Whew, July has seemed like an unproductive month for Watcher. In reality, I think lots was done, but it's mostly about learning. I have spent lots of time reading a book on character and story design. I haven't done much of that, and I'm the one to do it for this game, so I decided to learn a little about it.
As for actual development, this week I managed to squeak in a targeting reticle that can tag multiple targets, and a missile launcher module complete with enemy-seeking missiles. It all actually works quite well. The targeting reticle may also be used for ship-ship communication.
A major design decision I am facing right now is how to make the cities structured. I plan to have communication happen between ships, and I would really like to make it so the only written story comes from those communications. I am realizing that I will probably need to have some story communication happen in the cities as well. So when you go to the market to buy commodities the merchant tells you something important, for example. It would be cool from an immersion standpoint to make the player actually walk around the city and talk to people and go to shops and stuff. For one thing, that adds a ton more artwork that I'm not going to have time to make, and for another thing I think it would take away from the game. The fun part of the game is going to be flying the ship and dogfighting with enormous capital ships while bombing bases and protecting allies.
A recent flash game I've been playing (another reason for my lack of major progress) called Caravaneer has an interesting idea for cities. They just drew an arbitrary map of each city in real real simple form, and landmarks are indicated with an icon. So there's a well at each city, and a shop, and a market, and a doctor, etc. Each city has a different layout, but they all have the important landmarks. Another thing Caravaneer did is a good dynamic economy. I once thought of doing this before, but threw it out because I didn't feel it would contribute to gameplay. Now that I've seen what can be done with it, I just might have to put it in. It's not just randomly dynamic... it's market driven. So if a shoe-making town runs out of leather, shoes run out of stock, and the demand for leather grows dramatically. If you keep making shipments of leather to the town, eventually the demand goes back to normal and you won't make much money off of it.
Anyway, I might try that method, and if there's some important person you need to talk to, they will have a landmark on the city map.
Another reason this month may have not been quite so productive for Watcher is ...
Lauren was born! She's a cute kid, and we're glad to have her. Sleep at night is a little more precious now, though. Luckily Jared doesn't wake up to her wailing very much. Like, I think he's woken up only once in the week that she's been home.