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	<time pubdate datetime="2003-05-22T13:20:00+01:00">
		<sup>1:20<abbr>pm</abbr> • 2003</sup>
		<abbr title="May">May</abbr> 22
	</time>
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<h1>Kroc Camen Writes: #2</h1>
<p>
	This is one of <a href="/writing/kroc_writes">a series of personal letters</a> written to / from
	<a href="/writing/kroc_writes#tanner">Tanner Helland</a> during 2003–2005. These letters cover—in immense
	detail—events in my life during that period, including many unfinished and aspiring designs and creations. As a
	person however, I have changed from the inexperienced, often immature person I was and my skills in programming and
	web-design have changed just as radically.
</p><p>
	These letters have been republished to give deep insight into the way I tick, and to show a lot of background work
	that lead up to the concepts and skills needed to produce this website, which ultimately I failed to do so back
	then.
</p>


<h2>About the Letter</h2>
<p>
	My over-emotional behaviour shows through here. I over reacted, grand-standed and was a general arse, hell-bent on
	having things my way. That said, it was a valid fact that changing from top-down to <dfn title="isometric">iso</dfn>
	three years into the project was hardly a sign of nearing completion. The biggest hurdle to progress in the project
	was democratisation of everything and I tried to change that (badly) but it was already too late to turn the ship
	around.
</p><p>
	The second half of the letter I am trying to plead a case for ‘design’. I had come to feel that nobody was
	listening to me and my long, tiring and heavily bigoted arguments did not help. I didn’t have any perspective to
	draw from so all I had was this belief that only I could do things right, and everybody else was wrong.
</p>
<section id="p1"><!-- ==================================== page 1 ============================================ -->
<h1>Kroc Camen Writes</h1>
<p>
	<strong>Damn bad luck.</strong> This is the third letter I’m now writing, having lost the first one in a crash,
	the second one arriving a day after you flew out to Canada and now I hope this damn third one gets there!!
	<img src="/writing/kroc_writes_2/angry.png" alt="angry" width="14" height="14" />
</p>
<aside>
	¹ The finished version of this image can be seen <a href="/art/clint_v_franklin">here</a>.
</aside>
<p>
	There’s a copy of my previous letter included, plus a
	<a href="/writing/kroc_writes_1/clintvfranklin.png" type="image/png">photo graphic print</a>¹ I didn’t get to
	include the first time I sent the second letter and of course, this the third attempt at reaching you. Well just
	in-between letter two and three so much bad stuff has happened that I don’t know if I’m going to be able to fit
	it all on this letter.
</p><p>
	For starters there’s some really bad news, bad news at a bad time. Having only just left for Canada and your two
	year trip it saddens me greatly to tell you that I’m no longer a member of
	<dfn title="The Lost Alliance">TLA</dfn>.
	<img src="/writing/kroc_writes_2/sad.png" alt=":(" width="14" height="14" />
	<br /><br />
	The story is a long one, but here goes:
</p><p>
	As you know we’ve pretty much started from scratch since the changing to <dfn title="The Lost Alliance">TLA</dfn>
	and it came up the decision to use 2D or isometric. Flat level isometric got the winning vote for the game. But it
	wasn’t until a little after that, that things started going downhill. Now you know that so far my main input is
	the map editor—MapApp. I posted an order of operations laying down a new constructive phase for the team. Each
	member was going to work on an In House Tool and keep in communication with other members for making decisions as we
	meet them. I had to build MapApp, Asuka the game engine, Vegeta the Character Editor, Clint—tilesets and
	experimental artwork and finally DragonFyre—experimental music and demos.
</p>
<aside>
	² Tanner’s own VB6 image editing app.
</aside>
<p>
	Now that I had laid the new order down I realised that converting MapApp to iso was going to be a true pain in the
	arse, and that’s just the start of the problems. Y’see you may know that MapApp has been re-programmed from
	complete scratch 5 times to reach it’s latest incarnation. Originally it was RPGMaker, and there were two versions
	of that, then after that came two versions of MapMaker and then finally MapApp. The reason it’s been re-written so
	many times is that each time the code has become so messy the program eventually fell totally apart. So after
	HoTMeaL, I started MapApp, the ultimate Map Editor written with ultra clean code. Having re-written the editor so
	many times and having written many, many more editors in the past I feel safe to say that I know exactly how long
	it’ll take to change any part of the program. I know it inside out. In fact it would be exactly the same if I
	suggested, for example—Add a batch wizard to photodemon². You’d know exactly how long that would take and how
	much work it would be, but I wouldn’t have a clue.
