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The Superhero’s Sidekick

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The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby David Whyld » Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:58 am

I usually make a point of avoiding talking about works in progress because, most of the time, they never get finished. (At some point, I’ll get bored of the game and switch to writing something else, always with the intention of coming back to the game at some future point, while also knowing that the odds of me ever finishing it are next to nothing. Heck, the last time I checked my WIP folder for ADRIFT, I found games there which I started in 2003 or 2004 that I still intend to finish one day even though I haven’t worked on them for over a decade.) Other times, I don't like talking about them because I have a tendency to start games on the spur of the moment: an idea will occur to me, it seems like it’s going to be the Best Game Ever Written and I’ll start writing it and then the next day the idea just loses its fizzle. The Best Game Ever Written becomes Just Another Game I've Given Up With and I wonder why I even bothered with it in the first place. In all honesty, most of the ideas aren't much good anyway.

But I figured I might as well take a stab at talking about a work in progress anyway. On one hand, having my ideas out in the open might actually encourage me to finish the game and not consign it to the ever-growing folder on the computer of half-finished projects. On the other, it'll give everyone a good laugh if I don't finish it. So, one way or another, we all win.

Without further ado:

It’s called The Superhero’s Sidekick and it’s about – yep, you guessed it – someone who isn't a superhero herself. She's the superhero’s sidekick. She's the one who was best friends – or a little more than friends actually – with someone who got super powers and now she's just... tagging along. Running the hero’s fan-club, carrying her bags and doing all the hundred and one things that need doing but are a little beneath a hero. After all, when you can leap tall buildings in a single bound, you don't want to be seen carrying your own bags, do you?

Only... there's a hitch. Some technical whizz-kid has come up with a device called a Jammer which does what it says on the tin: jams superhero – and villain – abilities. Reduces them to normal again. Which means the sidekicks of the world finally have a chance to shine.

YOU finally have a chance to shine.


That's the basic premise anyway. You're a sidekick working for a superhero called Midnight, who goes off to fight the evils of the world while you tend to stay behind on account of being of slightly less than average strength, not bullet-proof and not able to fly. You also can’t shoot lasers out of your eyes and if someone cracks a crowbar over your head, it won’t be the crowbar that breaks. You can fight – a little – and you have a few tricks up your sleeve, but for the most part your job comprises of sitting in a van, listening to Midnight fight, and helping sign autographs for her (she's too busy saving the world to do it herself).

It’s going to be a fairly big game. I don't know just how big yet because I've only just started writing it, but I'm imagining quite a few fights with various supervillains, encounters in secret underground lairs (because what supervillain worth their salt doesn't have a secret underground lair?) and all manner of clever gadgets you can use to overcome the slight problem of having no super powers.

There are going to be multiple solutions for most puzzles and extensive hints – at least to begin with. Once the game progresses, I'm planning to cut back on the hints. Early hints will pretty much tell you what to do if you're stuck, but later on they'll just be a gentle nudge in the right direction.

No screenshots yet because I still haven’t settled on the way I want it to look – I keep messing around with font sizes and faces, using multiple fonts to give it a distinctive look – and naturally no ETA. Maybe this year, probably next, unless another Best Game Ever Written idea occurs to me in the meantime.

Basic stats for it so far:

Size: 10kb
Rooms: 6
Objects: 10*
Tasks: 62
Events: 3

* None of the existing rooms are properly fleshed out yet. The finished version will have a lot more than one and a bit objects per room.
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby Lumin » Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:48 am

This sounds like it could be really good, I hope you're able to stick with it. I've always liked stories of normal people getting along in a world where the freakishly overpowered are just an accepted thing, and breaking into villain's lairs sounds like just good old fashioned puzzley fun, especially with your sense of humor.

The hint system sounds perfect for easing in new players too.

I do hope there's a way to decide the status quo is pretty great for former sidekicks and NOT destroy the Jammer after all....
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby David Whyld » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:47 pm

Thanks. I'm making quite good progress with it and, so far, haven't given up because a better idea has come along. Admittedly, I've only been writing it for about a week now, but that's still an achievement in itself.

