I have effectively finished the second year of my BA, and can resume work on an unrelated project: Switch. I started Swich during my leave of absence last year and after re-enrolling I have been torn between my art and interactive storytelling practices, to the detriment of both, I suspect.

This is how I left Switch:

Screen-shot of Switch as of 29/05/2012

I'm not happy with most of the dialogue. The above seems too prolix, imprecise and metaphorical. While this may have been my intention, I now hope to achieve something similar by referring mainly to specific events and experiences. Of course, I need a good application to edit the dialogue script. I have considered returning to the general web-based JSON editor I used before, but have instead resolved to write my own in Visual Studio. This should teach me a lot and make my writing process a bit less clunky. It is especially convenient considering that most of the worked examples in the book on C# and object oriented programming sitting on my desk are in the Visual Studio environment.

Here is my first messy sketch for the application:

Low quality image of sketch for user interface and data structure of dialogue editing application.

Humble origins, I know. However, since this is the only task I've set myself other than finishing up this semester's animation and research for my dissertation, I think I stand a fair chance of pulling it off.

I posted some time ago about the dialogue system for Unity I am working on. I have made some progress since that post, and now have a system in place for importing dialogue information from external files. Namely, humble TXT files, using the fairly simple JSON format.

At present, I can enter data in a text editor, save it, and the rest is automated. This is almost a viable way of authoring content, but for two problems.

The first of these is human error: I might miss a comma here or accidentally enter an extra brace there, rendering at least part of the file unreadable. The second problem is that this method renders the writing process fiddly and slow. Any sudden burst of activity on my part might be stymied by my endless, repetitive copy/paste operations and double checking for errors. Ideally, any repetitive work which favours consistency is carried out by a machine.

I may be forced to bite the bullet and put most of my effort into writing a decent editor for my files. This will mean getting my head around Windows forms or something similar and may stretch my minimal coding skills. I can always work on my files in a text editor until I build or find something better.