Thursday, August 9, 2012

Suspense Week, Day Four

You know the drill by now, folks. If you haven't read the gripping finale to Dragomir's Diary season one, click the image. It'll shunt you to the important bits.

Let us also not neglect Mindless Walkabout which has its own little wrap-up of Dragomir's Diary... as well as an impending finale of its own. (The comic will continue, but the story... eh... more or less done for quite a while. One-shots all around! Matt needs time to do other stuff!)

Today on Suspense Week, we look at something ambitious that never quite made it off the ground: a Dragomir's Diary video game. Specifically, a text adventure created using the Quest software.

For those of you who are much younger than me (that number seems to be increasing every day... I guess, technically, it is) a text adventure game is one in which prose plays the dominant storytelling role. You're given a description of a scene, you can move around the scene, manipulate objects, move to other locales, talk to people, and so forth. Zork is the premier example of a text adventure.

And, yes, I decided a while back to take a stab at developing a Dragomir's Diary game. I got decently far into it, as well! I had fleshed out the eastern bailey, Dragomir's apartment building, the main thoroughfare, the walls of the castle, hell, even the Neck and the barbican. The plot involved a rash of thefts and a sneaky goblin who'd managed to infiltrate the castle, and it was up to Dragomir to find him. Exciting stuff.

I spent more time concocting ways for Dragomir to die than setting up the plot of the game. You could:

- Take him to the communal toilets, have him drink some of the water therein and kill him
- Peek into one of the toilets and have something far below grab him and pull him in
- Light a match and toss it into one of the toilets and blow up the bathrooms
- Have Dragomir try to steal from someone in a crowd, thus attracting the ire (and fatal fists) of the nearby Captain Cedric
- Have Dragomir try to steal FROM Captain Cedric, with the same result
- Jump off the wall and into the moat
- Walk onto the Neck
- Try to steal a banner near the main gates, thus activating a falling rock trap that would smush Dragomir's head

And various other things. I'm mostly running off memory, here, as the current state of the game takes a while to play, and I hadn't the time to tinker with it too much.

That, ultimately, was the big problem with the game: time. It took too much time. As with all video games text games are incredibly fiddly, and you need to connect every teensy tiny piece in order for it to work right. Even a straightforward game requires a ton of planning, and I lacked the hours to make it happen.

Also, the will. I salute you, programmers.

Will I go back to this game some day? Perhaps. It was a fun project, and if I mysteriously earn a small fortune that will allow me to work on fiction full-time (each of you buying dozens of copies of AFK would be splendid) I may just return to the game. At the very LEAST I will try to puzzle out a way to post the current game so you can all wander around Dragomir's world and get yourselves killed.

Oh, yeah, one last thing: this would've been one of the songs planned for the game. Not an amazing tune, but it sounds like it belongs in an old-timey game, doesn't it? I think it does.

Tomorrow: Suspense Week wraps up with a brief look at the future of Dragomir's Diary! Stay tuned.

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