</p><p>
	So in exactly the same way you can understand that despite people’s claims that “you only need to convert it to
	iso”—it’s actually a bit more work than that—in fact it is a complete re-write from scratch amount of work.
	That might sound over the top, but just like you know Photodemon, I know MapApp and I could quote you down to the
	minute how long it would take to do any changes on it. So I wasn’t too happy with changing MapApp to iso, but
	that’s only the start…
</p><p>
	For starters I was not happy with this “back to square one” choice of <dfn title="isometric">iso</dfn>. It meant
	that I had to dump a perfectly good editor leaving the team nothing to show for themselves at all. And I wasn’t
	prepared to spend a month re-writing MapApp into iso. Problem 2 is so, so grand, so macroscopic, so long-term
	important that goes beyond saying that problem 2 will either make, or break
	<dfn title="The Lost Alliance">TLA</dfn>’s future.
</p><p>
	Problem 2 is Fundamental Isometric Design. There exist a few good games done in isometric, it has its place in the
	annals of game history but when it comes to classic map walking RPG’s (And not fighting RPG’s like Diablo) then
	isometric really isn’t ideal. Multi level isometric is a trade off, since it allows you to have ramps, hills and
	stuff like that to liven the game up and re-create most of which is possible in 2D design. But the team decided on
	flat-level isometric.
</p>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 2 ===================================== --><section id="p2">
<header>2</header>
<p>
	Flat level isometric is a curse. In flat level, programming effort is spared by having all tiles either flat or a
	wall. Therefore in flat level iso it is not possible to have stairs, ramps, or hills or anything remotely
	interesting. Now if reprogramming MapApp wasn’t enough trouble, I then have to deal with trying to make maps using
	a completely boring system, can you imagine an RPG that hasn’t a single flight of stairs? The team are not
	designers, I am. But my pleas for them to not use iso and go with 2D were not heard, because the programmers thought
	iso was easy and there was no reason. They of course were thinking on a programmatical level and not considering at
	all the need to have fun, engaging and interactive game maps that people can enjoy.
	<br /><br />
	To cut weeks worth of arguments down, it goes like this:
</p>
<ul>
	<li>Kroc posts an overriding decision to use in game 2D for the good of the project, because nobody was
	listening to reason before hand</li>
	<li>Replies read along the lines of “Fuck you, you ain’t my boss”</li>
	<li>Kroc begs for team to go 2D because great map design is key to a great game</li>
	<li>More off topic replies from the programmers, thinking strictly programmatically again</li>
	<li>Kroc begs more and states that he’ll have to leave if the team sticks with iso because he’s unprepared
	to re-do the whole of MapApp and is not motivated towards iso</li>
	<li>More off topic replies relating to how “easy” it is to program iso, and completely ignoring the far more
	important fact of game design</li>
	<li>Kroc leaves and nobody bats an eye-lid. They are sorry to see me leave but would rather stick with a
	decision that they could change then keep me</li>
</ul>
<p>
	Leaving may seem drastic, but I had plenty of careful thought, I’m not motivated or driven towards iso. Flat iso
	maps are boring and lame and I don’t want to make a boring game, <abbr title="enough">’nuff</abbr> said. The
	team have decided and stuck with it, I don’t want to go a direction that I’m not happy with. So after a year of
	service it’s good bye, but it’s sad to say that the project has had it’s doom sealed.
</p><p>
	Tanner, I’m on this team to give what I can. That special gift I have is design, it’s a beautiful gift that I
	can give to the team to improve the project and now that I’m no longer there I can’t give that and the team is
	honestly doomed to mediocrity.
</p>
<aside>
	³ Another RPG project at the time, the bitter irony being that they actually managed to make something.
</aside>
<p>
	In the industry, teams always have a lead designer, and it’s the role of the programmers to realise the designs of
	the team designer, programmers do not design games because you would end up with naff games like
	<a href="http://www.gamers.fr/image/soulofsphere_pc/03.jpg" rel="external" type="image/jpeg">soul of sphere</a>³.
