Electron Dance
13Oct/10Off

Neptune’s Price

Tom Jubert wonders if the short form dialogue tree could be gaming's equivalent to flash fiction. He put together a short example and then invited others to have a go. I had a go.

Here is my effort, Neptune's Price, the first game I have written in 15 years. The structure and words probably took around a couple of hours to get right, the code a few more. I'll be interested how quickly you solve it, but I'm sure you won't spend more than 5 minutes playing around with it. I'm also sure no-one will solve Neptune's Price on first attempt.

I suppose this is my artistic reaction to Neptune's Pride, a game that took over my life for nearly 4 weeks this year and never ever again. I'm sure it will interest my opponents more than the casual observer, but good luck on finding every unique game over condition - there are many.

Other than needing version 3.5 of the Microsoft .NET Framework present (Win 7 no problem; XP and Vista may need an install) you should be able to run this 400KB executable right off the bat.

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Comments (15) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Comments may contain spoilers. Read no further if you intend to give the game a whirl first.

  2. Nice, I figured out how to win! I think.

    Where’s the “call in Switchbreak to make a hail-mary interception of Ankaa’s forces thereby securing a solid third place” option?

  3. You know how large the dialog tree would’ve been with all eight players? =) Laura Michet seemed like the appropriate player to base this on.

    Also: When you say win, do you mean the last empire standing?

  4. This warms the cockles of my bitter, tired heart!

    I LIKE.

    What was the game you made 15 years ago?

  5. @lmichet – I wrote a lot of games over a decade or so on home computers, just one of them commercial. I’ll probably get round to talking about that stuff when I feel I can say something interesting and modern. Rather than just stroking my ego about how I used to be a hobbyist games developer in the old days, when the integrated microchips were made out of wood.

  6. @HM: Yeah, I was the last empire standing. Then I wrote my own ending where I leave my nagging husband who keeps making me feel bad for sitting on the computer :)

  7. Great stuff, must try to produce something new to compete ;-)

    The idea of a masochistic game that comments on the addictive psychology of its player isn’t entirely new, but I think you handled it with precision, and it’s interesting to see one game being dissected by another in an entirely different genre.

    I’ll be damned if it hasn’t made me want to go back to Neptune’s Pride though ;-)

  8. @TJ Hope you’ve having a grand time at GMA tonight. Yep, I don’t think I really did much new here, it was just having a dabble. There are around 40 different states for the game and I had the most fun coming up with you-are-defeated descriptions for just under half of them. I hoped that would ease the pain in looking for the right route to win the Neptune’s Pride lookalike. At least it does bear some resemblance to the strategy of a Neptune’s Pride game. =)

    @Anyone Did someone find the “real” ending to the game yet?

  9. As soon as you mentioned that there was a real ending I knew exactly how to get it.

    Nice work.

  10. So I started by allying with the Ankaans on one side, then got entangled in a war with Aspiration on my opposite border. Figuring I could count on my new allies to support me, I pressed on, and so was quickly eviscerated when they decided to stab me in the back on the following turn. Then I read the comments, realized I was playing as Laura, and felt extremely stupid. Fool her once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on…me again. Dammit. On the plus side, I think that qualifies as a “real” enough ending, no?

    @TJ: I think you’ll be damned if you do go back to playing Neptune’s Pride. This is not a civilized galaxy.

  11. @Switchbreak – I thought it would be “obvious” if I mentioned it. But I’ve only less than 10 people trying this out (I see downloads vs page hits – somewhat less than the downloads of DUDE ICARUS – I need to be part of an indie game jam, obv). I don’t have the wisdom of the internet to fish out the additional ending =)

    @Veret – trusting yourself is the worst thing you could do, right?

  12. Ha, this makes me seem like such an awful person! I suppose it’s better than the bumbling fool I was during our actual game.

    It’s pretty true to the spirit of the experience. Nice work.

  13. @BeamSplashX, I had to take some artistic license with actual events =)

  14. Oh, man. Confession time: I’ve been way behind on my RSS feed and I just saw this today. This is truly epic.

    My favorite ending is when you get into an impossible to win impossible to lose state by allying with and subsequently betraying everyone and getting stuck in an interminable war with Crossheart. This leaves me feeling like an exhausted and bad person. I dunno if this is the “true” ending, but it should be. I must say that I’m a little bit disappointed that Crossheart wasn’t a paranoid weapon-whore as per our game. No offense BeamSplashX!

    You should make another game called Neptune’s Price: East where you play as STARSPACKLE and you win by playing for 10 hours a day and allying with everyone in the entire game and then betraying whoever you think might win.

  15. @Kent, That’s okay I’ll wait for you to catch up. I hear your pounding footsteps just outside my door right now.

    The unwinnable attack/counterattack sequence is one ending, but you can win the game and be the last empire standing. However, that ending is still negative and I cast it as a hollow victory.

    There is one positive ending to the game which is easy to reach, if you know what to reach for.

    I wish I’d come up with that beautiful description of “”paranoid weapon-whore” for Crossheart’s strategy. I mean, it’s true, right? Oh and in the first version of Neptune’s Price there was a Starspackle to the East. Unfortunately, it was one player too many to handle. The decision tree was growing under my house and causing subsidence.


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