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Greg Rice

Hack ’n’ Slash: Voting Discussion Thread

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My Story Idea

The main character is a mild mannered programmer by day, hacker by night. One day he realizes that there is something wrong with the world but doesn't know what it is, so he starts spending his nights searching for an answer to a question he can't define. Eventually he discovers that the world around him is a computer simulation [which fits with the theme of the game] that he can manipulate through sheer force of will. This knowledge comes with danger, however, as the simulation dispatches programs to try and kill our hero. These agents of the system appear to look like normal people but, much like the hero, posses powers far beyond that of an ordinary human. Maybe then the hero could meet up with a rag-tag band of outcasts that are similarly "enlightened". These outcasts could teach the main character [a tutorial system perhaps?] to harness his powers so that he can defend himself from the programs' attacks and ultimately defeat the simulation.

Though I think for this game to be sellable it needs some "star power" to help sell it. Perhaps Keanu Reeves could do some voice work?

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If/when it gets beyond the prototype stage this game needs to have an achievement that doesn't have a proper trigger, so that you can only get it by hacking the way the game awards achievements. Maybe using a tool you can only get after getting all the other achievements or something.

Also, a New Game+ mode where you can use all the hacking tools right from the start, possibly letting you see some secrets that are inaccessible in your first run. Oh and maybe some bonus levels you can only get to by hacking a warp zone. (Minus-zone themed? Hm.)

Anyway, love this idea. Takes me back to my own days of Game Genie and hex editors.

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I think the game should come with psuedo-DRM, and you break the region-locking and copy protection to proceed in the game by using the in-game tools. Like say, there's a puzzle that requires you to have two copies of the game running at once. Or something.

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I think the ambiguous she-elf parody that is shown is far more fun & interesting than a nerd power-fantasy self-insert backstory/character. An elf protagonist that heads off on some typical adventure and gets really annoyed with & refuses to do all the standard game mechanics/quests, so it forces the player to look for creative ways around them by cheating/hacking/reverse engineering the game. Haha, she could be Navi-inspired parody and drive the player crazy. I'm sure some witty writers could really work with that.

Good luck!

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Could Missingno. conceivably be an enemy or boss? Is an unintentional glitch in a videogame even protected by copyright?

That's a really interesting question! I have no idea if glitches are protected under copyright. I kinda hope the glitches in Hack n' Slash will be!

I'd want to avoid making direct references anyway. Some allusions to classic glitches and exploits would be cool, though, and you can bet there will be some intentional glitchy stuff. I love that aesthetic.

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If the game makes it all the way to a commercial release, I assume DF would want to release it through the Steam platform. Would hosting the game through Steam introduce design problems that wouldn't exist with just an executable? I'm not a programmer and don't know all the particular magicks that Steam performs on the games it hosts, but it seems like a possible obstacle.

I dunno for sure! If the game gets made as a prototype (which it looks like it will at this point- thanks for all the support!), we'll be distributing it on Steam, commercial release or no, so we'll need to comply with Steam's release requirements anyway. They're typically not very onerous, and the folks at Valve are cool people, so I'm sure we'll be able to work it out. If it imposes any interesting design constraints, I'd love to talk about them.

One problem I recall coming up periodically in my old emulator-hacking days was that you could sometimes hack lines of code to get effects that, in the short term, seemed pretty harmless. But due to some hidden relationship with other pieces of the game that were not apparent in the graphical parts of the game the player sees, the hacking would create these unexpected long-term problems. For example, you might be playing an RPG and perform a hack that prevents random enemy encounters on the world map, but then when you try to re-enter a town by walking over it, you find that you can't enter the town anymore, even if you go back and reverse the code. (That actually happened to me once, and it is still a mystery to me.) Are you worried about the player getting into these kinds of situations and getting frustrated because they can't *see* what's going wrong?

That actually makes me think... a lot of game engines have debug windows you can run during testing that can show you things like all the instances and their states and so on etc. Maybe in addition to giving the protagonist the ability to hack his world, he also has this sort of x-ray vision that, instead of revealing underlying skeletons, reveals underlying programs. (I guess he's sort of like Neo in a way?) That might be a helpful/interesting tool for problem solving!

Yep! This is definitely one of the trickier issues, and I wouldn't want to lock things down so tightly that it's impossible to wind up in these scenarios.

