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TIGSource ForumsCommunityCompetitionsOld CompetitionsCommonplace BookThe Clatter of the Keys [FINISHED]
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Author Topic: The Clatter of the Keys [FINISHED]  (Read 38716 times)
Pishtaco
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« on: November 21, 2008, 12:54:13 am »



  • Explore the unconscious in a 1920s type 'em up.
  • Journey deep into the weird, without leaving your desk.
  • Discover how many cents you can earn in four minutes (beat $25.70).

Download here

How to play

Type the thoughts that come down the screen towards you. If the words you type line up well enough with the thoughts, you will catch them and earn cents. Weirder, more valuable thoughts will appear later in the game as your weirdness level increases. Long thoughts are worth more than short ones. You can correct typing mistakes by holding down both Ctrl keys, but to catch a thought your typing does not need to be perfect.

However, if you type with no (uncorrected) mistakes, you can build combinations of thoughts. These must contain at least three words and are only scored when they are completed, which happens when you make a mistake or lose a thought off the bottom of the page, or if one of the words in the combination is about to move off the top of the screen.

Combinations are valuable and increase your weirdness rating. On the other hand, your weirdness goes down whenever you lose a thought.

Move around using Tab, Enter, Backspace, Del and the cursor keys. Del will move you back one letter and Backspace will move you back to the previous tab position. Holding down Del will bring you quickly back to the left margin. Most thoughts start at a tab position. You cannot move back up the page.

When the small pointer at the very bottom of the screen is all the way to the right, a bell will ring and you may activate the red ink ribbon by pressing Ins. This will allow you to deal with thoughts by typing at random.

Press F4 to switch between fullscreen and windowed, F10 to end the game and Esc to quit straight to the desktop.

Edit 29/11/08 - readme file updated with clearer instructions
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 04:29:22 pm by Pishtaco » Logged

Pishtaco
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2008, 12:54:33 am »

I've been looking forward to this competition, but ended up not having much free time this November. So I'm going for a typing game. The basic gameplay will be to type phrases as they come down the screen towards you. I'm hoping I can squeeze in a whiff of things like Guitar Hero and Space Invaders.



My hazy idea of the plot is that you are a writer, who needs to churn out stories of the weird to earn money from a magazine. To generate enough weird ideas before the deadline, you decide to try the latest theories of those crazy guys from Vienna. Perhaps there is something interesting that you can recover from your memory, or your racial memory, through free association?

So the phrases that come to you will start off as commonplace thoughts, but as you progress through the game and some kind of meter increases, stranger ones will turn up, and should suggest some kind of lovecraftian plot.

I put a prototype in the first post. F4 switches between window and full screen, esc quits, type with the keys, use cursor keys, backspace, return and tab to navigate. Use tab a lot. Pressing both control keys at once will erase the letter under the cursor (although at the moment just overwriting letters works). The graphics and sounds are not final (I hope).

Let me know whether the typing feels too annoying. I don't know a lot about typewriters, but toyed around on one for a bit while thinking about the game. I've made it less forgiving than a keyboard, but you can type pretty fast if you're smooth about it.

Also I get terrible screen tearing; does anyone know how to fix this in gamemaker? I've ticked the checkbox that's supposed to fix it, but it doesn't seem to have any effect.

And I'd be happy to get some suggestions of gameplay ideas. At the moment I'm thinking about the following:
- some sort of "cents per word" meter that goes up when you are doing well, and results
in weirder phrases appearing
- I want the layout of where you type things on the page to be important for gameplay, so that you feel like you are constructing something more than one word at a time, but am not sure how to do this. One idea is that some phrases are dangerous and will erase the things beneath them as they float down; maybe you have to type a line of underscores _____ to block them?
- phrases score more if you wait till they are near the bottom of the screen to match them
- at the moment how phrases appear is random. I don't want to do design completely deterministic levels, but it would be good to have things appearing in interesting patterns
- there should be other different kinds of phrases with different effects. Maybe there are bad words that, if you let them get to the bottom of the screen, will drip into your keyboard and jam it?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2008, 01:00:45 am by Pishtaco » Logged

increpare
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2008, 02:09:50 am »

Fantastic idea (and one that I have some sympathies with).  Will try it out soon as I can... (in the office at the moment).
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2008, 03:02:09 am »

First off, marvelous idea yet again Pishtaco. You're a creative fellow, I'll give you that. Hopefully you shall take typing games where you took Tetris/Inventory Management!