The last couple of days have seen me flesh out a lot of the earlier locations (which is going to be a kind of introductory sequence to the game) as well as add a fairly non-randomised combat. It was going to be a whole lot more randomised originally but then I don't like random combat much myself and when testing it, I kept getting killed. (The odds of losing were about 25%, but I still managed to die 4 times out of 5. That's some pretty bad luck right there.) So I got rid of a lot of that random nonsense and had it much easier than originally planned. Probably just as well really as I don't think it's a good idea to kill off players totally at random right at the start of a game and still expect them to keep playing it.

Stats as of today:

Size: 18kb
Rooms: 10
Objects: 32
Tasks: 124
Events: 4
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby P/o Prune » Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:19 am

Just curious, David... Is it going to be Adrift 4, or V.5?
Not that it really matters. I'd enjoy playing it anyway, I was just curious.
D-Day in progress 86Kb (Slowly drifting)
Just a Fairy Tale: 64Kb
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby David Whyld » Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:39 am

V4 for now, but I'm going to test it with v5 before it's done to make sure everything works fine.
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby Lumin » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:00 pm

An actually fun combat system in Adrift is pretty much my holy grail at this point.

I know it's possible but the sheer amount of work to balance and make it interesting probably is more than the entire rest of the game it's in would be.
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby The0didactus » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:26 pm

Lumin wrote:An actually fun combat system in Adrift is pretty much my holy grail at this point.

I know it's possible but the sheer amount of work to balance and make it interesting probably is more than the entire rest of the game it's in would be.


I tried for a very long time to make a "fun" combat system for six silver bullets, something that captured the thrill of pencil-and-paper roll playing games...but eventually I gave up.

Most of the ideas I came up with ultimately got integrated into skybreak's ship combat system....which I'm gonna go describe now
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby David Whyld » Sat Apr 27, 2019 4:27 pm

Lumin wrote:An actually fun combat system in Adrift is pretty much my holy grail at this point.

I know it's possible but the sheer amount of work to balance and make it interesting probably is more than the entire rest of the game it's in would be.


Oh, there's nothing very complicated about the combat system in my game. It's basically a case of rolling 1-10, adding your combat score and comparing it to your enemy's combat score, then another roll to determine how much damage you do (or don't, if you happen to miss). The last time I tried to put a combat system in a game, I spent so long coming up with different rules for it that I got hopelessly bogged down and it never went anywhere. If I'd ever finished the game, the combat system alone would probably have taken up 75% of the game's code.
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby David Whyld » Thu May 02, 2019 10:28 am

Brief update: work's still progressing quite nicely. The intro is mostly finished now with just some scenery stuff to add and some additional options for defeating the final villain to sort out. Right now, the intro has two fights, with the final villain and one of his minions, that are largely similar. I might need to change that. With the intro being fairly short, I'm not sure two similar fights are required so one of them might get altered in some way before I'm done.

For the future: I'm mapping out the city where the game takes place and trying to keep the number of visitable locations down to a reasonable amount. Most of the time when I'm world-building, I have a tendency to throw in literally everything, which leads to a much bigger game than is needed and lots of locations that don't really serve any purpose. I'm trying to avoid that this time as a) it makes the game way too big and time-consuming to write, b) it's pretty boring adding scenery locations and c) if there's nothing happening at the bowling alley, don't include a bowling alley*.

* One of my (still unfinished) works in progress had a bowling alley where the player could go and play bowls. It was fully randomised but you could get better at it with practice and even win prizes, which ultimately didn't serve any purpose but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I spent ages working on it before realising most people probably wouldn't play it more than once as it had nothing to do with the main story line and the player didn't even need to visit the bowling alley. I might have finished the game one day if I hadn't spent quite so long working on additional features like this that didn't need to be there.

