out in the conspiracy community, and she does not look like a conspiracist at all. She wasn't always a flat-earther either: she arrived there via a path of different conspiracies. Lizard people, global control, etc. As her channel gained in popularity, and more people from the conspiracy community noticed her, conspiracies about her started to circulate. The problem with being in the conspiracy community is that your beliefs are ridiculed constantly, therefore the big, bad world is always against you. So it is natural to feel that if someone does not believe as you believe, they are the enemy. This can even go as far as to other members who's beliefs have changed. They've been compromised. There is a short segment in the documentary where she says something along the lines of (and this is not verbatim, but the jist is there): Then, there is a moment where she is just on the cusp of a realization. As she is speaking you can see the gears in her head clank to a halt as she thinks: What they are saying about me is silly and not true. I have said the same things in the past about other people. It was not true and silly then. And therefore, what if flat earth is not true? Have I been wrong all this time? Then, just as there is about to be a logical explosion somewhere deep in her brain. She brushes it off with some comment and continues to believe what she believes. Instead of dealing with that sudden break in the pattern, she simple ignores it. The conflict within this character just flashed by in a monumental, internal battle and the illogical side won. It's a compelling five seconds. People can be a collection of compelling five second flashes. Summary Are you staring at a page, wondering what a character is going to say? You have not developed the character enough for them to speak yet. You will have to think through your character and build up aspects of them to dislodge dialogue. A quick search for character building questions is a good start. Your character is made. But they are stiff and not very engaging. They will need conflict, a facade. They need friction and difficulty. Characters make characters of themselves. Keep a look out for characters in real life. NOTE: This article is a condensed compilation of a lot of notes from meetings. It is also a mirror to the original article I wrote and posted on Minds
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