Is it possible to earn money yet, or is that just a placeholder? I'm writing phrases (you know, like "Freakish beings come forth, obscure origins. [ENTER]") but I'm not earning a living. Am I doing it wrong?

Also, the typewriter is rather unforgiving. It's a good idea, but one needs to know about it beforehand. I think a little warning would do, preferably squeezed into some kind of introductory story-text. Took me a little while to figure out it wasn't the Keyboard that was playing up.

I'd love to see patterns and "bad words" appear. And some kind of story for the Author. That could be cool.

Anyways, I shall be watching anxiously for future updates!

EDIT: Ok, figured out how to score. You've got to ALIGN the words. There ya go. I'm finding the words to the right a little difficult to fulfil - I think you should lose the random word speed. Everything uniform.

I also think some random stimulus images in the background would be nice - not necc. for score (though maybe for bonus points?), merely to add further flavour to one's writings. Newspaper Clippings, Photos, Sketches, things like that, interchanging every minute or so. You could ask for contributors! It'd be fun! I'm surprisingly tired!

Oh, also, if possible, one's writings should be saved to a text document for future reference. I'd like to re-read them, and with enough phrases, I think this could generate genuine ideas. "Man stnnd. the window he faced turn to stone. consqc." Nifty.

Oh, and finally, the words should go ALL the way down the screen. The fact you have to have written 3 lines to score with an old line is... irritating. Unless you throw in  a new mechanic.

That's all for now!

 Beer!
« Last Edit: November 21, 2008, 03:22:38 am by Gainsworthy » Logged
agj
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2008, 01:24:50 pm »

This seems like a great idea, but is there a way that you could make it compatible with keyboard layouts other than what I guess is the standard QWERTY US layout?
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2008, 02:12:11 pm »

Agreed on being able to re-read them. Also I think the game should promote typing things other then the designated words, ala giving a cent for every word that don't belong to the word list, and making lining up words more lenient.


Also, http://willhostforfood.com/access.php?fileid=41831 *cough*
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real art looks like the mona lisa or a halo poster and is about being old or having your wife die and sometimes the level goes in reverse
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2008, 02:22:36 pm »

Thanks for the kind words. It shouldn't be too tough to put in another keyboard layout, if the game turns out to be worth it. Although if I end up using symbol keys things could get hairy.

Gainsworthy: thanks very much for the feedback, that's helpful. I was wondering about putting some images in the background, maybe to provide a bit of a scare if they changed when you weren't expecting it. But time is probably too short to get that working nicely.

Current to-do list:
-get some scoring system for your current weirdness level. Maybe it ticks down all the time, but matching words at a good enough rate will keep bumping it up. I should find out how the one in guitar hero works. Put in a time limit of 2-3 minutes.
-get an adequate sample of lovecraftian words, for three or four weirdness levels. For the moment, try to take each level from a certain kind of environment (study, new england woods, temple, gibbering darkness), to leave open the possibility of mixing and matching these to give varied flavour to replays, if there ends up being time.
-make these come down the screen in simple patterns
-spice up the scoring system. weirder words, longer phrases and perfect typing should score more, maybe getting two phrases simultaneously should score more. Ideally reflect this by some scribbles appearing on the paper around the typed words, to give the screen a bit of life
-put in enemy words. These will hang around and scramble the phrases that pass near them, until you get rid of them
-sort out the graphics - put in a background and give some sort of style to the typewriter. Make the palette less glaring and put in vignette and grainy effects or suchlike.
-front end with at least high scores and instructions.
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2008, 02:24:10 pm »


 Shocked
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Gainsworthy
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2008, 06:17:13 pm »

This seems like a great idea, but is there a way that you could make it compatible with keyboard layouts other than what I guess is the standard QWERTY US layout?

