Living without a guitar is a little like living without an arm, so after a year of abstinence I bought one. My main stuff is still in storage, but this will let me make music again at least. Which in turn, has a way of putting the mind into creative mode. Which is good.
The opening of Scout’s Journey has been slashed from 8,000 words to 5,500 after I put the script under the microscope for the first time in two years. This means, as KIT Scenarist tells me, that the player gets control after 10 minutes now. For some games, this might still be considered long, but SJ is more story based than most.
I cut several scenes and kept just the best parts of others, focusing on the perspectives of major characters while losing a lot of fluff. Among it all, I cut a tutorial section, a phone call, lots and lots of dialogue, a little dog, a little girl, a bunch of soldiers and a raft of odds and ends. I kept most of the action, introduced antagonists earlier and dropped strong hints about a conspiracy surrounding Scout’s arrival.
In the rest of the first level, I removed or pushed back anything that breaks the sense of Scout being lost in an overwhelming catastrophe, and put some of the backstory in the first couple audio logs. There is generally more information in dialogue now instead of cutscenes, things being hinted at for the player to form their own impression of the events leading up to Scout’s arrival. Dialogue was really slashed in a lot of places overall, though.
I also pushed back all combat and decided that Scout will rely on stealth and cunning, underlining the fact that she is alone and outgunned, until after about the game’s halfway point.
As a result, the first level kicks off with a “B story” that brings inciting events, a lot of action and backstory, and introduces impact characters. This soon merges with the “A story” of Scout’s arrival and the circumstances of that. It’s all pretty streamlined and focuses exclusively on setting up the atmosphere and introducing the main characters and their conflict.
As for gameplay, it’s exploration, looting/collecting, light puzzles, a bit of lockpicking, a bit of stealth and light platforming.
Part 2 continues with the A story, with Scout finding some allies and being pulled into their conflict, and more on the B story relayed directly to Scout by friendlier B story characters. Gameplay there is heavier into stealth. Fighting might still arise if the player, say, decides to mess with a patrol, but it’s decidedly ill-advised.
Part 3 is all A story and Scout crossing paths with the main baddies. Gameplay there revolves around dealing with patrols and enemy camps, only to finally encounter Big Bad himself, kicking off a string of midgame story events and a big character development for Scout.
Lots of work, yay. But progress! It’s good to see how some heavy cuts make everything better, from action scenes to audio logs. The cut parts are not lost, rather now a nice pile of material I can pull bits and pieces from to embellish the main script where it fits.
The “About” page is back, looking much like it did on spawnhost, but with MOAR CONTENT, including music from Scout’s Journey in FLAC format and many levelshots that probably haven’t been seen outside the #rmq IRC channel.
I won’t port old posts from spawnhost but I will maintain the site and have made full backups. I might implement things like a gallery again here, though.
I will have to sift through the script and do substantial edits there, and I need my workstation up and Blender running so I can get back to work. Now if only that PESKY virus would go away, I could get my household out of storage.
Is 2020 the worst year so far? Let’s all give it the finger. Let’s get up and do something.
Wow, first post in like a year. I apologize for letting down some faithful readers of my old blog. At least I did a wordpress update and splurged on some security features for this site. I’ll look at some plugins and finally setting up a subscription service again next.
I’m sitting in a cozy little downtown apartment typing this on a Macbook Pro, listening to some Smashing Pumpkins on youtube while the food is on the stove in my little kitchen. The work week is finished, capped by another Cisco exam. Things are newly good. But boy, what a slog it was getting there. I spent much of the winter in a sleeping bag on the floor with two electric space heaters barely keeping it above zero during the night. What happened?
I freed myself from living on the dole for a year by scoring a job in IT in the spring of 2019. At the time, I was sharing a house with two distant relatives who’d recently gotten into each other’s hair. They owned the house but didn’t live there. I was paying to stay. When it got to threats about auctioning off the house while I was still living in it (that’s how nice my family is), I packed all my things and had them put into storage. From then on, I crashed on the floor, living out of an old Army duffel bag, still shaping up for work every morning.
Like all amateur strategists, they didn’t commit with the auction thing nor with anything else. It was just psychological warfare. Nobody bothered to fix anything about the house including the heating. So it got close and closer to zero at night. So I got electric heating. I’m pretty sure I got pneumonia. Then I got an apartment.