My own thinking is similar to yours: if there's a good way to keep track of the hacks you've made and good enough tools to analyze what's going on, you'll hopefully be able to get yourself out of the tricky situations you make for yourself. This might be one of the more difficult things to pull off for a two-week prototype, though.

Also, since we know in advance that the game code is going to be poked and prodded by everyone, hopefully we can write it in a way that's a little more resilient to being manipulated.

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Also, since we know in advance that the game code is going to be poked and prodded by everyone, hopefully we can write it in a way that's a little more resilient to being manipulated.

Haha, this sounds like a fun paradigm shift for whichever programmers end up on the team. And hey, the bonus of releasing the prototype on Steam is that the community can report a lot of the bugs. =]

Er... not implying that Brandon ever writes code with bugs in it. :cheese:

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I want to be the first to say:

Congratulation! A Winner Is You!

C:/programs/handshaking.exe run run run

I am glad your idea is about to make the top four!

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i love the way this guy thinks.

reminded me a lot about "programming contests" that a few people would go to in high school. which were basically hacking contests.

side thought, remember that matrix game on ps2 and xbox, the one that had that matrix mode, which was a hacking mini game. it wasn't real hacking, but was pretty neat because you could do some cool things to the game levels if you knew the right things to do. It still could have been crazier, but this game reminded me of it.

I can't wait for this game. I wanted to say this before work starts on it.....100% this will be turned into a full game. Without a doubt.

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Everyone else got it in the stream, so I'll have to toss this question at you here: Will there be hats?

More seriously, it's pretty much inevitable that players will crash it. I see you've mentioned not caring about totally avoiding that... but how are you planning to keep players from crashing it in such a way that it breaks things like the operating system? It's bad when that happens on PC, Mac, or 'nix, but if there's even a hint it could happen iOS and console releases are 100% out. It's already going to be pretty hard to sell Microsoft or Sony on allowing it!

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I don't know enough to know how well it would work - but could you write most of the game logic in something like Lua and let the player mess around with pieces of that? Monster AI scripts, door/lock behavior script segments and the like? And of course get in and edit selected pieces of game object data.

Anyway it sounds VERY ambitious. Best of luck! I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with.

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I hope y'all take the idea that you wrecking the world essentially creates the evil in the end that you have to fight and run with it.

For example, by the end I'm fighting a mutant malformed version of the prince/princess character I was tasked with rescuing, who's been glitched together with a number of other vile things.

In my view, the glitches should be funny but also be genuinely scary in parts - there's times when I've gotten glitches that scared the poop out of me. Some of them came off downright "Silent Hill 2 darkworld"-level sinister.

If the later part of the game involves walking through a glitched out area where I the player am thinking "Ohhh crap, I did this..." and then have to face the consequences of my rampant world-destroying cheating, that would be cool. Especially if it starts to get a little 4th wall breaky.

In the end though I'd like the cheater elf to somehow prevail - maybe by fixing the damage done. Because in the end, cheating and hacking at (single-player) games is a creative act, and sort of like the genesis of young players creating their own games.

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if there's even a hint it could happen iOS and console releases are 100% out.

I can't see how those platforms can deliver on the pitch of a real hacking game either, so that works out OK then. Keyboard is not optional here, IMO.

Congrats to Brandon on getting through!

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Everyone else got it in the stream, so I'll have to toss this question at you here: Will there be hats?

More seriously, it's pretty much inevitable that players will crash it. I see you've mentioned not caring about totally avoiding that... but how are you planning to keep players from crashing it in such a way that it breaks things like the operating system? It's bad when that happens on PC, Mac, or 'nix, but if there's even a hint it could happen iOS and console releases are 100% out. It's already going to be pretty hard to sell Microsoft or Sony on allowing it!

I have assumed that the central parts of the game would be running in some sort of sandbox, so that the OS, the game's menus and such would be free from harm.

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Everyone else got it in the stream, so I’ll have to toss this question at you here: Will there be hats?

You should actually ask that to Yourself :) This is hacking game :D

Congratulations with first place! (SELECT COUNT(*) FROM votes WHERE game='{';DELETE FROM votes WHERE voteCount=MAX(voteCount) AND ''='}';) (I hope it's understandable, in a black humor sense)

Good presentation, I'm happy that You were able to present in the end :)

Game is pretty much what I expected it to be, so I'm waiting passionately to where will it go, I hope !NULL.

