Signal Nine Dev Diary #4: Combat

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Aug 312020

Just as warfare is an extension of diplomacy, a nicely roleplayed conversation will occasionally end with somebody getting punched in the face. We will also feature what we call “heists”: occasions where, as a group of criminals or corporate operatives, you go somewhere you shouldn’t be and take something that isn’t yours. You will have to account for the fact that people will want to stop you, and plan to either avoid combat entirely or make sure the odds are in your favor.

Indeed, engaging in combat at all will often be something of a failstate. If you find yourself in a pitched battle, likely to catch a bullet at any moment, then things have probably not gone according to plan. Even if you’re victorious, you probably won’t escape such a situation unscathed, and your character will be dealing with the aftermath for days, weeks, or forever. Needless to say, this will lend some extra weight to many of your character’s decisions.

For these reasons, we’ve given Signal Nine a thorough and full-featured combat system. Let’s talk more about what all this really means and how we arrived at these decisions.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:24 am

Signal Nine Dev Diary #3: You

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Aug 172020

Signal Nine is designed to focus in on a particular rather small scale: you! Or rather, your character. In these dev diaries, you won’t see us bragging about the huge ships you can own, the light-years your adventure might span, or the infinity of procedural worlds we can generate — we have done all that before, and while it has its place, it isn’t in this game. Instead, we are focused sharply on individuals, on your own unique character, in as much detail as we can reasonably muster.

We’ll go through a few of the things that, in addition to your own roleplaying, will help to define your character and set them apart. For the most part, we’re just about to give you a broad overview of things you can decide at character generation. Other ways of setting yourself apart will probably deserve their own dev diary sooner or later. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 1:34 am

Signal Nine Dev Diary #2: The Environment

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Aug 062020

How is the world represented? Where does the player exist? For traditional Multi-User Dungeon games and their descendants, this question has a simple answer: the room! And there really isn’t anything wrong with this answer. You can represent all sorts of environments and systems with this construct. But let’s examine the traditional room… and why we decided it wasn’t suited to our needs. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:05 am

Signal Nine Dev Diary #1: City Simulation

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Jul 252020

A key aspect of cyberpunk is the idea that the main character is just one minor player in a very large setting. There are lots of other people around and every one of them has a story, even if you don’t necessarily ever learn it.

One of our design goals for Signal Nine is to create this feeling that everyone, not just you, has a part to play in the world. Also, in terms of game mechanics, certain systems will benefit from involving non-player characters with knowable and consistent identities.

In other words, our goal is to simulate an entire city. At the same time, we want to avoid the overhead and bloat that could result from an overcomplicated system. So we’ve built our city out of basic building blocks — each simple by itself, but creating complexity when combined. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:44 am

Signal Nine Dev Q&A

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Jun 082020

We asked players of our current text-based roleplaying game Star Conquest to give us their questions about Signal Nine, our upcoming cyberpunk roleplaying game! And here they are (reworded for brevity) along with our answers!

Q. Where does the name Signal Nine come from?

In Unix-based systems, a process that receives “signal 9” is terminated. The signal cannot be ignored and kills the process immediately. Signal 9 can also be represented ominously as SIGKILL. In the wider context of cyberpunk, we hope it evokes the image of a cold and unfeeling machine sending this SIGKILL down the line and straight into a hapless decker’s direct neural interface.

But mostly, naming a game is hard and we thought it sounded cool. Continue reading »

Announcing: Signal Nine

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Oct 122019

The can fell into the receptacle with a heavy clunk, and as he pulled it out, its reflective surface shone with the light of the vending machine’s constantly swirling advertisements. Four hundred milliliters, one hundred Calories, eighty milligrams of caffeine, seventy milligrams of sugar, he thought, then cursed to himself. He only knew that because of the Deepsearch datachip, which told him a lot of things he didn’t particularly care about, like a second brain producing intrusive thoughts of perfectly memorized useless facts. He should’ve left the thing at his desk, but it was a pain to get back into the proper headspace if he took it out, and it wasn’t like it was classified or–

His train of thought was derailed as he turned to see a short, dark-haired woman standing extremely close to him. He glanced from side to side. He had at least a foot on her, but somehow he still felt trapped. It was something in her eyes. “Uh, can I help you?” he asked.

“Probably.” The woman tapped a spot behind her ear, where chipsockets usually were installed. “That datachip. Give it to me.”

