Designer Diary: De-making King’s Quest: Starting Over

If you go through the posts here you’ll find a few where I was trying to de-make Sierra On-line’s King’s Quest game. They’re some of the most visited pages on the site (probably because people are looking for maps of the actual game not my demake…) I was attempting to translate the graphical text adventure game into just a text adventure. I had the game mapped out and had started placing objects into the game when two things happened that killed the project. The first was my limited knowledge of the engine I was using, Inform 7. The second was my computer dying. I thought I had backed up all my files before wiping the old computer but when it came time to copy everything over to the new one… and with that I dropped the project to move on to other things.

I’m ready to try again now! I’ve got some books that should help too. I picked up Aaron Reed’s Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7, a nice thick tome that I’m hoping should help me figure out the intricacies of Inform when I get stuck. And The Official Book of King’s Quest, a guide to the game’s that I’ll be using as a pseudo design document for my KQ1 de-make.

The help
The help

I’m going to take a little more time this go around understanding Inform’s language before I take on the entirety of KQ1. It was easy enough to create a giant map of Daventry in the Inform engine but populating it with objects and people to interact with proved quite a bit more difficult. I’ll easier make some smaller test games first or build up the game in small sections that I can just add to each other in the end…

I guess you can look forward to seeing these and perhaps playing them too?

Mind Sweep: Tools/Things I find Helpful

Still using the Hipster PDA

I feel dirty even writing this post. I don’t make any money off of selling strangers crap they don’t need to get organized in life. There are whole sectors of the internet that do that and do it really well. I don’t think they’re helping you. As the old saying goes, “your wallet doesn’t make you money.” So, doesn’t matter how many great apps or tools there are to help you keep organized buying them isn’t going to make you anymore organized. All you really need to do is want to be organized, if that is the case you’ll be organized even if all you have is some scraps of paper and a pencil to help you. So, before you go to check out anything I talk about here, and certainly before you go and spend your hard earned money on anything. Actually, if I think about it everything I use is free, except for the index cards and the binder clip; those will cost you around 65¢.

Analog Capture/Task List: Hipster PDA

Electronics are great. Computers, laptops, and smart phones are all fantastic ways to assist you in staying organized. They do run out of batteries though, and they’re not always the easiest thing to use. This is where the Hipster PDA comes in. A few index cards clipped together and a pen. The cards can be used for all sorts of things; click the link to see quite a few of them. I generally use them to do mind sweeps, idea capture, and to do lists. If you take anything away from this post take away the Hipster PDA.

Digital Task List: Wunderlist

Wunderlist is on everything (iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, Blackberry, Web) Whatever and wherever you use Wunderlist it syncs up with the web and all your other devices that have Wunderlist. You can tag tasks, give them priority and dead lines. It’s nearly perfect for my purposes as soon as its makers integrate it with Wunderkit, the next item on this list

Project Planning: Wunderkit

My Wunderkit Projects Page (click to embiggen)

Wunderlist works well for simple to-do lists or task, but when you’re organizing projects that have multiple tasks, multiple goals, and multiple levels you need something a little more robust. That is what Wunderkit is for.  It allows me to track all my projects and all my next tasks. The makers have said Wunderkit/Wunderlist integration is on the way and as soon as it is I’ll be set.

Deadlines: GCal

The last thing I use for this sort of thing is Google Calendar (you can find it on-line and on your smart phone.) I’m still just beginning to start scheduling my days but blocking out hours for tasks in GCal helps for me to make them real and to sit down and do them when it is time.

I’m always interested in seeing and hearing what other people use to get through their tasks. Leave a comment below and tell me how your system works and what works best for you.

Follow these links for the other posts in this series: Mind Sweeps, Winnowing Tasks, Actions

Spring Garden 2012: Planted!


The weather is still all wonky but D and I decided that we didn’t want to wait any longer to put the garden or else it would be too late. I’m a little worried that the non-existent then late winter is going to lead into a too warm summer but that is a completely different topic. We went to the Ace today and picked up some compost, manure, and some tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, zucchini, and eggplant. We had some seedlings of those but they are still very young, as you can see above, and we wanted to have some back up. Back at the house I turned the garden bed over, put in all the compost we had produced ourselves (from the composter and the worm bin) and then turned it all over.