Stats as of today:

Size: 29kb (56kb when testing it in v5)
Rooms: 11
Objects: 43
Tasks: 216
Events: 6
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby Lumin » Thu May 02, 2019 8:01 pm

I would love to come across something like a fully functional bowling alley in an otherwise unrelated game.
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby The0didactus » Thu May 02, 2019 8:17 pm

It's always hard to figure out whether to add stuff like that, or not. It's such a delight when you find a little world like that inside of a bigger world.
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby DazaKiwi » Thu May 02, 2019 9:58 pm

Those Fighting Fantasy books of old has a fairly simply combat system you could take inspiration from or copy. I have had a go at making various types of combat demos and often adding a sneak system into it because if you get caught then combat happens etc. But each time i make a new combat system with the aim to boil things down because it can get complicated and messy- especially if you want to consider 1 opponent or 5, armor and parrying, blocking etc. And this would be expected for a combat heavy game. But still try and simplify it where possible. I ended up with a combat system where the fight is over after one turn - rather than multiple turns until there is a winner. I think if done right it can be worth the effort to be a little more than basic- such as choosing options that can restore some stamina and set up your next attack, counter attack, block etc.

However not all games are combat heavy and you could have a game where its all about sneaking (using dice 1d20) and if you lose you are caught (with perhaps a chance to slip away based on another stat) then its game over or revert back to a check point. Or instead have auto-combat where your character always wins (if HP is > 1) and there there is no combat dice roll as your character knows how to fight but could suffer some minor random HP loss (rng 0-15) and move on hoping not to lose any more HP. The combat could do with some variation in describing how it goes down to make it interesting. Some areas could have tougher guards/enemies or it could be environmental hazards that inflict damage, and you just raise the max damage that can be dished out.
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby David Whyld » Fri May 03, 2019 8:15 am

Combat only forms a very small part of the game so I'm reluctant to spend much time on it or make it any more intricate than it needs to be. There are going to be a dozen - at most - fights in the game and many will be completely avoidable depending on the choices you make. Of the two fights in the intro part, I've changed things to make one of them avoidable if you do the right thing beforehand.
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby The0didactus » Fri May 03, 2019 12:44 pm

I definitely like games with a combat element so I hope it's there
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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

Postby David Whyld » Tue May 07, 2019 11:20 am

Quick update:

I've mainly spent the last week adding locations, hence the fact the number of locations is about four times what it was last time, while desperately trying to avoid the age-old problem of including everything including the kitchen sink. I made the superhero base, actually an old school, fairly large (20 locations or so) because I plan to do something with it later on (some supervillain attack, maybe), but for the time being it's a lot of empty locations with nothing much going on. I don't see that as a problem right now, because at least in the early parts of the game you're going to be given fairly unsubtle clues as to what you should be doing, and none of them involve wandering around the base. The locations are there right now because it wouldn't make much sense to simply include them later on and confuse people who might wonder why they weren't there in the first place. I'm slowly but surely filling in the locations there - adding various exercise machines to the gym to boost (or reduce if things go wrong) your personal stats, chemicals in the lab, a soundtrack in the disco (though the game won't come with its own soundtrack so you'll just have to use your imagination).

Stats are something I finally decided to add. Strength, combat, intelligence and health are the main stats so far. They're going to be involved to a small extent in the game's combat system, but mainly as a way of bypassing puzzles or difficult parts in the game. Some tasks will be easier if you have high intelligence, and harder if you're a bit on the dim side. Likewise, others will be easier if you're unusually strong and harder if you're a wimp. If you absolutely can't figure something out, you can use the 'to hell with thinking about stuff, let's just SMASH IT!' approach, which will get you past the bit you're stuck at but at the expense of some of your health. (For an example: you come to a locked door which needs a code to open. If you can't figure out the code, you just go mental on the door, batter it down and take some health damage as a result. Basically, the game penalises you for being stupid. So it's not only entertainment, but educational to boot!) You'll be able to recover health at certain points, but if you're the kind of hot-headed type who just SMASHES everything instead of relying on the old grey matter from time to time, you're probably going to end up keeping the corpses company before long.

I have to admit, talking about my game as I'm writing it is actually helping me write it. Putting my ideas out there, instead of simply having them float around in my head with no one else ever getting to know about them, is making it easier to decide if they're any good and need developing further or bad and need dumping like the plague. I've no idea whether this game will make it to the finish line or not, but it's certainly off to a better start than most of my other ideas over the past few years.

Stats as of today:

Size: 38kb
Rooms: 40
Objects: 51
Tasks: 267
Events: 6
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