Ahem. Who here likes Verreciel? 🚀🎛🎶 I'm gonna talk for a while about Verreciel.

No, this isn't a surprise announcement. I'm doing work on Verreciel, and would like to talk about it, that's all. And this might be an interesting read, who knows?


For those who aren't familiar with Verreciel (as in "verre de ciel", which is Montréalais for "sky glass"), it's a minimalist space exploration game, where you kind of sit in a wireframe cockpit, fly to wireframe worlds and accomplish wireframe missions. It contains a music album by Aliceffekt!


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Verreciel is a very interesting project to contribute to. In many ways, the game is a tutorial— one that slowly pulls away, so that the instructions you follow become more and more abstract, leaving it to you to handle the details of operating your spacecraft and bartering at spirographic ports of trade.

Like most tutorial systems I've encountered, Verreciel's is rather brittle. Recent changes to the game's progression have required me to re-record the optional "auto-pilot" in the game.

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And here's the thing— while I can record my Verreciel gameplay, it's basically a log of every little button I press and in-game event I wait for, from start to end, and if I mess something up even once, I want to start over. It's Sisyphean! It's my pilgrimage.

The alternative is to rewrite large parts of the game's internals to be data-driven, and to program a "solver" that decides what needs to be done, and what to do first. I've done some of this, in a branch, but it's arguably a distraction.

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I've tried to make my gameplay logging easier, by speeding up the game clock, but this apparently subtly messes up the sequence of in-game events (like timers) that I'm waiting for.

I have a ten thousand line JSON file of logged clicks, literally everything the player clicks in Verreciel, in the order they click it, and I'm throwing it away, because the auto-pilot goes catatonic 10% of the way through.

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Aside from the dormant refactoring branch, I feel like I've got only two things to show for my progress.

One, I better understand the problem I'm trying to solve. It's a hard problem, but solving it would be fantastic, and could lead to new games or tools in our community.

Two, I better understand my motivations behind working on it. Verreciel is Devine's pride and joy, it's an awesome thing, that I want to last. It's in a real good place, its progression system just needs to be more reliable.

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And here's the personal crux of it: the awkward, error-prone, doesn't-handle-change-well, needs-a-robust-replacement progression system is a stand-in for me.

I'm brittle. I don't scale, or adapt gracefully to change. I'm not quite robust.

Which are all fine! I'm human, sure!

But I've got some really great friends, who I want to thrive, and I want to contribute support. I'm in a real good place. I just need to be more reliable.

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I'll take another swing at this later in the week. The glinting kinetic sculpture that is Verreciel's universe will be properly grokked by its resident ghost before too long, and it'll probably deserve a decent writeup.

And maybe the solution I come up with can help me, too. If I'm writing a program to prioritize things, so that they're done in the right order, then maybe I can, you know, feed it my life and goals and it can print me a tutorial.

I mean, probably not 😂 but we'll see!

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Okay, I might be crying a tiny bit. That's the surprise announcement.

Thanks for reading! 😅 Go play Verreciel!

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@rezmason Maybe the whole playthrough automation is a bit too much, Oquonie was definitely an easier candidate for that sort of thing. I'm sorry I broke the playthrough by changing the world XD I still feel bad about that

@neauoire Au contraire, I think it's 100% reasonable to expect Verreciel to withstand changes like these. 'sall good under the ultraviolet sun 😎

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Merveilles is a community project aimed at the establishment of new ways of speaking, seeing and organizing information — A culture that seeks augmentation through the arts of engineering and design. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.