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Archive for September 2012

Content Generation

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PyWeek judging is in its second week, and I’m a little tense.  Granted, I have lingering tension from other sources, too, but it’s a bit unsettling to know that my work is being critiqued, and that I can’t fix the two major flaws I discovered just a little too late.  On the other hand, it has been fun to help judge the other entries, so the experience as a whole is probably a net positive for me.  I would do it again.

A select few of the games share one major disappointment: I wish they had more content.  Tee’s Walkway is a prime example; in essence, it’s a simple puzzle with some similarities to my own entry.  However, its levels are each created by hand, where mine are randomly generated on the spot.  Each approach has advantages.

To Walkway’s credit, each of its levels is beautiful.  Many of them are symmetric.  They have a nice progression of difficulty, coupled with relevant hints.  In contrast, my levels are chaotic, and often include inelegant portions, like a door that won’t get opened because the goal is right around the corner.  My mazes increase in size as you complete them, but that doesn’t always mean that each one is harder than the last; some of them have long corridors with few or pre-opened doors, zipping you onward with little effort.

However, I swiftly finished all fifteen Walkway levels, and wanted more.  Restarting can let me play the same levels again, finding new solutions for some of them, but the excitement has waned.  In contrast, I never know what Rainbow Rooms will throw at me unless I set a static seed for the random number generator.  I’ve probably played it more than anyone, and would pick it up again in a heartbeat.  My kids, too, keep asking to play it.

The difference may well be based on a difference of strengths.  Just as I’m not great at user interface design, I’m lousy at puzzle design.  It takes me less effort to write a level generator than to design a level by hand.  At that point, why would I select a static set of levels, instead of letting the user see something new each game?  Okay, perhaps I could have selected a set with a decent learning curve and no way to get trap yourself, and would have avoided the lengthy wait for the generator to find something it likes, but would I have played through it more than twice?

Of course, I also started out with a Roguelike idea that morphed into a puzzle game, so perhaps my values are slightly skewed.

Written by eswald

25 Sep 2012 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Entertainment, Python

Rainbow Rooms

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PyWeek is over, and I didn’t make a dent in the roguelike I had planned.  Instead, I realized while attempting to create a level generator that a simple maze game would be much better for the time allotted.  Fortunately, I was able to use some of my code and ideas from the roguelike exploration.

I ended up calling the new creation Rainbow Rooms, after the colored doors that occasionally block your path back to the start.  Almost all of Saturday was spent creating a level generator that wouldn’t trap you too often.  Much of the rest was spent playing it or watching my family play it.

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Written by eswald

18 Sep 2012 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Entertainment, Python

PyWeek Progress

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After my Ludum Dare experience, I decided to try my hand at PyWeek.  Coming in, I had two ideas, depending on the final theme.  For three of them, I would have attempted something resembling interactive fiction with some sort of mystery theme.  Storyboarding would have been crucial, and probably beyond my abilities.

Instead, I get to go with the roguelike that’s been kicking around my brain for a few years.  Some of its flavor, once I get that far, will be inspired by To Boldly Go, a multi-player space exploration game I played in college.  Yes, that sounds like an odd pairing, but I think I can pull it off.

What I’m starting to doubt is my ability to do so within a week.  Particularly this week, given that it started out with two social occasions, and I’m barely at step 4 of 15 in The Sheep’s roadmap.  I have yet to get walls working.

I also need to decide whether to stick with curses, or switch to libtcod, which has all sorts of useful utilities for a roguelike, and will certainly be convenient for porting to Windows.  It will also make it possible to display favour with the Old Ones as a set of colored circles, with brightness indicating the value.  A scrolling message window might be more difficult, though.

Written by eswald

11 Sep 2012 at 9:06 pm

Posted in Python, Technology

Baking With Confidence

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Labor Day morning, I didn’t feel particularly great, and had no idea what to make for breakfast.  We were out of a few key ingredients for certain recipes, but I happened across a basic muffin recipe that sounded nice.  A nearby recipe had a cheesy biscuit recipe that the kids enjoyed, so I took inspiration from there to use up the last of our cheddar before it got too moldy.  A fine grater turned three or four tablespoons of cheese into nearly a cup while I melted a bit less butter than called for.  On a whim, I stirred most of the cheese straight into the hot butter, mixing the remainder into the dry ingredients.  The end result was very nice; slightly savory throughout, with a few dots of yellow cheese in each muffin.  If I do it again, I’ll probably decrease the sugar, too, and perhaps add an herb for extra flavor.

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Written by eswald

4 Sep 2012 at 10:53 am

Posted in Food, Lifestyle