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Advent 2021 day 9

 

Pension portability

Just heard back from the DWP.

Any contributions made in the UK cannot be transferred to another country.

Therefore, there appear to be two options:

  • Collect whatever pension applies in each country.
or:
  • Some weird complicated thing where the two countries will calculate my pension rights according to the contributions paid in both countries, and then they will each pay me according to the percentage of the total is their responsibility. So if, say, I have 32 years in France and 7 in the UK (a figure I plucked out of my backside), then France would pay 82% and the UK would pay 18% - of the total calculated pension.

I will apply for a pension forecast to find out if the UK side is worth bothering about. If there's enough there to potentially make a difference, or if they'll be like "you get twenty quid a week". I have absolutely no idea about British pensions. When I was making NI contributions, all that stuff was so far away that I didn't pay any attention to it.

Bloody hell. I thought the UK retirement age was currently 65, but no. For my age group (something like 1969 to 1977) it is 67, and for younger people it's progressively rising to 68 - for both genders.
If I had proper pension rights here in France, I could retire at 62. The 67 date is when France kindly allows me to retire with a proper pension, and the 68 date is an optional extra that I can choose to do (or not) for an increase on my pension.

I mean, it would be great if I'm in relatively good health and think I'll keep on chugging away until the mid eighties. Work one more year, get a bonus, and still have a load of time to sit out in the garden and daydream.

Mom thought that too.
Then as a little gift for her 70th, a diagnosis of cancer. She only got another year and a half and what with invasive operations and such, that time wasn't much to talk about. If there's something similar in store for me, well, that's only a couple of years after retirement.

Not, mind you, that I actually have any idea what the hell I'll be doing at that point (so in a way going to work will both keep me occupied and bring in a better income).
But I guess it would be nice if it's a cold and miserable day (pretty much November to early April) to say "nope, not getting up" and pull the duvet over my head.

 

Anyway, that's enough about pensions for now. I'll be retiring at 67 or 68 (2041 or 2042), which is an eternity away, and collecting either €880ish or €980ish a month from France (according to current legislation; it will be more in twenty years as inflation usually only goes one way). And, of course, whatever Britain decides.
I could win seventeen million on EuroMillions tomorrow evening.
Or I could be flattened by a cement mixer with a faulty tyre on the way home from work.

So, I have a target age/date and a target amount (all subject to change, of course, as the pensions get "reformed" and such), and that's pretty much that.

Twenty more years. Or around four thousand five hundred days. Or about thirty two thousand hours.
<shrug> Yeah, it's doable... ☺

 

Mamie Fletcher's House 9

Making things more challenging

The original game had nine levels (designed by me). I could finish the game in about fourteen minutes.

This was not good.

I suck at games.

So if I can finish it, it was not in any way 'hard'.

So I needed some ideas to make things more challenging.

 

Skill levels

The simplest way to make things harder is to have skill levels that tweak the game behaviour.
Skill levels
The three skill levels.

The skill level setting primarily alters seven things:

  • How fast the ghosts can move.
  • How many shots are required to get rid of a Mega Ghost.
  • How much fear being touched by a ghost inflicts.
  • How long the spider bite lasts for.
  • The background fear level ticker speed.
  • Whether ghosts respond to Lucy's current fear level, or her maximum during the game.
  • How much fear you get walking past a headstone.

As you can probably guess, the Mommy level is the simple one, whilst the Boringly normal is the one I play.
I made a bit of a whoospie when collating the levels prior to release. I had wanted it so that you "only just" had enough film to finish in Nightmare skill, but... yeah...

"There are 31 rolls of film available, making 1116 photos (with 36 photos per film). Easy skill requires 250 photos, normal skill requires 324 photos, and nightmare skill requires 398 photos."
Whoops.

Having said that, the Megas take four shots to get rid of, and by the end everything can outpace you, so I'm not actually sure if nightmare skill is actually finishable. Well, I'd be the last person to have an opinion.
If you do finish in nightmare skill, do get in touch. There ought to be a Wall Of Fame or somesuch.

