Finishing 0.8 Part VI

Only a short update this week, I’m afraid; this week I’ve been busy putting some of the final touches to my book and haven’t had as much time to program as I wanted; only half a day rather than a full day. As such, this week’s update is very short, but next week’s should be longer. However, in light of my new decision to have a gradual update log, I’m still going to do this post and then next week’s, instead of compressing both updates into one longer update. As such, this week:

  • Most centrally, I’ve finished the task of moving the code that exchanges default words for the preferred word of a given civilization. In some cases this was being called twice, and in other cases not at all, and even though in some cases it was correctly being called once, the range of situations this was being used in were making it all rather unclear. I’ve finished making this shift, which required moving around quite a bit of the sentence generation code and adding some new code to re-handle things like punctuation and capitalisation, but I think that’s now done and working correctly.
  • I’ve been going through and removing a lot of phrases, and a lot of word orders, which sound strange. As several people have pointed out, sentences could sometimes come out rather strangely; I’ve tried to fix as many of these as I can. At the same time, though, some of the interesting but logical sentences are generated from the same sources as the interesting but illogical sentences; it’s tricky to strike the right balance here. As ever, I think this will just need lots of playtesting.
  • Just stated sketching out (on paper) a list of the bugs and small issues that need to be resolved before 0.8 is released; I had a bunch of smaller lists of this sort, but I hadn’t really collated them into one place before. For some of the bugs I’ve decided they don’t need fixing until 0.9, and some of them I decided it was easier to simply remove the thing that caused the bug (temporarily) than to fix the bug now; as I’ve said several times, I’m really trying to do the absolute minimum now required to get 0.8 released, and putting some of this stuff off until 0.9 is definitely the way to go.

I’m afraid that’s all for now, folks. Should get a full day to code next week, so should be back with a larger update next time around. See you all next weekend!

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12 thoughts on “Finishing 0.8 Part VI

  1. When your book comes out please link us to an excerpt or sample chapter, if that’s possible. I’d be interested in reading to see what it’s like.

  2. Don’t delete all those awkward or illogical phrases! They’re a gold mine!

    Seriously. It’s really difficult to write illogical or irrational things on purpose, especially in a way that is believable. Unless a given sentence is just plain gibberish, sentences that come across as illogical, or very idiosyncratically delivered, should be tagged as something like eccentric, or even insane. Apologies to the insane, I just don’t know a better word.

    Then, your NPCs could have a level of eccentricity. At 0, an NPC would never use the eccentrically phrased utterances, while at an eccentricity of 1, they would use idiosyncratic sentences often, if not always.

    This allows further differentiation between NPCs, and could be a lot of fun. In playtesting, testers would flag sentences that were unusable as such, but ones that were merely weird could be preserved. You get your crazy for free!

    Obviously I’m not the game designer, the idea just jumped out at me.

    • Nice one, Camden… I already see a giggling old man by the market, telling nonsense which you really have to think about in order to understand what he actually tells you; somebody who says something obnoxiously annoying (like eg., „yes, yes, what a story” or „just to make your plain mind understand what I am saying”] in every second sentence; a religious zealot who falls into spouts of „holy utterances” and half-mad ravings every few moments („Yes, they understand nothing, these DAMN HERETICS! May they all [suffer ugly fate of choice]! Where was I?”)… or a weird soldier who takes every second sentence as an affront to either himself or his liege and bellows almost incomprehensible gibberish in response…

      • Exactly! Some people just don’t always make sense.

        I think this would be useful. You might have an Oracle who gives truthful, if only semi scrutable answers, for example.

      • Yes, exactly! One thing I am *really* looking forward to implementing in 0.9 is “stories”, which will basically be exactly what you’ve described here; people saying extra things on a topic, whatever that extra thing might be. I think they will both add a ton of detail and variation and worldbuilding and so forth, but will also be another good way to convey new information to the player.

    • Heh – I do agree about “broadening” what counts as acceptable sentences a little beyond what we might ordinarily think. I don’t think it’s hard to imagine what English would read/sound like with a different word order, for instance, and as long as the meaning is basically clear and easy to understand, I don’t think it’s an issue if some cultures do wind up speaking with a slightly unusual word order.

      However, for me, I think the idea of eccentric NPCs is a different one, and one to be implemented elsewhere in terms of rare “NPC personalities” – unusually quiet, unusually talkative, eccentric, etc! These would probably never or extremely rarely appear on standard NPCs, but would appear far more regularly on important or special NPC classes…

      • Unless you take into account that almost nobody speaks „dictionary compliant normative” language, everyone mixes in casual abbreviations and slang terms and uses non-standard sentence constructions and cases (like eg. the U.S.’s use of „than” instead of „from” and „didn’t used to” instead of „didn’t use to”, which makes me shiver every time), even though the so-called upper classes tend to do it with a typical „well-bred’s” arrogance (or humour).
        Strange speech: a good example of a local dialect/strange method of speech Yoda is (from Star Wars the small green long-eared one, of course), who even though strong in the force he is, a sentence in a strange order pronounce he does (an effect of his advanced age, maybe 😉 )

        • This is very true; I would like to include that, but it’s quite a task to also create SLANG as well as more traditional, “correct”, forms of speaking. But I’m not one to turn down a design challenge like that… (and Yoda is the prime example! I just didn’t want entire civilizations speaking like him…)

          • quite understandably you wouldn’t… after playing URR, thousands of Yodas would be irritating their partners and colleagues at work ;-)).
            You wouldn’t need to create slang versions of everything; just a handful of alternate sentences of a more or less strange composition and/or choice of words would be enough. Eg., using „weirds” (local words unique to the region which sound weird or legasthenic to everyone else) in a normal sentence could be done via a simple replacement:
            „I hung it somewhere there” would become something like
            „I honged it sumwot there”

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