Nov. 19th, 2013

pnathan: elephant bypasses fence to drink from pool (Default)
My major upcoming (side) project is Critters, a game I'm writing. It's design for mobile phones - specifically, the Firefox OS phone. Being as FirefoxOS is HTML5+JS for a front-end, this means that it will work on arbitrary browsers (which are relatively modern). The basic idea is a virtual pet game, but I plan to make it quite a lot more. In particular, I plan to build certain AI features in over time. Why is that? Well, I noticed that, hey, a lot of mobile phone games are kind of uninteresting; not much intellectual enjoyment.

So Critters is an exploration into what that will take. How much fun can you pack into a virtual pet game, anyway?

Well, the initial fun is going to be driven by Ridiculously Photogenic Pets. Primarily, my cat Amos. You'll be able to play with a virtual Amos at first. For someone who grew up playing Warcraft 2, Unreal Tournement, etc, this is pretty lane. So...

After the initial version is viable and spinning along, learned behavior will be the next key upgrade I'll make: how you interact with your pet will matter over time. Poke your cat? Eventually he'll be upset at you and not purr (& do other things)! The overall learned behavior ideal is to have behavior I never dreamt up showing up in your pet's actions. Pretty cool IMO.

Prosaically, the business model is going to be up-front payment + in-app purchase for add-ons for your pet(s). Fundamentally, I want to ensure that my user's interests for giving me money are aligned with me getting them a better game experience. Ads are such a poor experience in my experience!

On the sheer geek front, my plan is to publish the API and have an official specification. The official spec will be encoded as a Haskell CLI program. This way iOS, Android, and other applications can be created if someone really wants to make them.

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