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  Tids & Bits 07:24 PM -- Mon May 12, 2008  

Firstly, this weekend marks the sad day when I got 100% complete on Ratchet 4 (for the second time), so I am now officially out of Ratchet games unless I get Size Matters (which I hear is unwise), or a PS3. Or I re-get #1, but to be honest, the thought of all the mini-games makes me loathe to do it.

Guess that just leaves WoW to entertain me! I've really really been enjoying that of late, teaming up with a friend of mine across the country on the rare occasions when our schedules match, and getting my guys up to level 40 where new and exciting things happen (horseys, and usually some other good stuff, depending on your class). Really, I have gotten almost nowhere in months, but I am enjoying it. I'm changing my strategy from moving all 10 characters up 2 levels at a time, keeping them in sync, over to picking 2 guys and just focusing on them until some unknown future point. That will be nice, because I won't be doing the exact same quest five times right in a row, it'll be spread out. I also read a lot of exciting news this weekend about Wrath Of The Lich King which makes me quite excited about that. I may end up sacrificing poor Dedmanwalkin to make room for a Death Knight when the time comes. We'll see.

Today in Happyponygate news, it's starting to feel like a game. Don't get the wrong impression, as it isn't even in anything close to the realm of alpha, and won't be for a very long time, but it feels more functional now. I have most of the first sector map done, and I can wander around that blowing up streetlights and gunning down poor Marshmallow Soldiers, and both my gun and I gain experience. Originally, you had to feed your gun jellybeans to level it up, but that was extremely awkward and annoying, since you had to go into your inventory and drag them to the gun one at a time. Now they gain XP as they inflict damage, and that is a lot more fun.

I spent a couple hours today also drawing up a talent system exactly like WoW's (with 4 talent trees, one for each element). There's still a ton of holes in the game design and I've toyed with a million different things to do in terms of how you improve and advance. This is just the latest. I have no idea what the final outcome will be, all I've done so far is write down the talents in a lovely color-coded spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are my favorite toy.

Originally, I really intended this game to be an outright parody of the game it is similarly named to, and so I had based a lot of things around that, but one by one, those things are melting away. Then it started turning into GTA, and now I'm debating whether you will be able to drive cars! I do want there to be, but even if they control well, they really require a hugely expansive world to make driving worthwhile, which is a massive commitment in map-making.

It also creates an issue - if you can just run down the monsters, using your guns is foolish. Running them over is a lot safer and you can just buzz through the whole game. On the flipside, if you can't run them over, cars are useless, as you smash into a monster every 3 feet. I actually do intend to upgrade you from no-roadkills to roadkills (remember, conventional weapons - cars included - have no effect on Happy Ponies!) during the game, but I wonder how well it can work out on either side of that exchange. It really messes with the Crimsonland/Alien Shooter vibe that is the one focus I have never lost from the beginning. You need hundreds of guys pouring at you from every direction to make that exciting, and whether you can run them down in a car or not, that is a conflict with the idea of cars. Either the car can't ever get anywhere, or it's far and away the best option at all times (of course, you won't be able to run down every monster, bigger ones will be more like a head-on collision, so there will be excitement in terms of trying to avoid hitting those). I don't know, I think it may work out... your car can take damage as you hit guys and you eventually need to get out. But there will always be so many cars around... Well, we'll see how it goes!

Oh, and of course, on the other side of that issue, I've made a huge list of different cars and missions involving certain cars. If you read that document, you'd think that's what the entire game is about! I love the idea of those missions, so it seems cars are important. But if they are remotely well-balanced, will driving missions be possible at all, given the endless hordes of badguys? Probably not. Quite a tangle, this is.
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