Monday, July 4, 2011

Focus, or lackthereof.

I think I might need some help, guys.

I'm getting to the point again where I have so many creaturely ideas that I'm in danger of getting overwhelmed and burned out and vanishing for months like I have so many times in the past. I really don't want that to happen, especially since (it seems like, anyway, maybe I'm just conceited) I'm getting a lot more community support for my projects this time around, and I really don't want to let you guys down.

At the same time though, I need to stick to working on things that I'm interested in-- I find that forcing myself into working on projects that bore or frustrate me, even if they're my most popular ideas, tends to make me burn out very quickly as well.

So I'm going to try to make a list here of all projects currently on my plate, and I would really appreciate it if you guys would comment and let me know both what sorts of things here interest you the most, as well as what interests you the least. Don't be shy-- I really would like to know before I waste a lot of time if no one is interested in something! So without further ado:

Revamping this blog -- It's something I've been wanting to do for ages-- mostly in terms of layout; I'd like refresh the look as well as add links to other pages, a way to easily subscribe to feeds, and so on. It's not something that would take more than a day's work or two, but I keep putting it off because it's just not the highest priority I guess.

Writing more CAOS tutorials -- My tutorials are of a different sort than most; while general tutorials show you how to make basic objects, I like to write about individual commands and how they work, or how to make certain scripts function. Most of these are more or less notes of things as I'm discovering them myself and cater to people that already have a decent grasp of CAOS, but I do enjoy writing them and wouldn't mind doing more articles on how more basic commands work too. Of course, the tutorials would only be as useful as readers made them, so I really want to be sure there's demand for that sort of thing before sinking time into it.

Documenting nurturing worlds --  I've been having a lot of fun with Mixed Berries and I will probably continue playing with it, but documenting it, screenshots and all, takes quite a bit of time. I certainly enjoy doing it, but I'm not sure how many people actually enjoy reading that stuff.

Work on Live Nornish Action stuff -- LNA is a bit of a favorite project of mine, but one that relies heavily on viewer interest, which there honestly doesn't seem to be a whole lot of. So one side of developing this is that further improvements could spark more interest; the other side is that I could put many days and nights of work into something that two or three people in the world really enjoy watching/participating in. There's also the risk of the warp server going down indefinitely, which makes the stream mostly pointless and the hours wasted. There are several things I can work on here:
  • Redoing the status window so it actually wraps properly and is a little more flexible, as well as exploring the possibility of creating a larger font for it.
  • Writing the client-server agents, which should allow people to interact with LNA remotely, with functions to retrieve your creatures or adopt native-born creatures from the world, drop food or toys in front of creatures, move creatures that are stuck or have wandered into unfortunate places, and so on.
  • Planning and running some script-assisted competitions-- such as a fighting tournament with modified hit scripts so immortals don't have an unfair advantage, obstacle courses (sort of like an advanced IQ test) that rank creatures according to how fast they can get through them, or breeding competitions that keeps score of how many eggs a creature has laid, and so on.
  • Another option is to use LNA for showing live development of other projects-- I'm not sure if that would interest or bore people, but it's open to opinions.

Finishing unfinished projects -- Most notably the Crossbreeding script and Critical Hit script falls under this catagory, as well as the Selective Muco, as much as I dread picking that back up again. But Project BattleStance is also very much on the table, which sort of has my interest now that I believe I actually have the skills to finish it if I wanted to. While not an agent, the Creatures Fanfiction Podcast is still a possibility too. And would anyone actually be interested in the lift ring-things if I were to polish them up and turn them into an actual agent?

Polishing old agents -- I always wanted to give the Mind Arrows a bit of a makeover; get rid of the sezz lines, allow them to be turned on/off as needed or adjust the range, possibly even allow filtering according to age/genus. SERU, hands down my most successful agent, might also benefit from a few tweaks and additions, and though I'm willing to bet most people would rather me release a version that scrapped all the cute storyline stuff in favor of making more weird creatures as fast as possible, I could have a lot of fun developing the interactive stuff further too. Population Control Options is another agent that could use a revamp to include support and filtering for ettins and grendels, and a few more options as well.

Following new sparks -- There are too many of these to count...I'll write the ones at the top of my head right now:
  • Project Underground is probably the most prominent of these, but I really can't help but feel that the time I put into this is just going to go to waste-- it's such a massive undertaking and I'm still not sure I can pull off everything I want to that I'm almost certain sooner or later I'll hit a wall or get bored, it'll never get finished, and all the work I put into it will become nothing, I don't want to sound pessimistic, but well... I really am. Still, I love the idea and I have a lot of fun working on it-- if nothing else I feel like working on a near-rewrite of the game will help me improve my skills and gain a better understanding of how the inner-workings of the game work. I wouldn't count on anything else coming from it.
  • I've been making extensive use of speech-bubble activated scripts to test agents and personal scripts and things, and I've been thinking of putting together a core module that allows speech-bubble activation to function, while making it extremely easy for other developers to incorporate the feature into their own agents-- it would be as simple as including a variable containing the activation word/phrase and the script to run when the word is said, allowing the agent to respond to speech-bubble commands (as long as the core module was installed) without having to rewrite the speech-bubble-searching bit themselves.
  • An in-game photo album/journal. Just a weird idea I had recently and after fiddling with a few scripts realized was actually possible. The agent would consist of a little camera agent you could use to take pictures in your world (like those that you take of your creature, but anywhere, and with more size options) and then add them to a sort of scrapbook where you could write a description of the photo or whatever happened that day and so on. Kind of a big project and a pain in the rear to code, but a cute enough idea that I'd be willing to try it if there was interest.
... As you can see, I have quite a pile of projects to work on and some days I am just so overwhelmed by them all that I would much rather go read a book or play another game than decide what to do, and consequently no progress is made. So, maybe you guys can help me prioritize a little? Any and all feedback is appreciated; let me know what projects you think the community would benefit most from, as well as the ones you think are better left on the back burner!