 

Doors

An easy way to make things more challenging is to have a door, like this:
A door
A door.

But how to open the door? Well, for that you need a key. Duh.

If there's a key to be found, it will be found inside a teapot.

A teapot
A teapot, is there a key within?

Looking for a key means you'll need to drink tea. Which might mean you need to get yourself suitably scared in order that the teapots 'appear'. Which means 25% or more fear. Then you can drink tea. And if you pick the right teapot, collect the key and the door will be opened. There's no fancy animation, it'll just cease to be there.

Mind you, it's not as easy as that, as The Storeroom level will have demonstrated. On some levels, there are several teapots accessible prior to the door. Each has the capacity to contain a key, however as the level starts, one and only one is randomly chosen to hold the key. Which means if you think up a good strategy for avoiding the ghosts and grabbing the key....it might not be there the next time you play that level!

In terms of game tactics, sometimes it's not useful to get rid of every ghost you see. You might need a ghost to touch you a couple of times in order to have enough fear to activate the teapots.

 

Spiders

Argh! Spider!Spiders were devised as something that all creepy old houses have, hell there are loads of spiders here and I'm not even living in a creepy house. There's a big wolf spider sitting on the top of the monitor staring at me. I call him Nigel.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes. Spiders. There can be up to ten per level. The basic handling is the same as for ghosts. These, also, run autonomously, simply passing a period of time in there web, and then descending on a thread, before climbing back up it.
As you can see from the screenshot on the right, if the spider is over a 'nothing' tile, it will descend down through two levels.
The speed of the spider is fixed. If I remember correctly, it's three pixels every three frames.

When the spider is on its web, it is harmless. You can jump up and have your head brush against it, and it won't get stressed.

But should the spider be dangling on a thread, get too close and it will bite. The poison in the spider bite will not kill you, but you'll get some fear (5%, 10%, or 15% depending on skill) and it will immobilise you (~1 sec, ~3 secs, or ~5 secs). Being immobilised while ghosts are chasing you...not a good look.

 

Headstones

When Lucy dies, a headstone will appear in that place.
It's practically a cemetery
It's practically a cemetery.

You can jump over headstones, but try to walk across them and you'll gain a sizeable amount of fear (depending on level) which is more than a ghost will inflict upon you.
Because in a meta sense, Lucy is acutely aware that a previous incarnation died at that point. Serious heebeegeebees.

That's not all. There's an extra little twist. The headstones are saved into the game level state, so will appear in those same places even if you restart the game from the beginning.
The only way to clear them is to completely quit the game, and then reload it.

I did consider poking the game description array to have the headstones never go away, but thought that such a thing was perhaps just a tad excessive. ☺

 

Growing fear

You might notice that the fear counter slowly increments all by itself even if you're doing nothing. This is because there is a fear timeout. What this starts off as depends upon your skill level (two minutes on mommy skill, otherwise one minute). When the timeout is reached, you'll gain 1% fear, and the timeout will be set to half what it was before. This will continue until the timeout is five seconds.
It won't go lower than five seconds, but it does mean if you dawdle or admire the scenery, you'll get 1% fear every five seconds. It might not sound like much, but it can add up (12% per minute).

 

Level design

In one of my levels, there's a one-way drop. Vince's levels... there are many things to trip you up, like a fall just above a ladder...
Be careful here!
Be careful here!

...or how about a triple hole-in-floor to jump?

Be extra careful here!
Be extra careful here!

Both are possible. If you jump away as soon as you reach the top of the ladder, you won't fall. And if you line yourself up exactly correctly, you can make the triple jump.

Then there's this.

It's a proper level, you just can't see the tiles.
It's a proper level, you just can't see the tiles.

As the caption says, the tiles (steps, ladders, holes, etc) are all there. You just can't see them. Good luck!

 

The purpose

All in all, these things have been done in order to make a more satisfying game that provides more challenges and variety.

Can I finish the game now?
That would be telling!

 

Tomorrow, beyond the pale and the sound effects.

 

 

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Last read at 13:18 on 2022/11/28.

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