All the plants
All the poops!

Once it was turned over we laid out where we were going to be putting everything, put in some beer plants and then planted the store bought seedlings. We left a lot of room in the bed for the seedlings still in their planters (bush beans, Japanese cucumbers, edamame, and some heirloom tomatoes). Once the plants were in we watered it all down, soaking the garden. Then we filled up the beer traps with the King of Beers, and spread out the Sluggo (damn slugs are still the biggest problem we have with the garden.)

All done! Sorta...
Lemon Cucumbers!
Our tiny, precious seedlings! Protected from birds and slugs (it's on the roof of a shed.)

This is going to be our last garden here in Davis and we’re both crossing our fingers hoping it will be our best yet!


Stamp Making

The completed FalseLogic stamp print

Remember in Art class in high school the unit you did on prints? The teacher stood at the front of the class and talked a little about print making; she made sure to mention woodblock prints and silk screening, the fact that woodcuts are reversals of the image you want and that you need to cut out the negative space… She might have mentioned something about good design. At the end of the lecture though the teacher handed out something she called linoleum but was really E-Z-Cut and some sharp objects with which you could carve it up. You then did so and at the end of class you rolled some ink on the block of E-Z-Cut and made some prints. It was a lot of fun and educational. What?! You didn’t take Art in school? Too bad. You could have learned a lot in an art class. Welp, now you know just some of what you were missing! (we also did a nude study and played with oil paints!)

Sketching out some ideas for my first stamp. The one on the bottom left is the one I decided to go with

I was thinking about art class last weekend and about those old print lessons. My town has a decent art supply store and on a whim I decided to make myself a stamp. At first I thought I’d do something fancy like a hanko seal but then I realized I didn’t have the delicate carving tools necessary for one nor did I really want to spend the additional $ to get them. I can always make one later, as the E-Z Cut blocks are quite large. I decided a simple stamp would be best to start with, especially so because I only had an x-acto knife to work with. The first step was to get some ideas on paper. I decided to do a 1-inch square stamp and because I couldn’t think of anything to do I just did an ‘f’ and an ‘l’ (for FalseLogic). After I sketched out a couple of variants I picked one and went over it with black marker. You really have to lay the ink on thick if you’re going to get it to transfer. Once you’re stamp design is drawn and inked press it on to the block and rub it in, without moving the paper around.

The stamp cut out and the design transferred over to it. Once the design is on the stamp you can go over it again. Make sure the lines are all clearly defined. You don't want to accidentally cut any parts out because of a faint line...

Now comes the hard part! Well, the hard part if you only have a razor blade, box cutter, or x-acto knife. If you have some actual lino-cut tools you’ll be in much better shape. I didn’t and I ended up cutting out part of my border and had quite the time removing the cut portions of the block. The actual tools are U-shaped and remove the block as you cut it. I had to get creative… Anyway. You want to cut out all the parts of the block that you don’t want to hold ink. For my stamp it was the white area. I carefully began cutting out the block, being especially careful between the border and the top of the ‘F’ and between the two letters. This step is by far the most time consuming; You want to go slow and not making any mistakes though. One bad cut and you’ll have to start all over.

The completed stamp. As you can see the top part of the border got cut off. I used some modelling glue to re-attach it. I admit it isn't very pretty and the cross on my 'f' is barely visible.

After I cut out all the white I went back in and tried to clean up all the lines and increase the depth of the cut. I wanted to make sure that the only thing that would transfer ink would be the black marked parts of the stamp. It didn’t take long and I only cut off one tiny part of the stamp (easily fixed.) Once that was all done I cleaned up the stamp removing any excess black ink and all the little bits and pieces of E-Z-Cut block. Then came the moment of truth. I didn’t have any of the fancy print inks (their quite thick and you’re supposed to roll them onto the stamp block.) I did have an ink pad though and it worked fine, the stamp came out a little more textured than I thought it would; I suspect that is because the stamp block doesn’t absorb any of the ink as a normal stamp would. I think it turned out good, you’ve seen the end result at the top of this post.

I’m hopeful about my next attempt. I might even attempt a more complicated design or one that at minimum more people would recognize.