Devblog—14 Feb 2017

Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. I finally remembered (or realized) that I can open other content packs. Namely, the Hong Kong ones.

Yes, I’m an idiot sometimes. You can be too, I’m sure, so shush. But now that I’m going back and looking at how HBS set up their variables and conversations, this opens up all new paths to me. I’m not going to say it’s brilliant because, hey, they got paid to figure this shit out and had teams and training and probably an education, and here I am, a snot-nosed writer crapping this thing out between bouts of shifty employment and coughing fits. This is a gold mine of potential for me. Writing, I can do. Editing, I can do even better. Scripting, on the other hand…I’m like a pimply virgin at a titty bar. Everything’s new and exciting and I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing but I’m trying and at the same time I’m sure there’s a hundred more efficient ways to go about it.

Anyways, on to progress report.

  • I’ve found that by maximizing the editor and undocking the scene data menu while working with it, I can greatly increase the editor’s stability. This is a huge deal, working on a Mac. There are still some things that will unquestionably crash the editor (trying to write inspection text is the big one) that I’ll probably need to still find a workaround for, but still, this adds significantly better functionality.
  • I created a new sub-environment, and with it, a new character. It’s only two rooms and a hallways, but I’m quite happy with how they turned out, minus lighting, and I’ll just never be happy with lighting, I’m afraid.

It won’t be a full environment on its own; just a side-room kind of area off the hub map, whatever that turns out to be. Like Club 88 for Hong Kong…only smaller, with just enough room for the tech vendor and maybe one other NPC.

  • Work on the bar has stalled, though I’ve made major progress from what it looked like a week ago.
    • I scripted a cute little “tripwire” for a holographic “clothing advisory warning” that “blocks” the way from the front bar to the seedier dance club in the back. When the player runs through the hologram, it sort of crackles and fizzles. It’s not the best set of vfx, but it’s what I’ve got to work with and I like it.
  • I’m trying to mix interior and exterior environments, which I understand that one shouldn’t do, but until I beat my head against this brick wall a little longer, I’m still gonna try it. I think there’s a clear enough transition point, but I may want a playtester or two as the map gets closer to fruition just to make sure others see what I see and I’m not just seeing what I want to see. Illusion is everything in this system. But the human brain—imagination—must do a lot of the work.
  • I’m very likely absolutely going to have to rework dialogues for Cain’s secretary and Thibaut. And probably Cain. This wasn’t an unforeseen probability. Discovering how HBS does dialogue opened new paths to dialogue routing I hadn’t considered before. The good news is that I don’t have to rewrite the dialogue so much as reformat it. A lot of cutting and pasting, then running it through tests. Tests, tests, more tests.

In other news, I spilled my first cup of coffee on collected notes. I keep my laptop elevated so it wasn’t at risk of shorting. But now my notes are all coffee-stained. Like a true writer!

So, the new character’s name is Rio. He’s a dwarf, a tech vendor , and one of the first people the Runner will have contact with after beginning their first major “meta” quest. Rio runs something like a “secondhand tech shop” for people who know where to find him.

Story/dialogue-wise, Rio offers something of a mixture between Maximum Law and Maliit Holyey. Being one of the few characters that knows of the Runner’s law enforcement affiliation, he’ll serve as a link back to the Runner’s “other life.” His name is drawn from the Naval Officer position…think Goose, from Top Gun. This is a character who’s supposed to be confidante to the player character, more than just a tech vendor. Of course, the player has every choice beyond perhaps the first one to interact with them or not, but they should have some rich exposition to drop on the player.

Let’s talk about future plans.

As I continue to work on the story (and steal ideas from other, better stories), I keep revisiting the idea of giving the player an abode. As in, their own place, personal. The player character hasn’t had a true private space in a HBS game since Shadowrun: Returns. Originally, I’d planned to have Cain liquidate their assets and put them in blind trust during their time in 101, forcing them to find a flophouse somewhere in the Quarter (or wherever I decided the hub to be).

But the more I think about it, the more I think a personal abode in somewhere like Algiers could be incredibly useful in multiple areas of the story. It gives me a place to throw the player character between the prologue and meeting Cain. It also illustrates the life of a mid-class citizen compared to the gutter.

I am trying to figure out where I want the hub to be, and what I want it to be. Dragonfall and Hong Kong both used fictional neighborhoods. I may decide to do the same, because replication of something like the French Quarter in the HBS engine would be a Herculean task, but creating a place like the Kreuzbasar or Heoi and fitting “New Orleans” into it with actors, ambience, and atmosphere, should be a lot simpler. More on that next week, I hope.

Stay frosty, friends.