Number 10

Well, it’s time!

I’m trying to be better about actually doing Game in a Week games more frequently, so it’s time to start #10.  As I perused my book shelf, I decided that I wanted to use a selection from “The Peter Principle”;  an old business book which argues that most people in business are incapable of doing their jobs, on the basis that people are promoted until they are no longer capable of doing their job well, at which point they stop being promoted, thus leaving them in a job which they don’t do well.  But after five minutes searching, I was unable to find that book.

I did, though, stumble over my copy of “Parkinson’s Law and Other Studies in Administration”, by C. Northcote Parkinson.  This is also an old business book which observes (amongst other things) that work expands to fill the time allotted to it.  This is such a relevant insight for Game in a Week that I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of this book first!

It’s been a while since I’ve gone over the Game in a Week rules, so here they are again:

  1. Topic is chosen at random from a book, by opening the book at a random point.  The first full sentence completely on the left page and not containing any proper nouns (character names, place names, etc) provides the words which may be used in any way to construct a topic for the game.
  2. All design and coding work must occur within the 1 week deadline.  It is legal to select the random sentence from a book on the night before the week begins, but I am not allowed to start designing the game until the week has actually begun.
  3. The first release of the game must be posted by midnight (local time) at the end of the seventh day.  After that time, no further modifications may be made (apart from critical bug fixes, such as crashes or rendering glitches).

So. My copy of Parkinson’s Law was printed by Buccaneer Books, in Cutchogue, New York, ISBN 1-56849-015-1.  The book itself is copyrighted 1957.  My copy has library binding;  I hadn’t been aware that books with this style of binding were generally available to the public, but it’s very pleasing for a book of this vintage.  Very sturdy;  this certainly isn’t a book that will ever break its spine.  I ordered it from Amazon many years ago;  I can’t remember precisely why (although it’s a very notable book, often amusing, and full of observations which are still applicable today)

I randomly opened the book to page 20.  Which is missing page numbers owing to an illustration covering the bottom half of the page , so I had to find the page number by  flipping back and checking the previous page, which did have page numbers printed.  The sentence thus selected as a theme for this week is:

“Really,” says Sturdy, “I don’t know why I bothered to come.”

(The context is as part of an example of a technique to manipulate decision-making in a meeting)

Initially, I didn’t like this sentence, and was even on the verge of cheating and picking a different page for a theme sentence.  But upon reflection, there are fantastic possibilities, here.  “Sturdy” (which is the name of a character in the example being given) could imply some sort of physics-based game about structures.  “Really” implies some sort of discovery about what’s “real”, and “I don’t know why I bothered to come”.. well.. I’m not sure exactly how, but I love the idea of a game about a character going somewhere, when there’s no point to him having done so.  Imagine Super Mario Brothers, where upon successfully storming the final castle, you’re told, “Thank you Mario, but our princess was rescued five minutes ago by that guy on a charging steed.”  Or more simply, “bothered” is also a fantastic word and implies all sorts of game mechanics.  (And anyhow, if I didn’t cheat to avoid “One hundred and four.” back on #8, I’m definitely not going to do it now!)

The rules I set when I started this blog state that proper nouns are to be excluded from the sentence.  But that was really intended to keep me from feeling tempted to include well-known characters just because (for example) Hermione Granger was mentioned in a passage.  In this case, Sturdy is a barely-sketched character that nobody knows, and I’d be using it as an adjective, not as the character.  So at this stage, I’m inclined to bend the rules and include the word as an available theme word.

Plan now is to spend a few days mulling over the theme before I start coding.  But I’ll try to get a basic empty game framework up and working tomorrow, too.  Unlike previous Game in a Weeks, I’m intending to do this one fully in public.  I’ll be using a code repository hosted on GitHub, and will be doing a blog post every day, with updates on how I’m doing.

Am quite looking forward to this!