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Creative writing

Lately I've been planning simple quest ideas for UrW. As you might guess, the idea is that in the game when you talk with NPCs, they'd sometimes offer you a task to complete or a quest to pursue. And that needs dialogue to be written. Today I finally sat down to write a first draft of a dialogue for one mini-quest. I sent the draft for Sami to read and to comment.

As I'm using TaruPaja story editor to write and to test my dialogue, it also makes me want to finally release a proper playable example story for TaruPaja itself. Well, just before the evening twilight I was cutting firewood, when I felt an assorted jumble of ideas clarifying into a coherent story-line. I came indoors, took pen and paper and started to write working notes for a story. In the process I abandoned some of the restrictions I had previously imposed on myself, going story-first and thinking that I'll just improve the software, adding all the necessary functionality needed by the story idea.

So, the good news is that TaruPaja as a project is finally advancing. The bad news is that since I got inspired by new ideas, it is likely to take a while until I get everything done and released. My plan is to release an updated browser-based reader with the brand new example story, when the story is ready. As now, when I'm writing that example story, I realize that the editor is going to need a lot of improvements to make it user-friendly. Now, a quick overall look at the whole process:

It started out as a simple editor and test tool for writing UrW quest-related dialogue. Then I thought that with minor improvements it would make a stand-alone story writing / reading software. And since I've had problems with maintaining a steady working schedule for coding, I decided to try a 'code and release in one go'-session. For that I started from a scratch, re-designing my software based on my earlier tests. I aimed for bare minimum functionality, so that it could be even remotely possible to get it finished in one go. Hehe, I got almost there =) Well, now when I'm not aiming at code the minimum as quick as possible, I allow myself more time to consider things like usability. Which then leads me to add more features to the story engine, so that it can handle more complex and interesting stories.

As you might guess, in the days and weeks to come, I'll be juggling my main work, house renovation, writing for UrW, homesteading, and then my own coding and creative writing. So, it will probably take some time until I have more news, but I'll keep you posted.

Hehe, and then completely unrelated, just two links to youtube music videos of small Finnish bands. Not only is the music good, but I've greatly liked their artistic vision and technical ideas in these videos:

Ilot, halut ja valheet by Milla Rumi. After the visual intro, when the song begins, the whole video is just one take without cuts - and I find that charmingly done.

Lihava kuu by Hermanni Turkki. They are a street-music group, here they play on the cliffs of Helsinki.

planning a map for an interactive story
planning a map for an interactive story
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Man, I think if you released a "quest editor" sort of tool for your UrW game, you could do a lot of cool new stuff with your players. Forum contests and stuff, and collected packs of player-created quests and other such things. :D

Yeah, I see the potential in that =)

But, from the programming point of view, it quickly becomes rather complicated with all interaction between the dialogue and the game-engine. For example, it is easy to write a dialogue line "Go 4 tiles north from here, there you find an X" - but then then thing X should really be there in the game world. So, either the game engine should parse the dialogue lines, and create the corresponding stuff in the game world - or vice versa; there should be dialogue script language, which can read the game world and translate it to human-readable text.

And already Sami has been working hard just to get the first hard-coded quests properly implemented. So, I think for practical reasons that is the only way to go for now. I can't speak on behalf of Sami, but maybe some future version might could possibly probably maybe have some sort of simple moddable quest dialogue. But first we need the mechanics up and running in the game engine itself.

So, that's why I've been thinking about TaruPaja as a stand-alone story writing / reading tool. Hehe, and already with it I started coding a simple scripting options =) Different actions, like visiting a place or chatting a certain line with a certain NPC, can now set or unset flags. And instead of static text, most of the text can be modified by those flags - although it is rather simple, blocks of pre-written text are either hidden or shown depending on a corresponding flag. I just got the basics working at 3am. I guess it is enough for today =)


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