Game Blocks

Sheldon J. Pacotti has created a toolset for teaching game development, especially  for “constructing non-linear stories, which in my mind comprise more than talk trees and branching conversations.”

The toolset is build on Byob (which is based on Scratch).

Pacotti explains Game Blocks on video:

Download and tutorials available at: http://www.newlifeinteractive.com/main/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=40:cell&Itemid=60&layout=default.

Difficulty Graphs (by Rafael Vázquez)

Rafael Vázquez writes about evaluating the difficulty level of games on Gamasutra in the feature How Tough Is Your Game? Creating Difficulty Graphs:

They are graphical representations of how difficulty changes throughout the game. This is to say that they plot how challenge changes over time. There are two main types, time-based and distance-based. The first places the spikes in challenge according to the time spent played (taking away paused time and death); while the second places them depending on where the challenges appear (assuming a direct route from start to goal).

While the method seems to be targeted to combat-based titles (difficulty formulate uses to the number of enemies), the same idea could be extended to platformers by counting number of jumps (etc.) and multiplying that with a difficulty level?

Quick Intro to Spreadsheets for Game Designers

Claire Blackshaw gives brief intro to using spreadsheets in Opinion: Stop Being The Useless Designer – Excel and Formulas.

Excel (and other spreadsheet programs such as Numbers and Open Office) has excellent tools to quick prototype game system behaviors, as Blackshaw points outs.

For prototyping complex behaviors, writing simple computer programs in unavoidable, I think. I have found Python extremely useful for quick prototyping. There are handy libraries for Python to create and analyze simulations; for example, SimPy for creating sumulations and rpy for statistical calculations (rpy requires R). Pygame can be used for creating playabe prototypes.

 

Chat Mapper

Chat Mapper is a tool for writing branching dialogue. It is free for personal use and indie or commercial licenses are affordable. However, free version does not allow exporting dialogue to xml and use it within a game.

The interface looks nice and how the branching is visualized is great.

The Chat Mapper documentation says that scripting (LUA) can be used to control dialogue flow. This, I guess, means that to use exported xml, the game engine needs to support LUA, at least in the extend used to build logic to the dialogue flow.