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Programming Update #2

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i wanted you guys to use SCUMM. i love SCUMM and i think it would of been great nostalgia for those of us who played those old games.

Sadly, all of the tech and related IP for SCUMM are owned by LucasArts and they can't be used (legally) by other companies.

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That doesn’t sound like a hard decision at all. Maybe the time spent researching and narrowing down what you really wanted in an engine was difficult. I mean you found an open source engine that supports all the platforms you need, that includes Lua, that sounds like a perfect match.

Yeah, I wouldn't say that it was hard/difficult, but it is one of the most important choices that a tech team makes on a game, so we wanted to make sure we chose well. Really, the toughest decision was opting to use something other than our internal BL engine. There were a lot of pros for both adapting the BL engine and for using Moai. It was a close thing. But you're right, in the end it does feel like a perfect fit.

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Out of interest, is there interest in sharing anonymous data with the backers?

Good question! I honestly have no idea. But it's a good thought and I'd bet we'll share the data or our learnings if it turns out to be super useful.

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I believe harebrained schemes which did the shadowrun returns kickstarter is using moai as well and has been for a while

That is correct. In fact, they created Crimson Pirates, the first game to ship on Moai, so they are sort of the Patient Zero of Moai.

This is one of the nice things about building on an open source engine - we can benefit from fixes they make and they can benefit from the ones we make, too. We're already starting to think of ways that we can coordinate with them and Zipline (makers of Moai) so that we don't all write different versions of the same feature but can save each other time (Linux port being one of many examples).

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I know Hare Brained Schemes was talking about Linux support not there for Moai yet, will this affect DFA's linux status? Or will you guys help with the Moai to linux porting?

It's not there yet, but it's not so far away, either. We definitely considered this in the evaluation. Many of the sub-systems already work on Linux or can be made to work with pretty little effort. The main challenge will actually be determining how to support the one-zillion-and-three different distros of Linux. Do we just release all the source? Do we just do precompiled binaries for the most popular distros? All that is still very TBD. Fortunately, we don't have to figure that out for a while yet.

In short, no, it doesn't change our plans for DFA Linux at all, and we will definitely contribute work to the Linux port as appropriate.

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Are we going to see a backers update on RedBot? And will the game include the arch-enemy BlueBot?

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Wow good read, even I could understand it. Also a big thanks for including wikipedia and .. yeah :)

Offtopic:

Could you do a monthly "What you (probably) missed this Month!" Update on Kickstarter. I regularly visit the forums, but maybe not everyone. Pls don't get me wrong. Not a whole transcript, but a short description and a link (and a reminder for those not signed into the forum to do so!). The same goes for SIDEQUEST and the normal video updates (which you are presenting via update).

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To be honest, I was kinda hoping you guys would develop your own Adventure game engine (and either keep it proprietary or open source it whatever) with respective features and maybe its own scripting language, which could be used as a jump-off point for any future Adventure game undertakings that will hopefully follow xD

I don't know much about Moai, especially in regards to adaptability and flexibility using it for certain tasks, but let's say what has already been produced with it doesn't fill me with the utmost confidence as everything so far seems to be iOS/Chrome/Android games: http://getmoai.com/made-with-moai.html

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This sounds really cool and helpful during testing, but I’m hoping not so much after public release. Patches make sense for balancing big multiplayer games and the like, but patching out puzzles that are “too hard” would be kinda lame.

I think it all depends how it's done. Patching in a change that guts a puzzle would be bad, but patching in a few new hint lines, or having existing hints play at more helpful times, or adding some sparkle to a critical but frequently missed object could all be ways to help more players finish the game without really violating any of the original design/gameplay vision.

Okay, it sounds like you guys are going to have a in-game Hints system like Telltale has. If you do have an in-game Hints system please allow me to turn off all hints. That includes flavor text/speech that pops-up when I fail something over and over again. Keep in mind a lot of times people do the same thing over and over (certainly in adventure games) so we can see all the ways we can fail and/or funny dialog that occurs when we talk to someone or play around with items in the inventory or field.

