AF 10 Johnny XP: Adventure Log 1

I will be posting this story on, or at least an edited version of it after I’ve rewritten the story into this new idea of mine.

Adventure Log. Day 1.

I have just done battle with four of the Lizardfolk. They weren’t much of a challenge. I managed to collect the arrows that I’ve used, but one broke. I neither have the time nore the patience to make more. And I don’t think my character has the skills necessary for rudimentary survival craft. Looking at my sheet, I feel I may have made a mistake in adventuring into a dungeon. Be that as it may, I decided to make the most of it.

I gathered the bodies of the dead and laid them before their weird god. I replaced my stock of ammunition and retraced my steps back to where I left my pack. This I brought back to the guard post, deciding I should make it my first checkpoint. And besides, there was a bit of investigation I wanted to do before delving any further anyway.

My language of caves is limited, so please bear with me.

This world’s reality and its parameters were built on the content and mechanics of an old school rpg. This means most of the objects that populate the gameworld weren’t all products of a procedural generator. For example, take the Lizardfolk. Based on the pre-fall rulebook I used, these creatures were jungle and swamp dwellers, not cave dwellers. And yet, even when transposed from their natural habitat, they seemed to thrive here.

On account of a prominent religious icon carven into a permanent feature of the cave’s first point of interest, the hunting parties stalking a subterranean ecosystem for large game, the barest hints of civilization on their bodies, and the establishment of a guard post, I assumed a strong argument for a culture that evolved outside of their natural habitat.

This I found very interesting. While my game engine may have used modules and pre-constructed packages for its objects, how these objects spawned and behaved in relation to each other was still due to the engine’s procedural storyteller. Meaning, something in this Lizardfolk tribe’s past forced it to abandon its original culture and develop a new one here based on alien circumstances.

That was the beauty of the engine. It was simple and still needed human input, but the things it could do with what it was given were always full of surprises. Every world was a unique experience waiting to be lived through. Unique histories, unique legends, there was always something left to explore and discover.

With that, I resolved to find the answers to the following questions:
1. Who was the god the Lizardfolk carved into the rock?
2. Did the Lizardfolk really even make it in the first placed?
3. What brought the Lizardfolk here to this cave?

I started my intelligence gathering on the guardcamp itself. And besides, I needed more details to give me a better sense of what I might find the deeper I go into the dungeon.

Starting with the corpses, I rifled through their things. As it turns out, only the Hunt Leader had anything of worth on him. 5 measly coins of ruddy gold. I didn’t recognize the stamp of the coins, so I assumed they were valuable and worry about it later. Next, I rummaged through their camp to get a better estimate of their technological aptitude. Inspecting their weapons, their garb, and the state of their camp; these were all things straight out of the stone age. Flint arrowheads, tattered leather wrapped about their necks which were more for decoration than actual protection. Being this deep into the earth probably meant less danger of predators, hence, less need for innovation. What tools they had were only the bare essentials necessary for survival. Finally, I studied the Idol. On closer inspection, no evidence actually supported a connection between it and the Lizardfolk. But, at least I knew then that the rock-hewn image might be older than the Lizardfolk. Satisfied, I turned my attention to the game they brought back from deeper in.

All I could say of it was that it was a snake, a fat snake, with the head of a snub-nosed crocodiles and a body wider than it’s head or its tail. It’s eyes had glzed over and the flesh hadn’t yet hardened, so I set about to finding a way to preserve it for when I get back. I had checked my pack and found I had only enough rations for ten days. Time spent in the dungeon might not be that understanding of my food situation. So, I made the best of it and spent the next hour cutting up the corpse. I searched the camp again for anything that could help me, and found that I had everything I needed for preparing rations. I found salt, skewers, and what looked to be a set of seasoning kept in little clay pots. I counted myself lucky and set about preparing the meat for salting.

I set the scaled hide of the create near the fire and carefully placed my salted meat there. I didn’t how it would turn out, but I hoped the temperature would keep it dry and the salt would keep it from rot. Hopefully, this’d keep me from starving after I’ve cleared out the dungeon.

[Scene ends. Chaos factor at 5, progressed to 6 due to a battle.]

Another feature of the engine I’ve integrated was a sort of automated gamemaster that managed events along narrative lines. This way, the Story engine always had something going on no matter who the actors were.

Should I end it here? I believe I should,  I’m tired now anyway. Zen, log me off.

[Zen.0] Copy That.


AF 10 Victory XP: An Introduction to EP Game Development

I will be posting this story on, or at least an edited version of it after I’ve rewritten the story into this new idea of mine.

Dull, neon shades of yellow and gold filled an infinite expanse in every direction, their geometries demarcated by solid, black lines. Hexagons, triangles, squares, pixels seemingly devoid of context and texture broke and reformed into fractals of themselves as rendering data remained stagnant and waiting for commands. And yet, the ground felt solid and real as he walked. The constant kaleidoscope failed to disorient him as it turned and twirled and refracted. Vic was more than used to environment, it was his creation to begin with.

[DevLog Alpha 408c, AF 10] I’ve just completed contextual procedural generation, which basically means the world creates itself as within a 30 mile range of the player character. Beyond that, explored areas are compressed into discrete data points and unpack upon return. To streamline rendering, however, I’ve decided to keep player and economic hubs unpacked, as well as the most used wilderness routes. This should keep the player from seeing undefined space and break immersion.

[Cont.] On this test, I’ll be checking how well it works and behaves from varied points of entry and spawning. I’ve set the difficulty scale for solo and will begin this play-through from a dungeon. Difficulty scale is set at solo, usual character generation parameters, and I’ll just let the RNG tell me what I get.