But agj! Then your typewriter would jam!
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2008, 06:19:06 pm »

This is really great. It also could use that thing typewriters have where you can lift the arm-thing and slide the carriage all the way back to the left. Right now the navigation of forward a space and back a space is kind of tough. Maybe make use of the keyboard Home and End keys?
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2008, 08:04:49 pm »

I believe there's a reason there's no easy way to go back to the start without use of enter/return
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real art looks like the mona lisa or a halo poster and is about being old or having your wife die and sometimes the level goes in reverse
Pishtaco
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2008, 04:00:51 pm »

Prototype 24/11/08


Keys to type, tab, delete, return, space and cursors to move. In particular holding down delete goes back to the start of the line, and cursor-left goes back one tab. Score points by lining up with and typing the words coming down to you.

I've fixed the tearing, at least on my system. I would be interested to know how it works for anyone else.

Otherwise, there's a basic word list in there and I've got them coming in reasonable patterns, with pauses for breath inbetween. Matching is more generous than it was; you can be a space off now.

I haven't worked on fancier scoring or anything like that yet. The game was looking like a mess, with an unreadable tangle of words filling up the screen, so I've been working on fixing this. I want the ideas floating down the screen to stand out, but the player still to be aware of the things he's typed before.

Screenshot (I'm sure it was looking better in the game):


Edit: I just tried this at work, and it's giving problems. The way I am doing the glow around the words is too slow, and has brought the tearing back.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 12:45:18 am by Pishtaco » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2008, 02:32:15 am »

Couldn't just blit a low-alpha glow image over it?
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Pishtaco
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« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2008, 03:05:06 am »

Couldn't just blit a low-alpha glow image over it?
That's what I'm doing, kind of. I think the trouble is that I tried to be fancy and put in one glowing rotating sprite for each letter of each word, and it looks like gamemaker thinks this is too many. Also I didn't want to look up how to get gamemaker to do sprites with proper levels of transparency, so messed around with blend modes instead - is there any chance that this is slowing things down?
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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2008, 05:05:20 pm »



Alpha 26/11/08

This should be in a better shape than the last one. Instructions are the same as before, use keys to type, tab, delete, return, space and cursors to move. In particular holding down delete goes back to the start of the line, and cursor-left goes back one tab. Score points by lining up with and typing the words coming down to you. (Although I'm currently missing anything displaying points.)

I've spent the last couple of days getting the graphics into something reasonable. Tomorrow I want to do scoring, enemies and red ink mode. Thursday is sound and front end. My plans for a dynamic narrative generation engine will have to wait until, er, Friday.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 05:09:21 pm by Pishtaco » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2008, 05:16:21 pm »

goddamnit, I still haven't played.  I have one narrative-related idea that immediate was brought to mind, and I was going to hold of playing until I had said it, but yeah, going to say it now anyway:

you mentioned free-association in your original idea. one has the notion of mistakes in speech occasionally revealing glimpses of traumatic memories.  One could have the writer writing a story, but each time you make a mistake the narrative takes a swerve (maybe even based on the sort of mistake you make) towards a particular traumatic event.  Of course, that would give people an incentive to fail, so.  (I haven't played the game yet though, so feel free to ignore).
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agj
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« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2008, 12:40:58 am »

This seems like a great idea, but is there a way that you could make it compatible with keyboard layouts other than what I guess is the standard QWERTY US layout?

But agj! Then your typewriter would jam!

Damn conspiracy!

