Baby Steps

I’m a theater person by training and by nature. In producing theater, there are two phases of work for the actor: table work, and standing work. Table work is, as the name implies, sitting at a table. Here’s where you discuss the world of the play, the characters, their motivations, and so on.

When everyone kind of has a clear understanding of what’s going on, you move to standing work. Standing work is where actors do the blocking and interaction; technical designers shuffle off to their work areas to design the set or the lights or the sound.

It’s been my experience that the sooner a production gets to standing work, the sooner “real work” begins. As an introvert, specifically a “rational,” I like to live in my head. So long as I don’t physically do anything, what lives in my head is perfect—and where it’s imperfect, it’s editable.

Without forcing myself to, I’d never actually open the editor. I’d sit here and vomit ideas after ideas onto the page and leave them there. Last night, however, I stepped out of my comfort zone.

I opened up the editor and made a Content Pack.

The first thing I encountered was a problem. On Mac, which I am unfortunately bound to, I can’t get the correct pathing to set the content pack dependencies to the existing ones in the game. After a couple workaround attempts, I finally just copied all the existing Content Packs over to Documents/Shadowrun Dragonfall/ContentPacks. It means I’m sitting on a 1.37 GB copy of a bunch of stuff on a hard drive that’s more stuffed than a Kentucky family at a Golden Corral, but I’ll suffer it out and delete some old shit to make room for it if I have to.

I diddled around a bit only to discover that I’d totally forgotten the basics of room design in the editor—about how to make corners and stuff, so I went back and re-watched the interior map design tutorial to find out what I was doing wrong. I was looking for corner pieces when you have to make them (silly me).

The nice thing is, as a long-time Dwarf Fortress player, the concept of room design isn’t alien to me, though I’m sure I’ll encounter troubles going from top-down to isometric, but a lot of these problems are addressed. The most fascinating thing for me, as I floated around the Drogenkippe level editor from Dragonfall, was that the rooms were so oddly large—no 3×3 bedrooms like I’d be giving my dwarves, I’m afraid! So, scale is going to be something funky for a while, and chances are I’m going to beg, borrow, and steal designs until I get confident enough working on my own.

What’s Up, New Orleans?

I think I’m going to put “big concept New Orleans meta-story” on the backburner for now. And not actually abandon it temporarily like most people’s “backburners” function—I mean I’m going to design stuff perhaps for later integration, but my goal isn’t to make something with the explicit intent of making it N’awlinz. At least, yet.

I just want to know that I can design a run. So I’m going to steal a run from real life that’s been floating around again recently, called “What’s Up, Hong Kong?”

The concept of the run is simple: Team Shadowrunner needs to climb to the top of [target tower] and hack the electronic billboard to display a message. Now, whether this is Mr. Johnson hiring them for a subtle corporate attack or just a team of joyriding gangers is up to me, the writer. And I’ll decide that later.

I’m going to design probably the standard 3 floors, but also have a c&p staircase, about 5 iterations, each about 5×5 (though realistically, 7×7, because I do not yet understand scale) just to get that sense of climbing lots of stairs. 2 floors may be the “lobby” and “landing” areas, and then floor 3 is the “roof” but I don’t know how well Dragonfall’s tilesets do skyscraper rooftops—that was a big thing with Hong Kong. So I may need to make it “top floor” instead of roof. We’ll see.

Anyways. I’ve got the editor open, so I’m going to hop over there and get to work.