It was a stroke of luck. Downtown, affordable, nice. I signed two days after first seeing it. I moved in there with three paper boxes, a duffel bag and a mattress. The taxi driver ripped me off. But I had a flat. Paying the deposit almost killed me. I managed.
Then Corona hit.
It’s going on three months of home office now. At times, it drove me up the wall. I got depressed. I had difficulty concentrating. I still didn’t have any furniture because I couldn’t take my stuff out of storage. I didn’t have a way to wash my clothes except by hand. I love cooking my own food, but sometimes I lived on the Viet Cong diet – rice in the morning, rice in the evening.
It kicked into overdrive when another school block started (I’m doing computer science). Germany is a little behind the curve on the digital things, a little not quite state-of-the-art. So the Corona school block has pretty much been “here are some links, please teach yourself, exam on Sunday. Have a lot of fun!” I mean, that’s madness at the best of times, but these aren’t the best of times.
I’m doing better now, though.
Trying to be objective, I’m a much better programmer now than ever. I’m doing GUI programming on Windows in C#, LDAP queries, crypto and regex in Python on Linux, and fixing PHP scripts in between. I’ve gained some serious C++ muscle as well. I never quite put C++ down because I still expect to do some Unreal development.
While most of my life was in storage, I’ve had a lot of time to look at things from a distance. That can be really helpful. I still don’t have my workstation PC, but I’ve looked at Scout’s Journey from all angles in my mind, over and over. Suffice to say I got a number of clues. I’m going to make some changes, pare it down a lot. Both the gameplay and the script need a lot of editing. It’s been a humungous collection of ideas. Time to cut it down, make it more compact without losing the essence. Time to flex that muscle.
Time to jump back in.
Let’s get back to some images of raw work – I’ve been mostly drawing and taking notes, because job and life have eaten most of my time lately. A wide number of drawing tools have been tested. Here’s a pic of my current workhorses. Stylefile markers, Pentel brush pen, Parker ballpoint, Faber Castell push pencil and leadholder, Staedtler and Sakura fineliners.
Real paper work. Blue ballpoint sketch of SJ Project 81 / Tempest rifle, from Project Banshee. I’ll change the model down the line for more flowing lines and details – Luminar prisms and bio-optical transformers. 😉
SJ level 4 – Scourge Fortress. Scene of a major fight between Scourge troops, the Herd and a coalition of Tribals, Luminar and Guardians. Ballpoint and marker.
Drone tank from a cutscene that’s not currently in the script anymore. The Herd were being attacked by EUFOR with these, main battle tanks and infantry, defending with Tempest rifles and missile turrets…
Checking out the Pentel Pocket Brush pen. Amazing stuff, very black and messy.
Notes taken for the script! Another major rework due. Chapter 1 – 3 make more logical sense now and have better flow. One scene builds on the other.
Useful synergies from the job: Python programming! Keeps the fingers nimble.
Until next time.
I’m sorry for the insanely long delay.
1. Scout’s Journey is still alive.
2. I have Unreal 4 working on my Linux box. (!) DINGDINGDING
3. I have a batch of paper with written notes on it that mostly concerns the script. Needs working in.
4. I spent the winter on welfare for various reasons. The German welfare system is ok (it doesn’t kill you) but it put me deep into depression hell for a while. I’m starting a new job as an IT specialist in August which should stabilize things.
5. I got back into drawing on paper instead of using the graphics tablet. It just gives you more control. Sketches are being made.
What else happened? Hmm, I’ll post more soon.
Email notification isn’t working yet, since I need to sign up with some service for that (default wordpress.com does that for you; this site is running on its own webspace though). I haven’t forgotten about that.
I will likely not transfer all the content of spawnhost.wordpress.com to this site; it was intended as a temporary home from the start (man, that was a long time ago). Nor will I port over any of the RemakeQuake stuff (I still have the source and assets, but that stuff is OLD now).
Next up: Getting a grip on UnrealED (it’s a lot like all those other level editors out there) and plopping in the first level from SJ. I had cut them up for performance, but I think I’ll fuse them back together. The hardware requirements for the game just skyrocketed anyway (“a semi-recent PC with a dedicated graphics card”, as has been the standard for first person games since the Nineties).
More to come.