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Author Topic: A text-based game  (Read 2333 times)

Jonathan S. Fox

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A text-based game
« on: September 18, 2007, 02:45:00 am »

Okay, the backstory to the thread is that I was updating Liberal Crime Squad over the summer and somehow in a recent thread in the Curses forum the topic of discussion turned to my personal experience with game making, and more specifically, another game I worked on. Since it has nothing to do with Bay12Games, I'm trying to be a good forum citizen and move the discussion here.

So, I was product manager for a text-based game written from start to finish with a team of five people. It was a school project, not open source or anything, but it was pretty cool. Kind of like Oregon Trail, except in space on a frozen planet. You can barter with various villages you come across, there's no currency, and there's combat and unique items and underground labs to explore... you can either escape the planet, or, if you're an insane powergamer and want to explore everywhere and do everything, there's a super secret alternate ending. A couple people asked me to upload it somewhere after I said that I have a copy but there's no download link, so I figured I'd start this thread and let you take a look at it. Bear in mind that it's not really professional, it was our first game built from start to finish. I won't demean myself by claiming it was "only marginally" better than the sub-games on this site, we did put a lot of work into it, but seriously, it's no Dwarf Fortress.

The download is here: www.jonathansfox.com/snowglobe.zip

Run the installer to, um, install. You need Windows, but that's pretty much it. This is a rip of the CD -- the actual game comes with a manual, a map, reference cards... but I don't have a scanner. There's a tutorial and in-game help. Hopefully that will be good enough. You're absolutely welcome to ask questions if you have any. Unfortunately, any bugs you find won't be fixed, we're all too busy working on new things.

The story is basically that the whole planet is getting colder year after year, after sinking into an ice age in which civilization collapsed and the cities were overrun by giant robots. Now you just get a few heavily armed trading caravans wandering the wastes, but your people have heard a rumor that deep in the biggest and most dangerous ruined city on the planet, there's a spaceport that has working space ships essentially abandoned on the runways, but that nobody can use them because the whole place is overrun by violent robots. Your job is to a) find the place, and b) get your caravan strong enough, in both numbers of people and armament, that you can fight your way to the spaceport and escape. There's a huge element of exploration, plus combat, trading, and mainly just survival.

It's kind of strange to give this as a download, it's so raw and early that normally you'd only show your friends, family, and your prospective employer as a portfolio piece.

I go to DigiPen Institute of Technology as an RTIS (Real-Time Interactive Simulation) major. In your freshman year as either a Computer Engineering or RTIS student there, you're assigned to work with a team to design from scratch and complete a text-based game like that, working within time constraints and with regular benchmarks and presentations required on how progress is moving that simulate the relationship that professional game development teams have with publishers. I had basically zero programming experience when I enrolled, and the same goes for half of my team. We produced that game in about six months. For a whole archive of games done by DigiPen students, you can check out the download page of the DigiPen website. DigiPen only hosts Junior, Senior, Masters, and the ten best Sophomore games on their website, so you won't see more than maybe one or two text-based Freshman games on there, they kind of silently pass away into history as we learn about graphics and eventually move into full 3D.

If you're curious about a career in video games and want to find out how one goes about getting a job in the industry, I would suggest checking out the International Game Developers Association forums. You could also ask me. I'm just a student, but I could probably handle a couple of questions, if you have any.

Enjoy! Hopefully it's not too frustrating. It's a fairly challenging game when you're learning, a lot of people die on the tutorial.   :o

[ September 18, 2007: Message edited by: Jonathan S. Fox ]

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a1s

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2007, 03:36:00 pm »

why do people die in tutorial? it's easy!

the game rocks the boat, thanks for sharing it with us!

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Jonathan S. Fox

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2007, 08:42:00 pm »

They usually get stuck in the mountains near the end, I think. Mountains are pretty nasty terrain. I'm glad you got through the tutorial... it's a kind of bad tutorial if that can't be done.  ;)

But yeah, I'm glad you like it! Sorry about the repetitive midi music, I wrote it myself. The overworld music is really sped up though, which is why it's all frantic. We thought it sounded cooler, but it also gets old much faster that way. Should be easy enough to turn the music off though.

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Little

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2007, 10:14:00 pm »

Man, if you could make it so that you could set up a town....Thw challenge of making people aware of your town, immigrants and emmigrants,food shortages and attempts at hostile takeovers....

That'd be a rival to a Bay12 game!

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Tapper12

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2007, 06:04:00 am »

Just finished the game with the secret ending. Quite nice game, although combat was a bit too easy. Almost everything went down without trouble as soon as you had a few laser rifles.
Of course it's not DF quality, but it's still a nice way to waste some time until the new version arrives.
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Jonathan S. Fox

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2007, 10:39:00 am »

If you escaped the planet through the spaceport in the middle of the map (I'm assuming this is what you did, because it's the way is fairly easy), that's not actually the secret ending, just the normal goal of the game. For a real challenge, try investigating all four of the secret laboratories on the extreme edges of the map in a single run. That's the way we (the dev team) had the most fun -- it takes much more strategy, planning, and careful resource management, because you're racing the clock, and need to be familiar with a lot of villages across the map the judge where you need to trade for supplies, what order to travel through, etc... also challenging would be to try starting from the hardest villages. One of them has almost no supplies and is surrounded by hostile territory, the other is to the north of a massive lake that effectively cuts it off from the rest of the map unless you either trudge through lots of mountains or wait until it gets very cold and the ice gets thick (and have plenty of dog sled teams).

