Creating A Proprietary Scenario Editor in Javascript

Recently I’ve been building an adventure game engine that works as a mix between the SNES’ Clock Tower game and Phoenix Wright. In my last game, Canvasser, all the dialogue was hard-coded in the game, and it became kind of nightmarish to work with at times. In this adventure game, which will have more dialogue and other writers working on it, I knew I had to make a scenario editor to make all our lives easier.

I looked around for different frameworks that I could build an editor in, and ended up using a page hosted here on my website. In the game, the scenarios are XML files read in by the Actionscript that the rest of the game is coded in. The editor page reads in working XML files with PHP, then builds the page based off the XML with Javascript.

A preview of the Scenario Editor

I ended up going with Javascript because I’m fairly unfamiliar with other GUI editing programs and I knew JS could do what I needed fairly easily. I tried Qt, and while it’s powerful, it felt like I’d have to do absolutely everything by hand. With JS I was easily able to throw in checkboxes, text inputs, drop down lists, expand/contract buttons, all organized in an unordered list format without having to deal with positioning or defining my own classes. I ended up using the FileSaver library to save the XML files generated, but I didn’t need to use any libraries beyond that.

Saving/Loading is a bit wonky, because in JS you can only download files, not save them (as far as I know). I’m considering using a library that embeds a flash file into the page to allow for traditional file saving.

Overall I’d strongly recommend this approach for proprietary scenario editors. It gets the job done, and is flexible enough without giving you too many options.

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Sometimes you have to put something out there, and see the response.

A little over a month ago, I published a blog post detailing my plans to make Canvasser 2033, a futuristic canvassing game with robots, and sequel to Canvasser. I made a playable prototype that I threw online (which took about two weeks to make in my free time), and planned to continually update it with user feedback.

After posting it and seeing the response I got from friends and other indie devs, I realized that the enthusiasm wasn’t there. At that point I decided it wouldn’t be worth it to continue working on it. From the outside, this can look like a failure, but I feel like this was a fantastic use of two weeks of work. Not only did I get to practice ‘selling’ a new game idea, but I was able to implement a basic conditional AI system for the first time.

Basically, I got to try a bunch of new things, as well as come to terms with the fact that a Canvasser sequel just isn’t in demand right now.

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Announcing Canvasser 2033!

The next installment of the Canvasser series has entered development! Canvasser was a game about asking people on the street for money to support an important cause, and 2033 takes that concept 20 years into the future, with robots!

Hasty promotional pixel art!

In Canvasser 2033, you will be controlling robot canvassers who bombard civilians with their smiles and clipboards, doing anything they can to get money for your cause. You will be able to program their AI with a flexible system reminiscent of Final Fantasy XII. You will be able to upgrade your robots over time and change their appearances. And you will be a part of a compelling story that tackles the ethical issues of the future.

I am about two weeks into development, so we’re in the early stages right now. However, you can play the current alpha version of the game here. I would like to get people involved immediately to help make this game the best it can be, and I encourage you to give me honest feedback on your experience.

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Happy Holidays!

It was around the holiday season in 2011 that I first started this blog, so that makes this about the second year anniversary of writing this thing! It’s been a while since my last post; I’ve been super busy pursuing a Computer Science degree, and the classes are starting to get fairly challenging. But more than that, it always takes me a while after a big project to find another idea I really like. I think I’ve gone through about six separate prototypes in the past six months, trying to see what sticks (including that strategy RPG I briefly posted about).

I’m also still working on Golden Nights artwork. Hopefully I’ll have some new stuff to post up here soon.

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