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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Oh, NaNo

This is going to be a lot harder than I thought.

It's not like NaNoWriMo isn't hard on it's own. Oh no, I had to go and decide to do an interactive piece as well. I am, to use the vernacular, dumb.

Problem is, I'm still fine tuning the framework itself. Even when it's more or less working, a lot of the work will be in code. The way this framework operates is by either shuttling html files or flipping swaths of text to illustrate changes in the fictional world. So if you "go north" it will load the descriptive text for that location. If you take something from that location, it will reload the text but also swap out text to indicate the item is no longer there.

All of that shuttling requires javascript and while I have a lot of stuff automatically working (for instances, sections named after items more or less know what to do now), that only gets you so far. The real meat is in activities not related to the common go, take, drop or examine verbs. Actions like disturb, blow out, light, attack, talk, etc. Talk in fact is really annoying. Consider how much of a novel you read is dialogue, and then try reading that text in the second person. You can't because you're part of the conversation now. Originally I was going to use a modal system ... more or less the kind of multiple choice dialogues you get from your average CRPG. That didn't feel open ended enough though. What if a reader talks to a character, and then leaves that location for somewhere else? Will they figure out that new options might have appeared? Game design would dictate fairly obvious clues or else you run the risk of hiding an important solution. However, if you force the player to try different subjects like, "talk to man about grave" or "talk to man about lemonade", then they might be more likely to try different keywords as they explore more.

Great. But now half the dialogue is text, and another half will be code to determine how to display it. And code is like poetry ... it's not easy to write it quickly or well. Try writing three pages a night when half your words are coming out in haiku.

Well, at least NaNo isn't about winning but about writing. It will be definately interesting to see how this looks 29 days from now.

For the record though, I'd guess my word count is less than a hundred right now.

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