Fighting the NaGaDeMon

Photo by Mateusz Klein / Unsplash

Oh hey my unbroken streak of posts here continues at Uncivilized Games, the most honest and reliable TTRPG game design site on the internet. You know it's true, because I said so, and you can't just get on the internet and lie, right?


So here's the thing, I'm back on my proverbial and literal bullshit after some soul-searching, some weed-smoking, and some journal-writing, and I've made the hard and terrible decision to work on something for the month of November. For a bit, I thought about doing NaNoWriMo- I've attempted to do it before, many a time. I even succeeded once, though the results of that ill-advised attempt to commit proper prose upon the world was so horrid that I immediately deleted all copies of it and burned the physical pages I had- not even kidding, I did write a 50k word 'book' once and was so disgusted with it that I destroyed every extant copy of it so no one would ever see it.

Anyway long story short, I am not good at writing long stories. Or short ones. Like, I can do stories and storytelling, yes, but that is a very different task from writing a novel, and that is something that I have come to better understand with the passage of time. Just because I do have stories to tell and a storyteller's voice to tell it with, perhaps the honorable and hoary tradition of the novel writer is not the path for me to follow in terms of sharing the tales I want to tell with the world. Games, on the other hand? Now we're talking.

Now, the focus of this blog and its uninterrupted, record-breaking streak of non-stop posts, is TTRP game design, of course, and through most of it, we've discussed the seminal game, 3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat. But I feel like we've been mining that particular vein for a long long time, and while it is clear to anyone with eyes to see that it is far from tapped out, I think it's time we start digging in a slightly different direction. So, here's the thing:

For the month of November, in the Plague Year of 2023, I will be participating in the event known as National Game Design Month, shortened to the catchy name NaGaDeMon. And I will be creating something around my 3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat property and world (copyright me and me alone forever and ever you can't have it unless you ask nice or something I guess actually I should probably look into slapping some kinda CC license onto this stuff someday but for now I hold all the copyrights, all of them, you can't have them, my precious)- but not a standard TTRPG. You see, I've been taking some video game design courses over the past year, yes, in secret, and I think I'm finally feeling confident enough to take a stab at creating an actual game! And so, I am hereby announcing that as of today, I am breaking ground on the very first, and quite likely very last, 3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat video game!

Come on, celebrate, and party with me.

OK look I don't even for a second think I will be able to finish a game in the space of a month, even working on it every single day as I intend to, but I want to see how far I get and how much I can produce during it. And a big part of it will just be shopping around for art assets I can use, as I have absolutely no artistic talent for the creation of images wholesale, and while AI is a thing, I don't want to use it for this- but for the most part my work will be on the code side, and I'll be using Godot as my development platform. I've been practicing with it enough that I'm feeling comfortable now, and hey, let's take a shot!

For today's bit of work, besides just the announcement, I'm going to do a little brainstorming and some very early skeleton work where I try and divide the kinds of objects and inheritances that I'm going to want to implement into my game, the kinds of functions for actions and rolls and conversations that I want to have, and stuff like that.

So, the first thing is that I want to make this a, well, an RPG. But while my first instinct was to make something top-down and tiled like your basic RPG-Maker kind of thing, now I'm feeling more of an early Sierra vibe, like, those adventure games with VGA graphics and a text parser underneath them. Like so:

This, but make it Goblin.

Ambitious, I know, and especially considering that I just said I'm no good at artwork but this sort of thing is probably going to depend a lot on some good artwork. But here's a compromise- let's just build the framework. Hell, if by the end of the month we have managed to build up a single room in which a mock-up 3 Gobbos in a Trenchcoat object can walk around, interact with badly drawn objects and NPC's, complete a conversation or three and a quest or four, then I think we can call it a very successful month of game design! I do like this approach though, and I think it fits the feel of 3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat better than something more SNES-based would.

Now, on to today's actual game design: Despite the fact that I will be making it in this more Sierra style, just like with the Quest for Glory games, this isn't just about puzzle-solving, there are chances for combat and there is in fact an entire game system and engine that I want to adapt. It is badly made, because it is mine, but the whole point of making a video game out of my table-top RPG is to use the same rules, right? So in a way, this is me punishing myself.

Anyway, the point is that this sort of works like a JRPG, where you have your 'overworld sprite' that's just a single character (or, y'know, three goblins in a trenchcoat) but then for actual actions you have a full party (of, y'know, three goblins). Given what I want to do, I think I'll have to have a couple of separate screens- the stuff that would have been the 'overworld' in a normal JRPG will just be the individual rooms- this will be the bulk of the game, interacting with objects, picking them up and dealing with inventory, reading descriptions and interactions with the environment, etc. Then you've got the two more complicated systems: conversations and combat.

For combat, I'm thinking here we revert to a more JRPG approach. If a fight starts (usually because of choices made during a conversation- I think this is the kind of game that, just like the TTRPG version, combat is best avoided, but it'll be there!) then we switch scenes to a FF4-looking screen with your goblins on one side, the enem(y|ies) on the other, and we do the standard take turns and whack away at one another until someone falls down. But the main big screen will be the dialogues and the interactions there. I'll likely be taking some time to look into and practice with the Godot Dialogue Manager extension I found, and I'll deep dive into it here when I do, because that is going to be a major chunk of the game. But to start with I want to have some basic objects, the player character, the NPC's, and a basic room in which we can all interact. So, a bit of pseudocode below to just list out some of the objects I think I will need to create and their various properties that I will need to keep track of (assume the basic stuff like 'position' and 'scaling' and 'z-order' are built in to the various object types I'll be using like 2DCharacterArea, etc., within Godot):

- is_weapon: bool
- is_key : bool
- is_edible : bool
- Sprite : Sprite
- description : String

- harm : int
- heal : int
- shield : int
- move : special (some kinda self.move_to(target) kind of thing? a 'special' category is needed regardless)
- description : String

- Sprite : Sprite
- is_player : bool
- is_hostile : bool
- has_dialogue : bool
- dialogue_entry : (Dialogue object from Dialogue Manager, we'll get to this)

- This will mostly just be the container for Items and Creatures. We'll have some individual objects inside for graphics, collision detection, etc, but no need to detail it here until we get to working in Godot.

OK! I think that's enough for a start today, actually. Mostly planning and I think I'll be doing some actual initial coding and object creation throughout the day today, so I can share it in tomorrow's update.

Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez

The Bad Boy of Fandible. I like RPG's. Filthy leftist Social Justice Glitter Boy. Writes silly TTRPG games. Owned by a cat. He/Him. Demi.
New York, NY