Dev Journal – Week 3

This week was a very busy week. We had to redo our pitch, which went a lot better, demonstrate the feasibility of our prototype and finish all the documentation  for assessment. “Finish” is’t exactly the right term for the GDD, since it will continue to change as development continues. It was a stressful week, but successful.

 

The biggest thing we realised this week is that incremental small changes creep up on you and suddenly you realise that something you had settled and agreed on early on is not going to work and you’ll need to reassess that issue. This is what we spent the latter half of Friday doing. We revisited several early decisions to assess their current viability as the scope of the project evolved. Next week we’re onto production, so we’ll be doing a lot of testing of some of these decisions very soon.

Dev Journal: Week 2

This week mostly revolved around presentation preparation and some clarification on documentation.

 

The team spent most of our time together clarifying any vague aspects of our plan and filling in the gaps. In consultation with my team, I drew up a budget and schedule for development once we decided what tasks had to be completed in which milestones. We’ve planned our schedule with as many contingency plans as we can manage, with some stretch goals if we can fit them in. We plan to make the project as scaleable as we can to ensure we can complete it.

The artists have been completing the art bible and producing concept art, while the programmer has been working on some main interface menu prototypes and technical documentation. I’m still working on the GDD.

 

We gave our presentation on Friday, but need to demonstrate our core mechanic is viable with a paper prototype, so currently myself and the programmer are working out a few variations to try with the intention of showing a working prototype on Wednesday.

 

I am confident we will be able to demonstrate our idea is viable.

Dev Journal: Week 1

This is the first week of Practice Production.

 

We have picked our game idea, our theme and setting. We’re creating a puzzle/discovery/ crafting game making potions. Everyone on the team seems to be happy with the choice and enthusiastic about the idea. We’re making it deliberately a little absurd, which has made the idea more appealing to us.

 

Trent (programmer) and I have been trying to work out exactly how the core mechanic should work. We knew it could be complicated, but it’s proving more complicated than we anticipated. We’ve had a few disagreements, but I am confident we will be able to find a solution. We have a few more potential solutions we’re going to try to prototype over the next few weeks.

 

I’ve started on the Game Design Document, which will keep me busy over the next week and a bit. There is a lot to get done in a very brief time. It’s a little overwhelming this week, but I’m sure I can do it well.

Black Desert Online is amazing #2

In this issue: Immersion! Crafting! Amity!

Last time I covered the basics of BDO and why it was amazing. Today I’ll cover some more aspects in a little more depth to show more reasons why I love this game. I should also say that I still don’t know everything, there’s a lot I havnt experienced yet.

Amity

BDO has a conversation system that allows you to improve your standing with individual npcs. Why would you want to do this?
By conversing and increasing your amity, you unlock different things: new lore, items for sale or quests.
Conversations can take place when you have enough information or topics to talk to the person. For example, they may be interested in the other people in the town, so in order to hold the conversation, you need to meet everyone else in the town, or they might be interested in lore, so you need to know all the pieces of lore (such as to do with wealth as a topic) to talk to them.
When you have all the information you need, you can start a Conversation. Each piece of knowledge you gathered works as a card. You then have to place cards strategically in order to meet a certain requirement. For example, you may get the objective “gain more than 33 favor” and so you would play cards that have a good chance of gaining that number. Each card also has an interest rating and interest value. If the card fails to gain interest, you gain no amity or favor from the card.
This adds to immersion as you can pass through an area multiple times and still not discover everything. Like many things, amity is shared across all characters on an account on that server.
Crafting and gathering

The crafting system is complex and deep. There are many different resources and ways to craft. The player can do some basic crafting- cooking, drying, alchemy, mixing, grinding or heating anywhere. To do something more complex, a workstation is required and can be played in a house being used as a residence.
Crafting stations allow the player to experiment, mixing different ingredients to create items. Cooking and alchemy provide various buff items; cooking also produces additional items that can be sold or traded to npcs for other ingredients or resources.