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You don't want to see any hats I draw. I make most programmer art look like the Mona Lisa.

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You don't want to see any hats I draw. I make most programmer art look like the Mona Lisa.

Ups, I didn't think about that. My hat would look terrible too. Well we could steal art from other prototypes with hats :)

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I did not undestand this game until I watched the stream, and I still barely do.

But I think it'd be really awesome to clip into secret rooms, and meet characters who KNOW what you're doing, and characters who are completely oblivious. There's a great potential here for a plot with some reality-warping philosipher's stone alchemy, or something like Fez where there were 2D-world characters and 3D-world characters. Like the enlightened and the un-enlightened.

Or maybe it can freak you out as a late-game thing that there are more people than just you running in-between the walls.

Also here's a fun story: I downloaded a demo once from Xbox Live on a whim. It was a racing game that I think is called "Crash Time 4", and on it's face it's not a very interesting game. HOWEVER there is a flaw in this game where you can clip straight through anything if you drive in a straight line, over a certain speed- and the speed is something very attainable, like 60mph or something. Speeding down the road and ruining the game's framerate by glitch-hopping straight THROUGH traffic and through walls was really fun and bizarre. I reccomend everyone try it.

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kinda sucks how the audio was recorded horribly so we couldnt hear any of the livestream from today. :( Doesn't matter this one is going to be the best I think. So many possibilities whichever way it is taken. Would be cool if the character had something like a scientific calculator (maybe in C++ instead of basic? haha) that let you rearrange the bits in a file, like an audio file that someone says to you, then after moving the bits, it is a map or text file, or an audio file that actually sounds like somehting. I donno, thats just a side thought.

Making things come out of the game and teach real tricks like encoding secret files like that could be cool, but I'm more interested in everything else that is a possibility.

One of the only things I actually heard from this part of the livestream was greg saying he'll make sure that normal people can play the game and not just super smart people. He has a good point, but I think the things this game could possibly demand from the player are of a different form than any other game, and having a really high difficulty could set the bar for a new type of genre of game. I am a big fan of Fez and also the ARGs that Valve has made over the years are some of the finest examples of the mass computing power of thousands of fans being able to solve huge elaborate puzzles. Not that this game needs huge puzzles that need thousands of people to solve, the idea of a game built around hacking that very game is so interesting to me. I really think it could result in a new genre or subgenre.

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The thing with those ARGs is that if you're not there for the initial solving, you're out of luck. Even if you can collect the clues on your own, there's no one else to solve it with you, and since the puzzles are designed for many, many people, you're highly unlikely to be able to puzzle it out on your own. Especially when they do something that is literally just brute force checking.

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Really looking forward to how this game develops, sounds like a really intriguing method of combining game world and game mechanics into a single narrative. After hearing some of the ideas about tools and concepts that could exist - such as the grapple/cable for reprogramming foes, and the library of game files - it got me thinking about some as well; so here they are:

- Sprite projector: Allow the player to make a visual clone of themself in the room as a distraction. Could also disguise the player as an enemy or item, if you have the appropriate game resource.

- Logic bomb: A programmable weapon that can work offensively or defensively based on the trigger condition (proximity, player health, simple timer, etc.)

- Register accessors: Two varieties, increments and decrements. Can utilise integer overflow, so that, say, decrementing a currency value of 0 would give you the maximum possible cash for those really expensive shop items (and vice versa). Could also be used for your own or enemy defense/hp/other stats. Obviously a pretty powerful object, so should be rare. (What would happen if you tried to increment the Register incrementer itself...?)

Depending on how tools are designed, a lot of synergy can exist between for very creative solutions to problems and puzzles in the game, which makes the premise even more exciting to me.

Again, really interested in seeing this game's evolution over the next dozen days or so. Can't wait to see how we can break a game that's designed to withstand being broken! :P

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I couldn't hear any of the stuff talked about on the 11min livestream which makes it the third time we couldn't really hear DF Brandon talk about the Hack 'n' Slash prototype! lol

They mentioned that TwoPlayer productions crew recorded it as well - any idea how/when we can see those vids?

