Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"You can only have one option here: love or art?"

Recently progress has slowed a bit, as I've been splitting my time between a lot of grunt updating work (mainly standardizing old code to the latest expectations) and re-learning Java, which the "Storybook" interpreter is to be programmed in. I want to be able to get a "proof of technology" for Storybook running, to verify that it can do everything it needs to do, on all major platforms. If I can't do this, I'll need to either a) revise my vision for Storybook, or b) get serious about finding a better programmer who can help me create it.

I've also been distracted by a happy development in my personal life named "Kevin," but as this is a highly focused progress-oriented blog I shall say no more.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

...

More progress. Moving Lacuna from "possible to complete" to "possible for someone other than the author to complete." This involves fixing a lot of reporting rules, methodically improving and standardizing movement and room descriptions, hinting the puzzles better, and at a few key points giving the player better nudges as to what to do next.

The hope is that in a few weeks I can have some friends play the "rough draft" and elicit comments.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Storybook

Once again struggling with a conceptual problem, basically centered around the notion of whether there's enough dramatic interest through the center part of the story, and whether I need to stir some up. In the meantime, I'm building out a detailed design document for Lacuna's "other half," a new interpreter with the working name Storybook that will leverage the processing power of modern computers to provide a different way of playing interactive fiction.

I really want to keep the exact nature of Storybook under wraps, but here's a hint: In my opinion, the save/restore mechanic is an archaic holdover from the early days of computing, and is certainly not the ideal way to experience a multilinear interactive story.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Milestones

I've now passed the 100,000 word mark. Hopefully the first 100,000 were the hardest.

What I have been calling the prologue is actually more like the prologue and first chapter. These I've been polishing up into a state of as-near-completion as possible. I hadn't planned on it, but I might release this section of the game in a few weeks to get comments on the interface and hopefully some more public encouragement. I'm really feeling pleased with how everything is shaping up; and for the first time in months, I've actually been writing; revising and tweaking and editing prose until it feels right.

Another few hours work on this segment, I think, and then it's time to start concept testing the outline, to see where the weak links in the story are and what parts of it need better pacing, better hinting, expansion, contraction, or deletion.

Once that's done... by the end of August, I hope... it will be knuckling down to write that second 100,000 words of dialog and description. A 2007 release of the open beta* at least may still be possible, if I stay on target.

(* After Whom the Telling Changed had been released for a while, I went back to it and heavily revised it, probably adding about 20% to the size of the game. I'm expecting to do something similar with Lacuna, but will more explicitly advertise it as an "open beta," and save the publicizing and possible commercialization until after it's had some time to organically improve.)

Monday, August 6, 2007

95,------

Closing in on 100,000 words of code and prose (not counting the standard Inform library). I've been working on the Prologue and the first conversation, along with the optional "tutorial mode" in this section of the game that helps familiarize people with the interface. More later.