Sunday, June 10, 2012

Creativity Is a Churnin'

So, for as much as this is "yet another LittleBigPlanet Vita" post, this will actually not be so much -about- LittleBigPlanet (Vita or otherwise), but rather creating something from nothing.  Partly because I'll be talking more about an idea I have and the way I could likely work it with the tools, which I plan on trying of course, and partly because I don't even mention it so much as making an LBP level/game, so much as it's just something conceptual that you could just repurpose for some other type of programming of the like.  Which is all a fancy way of saying that this is going to be another one of those posts where I nerd on for a bit and make less and less sense as I go along, but at least this time it's not with numbers.  Still, if this isn't your cup of tea, and I can understand why it might not be, then maybe move along for tonight and check back to see if I have something more interesting to talk about.

So, back before we knew what Project Happiness was going to be on I had high hopes of being able to play it on my Vita because for Harvest Moon-type dealies, I'm basically stuck with picking up Innocent Life which I already have played a bit, Harvest Moon:  Boy & Girl which I also own and played the hell out of when it was called Harvest Moon 64, or Harvest Moon:  Hero of Leaf Valley, which is one of the "you have an endgame" types that I don't particularly care for in my chill game.  It is not exactly the library I'm looking for, especially when playing one on the Vita would cost $15 where I've already bought and played the two that interest me.  And knowing that, I sighed and told myself, "Well, if only I could make my own Harvest Moon game.  But, ha, what's coming out that let's me make thi-Oh My God, LittleBigPlanet."

And on just that conceptual level, it sort of works, even, because you can shift the 'camera' to a top-down view, ala Harvest Moon games with a little wizardry, and you can certainly create a big, enjoyable area to explore, as well as make NPCs to hang about and do things.  Of course, when you get in a little deeper, you start to see where the overall idea at least wrinkles, if not completely folds.  Harvest Moon works on a day-to-day, Morning-to-Night cycle that actively -runs- the game, as there are things you can only do on certain days, as well as certain time-frames within which you have to work.  On top of that, the big thing is growing your own crops, raising your own animals, and befriending the locals, even to romance one of the ladies (or men if you're playing as a girl) to actually make a 'fulfilling' life for your character.  And just that on its own makes it rather difficult to envision even any one of those aspects working, much less all of them.

As you can see by my lovely bit of concept scribbled out on a couple post-its, I have put a little beyond basic thought into this which is 10x the amount of thought one -needs- to put into something like this.  Because it is likely a fool's errand, but regardless, there it is.  The first bit is me posing a question to myself that I don't really know the answer to/have been too lazy to look up, in wondering just if the Day-Night tool can be set to slowly cycle through Day and Night or if it's a switch that means it goes from one time to another and perhaps back at the flip of that switch.  Obviously, the idea there would be to time it out so that you have something resembling 'real-time' (in game terms at least) so that every pass from day to night to day takes X amount of time, maybe 12 minutes.  Then, when you have that figured out, and this is the bottom part of the first post-it, you have a wheel with seven sensors on it to roll at the particular rate/speed with which it will pass.  So 24 minutes pass and that's enough time to take the sensor from 'Monday' to 'Tuesday'.

Then, if you're working on a timeline that is constant, 'programming' your NPCs becomes that much easier, since you have a set time-frame with which each one of them works within.  I don't know the finer points of how you can set your NPC/Sackbots behaviors, but I know it involves Microchips and you can 'record' actions for them, not only as standard (say, a patrol route) but as well as reactionary (the player getting within a certain distance of them) and with a little remapping via those Microchips, you could technically set up something that is like "Press X to talk" for your character's sackbot that will only function within a certain vicinity of one of these Sackbots.  And on the opposite end of the spectrum, with microchips, you can make sure the Sackbot has something to say upon being talked to.  Potentially with triggers, you could make sure that they have -two- things a day to say and default to the second thing after the first has been said so you don't just stand there and hear "Oh hi, great day today!" again and again.

And as you can see, the second Post-it is me trying to think out just how you could potentially partition up a Microchip or perhaps even have Microchips within microchips that would govern behavior based on the day that the sensor reads.  Like, being able to make NPC 1 go from Point A to Point B on Monday, but making that same NPC go from Point A to Point C on Tuesday....but far more complex than that, of course.  That's proof-of-concept thinking at least.  The way it would work is simply by tying each Microchip to the day sensor which only trips when it's active.  Considering you can only have one day sensor active at a time, it would potentially work, I think.  At least, I can't conceive of a reason why it -wouldn't- work unless you simply can't do Microchipception with chips inside of chips inside of chips.  I guess I'll find out when I grab the game on Vita since the tools are more or less supposed to be the ones from 2 plus some Vita-specific ones to take advantage of the touch screens and the like.

Of course, the thing about a version of Harvest Moon on LittleBigPlanet that I didn't realize until I had thought about all of the above for -far too long-, is that it simply won't work on principle.  This is because the whole point of Harvest Moon is to have a persistent world/game which is something that LittleBigPlanet simply cannot offer in the creation of a level/game/what-have-you.  It starts and ends at definite points upon being opened and is not something that you can drop in/drop out of on a whim after a save.  The only thing I could imagine to combat that would be a password system but that would be....yet another level of complexity that I cannot even comprehend.  Because the most 'simple' version I could come up with would be having everything down to statistics and assigning a letter/number to everything depending on your progression.  As in, if you were getting cozy with this NPC, that's "X" level, whereas if you haven't even talked to this NPC, that's "Y" level.  With as many things in such a game (number of animals, crops, etc.) that would get quite lengthy and you just would get people who don't care enough to enter a password -that long-.

Still, it got the creative juices flowing and that is definitely a good thing.  LittleBigPlanet isn't the only thing in those terms that I've been thinking about, but I'll save those for another day.  Since I've rambled on and on enough about this and taken far too long to do so.  Still, it's nice to actually have -something- to present that makes me look like I actually think about things instead of parroting off information as well as my opinion.  I mean, obviously, I have more than just that type of post but sometimes I really just like....well, it's not like I'm teaching anything, but that I'm putting something out there.  With any luck, I'll be able to pull this off as a proof of concept for...perhaps not a Harvest Moon type of game, but -something- of that sort.  Because I'm figuring if my derpiness can create something like this, the geniuses out there can take the idea and make it shine.  We'll see!


  1. Of course, the thing about a version of Harvest Moon on LittleBigPlanet that I didn't realize until I had thought about all of the above for -far too long-, is that it simply won't work on principle. This is because the whole point of Harvest Moon is to have a persistent world/game which is something that LittleBigPlanet simply cannot offer in the creation of a level/game/what-have-you.

    That's a shame- I'm honestly kind of surprised! Yet that's because I have yet to grab LBP of any stripe.

    1. It is quite a shame, honestly. And like I kind of alluded to, the only thing I can figure on to make it actually work would be a Mega Man-esque type password (Remember those days? They were something like sixteen characters or better.) system which I doubt a whole lot of people really want to bother with.