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SOAT update #9
Posted By: gremlinn, on host
Date: Monday, July 23, 2001, at 02:31:50
In Reply To: SOAT update #8 posted by gremlinn on Sunday, July 8, 2001, at 22:01:05:

> 37 locations, 319150 bytes (8625 per location) [3/25/01]
> 54 locations, 438797 bytes (8126 per location) [4/08/01]
> 80 locations, 573649 bytes (7171 per location) [4/30/01]
> 95 locations, 794677 bytes (8365 per location) [5/21/01]
> 115 locations, 949191 bytes (8253 per location) [6/06/01]
> 132 locations, 1105293 bytes (8373 per location) [6/15/01]
> 145 locations, 1259378 bytes (8685 per location) [6/25/01]
> 152 locations, 1470894 bytes (9677 per location)

Now it's at: 155 locations, 1598537 bytes (10313 per location). My progress slowed recently for a couple of reasons. I'm getting a little burned out on it. The game at this point is almost too wide and non-linear to keep track of. By the width of a game, as opposed to its length, I mean a measure of how many things can be done at each point. Obviously at the start of the game, there are very few things that can be done, and likewise for the end. Games widen out in the middle as more and more things become available, then collapse as puzzle elements combine to prepare for the end. I think I'm near the "widest" point of the game, but it's tough for now.

My maps/diagrams/flow charts for POAT fill about 10 sheets of paper. So far, I have 71 pages of material for SOAT.

Also, for the last week I've been focusing mainly on developing the puzzles and game structure for the second half of the game. The latter I've done, and I have an ending worked out (several endings, in fact). Now for the puzzles, it won't be so easy. I have a lot of loose ends of the following types: locations where I want something interesting to happen, but I either don't know how or when they happen or what effects would come of it, and items that I either don't yet know how you acquire or don't yet know how you use.

For anyone who is interested in game design: the way I design the ordering of puzzles is by drawing flow charts that represent puzzle steps and how they are related. Boxes represent steps of puzzles, and arrows link boxes in the order in which they can be solved. No matter how complicated it gets, I know everything will be solveable as long as there are no cycles in the flow chart (if you need to solve puzzle A to solve puzzle B to solve puzzle C to solve puzzle A, you wouldn't be able to even solve any of them as a starting point). I can even make sure the puzzles follow a story-based timeline by partitioning the page into sections separated by key events, then putting a box in the earliest time period that the puzzle element it represents can be completed.

The other thing to watch out for is that there are few if any useless puzzles. Ideally every puzzle should either be necessary to solving the game, finding the secret area, or at least give an interesting outcome. As long as there is a path in the flow chart from every box to one of those results, this will happen.

With the flow charts I have right now, there are lots of boxes for the puzzles in the second half of the game, but very few links. I think I'll take a few days and finish these off before I do much more game text.

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