Summoning a development console to his field of vision, he browsed through the shortcuts for the character generator and activated it. In moments, his real world body transposed from his VR pod was wrapped and changed in a wave of rippling pixels.

Nameless, he was now an Elf of above average intelligence and cunning, hands lithe and possessed of supernatural acumen. He knew he could build the tiniest ship in the tiniest bottle with only a toothpick for materials, but that was an exaggeration. He felt it nimble and graceful as he clenched and flexed, but no more so than the most talented.

He turned to his console, punched in a set of commands, and watched the simple text-window transform into a roll of yellowed parchment. Skimming through the information, he learned that he was a Thief of undefined origin. At Level 1, he had no XP to his name. His weapons: a bow and 20 arrows, as well as a short sword strapped to his lower back. Food, rope, and some basic equipment; he had nearly everything he would need on a simple dungeoncrawl. Satisfied, he banished the parchment and replaced it with a mini-map, a flat texture of blue gridded with lighter hues.

[Subcomm] Zen Zero, tag along. I’m going to subcomm my command lines from now on so manage my IDE while I run the simulation. Have a debugger online as well, monitor my progress an take careful note of any inconsistencies or anomalies. You have the devlog from last time right?

[Zen Zero] Yeah, I do. You want me to check off features from the request board too?

[Subcomm] Yeah, do that. Wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans.

From the empty aether, a red little deamon visible only to himself popped into existence. Tiny screens appeared about the daemon, orbitting him, streaming information in an array of numbers and wireframe charts. The daemon hovered just a little above Vic’s shoulder, giving him the go sign.

[Subcomm] Generate the dungeon and starting hex.

[Zen Zero] Copy that.

The kaleidoscope congealed, warped and gained mass as pixels became wireframes, then solid shapes of basic colors, and finally finally the fractals collapsed into themselves and took on texture. The world came to be and it was green. The lush thicket drowned in the ambient noise of woodland critters. It smelled of rain just past and leaves mixing with soil. Vic stood at a a shallow outcropping that led down a steep cliff and into a ravine that once ran with raging waters. Moss crumbled in his fingers as he passed his hands over boulders and aged bark. He turned his back on the edge and faced a bare, craggy wall of earth. He waited, as the empty feature crumpled and dug itself into a new dungeon.

A gaping maw of rock and ferns now waited. Within, sharp-toothed accretions sparkled. The tell-tale drip of condensation echoed deep down the abyssal throat, hinting at some underground lake. Vic followed the invitation.

Taking steps beyond the stalagmites, careful not to rip to rip any of his clothes on the edges, he takes special notice of the ease of his descent. Elven senses still useful at the edge the cave, he found shaped stones lodged onto the caked earth like steps down a flight of stairs. Lighting a torch where the light could no longer reach, he finds more clues of inhabitation. The signs often contradicted each other, but they were there nonetheless.

Some footprints, polished stone paths, bones of small animals, he followed the signs deeper and deeper into the belly of the mountain. At one niche, just out of sight behind some tall crags hunched over like old men, he found a fast for torches. He turned to his mini-map and reviewed the trail he’d left so far. Rather straightforward, he thought. He left symbols where he found signs, and took some notes to explain the symbols. He’d study them later.

Fire, it’s soft glow throbbed in the distance. Dousing his torch in a puddle, he approached slowly and softly on the balls of his feet. Finding an outcrop of limestone not far from the fire, he left his pack behind it and unslung his bow. An arrow nocked, he searched on for first blood.

Stalking from shadow to shadow, behind pillars of glittering minerals, he found the the underground pool he’d heard at the cave’s mouth. Sitting at its edge was a guard post. Really, it was just a bare camp stocked with basic essentials. Vic assumed it was for a makeshift guard for what could be some lair, but on closer inspection, he assumed otherwise.

The camp was set at the feet of a symbol, a large, rough-hewn statue of what appeared to be a god. It was too dark to recognize; it’s carving hard to look at. What icon or representation it might have been, the idea itself was too alien for Vic to make heads and tails of. Checking his character’s memories, he found nothing that came close to it. The skin and bone added to the piece didn’t help either. Licking his lips, his procedural culture generation engine colored him impressed.

Noise, heaving voices on approach. Vic hurried back into the safety of the dark and set his arrow point on the general direction of the newcomers. And there they were, unaware of him, the Lizardfolk.

Three lackeys carried game in the wake of a hunt leader come back to camp. They were lightly armed, but looked strong and weathered. Vic wasn’t much for asking questions and taking a closer look at this world’s fluff. He came here to test his newest update and combat was part and parcel of any dungeoncrawl. He waited for the forked-tongue hunting party to come closer to the light of the fire. By the time they tasted the scent he left in the air of the camp, it was too late.

Two arrows, in quick succession, found perch in skulls. Nocking another, Vic let this one loose on the hunt leader’s throat.

Fuck,” the shaft whizzed past and broke against the oversized idol behind. Emboldened by the sudden death of their comrades, they dropped their haunches and brought weapons to bear. They slithered for cover, inching their way closer. One flanked left, the hunt leader right. A javelin shot out from behind a mossy outcrop, but went wide and clattered among the stones behind Vic.

The last lackey burst out from behind cover, a sword glinting in his hands. A shaft stuck out of his heart at the peak of his leap, dropping with a heavy thud. Catching the hunt leader’s scales glint against the campfire, Vic let loose and heard the creature cry out in pain.

He approached the dying thing, writhing on the wet floor with an arrow sticking out of its kidney. He drew his short sword and ended it there, blood swirling into the puddles.

First room done. Ten more to go.