Essays about game development, thinking and books

Concept document for a space exploration MMO

The expected poster for the game. (c) DALL-E

The expected poster for the game. (c) DALL-E

As a hobby, I write concept documents for games. This is first in English. I have a few more in Russian and will eventually translate them.

One more concept for The Tale 2.0.

Title

Lords Captains MMO

Yep, it's a rip-off from Warhammer 40k and Rogue Trader, but it will do for the concept.

One-liner

Explore the infinite universe on a starship with millions of souls on board, unite and develop abandoned worlds.

Platforms

Browsers, mobile.

Genre

Exploration-driven trade-political MMO PVE sandbox.

Closest analogs

EVE, Sim City, Crusader Kings, 4X games, Rogue Trader.

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About the book "Piranesi"

Cover of the book "Piranesi"

Cover of the book "Piranesi"

"Piranesi" is both a continuation of the magical stories of Susanna Clarke and an independent book.

The book has no direct connection with the world of English magic [ru] from "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell". If desired, one can find a connection and even say that the worlds are the same, only at different times: the events of "Piranesi" take place in the early 2000s. However, the author did not give any hints on this. Therefore, I consider the worlds to be different for now.

Susanna continues to persistently and effectively dig not even in the direction of animism as the basis of world perception but in the direction of extremely holistic view of the world, in contrast to the currently dominant reductionism.

The latter blows my mind. As an engineer, I'm an intuitive reductionist due to professional deformation. Reading "Jonathan Strange" and "Piranesi", I felt how Clarke, like Peter the Great, cuts a window in my brain to another picture of the world, a different world perception. And it's wonderful.

By the way, don't confuse holism with, say, an engineering view of the world, a-la systems engineering [ru] or even science. The latter is about decomposing reality into isolated parts with clear boundaries and synthesizing "pure" models of the world [ru], while in holism, the parts have no clear boundaries and penetrate each other.

So, "Piranesi"

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Computational mechanics & ε- (epsilon) machines

I found a few new concepts for tracking.

Computational mechanics

There is computational mechanics, which deals with numerical modeling of mechanical processes and there is an article about it on the wiki. This post is not about it.

This post is about computational mechanics, which studies abstractions of complex processes: how emergent behavior arises from the sum of the behavior / statistics of low-level processes. For example, why the Big Red Spot on Jupiter is stable, or why the result of a processor calculations does not depend on the properties of each electron in it.

ε- (epsilon) machine

The concept of a device that can exist in a finite set of states and can predict its future state (or state distribution?) based on the current one.

Computational mechanics allows (or should allow) to represent complex systems as a hierarchy of ε-machines. This creates a formal language for describing complex systems and emergent behavior.

For example, our brain can be represented as an ε-machine. Formally, the state of the brain never repeats (voltages on neurons, positions of neurotransmitter molecules, etc), but there are a huge number of situations when we do the same thing in the same conditions.

Here is a popular science explanation: https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-new-math-of-how-large-scale-order-emerges-20240610/

P.S. I will try to dig into scientific articles. I will tell you if I find something interesting and practical. P.P.S. I have long been thinking in the direction of a similar thing. Unfortunately, the twists of life do not allow me to seriously dig into science and mathematics. I am always happy when I encounter the results of other people's digging.

My GPTs and prompt engineering

Ponies are doing prompt engineering (c) DALL-E

Ponies are doing prompt engineering (c) DALL-E

I've been using ChatGPT almost since the release of the fourth version (so for over a year now). Over this time, I've gotten pretty good at writing queries to this thing.

At some point, OpenAI allowed customizing chats with your text instructions (look for Customize ChatGPT in the menu). With time, I added more and more commands there, and recently, the size of the instructions exceeded the allowed maximum :-)

Also, it turned out that a universal instruction set is not such a good idea — you need to adjust instructions for different kinds of tasks, otherwise, they won't be as useful as they could be.

Therefore, I moved the instructions to GPT bots instead of customizing my chat. OpenAI calls them GPTs. They are the same chats but with a higher limit on the size of the customized instructions and the ability to upload additional texts as a knowledge base.

Someday, I'll make a GPT for this blog, but for now, I'll tell you about two GPTs I use daily:

For each, I'll provide the basic prompt with my comments.

By the way, OpenAI recently opened a GPT store, I'd be grateful if you liked mine GPTs. Of course, only if they are useful to you.

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Dungeon generation — from simple to complex

What we should get.

What we should get.

This is a translation of a post from 2020

This is a step-by-step guide to generating dungeons in Python. If you are not a programmer, you may be interested in reading how to design a dungeon [ru].

I spent a few evenings testing the idea of generating space bases.. The space base didn't work out, but the result looks like a good dungeon. Since I went from simple to complex and didn't use rocket science, I converted the code into a tutorial on generating dungeons in Python.

By the end of this tutorial, we will have a dungeon generator with the following features:

  • The rooms will be connected by corridors.
  • The dungeon will have the shape of a tree. Adding cycles will be elementary, but I'll leave it as homework.
  • The number of rooms, their size, and the "branching level" will be configurable.
  • The dungeon will be placed on a grid and consist of square cells.

The entire code can be found on github.

There won't be any code in the post — all the approaches used can be easily described in words. At least, I think so.

Each development stage has a corresponding tag in the repository, containing the code at the end of the stage.

The aim of this tutorial is not only to teach how to generate dungeons but to demonstrate that seemingly complex tasks can be simple when properly broken down into subtasks.

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