 Players can gather resources themselves in multiple ways. By equipping a tool, a player can gather resources in the environment, such as by butchering or skinning animals.
Players can also manage and grow crops by renting some fencing to create a farm plot. The farm must be cared for in order to grow crops, many of which can not be gathered by npcs.
Npc workers can be used to gather resources from nodes, but require lodging in houses and for there to be storage space in town to deposit the resources they gather. If a house is set to a workshop or refinery, workers can create the items in that workshop, such as armor, weapons, furniture and even costumes.
Nodes must be connected to the workshops/storage and to the worker’s location in order to use these buildings. Different buildings have different options, which can can be upgraded to different levels, so you want to plan where you want to build, although you can sell anything that uses contribution points to get them back.
Workers use energy while working that can be refilled with beer, which you can get from some quests, buy it or make it with cooking. Workers level up, gain abilities and can be promoted.
Pets and mounts also have energy meters that can be refilled with food from cooking, using some ingredients that are farmed, others that are gathered.
There’s also a bunch of minigames for various resources. Fishing involves several minigames to catch a fish (or can be done without, but it takes much longer.) Cow milking and horse taming both involve mini games  and there is another one for gathering black stone dust.
Blackstone is a resource used in upgrading weapons and armor, or in other crafting recipes.
Equipment does not have levels and can be upgraded to increase effectiveness. Armor and weapons are upgraded with blackstones, other equipment using other pieces of the same type.
Its a lot to learn, and I’ve barely scratched the surface myself.

Black Desert Online is amazing

Hello dear readers!

I’m going to talk about a game that is consuming me with practically every aspect. Black Desert.
What is it?

Black Desert is a new MMORPG that has just released in the Western sphere, although it’s been out in Korea, Japan and Russia for maybe a year at most.
It brings back the sandboxy elements of the classic era of MMOs, where the open world aspects are not JUST pvp, although PVP is still a big thing.
The game has 7 classes. They’re race and gender locked, although the Wizard and Witch are identical classes.

Those classes are:

Warrior: Human male with a sword and shield 

Valkyrie: Human female with sword, shield and some celestial powers.

Ranger: Elf female with bow and dagger.

Berserker: Giant male with two axes.

Tamer: human female with shortsword and a demon dog thing.

Sorceress: human female with talismans to cast shadowy magic at close to medium range.

Wizard/Witch: Human male/female with staff, dagger and elemental magic.

Korea has the Ninja/Kunoichi and the Blader/Plum classes, which will come to NA/EU in the future.

The combat is action and combo based, so you have to aim your attacks (not a difficult thing to do), similar to TERA, but with more detail. You don’t have to use hotbar for abilities.
For example, hitting backwards and left clicking will cast a spell or do a swing of your weapon that may knock a for over, depending on your class. The attacks are weighty and move you around, so they’re very satisfying and strategic. Explosions and arcing swings will hit multiple targets, so taking on groups is part of the gameplay.
Resources/Crafting/Trade

A unique aspect of Black Desert is the Nodes system.

As you complete quests, you gain contribution points and energy. You use contribution points to invest in nodes, which are locations all over the map. Many are resources like mines, farms and forests, others are guard posts and gateways. Each of these locations has a connection to other nodes and eventually to a village, town or city. You connect towns by investing in all the nodes along a path between two towns.

By connecting these towns you can transfer items from storage in one town to storage in another at a much cheaper price than if two locations are not connected.

It also allows for items that can be sold to trade managers to sell at a higher price. Trade item prices are based on supply and demand, but also distance from origin. Some of these items are earned in quests, others as loot.
Investing in resources on a node allows you to send workers you have to those locations to harvest those resources for you. You can gather resources manuallyvwithbthe right tools, but it costs energy.
In towns and nodes there are often buildings you can purchase with contribution points. These can be put to various purposes- expanding storage, crafting areas a for specialty goods such as armor, weapons, wagons, tools, boats or furniture. They can be upgraded to different degrees, some locations offering unique buildings.
You can also choose to make up to 6 buildings a residence that you can decorate and enter, using it as a personal house.

All building use is instanced, every player can own every building if they choose.
Mounts

There’s no fast travel, so you’ll need mounts to get around. The three types are donkeys, horses and camels. 
Donkeys are the slowest mounts, they can carry a little in their packs and you get one for free early on.

Horses come in multiple tiers, they have various skills, can be bred and trained up. If your horse has the skills and you have the training skill high enough, you can fight on horseback. High tier horses need to be found in the wild and tamed.
Camels are used for traveling in the desert. The desert region is only available in the Korean version currently.
Parkour

It’s not showy, leap off walls, flipping off ledges. But you can grab ledges and pull yourself up, which is great for getting on rooftops and scaling some cliffs or getting over a wall. Your character will also stop at ledges so you don’t accidentally fall off.
Exploration

The game is big, but even small areas can be full of surprises. You need to talk to a lot of people in town to discover everything in it, including getting quests. The conversation system builds on this.