I mentioned in another thread this happened in Tales of Monkey Island when I was wandering around a jungle just exploring and seeing whatever I can see. I had hints turned OFF. But the more I had Guybrush walk around the jungle, the more he would say something that was essentially a hint. I did not want to hear that. It was a big hint and I wasn't even trying to solve the puzzle yet. I was just exploring.

Part of the fun of adventure games is exploring and figuring out the puzzles on your own without the game trying to second-guess what you are trying to do or failing to do.

Some of us like hard puzzles and like having to figure them out in our own time.

Perhaps you can have a hard mode and when one plays in hard mode it will turn all hints off and never add any sparkle to objects or whatever features you implement to help people who want help so those of us who like a challenge and don't want help won't be inundated with hints every second. Just food for thought.

Thanks for the update. I'm really looking forward to the final product. :)

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Open source seems to be great, nobody will bug ya about making the engine open source when it already is, though I got the impression you had made one from scratch from the previous update. I guess now we can expect more from ya sooner with all the groundwork already there, plus you can contribute something back by the end of the project.

I notice a community spirit among indie developers lately, they keep referencing each other and the Kick it forward campaign, and sharing open source engines, now let’s see what games we will see out of this renaissance.

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Welcome Anna and Brandon!

Once again, an interesting read. Although I hoped you would choose to write a new engine from scratch (would have been very interesting to read about that), I knew chances for that were slim and I can see the reasons that made using an already existing engine your choice.

Looking forward to reading more.

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option4:

print "So since we didn't use any of the options above this must be our choice then? Yep! We decided to use the excellent Moai platform (http://getmoai.com/) as the technology base for this project. But why did we make this decision?

Moai SDK is a lightweight 2D game engine developed by our friends at Zipline Games. It is implemented in C++ and exposes almost all of the low-level services to Lua. This makes it possible to write pretty much all of the game-play code in this scripting language, which is awesome because it means we can iterate very quickly and make a lot of progress in a short amount of time. Since we don't have to write the low-level services ourselves we can concentrate on the architecture of the game-play systems which saves us a lot of time too. In addition to that Moai already supports pretty much all the platforms we want to support and it has successfully been used to release many games. Yay!

On top of these SDK benefits, Moai also makes it easy to run and scale game logic in the cloud. Even at this early stage in the game's development, it's great to know that we'll have this great infrastructure that can support updates and continued improvements to the game even after it's released.

Another great thing about Moai is that it's open source!!! This is awesome because we can benefit from the active developer community that constantly improves and extends the codebase and it allows us to give something back to the community by contributing bug fixes for example.

So you can already check out the source code of the technology that we use to make the game. That's pretty cool, no?

"

epilogue:

print "

So I hope I answered many of your questions about the technology base for the game and that I provided a very detailed view on one of the most difficult decisions so far. As usually please feel free to ask questions. I'll be out of the office for a little bit, so I might not reply quite as often this time, but please be assured I still like you guys! :-)

The other interesting news is that the programming team has grown and we now have Anna and Brandon working on the project too. They are both super talented engineers so please give them a very warm welcome! The next update(s) will be written by them, so stay tuned for more coding goodness.

Okay that's it from me for now. Redbot just called me and I'll have to help him with his AI core (again). Understanding humans sometimes overloads his brain you know... :-)

"

if that_was_interesting()

goto greeting

sleep()

Good choice. Open source rules, and after all it is better to use the wheel and built upon it than re-invent it.

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I know Hare Brained Schemes was talking about Linux support not there for Moai yet, will this affect DFA's linux status? Or will you guys help with the Moai to linux porting?

It's not there yet, but it's not so far away, either. We definitely considered this in the evaluation. Many of the sub-systems already work on Linux or can be made to work with pretty little effort. The main challenge will actually be determining how to support the one-zillion-and-three different distros of Linux. Do we just release all the source? Do we just do precompiled binaries for the most popular distros? All that is still very TBD. Fortunately, we don't have to figure that out for a while yet.