Alright, I played this a bit more, the latest build, and I must confess that I don't understand the point of the game. Is it an arcadey typing game where you need to line yourself up to the words and then type them for points? Do the words change in any significant way as one progresses? For some reason, reading the thread I got the impression that it was more about constructing phrases and that kind of thing, but it seems I'm mistaken.

The interface is pretty cool, and the general feel is already getting quite polished. It's a bit annoying to type, but I guess that's kind of the point!
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« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2008, 02:06:49 am »

@agj & increpare: The annoying to type thing is bad. It should be... interesting and fun to type. Hopefully I can tune this somehow.

The game doesn't have a lot of point at the moment. It's meant (eventually) to be an arcadey typing game about lining things up, made more interesting -- hopefully interesting enough for someone to enjoy a couple of five-minute sessions -- by three things, which I hope to have in by Friday:

1. A fun interface;
2. The feeling that you're constructing shapes on the page and doing things in 2d space, and a scoring system that rewards this;
3. The feeling that you are participating somehow in a Lovecraft story.

Originally I was thinking of a game more about stringing together phrases and constructing a proper story, but that seemed too hard for the time available to me. So I'm going for something very simple and arcadey instead, i.e. 2 above. Rather than constructing phrases you just try to catch ideas; you aren't really even trying to combine ideas together, or at least there's nothing in the gameplay to reflect this (unless I have some brainwave this evening, say, something about having to match ideas that are the same colour).

For 3, I am hoping that the progression of ideas in the words that come down will be enough to hint at some kind of story to the player, and that I can use an appeal to "stream of consciousness" or "free association" to avoid having to do any actual work of stringing together coherent sentences or plots.

The way it's meant to work in the current alpha is this. I went through a Lovecraft story picking out phrases, and noticed that the story fell into some natural levels: home, exploration (here wandering around a city), lore (hearing rumours and doing research about a cult), an evil place (a haunted church), and encounters with alien beings. The story moved through these levels in roughly this order, but after the first encounter the guy gets scared, goes home, does more research, and eventually encounters the monster again and dies. At the moment the game gives you phrases from the level appropriate to your current weirdness score, which goes up when you match words and goes down when you miss them. So the idea is that you go through the levels, getting closer to the encounter; but as you do this the game gets harder, so you are likely to miss some words and slip back; but you will eventually recover and reach a final, high-scoring, encounter.

This doesn't come through in the current alpha, hopefully only because the scoring isn't tuned right and you currently get too many words too fast, so don't have time to dwell on anything. Or maybe the idea just doesn't work.

Anyway, one simple refinement is to mix up the levels in sensible ways as the game goes on; the player should be paranoid after learning the scary lore, and home will seem like a less safe place. I am also hoping to make the progression through the levels more interesting than just a fixed linear order, and to have phrases available from different stories from just the one about the city. It would be good if these things could depend on what the player does; I'm thinking of simply mixing in phrases from the different options for what happens next, and going in whichever direction the player has got most of his score from. I don't at the moment see how to reconcile this choice between different stories with the game being themed around free association or recovering memories.


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« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2008, 11:37:06 pm »



The numbers are just for debugging. The bottom right-hand one is milliseconds per frame.

All the game stuff that I'm going to get in is probably in now, except for the time limit. Score more points by making combos; watch out for enemies; try pressing DEL. I've made the typing much easier since it got pretty much universal complaints before. But now it looks like the type-striking-thing is just flickering, rather than hitting the paper with any force. Bah. It's looking like any deepening of the textual part of the game is not going to make the cut.

Current priorities: drawing a clock; start and end of game stuff; scoring and pacing.

Edit: Clock is in. It looks odd, but in a good way. Undecided
« Last Edit: November 28, 2008, 01:53:17 am by Pishtaco » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2008, 11:03:37 pm »

Finished, kind of. I wish I had had time to do the sound properly Tired. The clock doesn't even tick, it only tocks.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2008, 08:06:33 am by Pishtaco » Logged

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