So I’m doing two things simultaneously at the moment. Well, more than that if you count literally everything I’m doing. But in terms of Post Script, two tasks are taking up my time.
The first is writing a particularly interesting character who’s sort of evolved out of a piece of dialogue with another one. She’s a mysterious, unnaturally verbose type that I’ve managed to write as being quite accidentally poetic, yet quite obviously a bitch. It’s funny – she wasn’t initially on the list of characters I had in my head, but trying to segue from the narrator into something that resembles in-game dialogue proper (which is all text-based, by the way, as I don’t want any voice acting problems fucking up the game), I wrote a line that… well, that pretty much defined the character from the outset.
I’ve written little bits of her dialogue so far, but am refining as I go along, and as I properly build up her character profile. The nature of Post Script’s story means it’s all about little incidental things; the broad story arc is there, but pretty much downplayed in favour of a snapshot of these characters’ personalities. So I’m trying to work in some subtle answers that can be woven into the game, a few secrets that players dedicated to uncovering every inch of the world can discover.
That’s a point, actually: you probably get out of Post Script what you put in. You can quite literally, with one exception, walk from the start of Episode 1 to the end of it without interruption. But all you’ll get is an introduction to the main story arc. And that’s a shame, because Episode 1 is all about this one character, and you can find out a lot about her by just being patient and hunting around for clues.
The second thing I’m doing is building the town in which much of Post Script takes place. Episode 1 will probably be quite frustrating to create, as I’m telling a story that only relates to certain bits of it, but obviously an environment like that can only work when – y’know – there aren’t big chunks missing from it. So there’s a lot of incidental detail that I’m having to build up, which is a bit of a long slog – and the nature of how I’m doing it means long stretches of building without anything really becoming playable. It’s kind of an iterative design, as well as one that’s growing naturally as I tweak it. But compiliing it so it can render in-engine means “sealing off” the map, and while this works for purely technical testing purposes, having a giant set of walls, or an impossible skybox, surrounding what I’ve done so far doesn’t really serve a purpose when it comes to seeing how it actually works in-game.
The town so far, in-editor. Anyone familiar with Source level design will, I'm sure, be able to spot plenty of terrible habits there.
In Post Script, you’ll be able to wander freely around much of the town, but each episode different things will happen, and in some cases new areas will be open for you to explore. Triggered events occur at specific times, and that’s going to be a difficult thing to get right. While it’s unlikely players will sprint from one trigger point to another, hidden one, nothing’s to say someone definitely won’t try, so it needs to be literally impossible for the player to trigger the new event before the old one has finished. Which means somehow blocking the player from doing so. Which is really tricky to do without artificially constructing the environment so you have to take a convoluted route around, or making the whole place so impossibly huge that it feels sterile and unnatural (and shoots several holes in the framerate).
I’ll be thinking of some ways around this in the next few days, continuing to plug away at building the world, and trying to get Episode 1’s script finished. Hopefully I won’t become enormously busy in the next few weeks (though it’s very likely) and can get something into proper testing in the reasonably near future. Once Ep 1’s environment is fully built, it means substantially less design work for future releases. Hopefully that will lead to at least a semi-regular release schedule.