31 Mar 2012

CONTINGENCY: Z 2D Game Bible - Vol. 1

I've decided to write a kind of 'game bible' (document containing everything about a game and how it works) for CZ2D. So here's the first part:

CZ2D: Rules of the Game no. 1:
'If you act like a dick, or start pretending to be Rambo, you WILL die.'

I think that sums up one of the main themes of CZ2D. It will be brutal, beyond Red Orchestra kind of brutal. So if you start running around shooting everything, you will end up killing yourself, either by the sound of the shots attracting a horde of zombies, or using up all your ammo or some such thing. However, if you're smart and you conserve your ammo and keep your wits about you, you'll be able to survive pretty easily and be dig out a good little virtual life for yourself in the zombie-infested wasteland.

As such, this is my design for the ammo-counter:

MS Paint mockups ftw!

So, this shows several things.
First, notice there are 5 bars. These represent the up to 5 magazines the player can carry for each weapon (if the weapon uses magazines), bar 5 is coloured dark grey because the player hasn't found a 5th magazine yet (they'll be fairly common though, most dead survivors you'd come across would have 2 or 4 magazines for the weapon they are carrying).
Second, notice that not all of them are full. This is where the brutal realism comes in, at some point in the past the player here has either swapped out a nearly-full magazine for a more full one or just not had enough ammo to fill the magazines up. Pressing the reload button (most likely R key) will make the player character swap out the current magazine for the most full one (not sure what to do if the current magazine IS the most full one, perhaps R should have a different function). Holding R, however, will make the player start refilling their reserve magazines, first with loose ammo from their inventory which is limited only by how much they can find and carry, and then with ammo from other magazines, taking rounds out of the emptiest ones to try and fill the others. This means the player isn't actually limited in the amount of ammo they can carry, just in the amount they can use at once before having to find somewhere to hide and reload.
Third thing to notice, there's a weird symbol top-centre and bar 4 is coloured light grey. This is because the player is currently using armour-piercing rounds (not the wisest choice against zombies, but perhaps useful if you want to hit them through something) and bar 4 is filled with a different kind of ammo. Not sure what key would be to change ammo type, maybe T.

So how does this tie in with Rules of the Game no. 1?
If a player starts being a dick (read: FPS gamer) and running around guns-blazing, constantly reloading, they're going to attract an awful lot of attention as well as end up with 5 almost-empty magazines (as the average FPS player is quite unable to cease firing long enough to reload them), thus they will die as the horde absorbs the last of their readied ammunition and proceeds to tear them limb from limb.

As always, feedback would be appreciated.

27 Mar 2012


Since finishing the ULCS Game Jam (24-hour game development competition, we didn't win anything), I've become adept enough at XNA to start work on my own game engine based on the framework. It shall be called Carthage, after a computer program which is one of the main plot points of a certain french tv series I used to watch. 

Carthage will be mainly a 2D game engine and it's already got content and config-loading capabilities (with a Dictionary [a type of collection] to hold each as a central repository). I've also started on image and text drawing utilities to make drawing objects easier as well as implemented the 'screen' system I used in our Game Jam game to allow for easy switching between scenes (screens can even be drawn under other screens, like in a pause menu).

Once Carthage is finished, I will use it to develop a top-down version of my zombie survival game idea (working title CONTINGENCY:Z 2D). It will draw from my original ideas for the game (which will be first-person 3D and made when I have enough experience) as well as using elements of other games, for example Minecraft's shaped, grid-based crafting system (though with multi-tier workbenches and tools).

The C:Z 2D's emphasis will be on realism and survival, so ammo and resources will be scarce and the player will have to be cautious, quick-thinking and highly resourceful in order to survive for long.

I will most likely release both Carthage and C:Z 2D for free here, probably with source code and documentation and accept donations should anyone feel I deserve some of their money.

Carthage is now fully integrated with the 'screen' system. Only the content required by the current screen is loaded and on transition, content not needed by the next screen is discarded. Switching between screens is now handled by a manager, making it much safer as well as having a blank screen to fall back on and prevent crashes.

11 Mar 2012

APS has grown!

A few things have changed for APS in the past week or so:

Firstly, the APS source is now on SourceForge here!
You can also view tickets (upcoming changes) here to see what's going to change in the next update and how far along we are with various features and bugfixes!

Secondly, I just said we, not I. Cybrshadow (or cybrshdw on the BC Forums) has joined me in working on APS, so far mostly doing bugfixes and adding small features (like a 0.75% chance to get gunpowder from flint in a grinder) but I'm looking forward to seeing what new things he can think of.

On a somewhat related note, I will have some assignments and exams due in a couple of weeks, so my contribution to APS might drop a little for that period. I am still determined to get 0.2.1 out as soon as possible (i.e. once we fix that bloody chunk error), and Cybrshadow should be able to keep the fixes and improvements coming while I'm busy with uni.

6 Mar 2012

Listen to me ramble!

If any of you are interested, I should be doing an interview on G3 Radio during my good friend Seb's show next week. It's on Thursday 15th between 7pm and 9pm UTC (London, Lisbon, etc. time zone) and there's a good chance I'll be able to answer some of your questions directly (they have a text chat for listeners to talk with the hosts) as well as explain stuff about me and why I made APS.

By the looks of it, you can choose your own nickname on the chat, so if you use the same as your forum name or drop a quick message, I should be able to see who's bored enough to hear me yammer on.