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Messages - Rickton

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So this past week we hit a big milestone. After nearly four years in development, Possession is finally winnable! The final level and final boss have some special mechanics going on, but now they're implemented (at least as a rough first pass, I'm sure when testing comes in there's going to be a lot of tweaking).

I don't want to spoil that, though, so instead he's a screenshot of the stats and achievements screen, which is something else that's new since last time:

Since my last post I have actually managed to get a lot done, but the last month or so have not been very productive, because I got married. Turns out that helping plan a wedding is a lot of work (go figure, right), so development had to fall by the wayside.

I'm still hoping to have the game done by the end of the year, but unfortunately the last few months of the year are generally near-constant game sales on Steam (that's not a confirmation they *will* be, because I don't know and even if I did I wouldn't be allowed to say, but that's the way things usually go). I really don't think launching when last year's AAA games are on sale for $10 is a good idea, so no matter what happens release won't be until next year.

I am hoping to have closed beta testing started this year, though, so keep an eye out for that, although that might also be a bit too optimistic given family holiday stuff that's going to be happening as well.

Remember, Possession is now on Steam, so be sure to check it out and wishlist it!

Not published yet, but I believe I used the Stateless AI article as a starting point.

EDIT: I guess technically the Possession 7DRL was released, and it did.

A couple of announcements.
First of all, I've finally decided to just call the new game Possession, for reasons detailed in my earlier post.

Second, and more exciting, the Steam page for Possession is live! If you're a Steam user and you're interested, go ahead and wishlist or follow it to be notified when it comes out!
On the "when it comes out" note, on the page I've put down a tentative November release date. I'd like to actually get it out in October, but I'm also getting married at the beginning of October so I'd basically have to to have the game done in September to release in October as soon as I get back from my honeymoon, and I'm not sure that'll happen. Things are coming along, but I have no idea how long testing will take.

Although I haven't been posting here much, I am posting about Possession more regularly on twitter and the Weirdfellows Facebook page, so give those a follow for more regular, shorter progress notes.

Off-topic / Re: Planescape Torment Enchanced Edition!
« on: April 16, 2017, 01:06:13 AM »
I'll probably pick this up. I have the original off GOG but that resolution is tough to deal with.
I didn't get very far when I tried to play it the first time. I never played any Infinity Engine games before, and apparently Planescape is the worst for combat, so not being used to it I didn't like it (the writing and story did seem really good though), and barely being able to see anything just made it worse. I'm playing through Baldur's Gate 2 right now, so hopefully after that I'll find it more bearable, though I don't even really like the combat in BG2 much either.

Developer's Lycaeum / Re: Possession 2 - Playable!
« on: March 28, 2017, 09:21:35 PM »
Crossposted from

A while back, I was cautioned (by Darren Grey, actually) about naming the game Possession 2, since the first game was just a quick project I made for the 7-day roguelike challenge that I never really spread around after the challenge, and almost nobody has played it or heard of it.

As we get closer to a point where releasing this game actually looks like a thing that might happen, I've been thinking about it, and I kind of agree. This game's going to have enough against it with the programmer art graphics and my total inexperience with marketing, I don't want anyone who might be interested passing it up because they'd never heard of the first one, or because it seems like a shovelware sequel to some crappy shovelware game.

The name of the original game was Possession: Escape from the Nether Regions, which I could potentially use for this one since the premise is the same, but they're different enough I'd like the original to stand as its own thing. I'm considering Possessor: Escape from the Nether Regions, but that might be too close as well.

I'd like to keep something along the lines of "Escape/Return from the Nether Regions" in there, because

1) Escaping from the Nether Regions is literally what you're doing

2) I think a tagline is more interesting than just a single-word name

3) It's weird, so hopefully it'll grab attention for at least a second or two

4) It shows that the game's tone is not 100% serious

But I could be misguided on that, too, because maybe that would turn people away, maybe they'd think it's nothing but sex jokes or something.

Anyway, I'm probably overthinking this, but I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts. Hell, if you have some other name suggestion unrelated to anything, I'm open to hear that too. Any and all thoughts welcome!

Developer's Lycaeum / Re: Possession 2 - Playable! And on Greenlight!
« on: February 28, 2017, 10:52:59 PM »
Crossposted from

These past few weeks have actually been very productive, last week especially. In fact, this past Sunday I actually worked pretty much a full 8-hour workday, which I don't even know if I've ever done before on a personal project. Definitely not since I've been keeping track.

I've completed animated and non-blurry images for the majority of the creatures who already had images, helped in large part due to switching over to Pyxel Edit, which is a program made for animated pixel art. It's helped with that workflow tremendously over the last program I was using, Pixelmator, which is also a great program but more of a photoshop-lite than a pixel art and animation tool.

