Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dystopia City - final version [Scratch game]

This is the final version of my Scratch game Dystopia City - with thanks to Scratch users E1eventeen and alpacaceratops for their comments and to everyone who played the beta. I've tweaked the gameplay, instructions have been re-written, there's a soundtrack composed in MuseScore, a better menu system and six alternate endings.

Grateful thanks to Freesounders leuphana, nathan-lomeli, samararaine, medialint, lebcraftlp, hunter4708. Thanks also to the makers of Blender and MuseScore.


Scroll map - Up and down arrow keys

Build - click to move the build cursor, choose a tunnel from the Build Tunnel menu or use hotkeys: C=coridoor E=elevator V=clone-vat O=office L=life support

Assign Roles - choose a Faction from the Faction-Role menu, then choose a Role to assign to that faction: Construction, Repair, Paperwork or Firefighting. For example if you choose Hufflepuffs and Paperwork then all Hufflepuffs will be assigned to do Paperwork whenever they are near an Office. At the start, all Factions are assigned to Construction.

Clonevats produce cloned citizens. Offices make money through Paperwork. Life Support produces food/oxygen/water for 10 citizens. When these tunnels break down, assign a Faction to the Repair role.

Increase the population of the Citadel to 150 to win. Keep your citizens occupied to prevent boredom - bored citizens will start to light fires or try to break out of the Citadel. You can turn the music score on and off by clicking the music button. Hint: it's not a bad idea to start by building an Office then assigning one Faction to Paperwork.

Ringworld Engineers At Work [KIC8462852]

Star KIC8462852 is currently in the spotlight due to unexplained observations from the Kepler spaceprobe: one possible explanation for the pattern is an alien megastructure around the star. Here's that serious article by Phil Plait on why this is unlikely but not ridiculous.
Freeman Dyson and other astronomers suggested that alien civilizations might build giant structures around stars to make better use of space or materials, or to capture more of the star's energy using solar panels. This is a good scientific idea as it's testable - these structures should be detectable, as they would give themselves away through their interference with the light from their parent star. Science fiction writers have come up with many variations on the theme of alien megastructures, including Larry Niven's Ringworld.

SETI astronomers are planning to analyze KIC8462852 using a range of telescopes, looking for signals that might suggest the presence of technology. It's likely that over the next few months - perhaps by January - they will have a better answer as to whether this anomaly is artificial. In all honesty, the most likely outcome is that they find nothing of the sort - so let's enjoy the next few months while it's still possible to imagine that we're not alone in the universe. 

[illustrations by Sci-Fi Gene, created in Blender 2.7]

Just how alien are the constructors at KIC8462852, and what's the easiest way to communicate with them? Well, it turns out they do have a Twitter feed...

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Scores on the Doors [Work in progress: Dystopia City]

Nothing says dystopian future like a double bass...
Working on a final version of my Scratch game Dystopia City - will be ready for release very soon. I've made a few tweaks to gameplay, re-written the instructions, added a few more alternate endings, and I'm working on a score in MuseScore.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Things I Learned From The Movies

Inspired by this post by msmariah on her blog A Space Blogyssey, here's my own list of survival tips and life lessons from the movies. Hollywood really can teach you everything you need to know...

Remember cardio... and the double tap

No amount of Irish dancing will save you

Take a cruise on a replica of the Titanic? Sure - there's no way that could go badly wrong...

Always renew your antivirus subscription
(Independence Day)

Don't worry - air travel is really safe nowadays
(Snakes On A Plane)

Carry your umbrella at all times
(The Day After Tomorrow)

...and some fairly strong headache pills

Your perfect match is out there waiting to be found

It's a hard, lonely life being a superhero

but most of all...

Always be the person at the front of the queue

Friday, 25 September 2015

Dystopia City - Playtesters Wanted

Update 20.10.2015 - this is the beta version. I've since returned to this game and made some changes to gameplay, taking into account comments by beta-testers. I've re-written the instructions, added a better menu system, a soundtrack and there are now six alternate endings. You can play the final version here.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Far Out Man [Review: Out There]

Those human pilots! If they're so keen to make their way back to Earth, why do they keep getting themselves warped away from it?

Out There is a neat little space opera for Android and iPhone. You wake from cryosleep to discover your spaceship has been 2001'd into an unfamiliar galaxy. Hundreds of star systems away, you are aware of a particular star that may be important, but your first task is not to die. 

The game is turn-based and there's no combat. Well, that's not quite true. There is an enemy to discover and there is in fact a way to attack enemy fleets. But mostly, you choose the next planet or star, decide whether to land, whether to drill for resources, whether to meet the local species, whether to take over the abandoned spaceship etc. It plays a lot like a Fighting Fantasy gamebook - I have fond memories of Starship Traveller. It's also really, really hard. This is a survival-themed game - meaning you will die a lot. You can die by running out of hydrogen fuel, oxygen, or iron to patch up your hull, any of which is easy to do.

You stay alive by mining or scooping fuel, oxygen or iron from various worlds - along the way encountering aliens, discovering plans for technology to mod your ship, and experiencing random hazards and events. But as your ship only has limited storage space, and planets only yield a small amount of elements, it's hard to keep up stocks. If you've discovered a mod, you still need to mine the right elements to build it, and then it takes up even more of your hull space.

The map is random, as are many other game features, and when you die it's back to the start with a new map. However, if you're careful you can learn more about the game each time you die, and try out different strategies to survive for longer. As the game progresses, more "important" stars appear on the map, but so far I've only ever made it to one of them without dying. This is an extremely difficult game but one I've enjoyed exploring.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Another Day In Paradise [Work In Progress: Dystopia City]

The end is in sight: I've put together the main game cycle for Dystopia City, although I'm still doing some work on the various alternate endings plus the soundtrack. Beta very soon - promise.
Where indeed?

Game produced in Scratch. Graphics hand-drawn in Paint, Paint.net or Scratch, with some backgrounds rendered in Blender.

Just another run-of-the-mill day in Dystopia City