Tag Archives: discussion

Unpopular Opinion #5

Take the over half-a-trillion dollars the U.S. spends every year on its military budget, weapons R&D budgets, any major funding that is tied to war efforts, “defense”, fighting, etc. and instead use that money towards providing EVERYONE in the country (regardless of their financial standing) with free basic living necessities like food, water, electricity, shelter, medical expenses, and other quality of life implements.
 
Should the cost exceed the 500+ billion dollar yearly expenditures from said budget (it probably would for the first few years at least, covering initial startup costs such as building housing, etc.), hit up the collective 1% , or even the top 5-10%, wealthiest in the country to help foot the rest of the bill.
All those who contribute financially from their own funds, get their names published globally with recognition of their contribution amounts, and we make these contributors into our new celebrities in society.
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Developments #02: Death? Preposterous!

I believe it is of a paramount importance to attempt to create an experience for players that offers something unique, or at least uncommon.

Many would argue that everything has been done already regardless of your medium or genre at this point, and I will acknowledge that it becomes difficult to create something completely new.

However, even if you are creating something that has “already been done before” by many others, I believe it is important to look for ways you can do things differently, something about your creation that makes it stand out from the crowd in a way that is not seen very often. Aspire to have something that “makes it your own” in the sense that it is at least a little bit innovative.

Sometimes that can be a simple thing. Taking a look at game development in particular (though this concept applies to any sort of creative field) for example you might have a unique and custom battle system in your Role Playing Game. Sometimes it can be the art style that is unique. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everything about the entire experience needs to be original for something to be considered interesting or unique. In fact, some familiarity can be beneficial too.

One way that I am endeavoring to bring uniqueness to the experience in my indie RPG Death? Preposterous! is by making dialog with NPCs a bit more robust than you usually find. (For those who don’t know, NPC is short for Non-Player Characters, meaning characters that the player isn’t in control of.)

If you look at the way the average Role Playing Game tends to handle NPC dialog, you’ll find that most characters will have one or two things to say to the player, at which point if they try to speak with them further, they’ll just repeat themselves.

Often what will happen in a game is the player will talk to a few NPCs in the game, and maybe they’ll go around and talk to all of them in a given area once or twice. Many times though the many NPCs will go ignored, especially if the player already has a good idea of where to go and what to do next. This is because when NPCs are used generically and without creativity, they simply exist as  guides for the player to progress that, once conditions have been fulfilled, often times NPCs no longer hold any value to the player.

This creates very static and uninteresting NPC characters for the most part. Sure you might have a few memorable ones here and there if their lines are interesting enough and filled with enough personality, but that’s rarely the case.

Expecting the player to interact and engage with NPC characters that don’t add much to the experience is like expecting someone to re-read an operations manual when they are already well versed in operating a device.

The other thing you don’t see too often with NPCs is movement. NPC characters are almost always just hanging out in the same place, saying the same things, their sole purpose in life seems to be waiting around for the player to come find them so they can deliver their one or two lines and then fade away from relevance and memory.

For my game I have attempted to find ways to make NPCs a bit more interesting to engage with than the typical fare. Instead of just saying one or two things, they have a larger pool of dialog to select from at random, giving some variety to the conversations the player will get to engage with even from the unessential NPC characters. There will still be some characters that have more scripted dialog that are central to the story, but even these I endeavor to have that dialog change as the events in the game progress and unfold, giving them a bit more dynamic substance and expression.

Screenshot from 2017-11-21 10-50-59

And the other point I touched on was quite simple, a lack of movement. In Death? Preposterous! there will be times where you will meet the same NPC but in different areas, and there are also times where they will not always appear in areas where you have seen them previously. This is a very small thing, but it has a pretty important impact. What it does is this allows the NPCs a sense of purpose and makes it feel like they are living their lives in this place they inhabit. It adds an element of realism to the experience and makes these characters a bit more believable . They aren’t always going to be standing right in the town square saying the same two things they said 10 hours of game play time ago, long after the events they are talking about have been resolved.

It’s my belief that it is important to make these characters you encounter feel a bit more like actual people, and these are a few of the ways that I hope to give the player some sense of that. While eventually they will still succumb to the inevitable repetition in dialog, it will be more unpredictable in that sense. Between the deeper pool of dialog possibilities, and changes in conversations that reflect events as they transpire, my hope is that this should prove to make my game feel a little different than what you see in your average, generic, uninspired RPG.

