The Red Market Dev Log #12: Cutting Out the Faff

In today’s fortnightly dev log: I did some things, and didn’t do some others.

Bit of a small update today. I’ve been very busy with work recently, and I’ve also been busy planning: (a) my wedding, (b) my honeymoon, (c) bringing nearly 20 family members over to Japan for my wedding, (d) a move later in the year, and (e) career changes for both my fiance and me.

Woe is me, I’m getting married and spending quality time with my family. I know. I’m not complaining, but just letting you know that development this fortnightly sprint has been slow. I only managed to do some of what I wanted to do, so the rest is going to spill over into the next sprint.

What I Still Need to Do:

  • Completely revamp the game’s Stat system
  • Revamp the game’s Injury system, to include stacking injuries, and strategic, cost-benefit decisions about when to heal injuries
  • A few uninteresting UI changes

I’ll talk about these next update, assuming life doesn’t keep finding a way to slow down development.

What I Did Do:

  • Rebuilt the game’s item system in a pretty significant way.

Before the player could buy everyday items like writing supplies, offal, and heavy-duty emetics, then use them on monsters. (to communicate with a mouthless shape-stealer, or to fatten them up before selling them on, etc.) These items could be bought, and were lost upon use – if you ran out you’d just have to go and buy some more.

I made it this way for one main reason: to make the player careful about what items they use, and when. Using the right items with the right monsters could unlock some pretty cool, useful interactions, and if the player can just repeatedly try using every item with every monster it’d (a) be very boring, and (b) lose any sense of challenge or mystery.

However, I’ve noticed this had some downsides. Most importantly, it can lead to a lot of busywork on the part of the player. In a graphical game the player might be able to click on a menu and instantly buy whatever items they want. But since The Red Market is text-only, a player who runs out of an item has to click to return to hub -> click to go to the market -> click to buy the item -> click to return to hub -> click to go to monster -> click to use item.

I ended up doing some stuff behind the scenes to speed all this busywork up, but I realised that it was still busywork – just slightly faster busywork. Not only that, but it was taking dev time away from actually interesting stuff.

So I decided to make items permanent unlocks instead of single-use. Now, when you buy an item you can use it again and again, forever. They’re a little more expensive, as a result, but it takes a lot of the faff out of playing (and making) the game.

How am I going to prevent players from using every item on every monster, then? Well, in the full, graphical version of the game (which I’m planning to start work on after finishing the current text-only version in July) there’s going to be a cool-down system in place, so players have to wait between interactions with their monsters. However, this is very difficult to implement in a text-only Ink game, so I’m going to just have to trust the player to not waste their own time doing something incredibly boring.

That’s it for today. I’m hoping to finish everything listed above by the end of the next sprint, and ideally upload a new build of the game then.


(And remember, you can follow me on Twitter by clicking here. The current early version of The Red Market can be played online here, if you haven’t already.)



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