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October 16, 2017
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Killing a horse with text

by Benoit Prezeau on 07/23/14 11:28:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Every night when I go to sleep after a day of programming I review what I have done during the day and think about the next steps that I will be doing. This helps me get a more general view of my programming instead of focusing on the routines themselves. Last night I went to sleep but didn't think about my day or where I was going very much since I was rather sleepy. But when I woke up I realized that today was the day that I would have to kill a horse. Not an actual horse but a horse in the game I am currently programming.

Realms, Swords & Magic, the game I am creating, is a game with artificial intelligence and a more detailed gameplay (for example, it is possible for a character to look for tracks of other characters in the wild). In the previous months I have worked on having human characters solve problems like unlocking doors that would block a guard from patrolling a location. The guard can talk to other characters and inquire about the whereabouts of the key, find the character who has the key, find him and try to get the key to unlock the door. Recently I started working on the a.i. of the Troll character type. A troll can go out to the forest during the night to find a prey (a horse) and go back to his cave to sleep during the day.

Now that the troll a.i. can find a horse, I am ready to program his killing and eating of the horse. But my game, being a text-based game, makes the killing somewhat feel uncomfortable. In a regular game with graphics I would only have the troll hit the horse with a club or something, the horse would die and that would pretty much be it. But in a text game, I have to describe the action to create a vision in the mind of the player. I want the game to remain realistic but how realistic should I be with killing? Should the troll break the horse's neck? Should I give graphic descriptions of the action? How do I tell a player that his favorite horse (with a name) is now bleeding under the teeth of the troll? Should I keep the killing simple to try to keep the game fun or should I let the drama happen?

While thinking about the troll and the horse, I started thinking about when NPCs will be fighting and killing each other. Will I have to make my game the "Game of Thrones" of CRPGs? I will have to seriously think about this. I previously thought that the a.i. would be the hardest thing to think about while working on my game. Today Ithink that I was wrong.

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