It's a really nice program. It's still in beta, but it works great. I swear I'm not being paid by them, but if you're interested in making sprites, I'd recommend checking it out.

One big thing I was putting off for a long time was working on the final level and the final boss fight. No spoilers here, but the final boss requires special AI code unique from all other creatures. It seems to be a rule that whatever you put off because you think it's going to be really hard and time-consuming, ends up not being that big a deal once you actually get down to it (the downside is things you think are going to be quick and easy sometimes end up being hard and time consuming). Writing the boss's AI was actually pretty simple and only took about an hour. Of course, it might need to be changed due to testing, but we'll see.

What happened here?!

So the game is *this close* to being actually winnable. Which I'm sure would be a huge psychological boost for me because it'd make it feel that much closer to being done. On that note, I've been doing a lot of interface "juiciness" work, as well, and everything I do on that front feels great too, because it makes the game seem more and more finished. I'm sure someone else has said this before years ago, but UI work seems like exercise or meditation: it kind of sucks while you're doing it, but really does make things feel better in general.

You can highlight and target creatures on the sidebar now.

Now, there's still quite a bit of work to do, a lot of the levels need polishing (some more than others; the tavern for example is probably going to stay pretty much as it's been). But these days every step seems like it puts the game closer to being finished, unlike before where sometimes adding things seemed like it was just adding more work to do.

Events and News / Re: Jupiter Hell - Update THE KICKSTARTER IS LIVE!
« on: November 20, 2016, 11:51:44 PM »
If it doesn't use any graphics, sounds, or names from or similar to stuff from Doom, there's not really much they can do. The gameplay is nothing like Doom either. You can't copyright "fighting demons in space."

Developer's Lycaeum / Re: Possession 2 - Playable! And on Greenlight!
« on: November 06, 2016, 01:32:15 PM »
Sunday still counts as "this week," right? There's a new preview build of Possession 2 available. Download it!

This build features the same levels from the last release, though there's been a lot of interface improvements, a tutorial has been added, and creature graphics are now animated. It also includes the ability to save your game!

Content-wise, there's been some additions and tweaks to many of the creatures on the levels, as well as in some cases the levels themselves. I've also made some changes to the way possession works. Now, possession has a cooldown that increases the more bodies you possess, as well as an "adjusting to body" period where you don't fight as effectively, that also increases the more times you possess things.

Check it out, and please feel free to let me know what you think. I'm especially curious as to how people think the changes to possessing work.

Developer's Lycaeum / Re: Possession 2 - Playable! And on Greenlight!
« on: October 31, 2016, 11:20:56 PM »
So, there's not a new build ready today. Some bugs popped up (plus it's Halloween, I dunno how I realistically expected to get work done tonight). But should be ready some time this week.

Developer's Lycaeum / Re: Possession 2 - Playable! And on Greenlight!
« on: October 25, 2016, 11:48:36 PM »
Crossposted from

Wow, I knew it had been a while since the last post, but I didn't realize it had been a year. Hold on, this is gonna be a long one.

For a while, I wasn't really doing much work on Possession 2 at all. Actually, going by my notes, from May until August I didn't do any work on it at all. Going from working at night to a "normal" 9-5 job left me worn out and feeling like I didn't have the energy to really do anything after work. That's been getting better (partially due to other reasons), so I've been getting more work done. Sometimes taking a break for something and coming back to it gives you a lot more motivation to work on it; I'm finding working on the game much more enjoyable than I did a few months ago.

Another big event happened as well, which I think is also a big help with motivation to focus on the game:

Possession 2 got greenlit!

For those who don't know, that refers to Steam Greenlight, the process by which you get on Steam, which is the largest platform for PC game distribution. In a nutshell, you post up screenshots and description of your game, and people vote if they want to buy it or not. Eventually, if you get enough votes (or something, it's kind of an opaque process), you get "greenlit" and are allowed to sell the game on Steam (after filling out a bunch of paperwork and stuff first, of course). Honestly, I'm not sure how it happened, because I was nowhere near the top 100 games on Greenlight, which is what general consensus says is where the games that move on are chosen from, but whatever, I'll take it.

So what else has happened in the past 12 months?

One big feature that's in the game now that I'd been putting off for a while because I thought it would be a pain in the ass (but ended up being really easy) was saving. And unlike the first game, you can have multiple saves! That is, multiple characters saved at once, not multiple saves per character. It's still a permadeath game. I'm not entirely sure if you'd necessarily need to have multiple characters saved at the same time, but why not.

I've also tweaked possession itself some. Possessing other creatures is generally much harder, especially if they've noticed you. However, if you try and fail to possess something, it weakens their resistance to it, so if you keep plugging away you'll eventually get them (unless they're unpossessable entirely, but the game will let you know about that).

