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Solving Problems - a spellcasting example

Started by droqen, May 29, 2024, 05:33:52 PM

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Sometimes . . . I forget what it's like to solve a problem, and I mean really solve a problem. I want to record this so that I have a reference point for what it's like to recognize a problem and solve it appropriately, completely.


I made a small prototype where you type commands into a platformer and those commands affect the world. It worked fine, until I started to want to add text-based feedback, especially objects that you could "examine" out in the world. Then a whole bunch of problems cropped up.

Originally, you pressed a sort of 'meditate' button to enter the typing state, and once you had finished typing and submitted your spellword, it pushed you out of the meditation state and the text went and did its thing in the world.

Then, I had the idea to allow the player to type anytime they wanted. But I also wanted to display text when the player was somewhere interesting. So there was a window off to the left, and the text in that window would change depending on the player's position. It worked... alright. It was OK. The typing was also fine, but I had lost this oddly important feeling of positioning. In the original prototype, the place where you were standing was very important, and being able to stand somewhere meant that you could cast a spell from there. If you had to be a tile up, you couldn't cast the spell (at least not without creating a floor to stand on).

So that second prototype was a bit awkward and I left it on the cutting room floor without any further development. I had not even added any spells that did anything. It had ripped an additional hole-wrinkle in the concept, though. What if the 'thing' you were examining or near could affect your spells' effects, make new spells available, etc? It was a big question, and a big problem.

I made a third prototype two days ago. When you press 'tab' anywhere, you get a spell prompt. Same as the first demo: You can't spell freely in real time, you have to switch modes. I think it was a good idea to return to the original idea, and I'm not sure why I strayed from it for a second prototype.

In this third prototype there were also, immediately, 'points of interest' which would add detail to the 'tab' window and actually prompt you with a sort of "press tab" tooltip when nearby. (This provided an easy way to push the player into using the tab button, which was a dual purpose kind of thing.)

Then further problems began.


I had a loose bad feeling, like, if you shake your phone around and it sounds like there is something rattling around inside... That kind of 'loose'... Something in the design was rattling around.

My response was to run away from the problem and:

1. Try to design a bit of narrative (Successful!)
2. Try to add some sounds / juice

I added sounds / juice and noted that it was distracting and annoying, so I removed it all, and suddenly realized that I had been putting off solving a deeper problem with peripheral, extradisciplinary work.

Finally, I solved the problem of the thing that had been rattling around the whole time. In that very first initial prototype, when you submitted your spell, it shoved you out of the 'text' view but now that the text view had more content, it felt sort of wrong. What if you wanted to interact with the text? The spells are doing a bit of dual duty, which may present new problems in the long run, but I made it so that submitting the spellword did not automatically kick you out of the text view.

The loose rattling around feeling stopped.


I love to wear different hats but I have to remember to wear one at a time, which is actually a pretty nuanced act. I have to not only wear one hat at a time, but I have to wear a hat and not take it off in the middle of solving a crucial problem. The availability of such hats presents significant opportunity to put off real issues! The nuance is in noticing which issue is load-bearing at the moment. Problems must be solved in order.