October 14th 2011

Hey there! Join me for a minute or two (or three) and sip a cup of coffee, will you? There, I promise it won't hurt! Let me list a few events that have occurred during the past few weeks:
  • The ongoing lawsuit between Bethesda and Mojang over the term "Scrolls" gave me an idea that didn't let me go, so I fired up my next best HTML editor and threw a bunch of syntax at it, and this is what came out of it after a few hours. (My high score is 23.)

  • My Russian friend Pinkerator released his first game called Retention, which includes four music tracks that we worked on together. Those four tracks are part of a larger album that should come out in a few months.

  • After all the good press Halfquake has received over the years from Podcast 17, I sent William a little something.

  • Phillip mentioned me in his article about modder's motivation. There's something else he has planned for Halfquake, but you totally did not read that right now!
As for myself, there is one thing I'd like to talk about.

I'm a Dragon is a tough nut to crack. Originally, when it was still called Heal The Dragon, it had some kind of purpose, namely to provide some sort of PvP to PHQ players. Something that lets players build stuff and destroy stuff. The second version, then renamed to what it's called now, offered some improved gameplay, but before I was able to actually implement the idea of building objects in the arena again, I had to take it down because it was too much for the old server back then.

Steltie and I have started to rebuild IAD from scratch a long time ago, but development has stopped. The reason is not because we don't have time or anything (there's always time for something you really want to do), but because of the lack of direction. The lack of purpose.

The current IAD plan is to let players wander around, explore, buy objects, talk to NPCs, and - in a later stage - create their own rooms, objects and NPCs for others to explore. The only problem is - I have lost interest in MMORPGs.

Back when I started Personal Halfquake and the Halfquake Amen Comics, I didn't know that both projects had one common problem: There was no end planned. And projects that don't have an end in sight are a heavy weight on one's way forward. IAD doesn't necessarily have to be an MMO, but since it is quite multiplayer centric, there is a constant stream of updates necessary to keep the game interesting and balanced. A multiplayer game requires constant attention or else it dies, whereas a single-player game is what it is - an experience that sits there, waiting for a player to step inside and outside at will without the need of registration, internet connection, chatting/socializing, and so on.

I toyed with the idea to take the current assets of IAD and turn it into a single-player game, where you basically have this huge map to explore, and every town tells a different part of the world's story. Which means that once you were through with talking to every single NPC and looking at every single object, the game would be over and you could decide what of all the information you've gathered about the world was true and what wasn't. It would have been kind of like a miniature Oblivion.

But I'm not happy with that idea. Something's missing. Maybe it's the loose link to the Halfquake world that doesn't seem to fit. I thought about simply using everything as a playground for the Chosen Victims in Personal Halfquake, so you could actually walk around on the surface. But again, I'm not happy with multiplayer games anymore, and I'd rather make something new than add a new feature to PHQ that could very well be its own game.

Maybe it's because I've been looking at it for so long that it turned into this thing that doesn't want to finish itself. I've got lots of ideas, but something is constantly telling me that it is probably - and quite frankly - not worth it. It feels old and outdated and I'd probably have to improve certain bits, which means it's even more work than just building something out of nothing.

The most fun I've had near the end of IAD's development was the Sound Designer, which was actually used for creating and playing background music in the unreleased previous version. But even that didn't quite turn out to be what I had intended, because, for example, it kept stuttering during gameplay, and other things.

Ironically, Boulder Scrolls is very similar to IAD, so technically I could throw together a single-player version of everything that exists already quite quickly and just get it done.

But still... why? Usually I feel something, a purpose, a "you-gotta-do-this" feeling. With IAD it's just this little project, its existence having been denied by too weak servers (and bad programming), never to be revived again.

I guess it's just hard to let one of your kids die without trying to help.