In short, no, it doesn't change our plans for DFA Linux at all, and we will definitely contribute work to the Linux port as appropriate.

The humble bundles seem to be a good example of how to distribute linux binaries; they generally include a .deb (for current ubuntu/debian with pretty open dependenies) and a tar.gz (for other current distros). I think that binaries are occasionally distributed statically linked, but this seems like a non-ideal solution. Since most of the heavy lifting in Moai seems to be in Lua, the task seems greatly simplified of course: Make precompiled binaries for popular distros' recent versions, provide the source to the engine and an easy path for compilation / packaging on whichever distro the user is using. Oh and probably accept donations of build scripts / makefiles / packaging setups for any distro a fan happens to want to help support. I guess most of this applies more to Moai than to DFA in particular, unless a lot of changes are made to the engine (the mechanisms would obviously be the same, but the particular source would be different).

Erf, sorry for the ramble :) I was a Debian developer for a few years so packaging is of some interest to me.

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i wanted you guys to use SCUMM. i love SCUMM and i think it would of been great nostalgia for those of us who played those old games.

Oliver was saying that he was going to make a post at some point comparing the Moai-derived framework DF is developing to SCUMM so I'm sure SCUMM will be an influence on the project, even though as Nathan points out using SCUMM itself isn't really an option.

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i wanted you guys to use SCUMM. i love SCUMM and i think it would of been great nostalgia for those of us who played those old games.

There are other issues with using SCUMM apart from licensing, too. As I understand it the engine was last updated I think in 1997, and while a lot of community work has been done on getting SCUMM interpreters working on all sorts of systems, and the Monkey Island Special editions put a HD layer over the top of the existing code, the actual engine itself is old. It would undoubtedly require significant updating to do everything Double Fine would want it to do, and if it was updated then it would lose the advantage of being able to be interpreted by SCUMMVM (without a lot of extra work), which means they'd either have to work on SCUMMVM if that's what they wanted to use to deliver the game or more likely make a version of SCUMM that works on all the devices they need it do (I guess some of this work will have been done by the Special Editions already, but still...)

Some of that is probably inaccurate because I don't know the details of how ScummVM works or how the Special Editions work, but I think it's more or less right in spirit - SCUMM just isn't fit for purpose in its current state, even if they were allowed to use it.

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It'd also make a really bad statement about the genre - reverting to a decades-old engine to produce the game would only serve to underscore the idea that point-and-click adventure is a dinosaur format of interest only for nostalgia reasons.

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Mode 13h! Yeeeeeessssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I just think of it as a new generation of SCUMM (which is sooo new and cool, it doesn't even have the same name ;)) and am curiously waiting for the amazing result :)

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I know Hare Brained Schemes was talking about Linux support not there for Moai yet, will this affect DFA's linux status? Or will you guys help with the Moai to linux porting?

It's not there yet, but it's not so far away, either. We definitely considered this in the evaluation. Many of the sub-systems already work on Linux or can be made to work with pretty little effort. The main challenge will actually be determining how to support the one-zillion-and-three different distros of Linux. Do we just release all the source? Do we just do precompiled binaries for the most popular distros? All that is still very TBD. Fortunately, we don't have to figure that out for a while yet.

In short, no, it doesn't change our plans for DFA Linux at all, and we will definitely contribute work to the Linux port as appropriate.

you could release it as a self-executing .bin that's what I came across the most during my time as a linux gamer.

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I don't know much about Moai, especially in regards to adaptability and flexibility using it for certain tasks, but let's say what has already been produced with it doesn't fill me with the utmost confidence as everything so far seems to be iOS/Chrome/Android games: http://getmoai.com/made-with-moai.html

Can't be quoted enough. Let's hope the budget is enough to make a difference.

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Freely write starting from a open source code sounds a great option, nice. Thanks for the update.

