Dev Update- January 2017


the Substrate


This is the first interactive prototype, so it’s more of an interface to explore how the systems behave than anything remotely resembling a game. This evolving JS prototype will eventually be used to get player feedback on some of the underlying assumptions, while I (and possibly others) toil at the 3D realization angle in Unity this year. The biggest goal of this first prototype was to get a large chunk of the generative systems working in concert.


  • Knowledgebase / ontology (I call it the Substrate)-driven generation of:
    • palace façades (text description)
    • palace layout (text description)
    • room decoration (text description)
    • memory objects (text description)
  • Semantic tag-driven object affordances:
    • breaking and burning objects
  • Attribute grammar-driven memory generation (courtesy of James Ryan‘s Expressionist)
  • A force-directed graph of the Substrate
    • nice to look at, but not terribly useful. I’ll probably be switching to a different visualization approach, as much as it breaks my heart.

Didn’t Get To…

  • user-editable NPC qualities
  • user-editable sub-system qualities (not sure what this even means anymore, to be honest)
  • user selects memories for their palace, suggests realization possibilities
  • diagnostic output number of possible combinations w/ same current parameters
  • diagnostic: “uniqueness” of possible builds
Pre-mortem (written Jul 2016)

The first demo will be a toy example, where I’ll be testing out super-basic levels of the generative systems. I’m doing this in Javascript, because that’s what I have loaded in my brain currently, and it’s good for fast prototyping.

The output will be text descriptions of memory palaces, and collections of NPC memories. You’ll be able to change the objects in the rooms via dropdown menus of actions, and hopefully make your own palace from the available memories. I’ll have basic editing for the ontology as well, so if the warmth of a candle’s flame doesn’t symbolize love to you, then you can change that to something else.

Post-mortem (written Jan 2017)

Laying the initial foundations takes time, and I had to re-write some of the systems a couple times to correct bone-headed software engineering mistakes. You can look at and change NPC memories, and the plumbing is in there to do the same for the player to make their own memory palace, but that will need to be pushed off for the focus of the next demo.

There ended up being more gotchas than I initially planned for, and I didn’t put in as many hours as I thought I would. Might be symptomatic of recovering from post-release burnout from Ice-Bound. Long story short, I overshot this deadline by four months, so I need to get less ambitious with my commitments!