You gain amity with characters by using the conversation mini game. You need to have enough conversation topics for that person in order to have a conversation, the people you need to discover depend on the interests of the npc. Amity will unlock new options from that character.
Some nodes are hidden and take some real exploration to find. They won’t all show up on the map until you discover them, so even in areas you’ve passed through multiple times you can discover new things.
There’s more to the game and a lot more depth to some of the systems, but that’s an overview.
I’m having a lot of fun and can see a lot of potential for this game, so I shall sing its praises at every opportunity.

Tony Abbott deserves neither sympathy nor respect

Prime Minister Tony Abbott today resigns as leader after a leadership spill yesterday.

He criticised the media for printing gossip and smears anonymously, something was gleefully supportive of when he was in opposition. Something to which he had previously responded “If you want better media coverage, be a better government”.

If I were to sum up Abbott in one word, it would be “competitive”. He recognises this himself, which is the only positive trait I can attribute to him. For him, winning is everything. He claims to have a vision, and he does have ideas of how he things should be, as leader, he did everything in his power to get his way, regardless of the views of the public, the parliament or the Liberal Party. This is not, however, a vision. He has no strategy, no plans, no policy framework. For him it was about beating the Labor Party, about winning by any means necessary. So he lied, he slandered, he shouted down all opposition. He was disruptive, he made claims in order to incite panic and distract from the message of his opponents. Some say this makes him a good opposition leader. I disagree. It may be effective, but effective and “good” are not the same thing. You can stop someone dying from cancer by decapitating them. It’s a very effective way to stop cancer, it’s not a good way to treat cancer though.

Abbott is a blunt instrument. He will batter and bludgeon until he gets his way. This is fine if you’re a boxer, this is not so good as a political leader or government minister. Some are surprised that he failed, expecting him to grow into the job of Prime Minister. I believe these people are either desperately hopeful, or completely ignorant of Abbott’s record.

Abbott is belligerent,  vindictive and bigoted. He does not merely embody these traits, he revels in them. This was evident as Health Minister in the Howard Government, as a member of the opposition, as leader of the opposition. There was no evidence that he would grow as a leader, as a person, that he would change his attitude. If anything, his belligerence grew. As leader, he was even more arrogant, as there was no one to keep him in line. Some people say that he lost the “real” Tony Abbott, talking about his honesty and up front attitude. I believe that while these are traits of Tony Abbott, it’s only part of who he is. The real Tony Abbott, is the Abbott unchecked, the man who would do anything “except sell his arse” to be Prime Minister. The arrogant, bigoted, dishonest, vindictive, malicious leader that we saw is the true Abbott. He worked hard to punish anyone who he disagreed with, or who did not do what he wanted, to the extent that the federal police attempted to uncover media sources reporting on refugees. The sacking of Peter Reith as Liberal whip similarly was punished when a spill motion was brought against Abbott seven months ago.

Tony Abbott is credited as the man who brought down Labor. I do not believe this is a warranted claim. Tony Abbott was an obstructionist, disruptive leader. He was very fortunate that he faced Kevin Rudd, a man so indecisive and difficult to work with that his own party decided they could work under him no longer. The removal of Rudd and subsequent destabilisation of the Gillard government by Rudd are the true reasons for the collapse of the Labor government. Abbott was there to spread lies and disruption at a time when Labor was busy fighting themselves. Even in a hung parliament, Abbott was unable to secure a government due to his inability to negotiate or truly lead. He put ambition before government, yet again, and it cost him the job he coveted.

Labor’s implosion was seen as a victory for Abbott, yet Abbott’s performance in the polls and the Liberal party’s position remained poor. Abbott was never seen as a real leader by the Australian people, the Coalition could have put forth a muddy stick as leader and they would have won the 2013 election. Abbott contributed nothing but confusion and misinformation to policy discussion. He came to government offering none, and this caused him significant troubles, particularly the first budget. It went against all their promises because they had no policies. It has been noted that the Abbott government cabinet meetings were very short because there was no policy on the agenda. So it is obvious that Abbott was never a suitable leader, and it reflects very poorly on the Liberal party to have had such a man as their leader for five years without realising his unsuitability.

