Category Archives: Paraplu


Over the past couple of days, I’ve done a lot of work on the equipment system. It was harder than I expected, but now you can equip various types of items that determine how your attack works. This is the core of the “algorithmic shooter” concept we originally devised together. In Paraplu, your attack is calculated based on three types of equipment. From our internal planning site:

– Weapon determines ROF, bullet type, range, damage.
– Costume adjusts ROF, damage, range. “Firing upgrade”. No costume should be objectively better than another, and most should offer similar factors of improvement. We want costumes to be valuable and interchangeable throughout the game.
– Accessory adds special effects of all kinds: number and direction of bullets, explode on impact, swirly paths, poison, fire, et cetera. “Meta upgrade”. Practicality of these can vary widely.

Mirror Match

I have got the mirror system working, basically. This is how you equip weapons, accessories, and costumes. It was remarkably difficult to make a system that simply opens up a menu, then opens up another menu based on the item you chose. Those old NES RPGs full of nested menus must be a lot more sophisticated than I ever imagined.

But, in the process of getting that working, I really refined the whole concept of the focused (foremost) interface box, and the management of interface modes. Now the game always knows pretty clearly what is going on, and it should be easy to add more multiple-step interfaces.

I also factored some code out into functions, for doing common things like figuring out the selected item in the foremost menu, constructing the syntax needed to show an item’s icon and name side by side, and unfocusing the focused box.


Cabinet vs. Wardrobe

Not a whole lot of work today, but I’m trying to keep some momentum going. I added a wardrobe object (with awful programmer art, of course) to accompany the cabinet object in the atelier. Now, different types of items are stored in the different containers: materials in the cabinet, and costumes in the wardrobe. We’ll need to add a vanity for accessories, too, once we have some of those.

It occurred to me lately how strange it is that at work I’m a designer who keeps his hands off the code, and in MOMO PAX I’m a programmer who keeps his hands off the graphics.

K Groove

I had a nice time coding in the little food court at Whole Foods today.


– After several hours of work, taught our most basic enemy how to avoid obstacles. This is way harder than it seems, and I had to write in a bunch of psychedelic drawing effects to visualize what what happening in the code. It turned out I was telling it to go in a direction only if any obstacle existed that it wouldn’t hit, rather than if there were no obstacles that it would hit.

– Fixed a weird string-length bug that became apparent when resetting the description box for an item.

– Started moving the main character to a specific spot on the screen when moving between areas, so that you can’t arrive stuck inside a bush.

A Groove

I was determined to get into a Paraplu groove today, because it was the first time in a couple of months that I had a significant chunk of free time to myself. After getting energized by some bass-playing, coffee, pinball, and Ar tonelico music, I sat down to plow through some coding and planning tasks. It went well!

– Designed a master chart for all enemies, the items they drop, item rarities, and crafting recipes.

– Wrote a system for enemy spawners.

– Added a spawning effect for when enemies appear from a spawner.

– Wrote the item drop probability system. Enemy types have the possibility of dropping one of each of a common, uncommon, or rare item. The probabilities of dropping one of these rarities of item, or any item at all, is customizable per enemy.

– Made it so that items you collect in adventures properly appear in your inventory when you visit your atelier.

– Filled in all of the items, rarity rates, and recipes for the items we have in the game so far. You can theoretically craft a Peasant Dress in the game now if you keep at it, but once I collected the ingredients I immediately got stuck inside a bush.

**Update:** I’m unstoppable!

– Subclassed Interface as TextBox and ViewBox, because once again that class had gotten huge. It was taking up half of the “guys” source file! Really cleaned up how the interface guys work.

– Added enemy portrait and description, in their own little boxes, to the bestiary system.

– Added item description, in its own box, to the inventory system. We have written lots of cute little bits of text about the inhabitants and artifacts of Nettle-Belfry, so this is a big step.

**Update:** My unstoppability continues!

– Set up statistics for how many times you have beaten a certain type of enemy.

– Made the bestiary hide enemy info until you beat that enemy at least once.


Well, today I did some serious drawing engine improvement.

We now have a new type of Guy called Scenery, which has a strictly limited functionality consisting of sitting there and doing nothing at all. At the moment they can’t even animate, be transparent, or have a tint. We could add those functions in later if we find that we need them.

We now only redraw the map layer guys when a moving guy passes over them. This means we save a ton of cost that we were expending to redraw every single map tile every single frame. I made an awesome effect to test this; it causes the color of the scenery to fluctuate wildly each time it’s redrawn. (Jules, you can see it by uncommenting line 217 in

I started an experimental algorithmic shadow rendering that I think is kinda neat.

1D Inventory

Goodness, has it really been 8 months since I posted? We have been very busy with real-life stuff, but the Momo Pax spirit continues. For a while I was working on implementing a 2-dimensional inventory grid like in Diablo, but it turned out to be pretty prohibitively complex. In the *getting something done* spirit that started Paraplu in the first place, I scrapped the 2D inventory and whipped up this 1D one in about half an hour.


Paraplu: Ordered Layers!

Whoa, I just completed the ordered layer drawing system. Before, all Guys on a particular layer were drawn in whatever dang order the game pleased. This was fine in Soft Landing, because it had a purely side-on view and it was unlikely to matter which of any given pair of peers on a layer draws in front of the other. But Paraplu has a kind of hybrid top-down and side-on view, like A Link to the Past. So when two Guys overlap, it’s important for the one that’s higher up on the screen to appear behind the one that’s lower down.

Python made this pretty easy with its custom comparison functions for sorting. These ordered layers just use this loop for drawing:

for oneGuy in sorted(layer.sprites(), cmpY):

Instead of this one:

for oneGuy in layer.sprites():

And the cmpY function is just this:

return -cmp(a.rect.bottom, b.rect.bottom)

Super simple! Thanks, Python and Pygame!

Paraplu: Sequential dialog boxes

It was surprisingly tricky to create a system for a series of dialog boxes that appear one after another. Soft Landing’s novel part is based on conversation scripts for doing just that, but in Paraplu’s running-around-shooting-stuff engine, we didn’t really have any way of doing it. Now the game keeps track not just of whether there’s a dialog on screen to be dismissed, but also what kind of dialog it is, so that it knows whether to bring up another when that one is gone. Currently the only thing that uses this is the “workshop” where you can craft items into other items, but in the future we might want to be able to just load arbitrary lists of strings in there and set up long narratives.

Paraplu: Items

Julian and I both love items. One of the aims of Paraplu is to be delightfully item-rich. You should be excited to discover and collect items, admire their cute little icons, read their descriptions, and carefully consider how you’re going to budget them to craft other items. Yesterday I started in on the item system: enemies now drop stuff when you kill them, and when you collect items they are added to your inventory.

We’ll need to decide on a mechanism for which enemies drop which items. At the moment I’m thinking of a system in which: each item is assigned a rarity; each level is assigned a list of possible items; each enemy is assigned a likelihood to drop items of a each rarity. I wonder if Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Unique, to blend a bit of Magic the Gathering with a bit of Diablo, would be enough.