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Love this "behind-the-scenes" look into a real production studio - I've looked at some "hello world" type examples for Moai, and while I'm not making a game today, it sure was neat to see exactly what Double Fine was actually doing.

You'd think the "magic" would be gone, but the appreciation for development is actually increased!

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thanks for the update guyes all verry intresting. i'll post more once I've read up more to get up to speed.

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Out of interest, is there interest in sharing anonymous data with the backers?

Good question! I honestly have no idea. But it's a good thought and I'd bet we'll share the data or our learnings if it turns out to be super useful.

Cheers :)

I hope that even though they didn't end up being super useful, we'll still end up seeing some of sausage the ends and offcuts and wastage (the development, design and analysis approaches that didn't work are at least as important as the end product, as those dead ends are what shape and guide the final path to completion).

Also, thanks for being attentive with the replies! <3

I don't know much about Moai, especially in regards to adaptability and flexibility using it for certain tasks, but let's say what has already been produced with it doesn't fill me with the utmost confidence as everything so far seems to be iOS/Chrome/Android games: http://getmoai.com/made-with-moai.html

Can't be quoted enough. Let's hope the budget is enough to make a difference.

Unfortunately, existing games aren't really an indication of what an engine can do so far as the look and feel of products go (for example, the "Redbot" screenshots we've already seen were apparently created with Moai, and yet lots of people seemed to think they were looking at a 3D engine). I haven't made anything in Moai (though I have been considering using it for a project I'm working on), but I have confidence that the type of game we're talking about (classic 2D point and click adventure) is more than achievable :)

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Thanks for posting the programming updates, they're great!

It will be neat to see how the telemetry is used in the beta stages to "tune" the game.

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So I have discovered Moai, which may provide me with a nice 2D engine to go with Unity3D for my 3D work.

Mind you, I have to learn Lua now.

Thanks for the continuing updates. I'm also interested in data collection. I think light weight non identifying data is fine to collect, even after release, and I also believe that if they feel a need it's fine to modify the game after release. This is done all the time in the industry, look at the patch notes for game releases, they often mention tweaked gameplay of some sort or other.

I would also be interested in the data being provided in aggregate, either to the backers or to everyone. It would be interesting to see what the solving time for a puzzle or the place where people stop playing... or start playing through to 2am. It also provides a way to compare yourself to the average.

Kieren

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I noted that the cloud capabilities allow you guys to gather telemetry data. Is this during testing or will you also gather data after public release?

We haven't made any final decisions yet but we'll likely collect lightweight, anonymous stats after launch on critical items like progression (i.e. where do players stop playing), per-puzzle time (i.e. where do players seem stuck), and other stuff that will help us improve the quality of the game over time, especially for players will less experience playing adventure games.

I think it would be gentlemanlike if, at least after the beta phase, DF would allow players to disable the sending of anonymous stats, or - even better, IMO - if it would be an opt-in option.

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To be honest, I was kinda hoping you guys would develop your own Adventure game engine (and either keep it proprietary or open source it whatever) with respective features and maybe its own scripting language, which could be used as a jump-off point for any future Adventure game undertakings that will hopefully follow xD

I don't know much about Moai, especially in regards to adaptability and flexibility using it for certain tasks, but let's say what has already been produced with it doesn't fill me with the utmost confidence as everything so far seems to be iOS/Chrome/Android games: http://getmoai.com/made-with-moai.html

I'm really glad they're *not* going from scratch. This way (bug fixes aside) all the time and money that would be sunk into getting the basic building blocks in place - defining and rendering a scene, animation, infrastructure for the game mechanics (and remember, they have to get it working on 5 different platforms) - can be spent on the mid and high level stuff that actually make for an awesome game.

And you could still get your wish. Nathan has said a couple of times that licensing is something they've discussed but aren't going to talk about yet. I know I'd love to see Double Fine's toolset packaged up as some kind of kickass adventure game library for Moai. :D

I'm not sure why a mobile gaming platform being used for mobile games is a cause for worry?

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