There is some truth to Abbott and Gillard’s criticisms of the media and their contribution to the destabilisation of governments, where any disagreement is treated as a soap opera. I remember Tanya Plibersek giving a press conference, announcing a Labor government health policy. Not a single question was asked about health or health policy. All they wanted to ask was about leadership speculation. How can any government communicate their message when the media chooses to IGNORE policy in favour of drama? In the lead up to the 2013 election, Labor was working to communicate sophisticated policy and policy outcomes, the Liberals offered absolutely no policy, just slogans. The media barely even noticed this. There was no discussion of policy, no alternatives from the Liberals when they criticised Labor policy, no analysis of the claims made by the Liberals, many of which were patently absurd claims that were so dishonest that they should have been hammered for them, but the media dutifully reported and quoted the Liberals with no analysis. The media does contribute heavily to the poor quality of political discourse and leadership in Australia.

But all in all, I have no sympathy for Tony Abbott and his public disgrace. He was an unfit from the start, a malicious bigot determined to win at any cost. He deserves all the criticism he gets and should go down in history as the worst Prime Minister we have ever had.

Tony Abbott: The Best Friend Terrorism Has Ever Had (In Australia)

There were a bunch of issues that are pretty important that I didn’t touch on yesterday, mainly around terrorism, totalitarianism, social harmony and the like that are pretty important at the moment, but I think they warrant their own post. So here it is!

Our Glorious Leader, Tony Abbott is a fan of policies that are alarmingly close to totalitarian in nature. He wishes to legislate for citizenship to be revoked at ministerial discretion. Not even the courts. He wants to essentially be given the authority (through one of his minsters) to revoke the citizenship of Australians. This should set of alarm bells in anyone’s head. This isn’t making our nation safer, this is denying the right of people to citizenship in the country they are born and also an attempt, as is usual for this government to shunt responsibility of problems onto other people.

You know who had his citizenship revoked? Osama bin Laden. It meant that he had nowhere to run, sure, he was stateless. So what did he do? He built an army. He fortified his position. He cemented his control. He died. His army did not. It now controls a significant portion of land and is causing a great deal of strife in the Middle East. Well done. That went well.

Now, of course not every terrorist or militant is bin Laden. But if you revoke their citizenship, even if they have a change of heart, they have nowhere to go. So they stay. They fight. They promote a cause like ISIL because what else is there?

In other words, revoking citizenship is a great way to perpetuate terrorism. It also doesn’t work as a deterrent. So that’s the first point. Tony Abbott is trying to legislate to encourage terrorism while also attempting to strip the rights of Australians on his whim. Totalitarianism.

Second, Tony Abbott is hostile towards Australia’s peaceful, law abiding Muslim community. He encourages an “Us vs Them” mentality with his rhetoric, he accuses the Muslim community of not being serious about peaceful coexistence. He treats them as something other than citizens.

As a result, the Muslim community leaders have expressed concerns that everyone in the community is too afraid to be associated with extremists or people at risk of being influenced by extremists, for fear they will be caught up in the repercussions themselves. They’re too scared to actually interact with vulnerable community members because their own families will suffer if they do. So that means that when ISIL comes around to disenfranchised youth in the community, who feel unwelcome in the Australian community, the muslim community also steers clear out of fear. So ISIL gains some more recruits because of Abbott’s fear mongering.

Of course, it’s not just people raised in Muslim cultural traditions that are targeted by ISIL, other troubled youth are targeted too. Abbott has exacerbated that by cutting support services. Abbott makes it easier for ISIL to recruit the vulnerable. No services to help support the vulnerable in the community and the muslim community is too intimidated by the government to get in the way. Couldn’t ask for better conditions as a recruiter, could you?

Then we have the legislation around refugees. Many are coming from places affected by terrorism or oppression. Abbott’s response? Send them back or send them somewhere else. Refugees is someone else’s problem.

But worse than that. They have outsourced them and deliberately made the refugee centres as hostile, harmful, degrading and humiliating as possible. Refugees are killed, injured, left without medical attention, not given supplies they need and even sexually assaulted by staff. Abbott’s response? Jail anyone who reports on the conditions, be they refugee advocate, staff or attending medical practitioner. This is more totalitarian behaviour that should have Australians very nervous. It is not dissimilar to the plight of Jewish refugees just before the second world war broke out. So when I liken Abbott to Hitler, I do not make the comparison lightly.

Our government is a genuine threat to world security and liberty, and as a democratic society, we should not tolerate this sort of behaviour. It would help if “leader of the opposition” Bill Shorten had a backbone, but he’s all too eager to do whatever the Glorious Leader says if he screams “national security” loudly first.

Personally I think Abbott, Morrison and Dutton should all be tried in an international court. But I’m no lawyer.