  1. The Crossbreeding script, the Critical hit script & the lift ring-things are the three projects I am most interested in. Certain aspects of the Project Underground & the LNA stuff are right behind those three in projects I am interested in.
    If I knew how to code, the caos tutorials would be higher on the list, but since I can't code, my main interest in the tutorials is seeing what other coders create with your tutorials.
    The project I am least interested in is the creature fanfic podcasts.

    Good luck with figuring out which projects to work on!

  2. I know just how you feel. Although not Creatures related I've got a whole heap of multimedia projects (images or animations) I'd like to get done and simply not enough time do to them all.

    But, as for your projects; here's my thoughts.

    Revamping the blog: Not a huge deal honestly. It might be worth adding some pages like you did with downloads to make some things easier to find, but at the end of the day the blog serves it's purpose.

    CAOS tutorials: Always useful as there aren't a lot of good ones. But I'm not sure how many people know CAOS anymore. And with Grandroids and C4 coming out in the near future, it's possible CAOS may be a dying language.

    Documenting nurturing worlds: Always love reading these, but there are already a few blogs that do a similar thing. Your perspective however could be quite interesting, especially with the instinctless Norns.

    LNA: Although very cool, I don't spend a lot of time at LNA. I can watch Norns on my own computer. But allowing people to interact with the world...that'd be pretty cool.

    Crossbreeding script: Not sure what needs to be added here, but I'm a fan of this idea.

    Critical Hit script: Also cool, but a bit of a novelty rather than something I'd use all the time.

    Selective Muco: I hate to list this one with the trouble I know it'll cause you, but this really is a brilliant idea and would be extremely useful.

    Project BattleStance: A massive project, but damn this one would be amazing to see implemented.

    Lift-rings: This one I'd really like to see released. It seems like it wouldn't be too big a project to complete, correct?

    Mind-arrows: It sounds like so much could be done with this, but it's diversity could actually be a potential downfall.

    SERU: A novel idea, but honestly not of huge interest to me personally.

    Population Control: Hehe, I remember that this one was made at my request, and I've used it extensively. Works like a charm, but I'd be interested to see it's future development.

    Project Underground: Honestly, I think this is too big. In the past I would have said go for it, but with C4 and Grandroids on the way it's likely to become obselete pretty quick. Maybe wait for Grandroids and consider making it with a new engine?

    Speech bubble: Again a cool idea, but not something I'd personally use much. At least, I don't think I would.

    In game Journal: I really dislike the built in creature description and photo album. Having a better system in place would quite nice.

    Okay, huge post. That's enough from me for now.

  3. My fav is the crossbreeding agent. The podcast idea also sounds pretty awesome and the population control. The interactive LNA sounds good as it might even be usable in private situations, like two people play creatures together (I had a similar idea myself). I think it might be worth it to take time to revamp the blog

  4. Lots and lots of things on your plate! I keep thinking of random projects/experiments to try in Creatures, but I doubt if I'll ever get around to most of them.

    If you would like any help revamping your blog, I would be more than happy to help out! I've gone through a fair bit of customization with Discover Albia, and I have a list of some useful Blogger tricks. I always like fresh new layouts every now and then!

    The majority of the other projects kind of went over my head... I never have spent much time understanding C3/DS yet! I particularly like the CAOS tutorials, because I believe I started to understand a few concepts after reading some of your entries. I'm also very much in favor of following Mixed Berries! However, I know the amount of effort it takes to write these entries: Sometimes twenty minutes of playtime can equate to over an hour of photo editing and writing. Perhaps this could be a minor feature? More of an update every week or two, so you could focus on other non-nurturing projects.

    I also like the crossbreeding script and the population control options.

    Good luck getting everything in order! I'll be interested to see which projects you end up focusing on: I'm sure whichever you choose will be awesome!

  5. In order, as I read through them, these are the ones which jumped at me the most:

    I am of the opinion that tutorials are the way of the future, as they enable skills to be passed around and eventually down the community and enhance the community spirit.

    I enjoy reading 'norn stories' about the stuff that goes on in worlds, but perhaps they could be a sometimes thing, due to the effort involved in writing it up.

    I would like to see you testing out stuff in LNA worlds, like a sneak preview. Perhaps a closer tie with CCChat could enhance the LNA experience, as people watch LNA together and talk about it?

    As a Mac user, I would be very very interested in the lift-rings for DS if they provided a script for Grendels too - as the lift fix does not work on Macs.

    I like the sezz lines on the mind arrows, it lets me know they're working. SERU might need to be checked to see if it's got all the dependencies - some people are having trouble with 1.1 when they haven't got 1.0.

    Hope this helps in some way. :)

  6. Something that occurred to me earlier, have you thought about posting this on some of the creatures forums so you can get more feedback?

  7. I absolutely LOVED reading your posts documenting the lives of your norns. You have a great way of storytelling through screenshots and norn behaviors, and it's really enjoyable!

    As for projects involving actual altering of the game itself... Project Battlestance and being able to adopt native-born norns in LNA hold the most interest for me. I love watching LNA and watching it evolve, and Battlestance just sounds like an awesome project that doesn't seem TOO exhausting. (You already got quite a bit done, so it's not going to be like starting something brand new) Being able to watch you test out new stuff on LNA would be cool too! It could be like a preview place in addition to a warp world :D