Chester Chooses Chewy ChoiceOfGames
No need to watch your pronunciation, as Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor do in Singing in the Rain for their Moses Supposes routine, when you are developing a ChoiceOfGames game, because these games are entirely text based. Yup, you heard me, text based gaming. Never heard of ChoiceOfGames? Well neither had I until just the other day when a friend mentioned it to me and I brought it before the royal Court of SaintCarnival. After all, there are a number of us here at SaintCarnival who like to write and like to game and like the idea of developing a game, but get all twisted around the axle when it comes down to facing the daunting tasks of actually, drawing, 3D modeling, and of course programming, and programming, and programming, and programming …etc, a video game. So, the idea that you could take the video out of video game and replace it with text is quite intriguing.
So what am I doing here writing about this marvelous text-based-gaming thing, and not over there actually doing it? Well, I figured I’d blog my way through the learning curve and take you along for the ride. I mean, it’s a text based gaming platform, why not experience it in text, right? And, well, that and the fact that I haven’t blogged here for a while. I love the notion that saying “I haven’t blogged here for a while.” suggests that I’ve been busy blogging elsewhere … which I haven’t. But feel free to imagine your author simply swamped with requests to guest write at any number of blogs, while diligently keeping up on my own various blogs about different issues, like the renaissance man I am … not.
OK, so, where to begin? Well, how about the homepage at www.choiceofgames.com Here we see a nice enough web page, with a decent logo and the product pushed front and center. Looks like you could just jump right in and play, er I mean read, but we are not here to play or read someone elses game, we are here to write! And lo and behold, right there in the top list of options is a button enticing you to Make Your Own Games, sweet! Disclosure: Prior to clicking this button I should let you know that I have not actually played one of these games, in fact, my total exposure to experiencing a finished ChoiceOfGame game is having looked over someones shoulder, while they played … for about 30 seconds. And one more thing, in the way of disclosures, what I implied earlier in saying that there are those of us here who like to game, well, I feel the need to own up to the fact that, although I have enjoyed gaming in the past, I should not consider myself a gamer today, certainly not in comparison to other’s here in the Carnival’s Court.
Enough disclosing, On to the click!
Post click I am lead to a page of User Made Games, each with a graphic and a brief description. The quality of some of the drawings is questionable, but hey, it’s user made games, mate, stop complaining. This page whet’s the appetite well enough, as I do want to have my new creation listed among them one day, but where is the promise of the button that brought me here? Where do I go to make my own game? I believe the answer lies in clicking through on the link called ChoiceScript right there in the introductory sentence. Not exactly clear, I guess I was expexting a START HERE type “Easy” button. On I go through to the Introduction to ChoiceScript page.
Very good, I see that they have a forum for when I get muddled and stuck and know that I am not the first to experience a particular frustration … I love forums! Here it is laid out that this writing will involve a programming language, but that it is of their own design and is specifically written to be easy to understand and write with. I’m good with that, as, although I do not know any languages, I have dabbled in HTML and barely scratched the surface of C++, so if ChoiceScript lives up to its hype of easiness then I should be fine. There’s a download of a zip file, which is a bit old school for a file folder that is less than 2meg in this age of ubiquitous high speed broadband, and then an extraction, then it says to open a particular file only in Firefox because Chrome has issues with it (things are getting kinda clunky now). So I went and searched for the file and I opened it in Chrome anyways, because that’s just how I role, and lo and behold, not only did it not work, but Chrome had a popup that explained that the online games would work fine to play in Chrome but the writing of the games was done locally on your PC and Chrome has issues running local web content. Now I’m no hosted-server-web-expert-dude but I’d say that this is another indication that they are a bit old school, I mean, why don’t they just host the application and let folks write directly to their server in any browser? Like all the free blogging sites do, like I am doing right now? Alas, I’m off to Firefox as instructed.
Ok, so I launched the index.html file in the web folder and played the practice game. It was pretty much as expected, silly, but only there to show me the parameters, but then it ended without a clear THIS IS WHAT YOU DO NEXT button. Ah, I see, in retracing my steps, I have to reference the Introduction to ChoiceScript page I was in earlier. I’m browser hopping between Chrome and Firefox so this is a bit non-intuitive for me at this point. I’m to open their pre-written startup.txt document, that is where all the actual writing is done, in Notepad, ok, this is another thing that nails one to the PC, if they only had an online writing version then this would be so easy! Now to open the text file. Aaannd its not located where they indicate, its in the scenes folder in the mygame folder in the web folder, ok, getting a bit frustrated here but moving on.
Ok, I looked over Stuart’s shoulder while he was learning to write one of these and I played the practice game a few times while looking at the text file to try to figure out what is happening and why. I think I have a basic grasp of how this thing works and how to write it, so let’s play for a bit. In the startup.txt they have this:
*title My First ChoiceScript Game
Which I will rewrote to this:
*comment It looks like they use this as a way to make comments within the game that only writers can see, so this is a test of that.
*comment First off I’ll change the title to the following
*title Let’s See What This Will Do?
*comment Then I’ll change this scene list and see what happens
Well, that worked, but writing it in word press was flaky because it deleted the indentations, which I learned are very important, so I had to add them back in, and wordpress double spaces every carriage return, which was fine, but makes it look messy. So I am off to do the writing in Google Docs, which is what I really wanted to do anyways. I started a Google Doc and wrote the following (remember that wordpress deleted all indentations and double spaced everything):
*comment This test I am writing in Google Docs and then downloading as a text file, this way I can write the script on the go, on any machine.
*title Let’s Try Google Docs
*comment Not very imaginative scene list, I grant you, but it was a good test of Google Docs TAB key as the instructions indicate that precise spacing/tabbing is important.
*comment Because when I go to save this as startup.txt it will overwrite the original, and I want reference the original to keep learning from, I saved the original as startup_original. Not very original 😉
*create leadership 50
*create strength 50
*create stealth 20
*comment I added that stealth one, let’s see what we can do with that.
Welcome to this test game which I wrote in Google Docs!
Here’s a link to see the doc online:
*comment This next command is page break which I assume generates the NEXT button in the game.
*comment Just learned something, name the Google Doc the name of the file as you call it in the scene list, and don’t have spaces! Also, to download as a text file directly from Google Docs just select file/download as/plain text. Also, also, when saving a second, third, or thirtieth time be sure to select the file to overwrite or it will just append the name with (02) or (30).
Well, that worked pretty well. It did generate an error message when the Next button was selected, but that is to be expected as those other scene files have not been created yet.
And that’s all I’ve got for this post, I get the feeling that this post did not serve any real purpose but hang with me and perhaps I can get it together next time! See you then.