Monthly Archives: June 2006

The Other Factions

I am converging on a working RTS engine whose architecture I’m quite happy with. The AI system still needs a little work, probably involving a simple C++ superset language to handle the bullshit necessary for the setup I’m seeing, but since I value readability/learnability nowadays, I’ll see if I can come up with one that doesn’t require such mangling. Anyway, the only supported bit of the engine right now is the standard RTS unit-based style, but the time will soon come that I’ll want to implement the other factions. Before I do that, I have to figure out what they are.

The first alternative faction that Namaste and I have discussed is a “plant” faction which has only buildings and spreads its influence using the wind, roots, and other implicit methods. The play style of that faction will probably end up being something more discrete-feeling. There could be plants which are very lethal and very hard to destroy, but since they are immobile it may not be unbalanced. Instead, the game would be about trapping your enemy and closing on them, rather than organizing an army for a tactical strike. The challenging thing would be using the wind to spread: you would have to wait for the right wind direction, and even then you would only have a vague idea where the building would grow. More generally, a building’s power could be inversely proportional to the control you have in placing it.

Another faction that we’ve talked about is one inspired by nanomachines. This faction’s units would behave normally, except at any time they could convert themselves into something of equal resource value. That is, your entire base could just be a field of resource collectors, and when there was an attack you could convert them into a big army of infantry. I would like to balance this faction in some other way than just making them weaker to compensate; instead I would like to manifest a different play style like there is for the plants. Nothing is immediately coming to mind.

I just had two more ideas as I was watching Star Trek TNG today. The first is a faction that can only communicate by contact, which would involve that kind of long-term planning strategy that i wanted with my relativistic strategy game (which I abandoned due to the complexity of programming with a frame-of-reference-centric world). The second is a faction that could project non-reality onto its opponents, not necessarily chaning the play style for that faction, but changing it for its opponents (which is especially good to challenge those who get really good at just one strategy). The game for the opponents would be about decoding the difference between reality and fantasy; it would be about recon and checking for information consistency. I’m quite excited by this one, even though it would be a challenge to balance.

That’s all for now. I just wanted to jot these down.

Whose Groove Is It Anyway?

Every time I watch Whose Line Is It Anyway I get inspiration for improv games that a band could do. But then I get distracted. I just finished watching two episodes, and I was about to go practice the piano. But instead, I’ll write some down. I don’t know how many of these will actually make interesting games. I’m trying to make an interesting game—not too hard, not too easy—and work on important and unique skills for improvisation. Thanks to Mark’s guide to Whose Line Is It Anyway? for a list of the games they play for inspiration.

  • Duet/Trio: improvise a song where exactly two/three people are playing at any time. (Inspired by Stand,Sit,Lie)
  • Telephone: player 1 plays a melody of decent length, then player 2 attempts to repeat it, then player 3 attempts to repeat player 2’s (including errors if player 2 made any), etc. Converge on a fixed point, and then improvise a song based on the fixed point. If there is a drummer present, just have him keep a groove going.
  • Chordinate: On each quarter beat, each musician plays one note to make an interesting series of chords.
  • Chordinate variation: Player 1 plays and holds a note, player 2 plays and holds a different note, etc. until it gets back to player 1 who changes his note. This one can incorporate rhythmic variation if it gets boring.
  • Sonata: Improvise a song in sonata form: AABA’ where A is in the dominant key of A’.
  • Challenge: pick a player to be the champion. Each musician takes turns (inside a groove) doing stylistic solos to the champion, who must respond with a response to the call. (Inspired by Bartender)
  • Funkadelic: Pick a player to be the leader. This player does not play an instrument; instead, the rest of the players get in a groove and modify it based on the leader’s suggestions. (Inspired by Director, and of course Parliament Funkadelic)
  • Air Guitar: Pick a player to be the leader. This player does not play an instrument; instead, he looks at the other players in turn and pretends to play their instrument. The player who is being looked at must play what the leader is imitating. (Inspired by Foreign Film Dub)
  • Fusion: Pick songs from two distinct genres and blend them together in a musical way.

That should be enough for now.

Dead Monitor

Crap. My desktop’s monitor died. Now I can only use my laptop (it sure would be nice to be able to use my laptop screen for my desktop, but as far as I can find out, it is impossible). Probably means I won’t be recording my daily improvs until I get a new one, because the audio gear I need to set up for my laptop is not worth the time. But I will still be doing them.

Two Part Inventisation

Today’s improvisation: I’ve always had trouble autonomizing my two hands, because I have always learned pieces with both hands at once. Today I tried to separate my two hands a little bit by improvising a slow two-part invention. I would say that I have a long way to go. I realize that many of the improvisations lately have been relaxing, low-energy pieces. So as a bonus, I added a high-energy finale movement to the end of this (which isn’t an invention anymore).