	This lack of respect for my position as one of the most important positions in the team has lead to the team losing
	the only person on the team who is capable of making this project a “commercial quality” game, since
	‘design’ is the bringing together of media and programming to create something special.
</p><p>
	Even with naff graphics a game can be great—it’s all down to its design. And a website might not be an ideal
	example, but I’m as good with game / map design as I am with web-sites.
</p><p>
	SoulOfSphere is sure, a technical achievement for it’s programmers but there’s not a single decent designer on
	the team and as such, the game is a b’zillion miles away from ever being called “Commercial Quality”.
</p>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 3 ===================================== --><section id="p3">
<header>3</header>
<p>
	I’m going to show you something that is going to make this concept clear as day, the following is a program a
	friend is writing, it’s a wizard. Metaphorically let’s say this represents the game that the team makes.
</p>
<img src="/writing/kroc_writes_2/wizard1.png" alt="A plain looking installation wizard screen" width="510" height="401" />
<p>
	And this is metaphorically speaking the same game, but with me designing it—the code is the same, and it does the
	same thing.
</p>
<aside><br />
	The star symbol was “Star Software” my logo long before Camen Design came into being. To add to the gaudiness, it spun in 3D with an onion-skin effect.
</aside>
<img src="/writing/kroc_writes_2/wizard2.png" alt="A jazzed up version of the previous wizard screen" width="505" height="424" />
<p>
	And that’s what the team is missing out on without me. Unfortunately they don’t realise that and perhaps it
	would’ve been different had you been there.
</p>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 4 ===================================== --><section id="p4">
<header>4</header>
<p>
	Well anyway, despite my pleas and my begging for the team to change their mind to 2D, it hasn’t happened so I
	won’t be staying with the team, ish.
</p><p>
	There’s nobody on the team, or this planet for that matter, that’s gonna be able to be the team’s webmaster.
	So I am staying on as the webmaster but I don’t have access to the forums (other than the web / updates forum).
	It’s a big shame that I won’t be able to lend my talents to the team, and worse is that the team will be without
	me, and the game won’t be as great as it can be (certainly not commercial quality).
</p><p>
	Tragic as it is, I must move on. I have Badly Drawn Adventure (ProjectY) and I intend to complete this to show to
	the team, and to the world, that I’m capable of creating a great game, one that wins over bad graphics with style
	and design. To put it frank, a big “up yours” to anybody who never trusted me or believed me
	<img src="/writing/kroc_writes_2/happy.png" alt=":)" width="14" height="14" />
</p>


<h3><dfn title="Music Sample Pack 5">MSP5</dfn>:</h3>
<aside>
	⁴ Described in the <a href="/writing/tanner_writes_1">first letter</a>.
</aside>
<p>
	On the note of <dfn title="Music Sample Pack 5">MSP5</dfn>⁴, I did get around to posting it but was locked out of
	the forums the day after so I never got to see if there were any replies
	<img src="/writing/kroc_writes_2/hmm.png" alt=":/" width="14" height="14" />. I asked Clint if he could e-mail the
	replies so I could forward them to you, but he said that he was also thinking of writing to you and would send them
	your way himself.
</p>


<h3>Less About Me:</h3>
<p>
	And as is with tradition, at least 90% of all my mail is usually all about me
	<img src="/writing/kroc_writes_2/smile.png" alt=":D" width="14" height="14" />. So let’s change from my
	depressing stories and ask you a few questions.
</p>
<ol>
	<li>
		<p>
			How has your schedule been so far? I heard you were very busy and short on time; now you’re at
			Canada has there been any changes?
		</p>
	</li><li>
		<p>Are you adjusting to life without computers?</p>
	</li><li>
		<p>
			And how’s the food?
			<img src="/writing/kroc_writes_2/smile.png" alt=":D" width="14" height="14" />
		</p>
	</li>
</ol>
<p>
	Well, that’s all there is to say really, s’pose I should wrap this letter up now.
	<br /><br />
	Until Later,
	<br /><br />
	<em>Kroc Camen.</em>
</p>
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