Developments #01: Death? Preposterous!

Recently I have been working on getting the intro sequences in my upcoming game, Death? Preposterous! implemented in a rudimentary form.

As usual with things in active development, nothing presented here is 100% finalized so don’t be surprised if the look and feel changes between these development progress posts and release time.

With that out of the way, feast your eyes on one of the more prominent features of the introduction in the following image.

Screenshot from 2017-11-14 18-25-39

This particular piece of dialog is showing part of the protagonist’s inner thoughts during this part of the scene. A lot of times I feel like indie RPG Maker games rely heavily on the visuals to progress though and describe the events and scenes in the game. You will see characters vocalize quite a bit, even exchange banter with each other from time to time in some games.

However, in my opinion I feel like one area where they are commonly lacking a bit is getting inside a character’s head using internal dialog. You see it far more commonly in the visual novel genre of games than you do in RPG Maker games, and I believe that focus on internal thoughts and dialog  is also part of what helps books be commonly considered “better” than their movie or TV show counterparts a lot of the time.

Because you get to go inside the characters’ heads more, you get to understand their thought processes better, or at the very least you can get a better idea of why they performed some of their actions or reactions, and their motivations driving them forward. Sometimes you can express that in action sequences, but I feel like action scenes are not always best to rely upon solely. I think a mix of both internal dialog and external actions works well.

Below you can see a later part of this same scene where character dialog is being spoken aloud rather than thought. It’s these little kinds of touches that I have been fleshing out in the intro sequence, and will also be working on in the main dialog where it makes sense to include as well.

Screenshot from 2017-11-14 18-27-58

By the way, you might have noticed, or perhaps been curious about, that crazy glowing fence in the screenshots above. Well, I’ll just say it will be somewhat important to the proceedings during the game, so you can look forward to finding out what its significance is, and what it might entail during the adventure.

Unpopular Opinion #4

Dear society at large (especially entertainment/media): If you’re going to censor (read: control) anything, try cutting out violence, pain, fear, and trauma from the experience, instead of nudity, sex, or any other such positive expression of natural human beauty and love.

Life’s Little Changing Choices

       Recently I had two days of very contrasting states of mind. It reminded me of a concept I am trying to learn and better about myself regarding my attitudes and judgments towards other people. More specifically, the goal is to not be judgmental at all, or when I do catch myself having such thoughts and feelings, discarding them quickly rather than holding fast to their negativity.
       On the first day I had woken up much earlier than usual, feeling a bit unwell. Just the drastic change in my sleep cycle alone would have been enough but on top of that, not feeling well put me in a strange mood. I was productive at unusual hours of the morning, and decided eventually that I had become tired enough to try to get some more sleep. This I did, but was startled awake a few hours later by a loud noise from the neighbors doing some work outdoors with tools.
       Having felt a bit better after this extra bit of sleep, despite the startling second awakening, I figured the rest of the day was going to go without much incident now that I had gotten enough hours of sleep.
       Instead, it ended up that I had an argument with a friend, that I had been saying judgmental thoughts in regard to their situation, and in general just being oblivious to how I was making them feel until they finally had to say something about it to me.
       We patched things up pretty easily with clear communication of each others feelings and where I had made my mistake, but even after that had smoothed over, I was still feeling a bit out of sorts. That slightly ill feeling from earlier had returned after the brief argument, and in general I could tell that my mood was still not right. I had felt the backlash of the stress that I was causing my friend, and at the same time I felt the guilt that is carried along with realizing one has been unwittingly repeating a mistake that results in contrasting feelings compared to one’s intentions.
       My solution to this dilemma was to simply distance myself a bit. I knew I felt out of sorts, and it might have been for a variety of reasons, perhaps even unrelated to my weird sleep schedule that day, but I knew from experience that if I didn’t take a step back and have a little time to myself, that I was going to be in a wrong mood for any kind of interactions.
       So here I made a choice to just withdraw myself a bit and busy myself with things that did not include social interaction.
       Everyone has days like this where maybe they make mistakes, or say something they don’t really mean, or even take out their frustrations on innocent passers-by when they don’t even have anything to do with what’s eating away at you. I used to really be incredibly critical of myself after the fact for days like this. As I begin to understand a little better that life is indeed going to have times of both what we perceive to be positives and negatives, I also begin to understand that fixating on the “bad things” only keeps them around longer.
       For me, I have found that it is much better to simply address the negative moods and feelings as they come up, have honest and clear communication regarding them, including how I am feeling and what I was or was not understanding or realizing, and then simply letting that settle the issue, moving on to the next thing.
       Fast forward a bit to today, and I find myself coming from a much better place mentally than the other day. I am not short with people, I am not stuck in only a single-minded judgmental viewpoint, and I am endeavoring to keep the small things small, rather than make them out to be bigger things than they are. In other words I am acting and thinking much more in line with my behavioral ideals that I see in myself.
       Could it be because I got better sleep? Because I felt well instead of slightly ill? Those might have had something to do with it, but the important thing for me to grasp was that I was choosing better choices. Choosing to carry better thoughts about a situation. Choosing to be accepting of differences and to not turn a small thing into a big thing in my imagination. Choosing to be more flexible in my thought of a thing rather than rigid and insistent on my way being the only way.
       Every day we find ourselves with these kinds of little choices in life. Some days we may have a harder time making the more compassionate and kind choices because maybe we’re not feeling that great, as was the case for me the prior day. I was not feeling well and that discord manifested itself through my thoughts, words, and actions.
       When we come from a place in our hearts and minds that is more inline with the ideal way we see ourselves however, it’s easy to look at those same choices and choose something higher than what we would have gone with during the times of upset and ill ease.
       It is in being able to gracefully handle the days when we are feeling low that we must endeavor, and humbly approach the days when we are feeling well, that we may acknowledge the ways of others as equally valid choices for how to live our collective lives on this planet, and try our best not to judge someone just because they do things differently than we have been introduced or grown accustomed to in our own experience.
       Photo by Denise Chan on Unsplash

