Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.
The Magic Circle is an indie game in development by Jordan Thomas, Stephen Alexander and Kain Shin. It takes place inside an unfinished game, one you can see being built around you. And when I tested it, for reasons I won’t go into, my objective was to ‘Ghost the Sky Bastard’.
The trouble was, the Sky Bastard was across a large gap, and I can’t fly. I can trap the various creatures scuttling around this land, and when they’re trapped I can edit their behaviour. But behaviours are like inventory items: if you’ve only found one creature with ‘fly’ as a behaviour, you can take that out, but you can still only put it in one other thing to make it fly.
That was a shame, because I had a small army of dogs. I’d been editing pretty much every one I found. My first, and favourite, I have programmed to hate corpses, so every now and then he scampers furiously off and I know there’s a dead body somewhere nearby.
Luckily, though, I’ve also found a ‘hive mind’ behaviour. This makes one creature copy all his other behaviours to every other creature of his type. So if I change Corpsehater’s movement type to flying, then give him hive mind, all dogs will fly.
That would be cool. But I still don’t know if they’ll win against the Sky Bastard. So I also give Corpsehater a trait called Last Word, which poisons whoever kills him. Since he also has Hive Mind, now I have an army of dogs, killing any one of whom fatally poisons you.
But wait: now they don’t need their bite! They’re gonna kill him anyway. So I can replace Corpsehater’s bite attack with a tractor beam, and then I’d have an army of flying tractor beam dogs, which is, as the saying goes, its own reward.
The last thing I have to do is motivate them: you can’t control your AI allies directly, so I have to program them to hate the Sky Bastard. I do so.
White datastreams erupt from Corpsehater’s head and arc over to each of his seven dog friends, copying his traits to them. All eight dogs sprout helicopter rotors and lift into the air. All eight dogs turn to face the Sky Bastard, and all eight dogs float off towards him. Once they’re in range, all eight dogs emit tractor beams at him, pulling him off his platform to fight them in the air. And he can fight them fine, but alas, all eight dogs are made of poison.
To be honest, I couldn’t entirely parse the aerial fracas as it happened – but at the end of it, the Sky Bastard was definitely ghosted.
Nick: Is that a game, or a post-coding fever dream?
And are programming game-logic games the new procedural generation?
The end point of this trend would be developers giving you a C++ compiler and saying have fun.
William: This sounds really fun. Like Creatures but... malevolent.
Jabberwok: After a cursory search onlne, I'm still uncertain whether this game exists.
Magnificentophat: Very delayed response, here's a link to the steam page if you never found it since you wrote this comment.