“Uh, I really can’t, I–”

The woman grabbed him under the arms, lifted him up, and shoved him back against the vending machine. It did not seem to particularly strain her. Seriously augmented, he thought. Oh shit.

“I don’t have time to debate it with you,” she said. “You’re going to give me the chip, and you’re gonna say you never saw me. You just lost it.”

He was breathing too fast. His hands were shaking. The only thing he could control was whether he held onto his soda can, and so he gripped it with all his might. “Listen, I can’t just lose it, my supervisor would–”

She sighed and transferred her grip to his throat. His eyes widened with a sudden certainty — that the last few moments had been a series of minor fuckups on his part that were about to culminate in a very sudden escalation. He opened his mouth wide, trying to find the breath to apologize, to make it right–

And she squeezed. Hard. Continue reading »

Squidsoft MOO Server Updates: The Approach to SQ-1.0.0 (SQ-0.1.12a to SQ-0.3.1)

 Server, Text-Based Games  Comments Off on Squidsoft MOO Server Updates: The Approach to SQ-1.0.0 (SQ-0.1.12a to SQ-0.3.1)
Oct 152011

Things in the server code room over the past year (but really, the past month more than anything else) have been hectic, but I suppose that the changes should also be listed here as well, for posterity.

Overall, on Star Conquest, this pretty much meant a 66% reduction in CPU utilization, though before all of the performance improvement changes were put in we were running over 120 simultaneous AI pilots in a sector without the server missing a beat.

Still, we could probably use an upgrade some time in the future.

Detailed changes after the break.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:24 pm

Star Conquest October to January Update

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Jan 102011

Dear diary,

I haven’t forgotten about you. I just….I haven’t had time to answer your calls….

Listen…. I think it’s better if we….had a break, you know? I need some space.

Since October so many wonderful things have happened. Several Gamma security clusters of space were added to the game, allowing for player versus player conflict without gaining the attention of the navies. And so many bugs were fixed! A new control scheme for players who fly sans-keypad…

So many new crafting recipes, including ones for space-launched interdictors. Navies are less uptight about the errant stray shot. And while you can’t repair past failsafes anymore, extreme burst damage from a big ship no longer breaks three failsafes at once like how it used to, and it adds an emergent feature of attrition.

Bari were reintroduced, but so were a totally revamped felo, with multiple breeds and genetics. And you can switch out your battlesuit at ANY spaceport now.

We gave battlesuits other love too, with new per-conquest raid missions and a buff to the advanced RATS battlesuit.

We’ve released several new ships and advanced upgrades for mid- and high- level pilots, and most recently we have added rental starships targetted at cadets and other players with low amounts of points, equipped with a reasonable level of upgrades.

Thanks for listening to what’s been going on in my life, diary.

 Posted by at 7:18 pm

Star Conquest September Update

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Sep 242010

Greetings! Time for an update on the state of Star Conquest!

First the good news: our efforts at generating interest in Star Conquest have resulted in the creation of over 70 new characters since the month began, and a return of peak numbers to 20-25 active (not idling) players! That’s a pretty good start, but we’re hoping, of course, to keep up the momentum and keep those numbers growing.

Now the bad news! Long hours at my real job have prevented me from making a great deal of progress on that secret fifth category of points, which I may as well name now: command points. There is to be an aspect of both space combat and ground combat, and I’ve made some progress on the ground combat front, particularly in adding a redesigned form of vehicles. But the command point activity can take place in a number of settings, and I think to get the system out sooner, I’ll set aside the ground combat for now and concentrate on getting the space combat portion working (as those fundamentals already exist), along with the basic functionality of the whole thing. Ground combat missions can then be added in later in a new setting, which will be more plot-appropriate anyway.

But before that, the results of the survey we did this month have convinced me that I should shift my focus a bit. It’s evident that very, very many of you guys want more variety in terms of industrial activity. Upon reflection, using salvaging (SC’s oldest and crappiest point-generating activity) as the top method of gaining industry points really isn’t acceptable. What we should have is, ideally, an industry activity at the top level which is as engaging as some of the combat activities are, and not so mindlessly repetitive as salvaging. My goal is to get that system designed and at least partially coded this weekend. I cannot tell you in detail what form it will take, because at the moment I really have no idea!

So that’s where we stand at the moment. As always, we’re looking for your input into the best ways to gain and retain new players, as higher peak numbers open up many possibilities!

 Posted by at 3:23 am