You know you’ve made a sound choice when…

You can tell if you’ve made a sound choice, given sound advice, or done right by yourself and others in any given situation. There are some tricks to it that you need to be conscious of.

The first and most important thing is always trust your intuition. Lead with your first, most positive thought or idea.

Here’s an example the majority of us can relate to:
You drive to the store to buy some groceries or sundries or whatever, and as you’re leaving the parking lot on your way out, you see a person holding a sign that’s asking for assistance, be it money or food or a drink, etc.

What do you think when you see this?
How many thoughts run through your mind in those few moments of time between your stop at the traffic light and even after you drive away from that person?
If you’re anything like me, you probably get a half dozen or more different thoughts running through your head during those scant few seconds. Not all of them “good” ones either.

First tend to be the more positive, empathetic ones:

  • That poor person.
  • I wish I could help.
  • Can I help?
  • Do I have any money with me right now?
  • Can I afford it?
  • If things went differently, that might be me out there holding that sign.
  • I wonder when the last time was they ate?

Then, next come the more doubtful, limiting ones:

  • I only have a few coins in change, that person would probably be insulted if that was all I gave them.
  • I don’t have the money to spare right now.
  • What if this person is lying?
  • Are they really poor at all or is it a scam?
  • I don’t have time to stop.
  • The people in the cars behind me will get mad if I do.
  • Maybe next time.

These thoughts and more might spiral around in your head in a quick and dizzying fashion.
But here’s the trick to situations like this: stop thinking, start acting.

Your instinct, that very first intuitive impulse that you had to empathize with and be charitable towards this person. That’s all you need. Act on that. Give to that person and don’t think twice about it (literally, just keep the first positive thought you had, then act.)

If for some reason your first thought is not a charitable one, then it means you are afraid. You are afraid of something or someone about that situation to the point that you are letting it control you. Acknowledge this fact, and examine your fears. What is it that you are afraid of?

Once you’ve discovered why you are afraid, ask yourself why you are letting that fear hold you back from demonstrating your truth. Then the next time you are in that situation, remember how your first reaction was one of fear. Be conscious of it. Focus on your thoughts of empathy towards that person or situation, compassion, love. Let those positive thoughts be stronger than the fearful ones.

For you see, the secret to truly knowing you have made the right decision in any given moment, is when you feel at peace with your actions, words, or choices, even despite your fears. If you want to find that inner peace, act more out of your first, highest, intuitive positive thought.