Newcomer questions about game length and game save alternatives


#1

Hi! I’m new here, so please forgive me if I have missed these subjects in searching the forum.

I am planning on writing a horror game using Choice Script and I hope to work with COG at some point to publish it online. I have some professional game design experience and also professional writing experience, though actual coding/scripting is a new direction for me to take. The idea I am very excited about does not lend itself to something that can be played in a single sitting, and I notice that there really doesn’t seem to be a simple or reliable game-save system, unless I have missed it. So, I was wondering what other authors are doing?

Should I break the game up into separate chapters where the character’s attributes are reset at the start of each new segment? I find that unappealing because as near as I can see, that would mean any customization the player makes to attributes/variables will get lost or have to be redone at the start of each new chapter.

I also was VERY excited to see that someone created an inventory function which I will be experimenting with soon…but if I chop the story up into chapters that are stand-alone, then I can’t have items cross over to new chapters can I? I mean, if a chapter is started with a break between gaming sessions, then acquired items will not longer exist in the inventory will they?

So, basically I am trying to work out an outline of my how my game will work at this stage, but I need to know how to make a lengthy game-play experience enjoyable for players that need to break-up the experience by a form of game-save or checkpoints.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

-Walt


#2

@Walthulhu Hi Walt, and welcome to the forum.

It’s important first of all to define what you mean by “chapters”. If you intend to release the game in stages, a significant chunk at a time (e.g. @JimD’s Zombie Exodus) then you probably don’t need to worry too much about any sort of save feature. If it warrants one, CoG will add a save feature before releasing the game and all stats etc. can be easily carried over to the next new “chapter” upon release, so making for a continued game experience.

If, however, you intend to develop the whole thing first and release it as a full, complete game (e.g. my own Vendetta: Rise of a Gangster) then for beta test purposes you will almost certainly need some sort of save option. It’s possible to easily script a “soft save” (session-only) checkpoint save system purely for testing purposes, described on the following Wiki page:

There is also a “password” based permanent save system available for testers, which I’ll let someone else point you to / describe as it didn’t really suit my own purposes so I’ve never actually used it.

Another option is to develop something suitable yourself (or even better, have someone do it for you!), to suit your particular needs. It won’t be easy though–Vendetta’s own system took a considerable amount of time & expertise, and a lot of testing & fine-tuning to properly integrate with ChoiceScript’s way of doing things.

And finally, depending how long it takes you to reach the “I need a ‘hard save’ system now” stage, there’s a good chance that by then I’ll be able to offer you one–no charge, and purely for “closed beta” playtest purposes. Vendetta’s own system is currently being expanded to handle more large, “serious” development projects.


#3

Hi Walthulhu!

It’s very nice to see some well thought ideas and questions there.

In regards to your saving, out of the extremely limited options available to you, I’d advise you use the *show_password and *restore_game commands.

The former provides your player with an obsfucated/encoded password and the latter allows you to restore this. The password saves and restores everything from game state to variables and while it’s a little cumbersome, it’s good enough for testing purposes. Upon publication COG would as @Vendetta says provide you with a much tidier and more robust solution.

There is a VERY basic explanation on the password here:

My own game uses this system to provide the player with the code at the end of the first ‘act’ (if they select save) - upon completition of act 2, anyone who has kept their code will be able to click ‘load’, paste it in and it’ll jump to the end of act 1, as if they never left: http://www.choiceofgames.com/forum/discussion/888/-terminal-a-tale-about-an-end/

I’m looking very forward to seeing what you produce, particularly with your professional background! Do let us know if we can be of any further help and good luck with your game, oh and do let me know how you find that inventory system! :slight_smile:

And welcome to the forums!


#4

@CJW Just a quick question (if you know off the top of your head, if not I can test it myself) is it possible to alter the .js file (I forget which one it’s in) to de-obfuscate the password so that it’s human readable/alterable, as it seems like it would just be a matter of changing the encoder/decoder?


#5

@Reaperoa - More than likely, but the point is exactly that: you could alter it. So you could cheat and ruin the fun.

Although… I presume you’re asking for testing purposes? It MAY be and it would be useful. The difficult part would be the line numbers and stuff.

I’ll have a poke around, see what I can do :wink:


#6

I’d certainly be keen to have that for testing purposes. Go, resident JS wizard, go!


#7

@Havenstone (JS Wizard? I wish!) @Reaperoa

I seem to have got something along those lines, fairly easy to bypass the obfuscation - it’s not the cleanest or most sensible method, but it works.

Just wondering if I’ll come to regret making this info public…

I’ll PM you both.

Sorry for hijacking your thread Walt! ^^


#8

Vendetta and CJW, I thank you both for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully! I think I have enough of an idea on how plan things out now.

I will probably section the game into several chapters, but the chapters will all be contained in a single release. Each chapter will behave as a sort of “self-contained” game but the story will continue across them. This way I will limit the players frustration of having to “start over” from the beginning between sessions, by making virtual “waypoints” throughout the story. I will probably not allow the player to customize their characters attributes, but instead will reset (or define) attributes separately at the start of each chapter. In light of my particular story I think it could work just fine to have the character pre-defined.

If at some point after I share my work with COG they decide they are interested in it, and COG wants to add something more robust for variable persistence/saving, then I can always alter the game to take advantage of it.

I am very excited about this. Thanks for being so informative and helpful!

-Walt