June Post #2 – Implementing Backgrounds and Dialogue Systems

Here at Failcore, we’re a bunch of ambitious bastards.

So, we’ve decided that we want to have all of the core mechanics, programming, and graphic design done by the end of June. Yippee ki-yay.

As for the writing and the game play, we should have one of three characters fully fleshed out by that time as well. The goal is to have Jeff Whiz fully operational – written and playable – by the end of the month.

But that’s not all, folks!

We are also working on perfecting the UI, designing a tutorial, and polishing a teaser trailer.

So, for a quick review, here’s what we want to achieve by the end of the current sprint:

  • Get systems in place for dialogue and mechanics.
  • Finish the UI (a real pain in the ass), battle animations, and graphics for Jeff.
  • Write all of the general content and all of Jeff’s content.

Speech bubbles Jeff Whiz

Implementing Dialogue Systems for the Invisible Fist

 

Let’s start with the technical stuff.

Our programmer is implementing a dialogue triggering system for main characters and supports. He’s also adding animation to the speech bubbles.

First, our programmer decided to use Google Spreadsheets as a Content Management System (CMS) for Unity. After much thought, he decided that would be the easiest way to add content to the game.

Essentially, each Google Spreadsheet will work like a single SQL database.

For The Invisible Fist, the first sheet contains Story IDs for the character in play. Besides the main story, a new story triggers every week. Within the stories, there are scenes for dialogue, triggering around 2 – 3 time s a week.

While stories trigger at random, we can still connect them to dialogue sequences if we please.

The dialogue sequences must adhere to specific conditions to trigger. We have currently assigned three conditions for dialogue sequences to trigger:

  • Relationship Points
  • Dialogue Completed
  • Quest Completed

Each dialogue sequence contains a root dialogue and various offshoots of potential dialogue. These “nodes” trigger depending on how the player decides to respond. Here you can see the dialogue file and triggers:

Invisible Fist CMS

There are three types of dialogue:

  • Small Talk
  • Plans
  • Snap Decisions

The small talk dialogue sequence offers the player response options that further trigger positive or negative results for the relationship. For example:

Jeff’s Mom: Jeff, do you love me?

Jeff: Of course I do! / (Fake an urgent phone call.)

Jeff’s Mom: I love you too! (Positive) / I wish I’d aborted you. (Negative)

Plans and snap decisions can result in nodes that drop quests. For example:

Jeff’s Mom: Have dinner with me.

Jeff: I’m starving. Rainforest Cafe? / I’ve just eaten.

Jeff’s Mom: See you there! (Quest Triggered) / You’re the reason I take Zoloft. (No Quest)

Accepting or rejecting quests can also triggers results including:

  • Blocks in Card Play (e.g., You can’t play work cards when eating out with mom.)
  • Assignment of Relationship Points (e.g., You piss mom off or make her happy.)
  • Further Dialogue Sequences (e.g., Dialogue triggered by connection instead of chance.)

Dialogue nodes for support characters

Our programmer chose the system so that triggers cascade seamlessly as you play. In the image above, you can see both the Story IDs and the cascading results.

The system also gives the Game Designer and me the flexibility and ease to write, connect, and add content as we please.

Here is what we still need to do:

  • Finish the System
  • Add the Content
  • Test the Triggers

Also known internally as the FTSATCTTT process. Oh yeah.

Other than that, we are well on our way to creating a seamless experience for our gamers.

failcore for you
For you.

Designing Backdrops for our Main Characters

 

Okay, that was kind of heavy. Let’s switch gears and talk about art.

For the last few days, our graphic has been busy creating different backgrounds that correspond with our main characters.

For example, Jeff Whiz’s original background was a helipad on the roof of a skyscraper. Now, you can also play Jeff against a red carpet and on board a yacht.

Invisible Fist Jeff background red carpet

We’ve also decided to add some special effects to the backgrounds. For example, the red carpet background will include an intense paparazzi camera effect similar to this:

What was the hardest part of making the backgrounds?

Our graphic said:

Making lots of little paparazzi.”

She also admitted that she listened to Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi while she worked on the tedious animation. Obviously.

Why did we decide to have more than one background?

We decided multiple backgrounds would add variety to the game and give more depth to the characters. You see, The Invisible Fist is heavy-handed on the storytelling.

Players don’t get to pick and personalize characters.

Oh, I want to be a neon purple Night Elf Warrior Princess named Sally with a double-edged battle axe and a Mohawk.

Sorry, NO.

You play Jeff Whiz. And Jeff is a fictional character that we’ve created for you to discover.

So, we hope that more backgrounds will add some variety to the game. You know, spice things up as they say. Proper backdrops to set the stage.

We also hope to subliminally convey some of the broader character strokes. We want to be subtle of course. So we chose yachts and a red carpets for our rich character. Not subtle?

Oh well, it looks cool. Who cares?

Invisible Fist Jeff Background Yacht

When will the backgrounds change?

We haven’t decided yet.

Our Game Designer explains:

“The backgrounds may change at random or may connect to the story. Because we are still writing the story, and many elements of the plot are randomized, there is a good chance that the backgrounds will simply change periodically throughout gameplay.”

What was the inspiration for Jeff’s backgrounds?

When I asked our graphic what her inspiration was for the new backgrounds, she said:

“Rich people shit. I just imagined myself as a rich bitch.”

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

Conclusion

That’s about all for now, folks! Stay tuned for more adventures in the making of the Invisible Fist. Things to look forward to include:

  • Writing
  • UI Implementation
  • Tutorial

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