Summer’s over but I’m sure not! / Gas Mask Lounge Update 1

And just like that, summer is over. It always feels like you are always busier somehow in summer, and that was definitely the case. As noted in my update at the beginning of the summer, I had some plans for my projects over the summer, and of course things never go according to plan! So let me talk a bit about what I did this summer.

Basic Updates

First up, it is with great sadness but understanding that I say that I have no updates for Untitled Wizard Fighting Game! The team decided to stop major work for the summer due to conflicting and busy schedules, so beyond some initial stage and character concepting, we haven’t done anything! We hope to get back to work once we are back into classes.

As for what took up most of my time, I spent 5 weeks teaching high school students about game design and programming through iD Tech Camps at Bentley University in Waltham, MA! It was super awesome to be able to pass the things I have been learning onto a really brilliant group of up-and-coming game developers. I received a lot of really awesome reviews, which make me extremely confident that I know what I’m doing!

Now, onto what I’m sure you’ve all been dying to hear about…

Gas Mask Lounge

I actually do have a decent bit to show off in terms of progress with the game! My goals for the summer were to set up a money system and to create a better system for customers where certain characters could show up at predetermined days. A lot of stuff has been implemented, so let me show a bit of it off!

Customer Creation

Most of the stuff you’ll see I’ve done has been a ton of infrastructure setup, but it was entirely necessary that I spend this amount of time on the set-up because it more or less allows me a lot of freedom later on. A lot of the game has been set up to work through text files, which make adding things like names and dialogue a breeze. Let’s walk through the process of creating a customer.

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First, the game starts and loads in all external files. These include names, dialogue, and mix requests for randomly-generated customers, as well as the same things for the recurring characters plus when they will show up. These are stored in a variety of arrays and lists that make it easy to just progress through and find what we need when we need it.

Then, the game starts day 1 by populating a list of customers for the day. This involves finding if any characters are set to appear that day and adding them, along with a bunch of randomly-generated fighters, to the day’s fight schedule. Then the rest of the day’s customers are filled out by more random characters.

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Next, a customer name is chosen at random and the game figures out if it’s a pre-determined character or not. If it is, the script finds the interaction that the character should be on based on how many visits they’ve had and whether they were served correctly or not. Otherwise, a random dialogue and desired mix will be used.

Currently, I have the game saving how many times a character has been visited and whether they were served correctly, but I am still figuring out how I want these to affect the later interactions with these characters. This is the major system that I still have to work out before I can begin testing.

Betting

As for the money system of the game, I implemented the pretty simple betting system into the game that I showed off in my last update. The player can receive money in two ways: by serving a customer correctly to receive a smaller amount of money and by placing a bet on a fight where they choose the correct winner. The winner is determined by the randomly-chosen odds of a matchup and to how the player served one of the competitors of that matchup. The additions I’ve made include the player actually having to pay money at the end of the day, as well as a review of the bets they made and how much money they made back.

The drive behind this system is that money is meant to be tight for the player, and they will be forced to make some tough choices between whether they want to help the character they like grow and develop or they make pay their expenses for the day. I’m hoping to add more facets that make this decision harder for the player, and I think it is what will set the game apart from VA-11 HALL-A.

Characters

As stated previously, there will be recurring customers at the bar that the player will get to know, and they will be able to affect the character’s growth by whether or not they are served the correct gas mixes. I’ve begun the preliminary plans of these characters and the arcs they will be following, and I’m very excited about the potential for these characters. The idea I really focused on was trying to figure out why someone would be fighting in a legal gladiatorial ring and what type of person that would be. I also am heavily prioritizing representation within the cast of characters, simply because that’s what’s right and I really want to use my platform as a way to tell diverse stories.

Art

As for the game’s art, I spent most of the summer in talks with an extremely talented artist from my year at school, Celina Tong.  She is very interested in horror, so the game’s prospective art style was perfect for her. However, because of how busy her life is, she is currently figuring out if she is able to take on the project. Some work was done with her over the summer, though. Due to very busy schedules, we spent most of the summer simply trying to get the art direction down, but we’ve managed to find a preliminary style that we’re excited about. Below is a bit of concepting on what an average customer may look like, with the furthest left showing off the style we’ve decided to move forward with. The more subdued colors and grainy noise seems to fit the vibe of the current game very well, so I hope Celina can still work moving forward.

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This upcoming semester, I’m hoping to get the final parts of the game’s initial design in and begin testing, because I have a lot of ideas for the gameplay and I want to make see what will work best. It’s been hard to decide what I’m going forward with because I am very willing to go into testing with the many ideas I left behind, but it’s necessary to get anywhere! I also am going to start fleshing out the characters and try and figure out where their arcs will take them. I’m not much of a dialogue writer, so I may enlist some help from someone for that part.

As for class and stuff, I’m going to be abroad on Montreal for the fall semester! I’m extremely excited about the prospects of what the many companies in Montreal will bring, as well as my exciting Applied Ludology, Interactive Storytelling,spe and Game Tech 2 classes which will hone my skills as a designer and a scripter. It’ll be tough work but I’m prepared for the challenge!

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