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Hope the first day was awesome!

quick question, is the game gonna be entirely based on hacking gameplay, or is it gonna be a balance between hardcore code breaking and some traditional gameplay? (kinda like fez was like)

would be cool with either, funny if it seems like a game like zelda and it could seem like one of those old nes games (dragons lair?) where you can't even get past the first screen, but seems like you're doing everything right. So it takes a higher level of thinking. Would also be great if your character was totally weak and looked weak and the only way he can defend himself is with the computer he has. This is just such a great idea hope you're all having fun making it.

You gonna go with chiptune music? Gonna make it dynamic music, or single looped track, with midi or audio files? Would be cool if you could actually hack the looping music that you are listening to and change it with another midi file. (hacking = user generated content whaaaa)

Love this idea!

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quick question, is the game gonna be entirely based on hacking gameplay, or is it gonna be a balance between hardcore code breaking and some traditional gameplay?

It's gonna be primarily hacking gameplay. I think it would be a little confusing and misleading to give the player lots of traditional Zelda-style equipment when you actually have to solve the puzzles through the cheating and hacking tools.

Or maybe I'm just trying to get us out of more work. I'll let you decide!

You gonna go with chiptune music? Gonna make it dynamic music, or single looped track, with midi or audio files? Would be cool if you could actually hack the looping music that you are listening to and change it with another midi file. (hacking = user generated content whaaaa)

We're not planning on doing chiptune music; Paul O'Rourke is doing all the sound for the prototype, and he's been collecting a lot of cool reference for classic action adventure themes, but we're going to try to evoke that classic style with something more modern, kinda similar to how we're tackling the art direction.

I love the idea of hacking the soundtrack, though. I'm filing that idea away in my notes. :D

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quick question, is the game gonna be entirely based on hacking gameplay, or is it gonna be a balance between hardcore code breaking and some traditional gameplay?

It's gonna be primarily hacking gameplay. I think it would be a little confusing and misleading to give the player lots of traditional Zelda-style equipment when you actually have to solve the puzzles through the cheating and hacking tools.

Or maybe I'm just trying to get us out of more work. I'll let you decide!

Brandon - maybe I misunderstood, but I thought the equipment and hacking tools would be one and the same, so to speak.

For example, take the boomerang, the bomb, and the bow and arrow. I'm no hacker, but perhaps these are metaphors for three different types of hacks...? One has some sort of feedback loop, one causes mass destruction, and one pierces through defenses.

Again, I have no idea of how to hack anything, but I think combining the two into increasingly difficult hack techniques would 1.) provide a great teaching tool to the layman through use of metaphor and 2.) be a great trigger mechanism for specific types of hacks. Then maybe the final piece of equipment gives you the freedom to type in any and all hacks at will.

Thoughts?

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Brandon - maybe I misunderstood, but I thought the equipment and hacking tools would be one and the same, so to speak.

For example, take the boomerang, the bomb, and the bow and arrow. I'm no hacker, but perhaps these are metaphors for three different types of hacks...? One has some sort of feedback loop, one causes mass destruction, and one pierces through defenses.

Again, I have no idea of how to hack anything, but I think combining the two into increasingly difficult hack techniques would 1.) provide a great teaching tool to the layman through use of metaphor and 2.) be a great trigger mechanism for specific types of hacks. Then maybe the final piece of equipment gives you the freedom to type in any and all hacks at will.

Thoughts?

You've totally got the right idea! When I say no traditional equipment, I mean literal swords, arrows, and bombs. Hacking themed equivalents are totally appropriate, and will definitely be making appearances. For the prototype, we're going to lean heavily on a hookshot-like hacking device, for example.

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Brandon - maybe I misunderstood, but I thought the equipment and hacking tools would be one and the same, so to speak.

For example, take the boomerang, the bomb, and the bow and arrow. I'm no hacker, but perhaps these are metaphors for three different types of hacks...? One has some sort of feedback loop, one causes mass destruction, and one pierces through defenses.

Again, I have no idea of how to hack anything, but I think combining the two into increasingly difficult hack techniques would 1.) provide a great teaching tool to the layman through use of metaphor and 2.) be a great trigger mechanism for specific types of hacks. Then maybe the final piece of equipment gives you the freedom to type in any and all hacks at will.

Thoughts?

You've totally got the right idea! When I say no traditional equipment, I mean literal swords, arrows, and bombs. Hacking themed equivalents are totally appropriate, and will definitely be making appearances. For the prototype, we're going to lean heavily on a hookshot-like hacking device, for example.

Okay... officially foaming at the mouth now :)

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