I guess it's natural that Snowglobe would be considered relatively easy for people used to DF. Losing is inevitable and fun!  :D I do think the "secret lab" ending is a more appropriate caliber challenge if the normal goal seems too easy.

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Tapper12

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2007, 06:41:00 pm »

No, I completed the game through visiting the laboratories. After doing a couple of trading runs between different towns and caravans I had around 30-50 laser rifles and a bunch of biosuits. After that i could kill everything without any casualties by using Laser/Defense tactics.
Timing wasn't really a problem since the Force Shields make your whole caravan immune to the effects of weather no matter how cold the planet became.
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Jonathan S. Fox

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2007, 07:44:00 pm »

Wow, I am very impressed.  :D I put it up and within a day somebody's beaten the secret ending. I'm going to have to tell the dev team. That's an impressive record. I don't think when we were testing it we ever exploited the force shields to the limit, because we added their map effect late in the development, and we were stuck in our old habits. I know I mostly used them as a way to cross mountains. We didn't have any elite outside testers to tell us how it went from the bay12games forums.  :D

I'm glad though, because you were able to see all the content we had in there. We were worried nobody would see the super secret ending except us, because we knew the ins and outs of the game. Congrats!   :cool:

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LordBucket

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2007, 08:24:00 pm »

Huh. Well, interesting concept, but the game really didn't grab me the way Liberal Crime Squad did. Granted, I only played for about ten minutes, but it seems like a lot of walking around gathering trade goods from the constant random events. Not exactly the greatest interface. (Would it really have been so terrible to have used arrow keys for movement? Why have us press ! instead of something more traditional, like say, space bar, or enter, to continue?) And finally, combat is really what killed it for me. Again, interesting idea, but not really much fun in practice. It mostly just seems like trial and error to find out what the best reaction to each type of monster is, with lots of silliness during the error part of those trials. Fourteen guys with guns and shieldvests against a single 'weak' snow wolf...I choose to go offensive instead of stand my ground, so it kills 8 people...and gets away? Huh?

Randomness and constant trial and error to figure out the single 'correct' answer don't make for entertaining games.

qwertyuiopas

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2007, 08:30:00 pm »

really fun, once I played the main game.
Very nice.
not quite armok 1 material(in the interface)
once you find a large battle and win it, you are hooked.(for a while)
the only problem may be eventual boredom when you win....
did destroying that base slow the temperature drop?
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a1s

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2007, 08:39:00 pm »

quote:
Originally posted by qwertyuiopas:
<STRONG>did destroying that base slow the temperature drop?</STRONG>

I found one so far, and it actually *reversed* the temperature drop for a while (but then it went on again, and I died at the temperature of -37, personal record)
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Solara

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2007, 08:49:00 pm »

Awesome, thanks Jonathan!  :D

Sadly I'll probably have to wait till tomorrow to check it out, I wish I'd noticed this thread a little earlier...

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Jonathan S. Fox

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2007, 09:48:00 pm »

LordBucket -- I'm going to have to defend the battle system there. Now, I'll be the first to say it's not exactly Halo 3 or whatever, and the options aren't all equally useful (I'll tell you straight out that bombs are virtually useless, and it's unusual to be in a situation in which attacking is better than stand ground or defend). However, there is no encounter for a single snow wolf, you were facing a pack of them. And these aren't Dwarf Fortress wolves you pick off with a couple of crossbow bolts at range, you're fighting packs of wolves on another planet in an extremely hostile environment, and that pack is willing to attack an entire caravan of dozens of people. Figuring out that the monsters in Snowglobe are very powerful compared to their real-world counterparts doesn't take very long. Additionally, though I wasn't the designer, I helped code the mechanics for combat, and there is no single correct answer for a given enemy -- there is often an optimal answer, but what that is depends on the equipment you have and your relative power. If given your power being offensive is very bad when fighting snow wolves, it'll be worse fighting something stronger. Learning the mechanics and strategies that work is a part of any game. I would have designed the combat differently if I were the designer (I wrote the flavor text for combat, but the basic idea was not mine), but what we have is not really bad. Getting mauled the first time you try something isn't random, it's just part of figuring out how the game works. We were at least kind enough to reduce the combat casualties in the tutorial to allow you to make a few mistakes without being completely crippled. I didn't claim it was easy.  ;)

We would not write or be proud of a game that is just randomness and guessing, and our designer would be sad that it seemed that way. Even the encounters on the main world are dependent on the individual terrain types -- plains are nice because you pick up small caches of random stuff all the time, but that is because you are in the plains, and that affects the decision on how to travel overland. If you go to the mountains you'll frequently have disasters, and one thing that makes deserts so hard to survive in is the absence of random rations to collect. The most guessing happens in the secret labs, which have unique CYOA-like adventure trees associated with them, but there's lots of flavor text and those are not random at all. (Incidentally, the labs are one thing I did design.)

qwertyuiopas -- Destroying the bases reverses the temperature drop temporarily, assuming you destroy it "right". There are one or two end states (not all bases have them, I know the southern one does though) that make it possible for you to destroy the base in the wrong way and not actually reverse the climate change as a result.

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qwertyuiopas

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Re: A text-based game
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2007, 06:41:00 pm »

I had saved and quit just after destroying it. After it loaded, the temperature did rise. Great game.(compared to progress quest)
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