The possession ability now also has a cool down if you're not in ghost form. Every time you possess another body, it increases by one. And, when you possess a new body, you'll have to spend a few turns adjusting to your new body. The number of turns increases the more bodies you possess as well. Combined, these changes make it a lot less optimal (or possible!) to just hop from body to body in combat. You actually have to fight now.

Making things harder to possesss also adds more risk to the player, so I've also added warnings that let you know if a possession you're about to try could put you in a dangerous position if you fail.

Another minor quality of life change, creatures that haven't noticed you have their colors muted, so you can tell at a glance who is paying attention to you. This is in both the graphical and ASCII versions:

Speaking of graphics, I'm currently in the middle of a pretty large project involving the creature graphics. The way I make the graphics is I first draw them in a 16x16 pixel sized image, then blow it up to 32x32 pixels, which gives it the chunky pixellated look. The program I was using at the time (Pixelmator) automatically anti-aliased the graphics when they were resized. At the time, I liked it, because it gave a little texture to them, and I didn't mind the blurriness because I thought it made it look kinda old-school, like sprites on a CRT TV or something. But over time (and seeing it on higher-resolution screens), I realized the blurriness is not great, so I'm redoing the graphics in a new version of the program that lets me resize them without anti-aliasing:

The good news is, most of the files I saved in the 16x16 format, so I don't need to redraw most of the graphics, just resave them. I'm not sure if it's going to be worth it to redo all the level graphics or just the creature ones.

But, because I like making more work for myself, I'm also adding animations to all the creatures. The screenshot jumps a little because not all the animations loop at the same time, but it covers the general gist of the idea.

I think it'll make the game world look a little more interesting and alive, but I'm adding in an option to disable them if the player disagrees. These animations also will obviously only appear if graphics are enabled, not in the ASCII version.

I've also added other so-called "tweening" animations, like smooth movement, and health bars:

And exploding a creature is a little more dramatic now...although unfortunately my screen record software's framerate is too low to really show it off. You'll see what I mean soon.

I've also added (optional) tutorial messages that show up as you play the game.

In addition to UI stuff and graphics stuff, gameplay and content work has of course continued...including on the three levels that were in the demo. There will be some changes to the Eldritch City level including "open" rooms, differently shaped rooms (which I may talk about in a later post), lights and decorations:

I've also tweaked a lot of the enemies' powers and behavior on all three levels, so things might play a little bit different from last time.

Last but not least, music! Originally, I was in talks with someone to make music for the game, but that's fallen through, so I've been playing around making some cheesy tracks on my own. I don't know if they'll be ready for the next preview build or not, though.

Speaking of, when is the next preview build? Since it's October, I'm hoping to aim for a spoooooooky release date of Halloween. That's less than a week away, though, so we'll see.

With this preview release, I'm hoping to almost all the interface and backend stuff done (aside from changes that might come up through feedback from player testing, of course). Pretty much everything left to do will be content/art/music (knock on wood), and most of the rest of the levels and creatures are at least partially-implemented.

As for when everything will be finished? All I'm prepared to say for certain is "not this year." Beyond that, I'd like to make a promise or even a guess, but given my history on working (or, more accurately, NOT working) on this game I don't think that's smart. After all, I originally planned on finishing the game in a year, and we can see how well that turned out. I'll just say that at this point, I really do feel like finishing it is actually achievable, which, if I'm being honest with myself, is not always something I've believed to be true over the past year or so.

Announcements / Re: Streets of Rogue (now at Alpha 13 "So Twitchy")
« on: October 01, 2016, 02:47:32 PM »
Wow, this game is actually pretty impressive. Enough content right now it's definitely worth messing around with. Haven't gotten too far, so I dunno how many levels there are, but definitely looks like it's one to watch.

Early Dev / Re: Demon: A monster collection roguelike
« on: April 27, 2016, 12:09:02 AM »
Hey. :) Thanks for checking Demon out, I'm glad you're enjoying it! Anomaly: 2 is pretty amazing for a first run. :D Congrats!

Re: Resting, Demon uses a bit of a different scheme than most roguelikes. There is no reason not to rest up between fights... but on the other hand, encounters are balanced assuming you've rested between them. Of course, that makes the timed recruitment events you pointed out require some pretty efficient conduct to succeed at (though in some cases, the thing you're trying to recruit is willing to help out.

Good luck on your second run. :D
Apparently I had a lot of beginners luck first go round. Happened to pick a good relic/power combo, had some lucky early recruits...haven't made it past tower 3 again yet!

Early Dev / Re: Demon: A monster collection roguelike
« on: April 25, 2016, 09:37:49 PM »
So I'd seen this game pop up in the Early Dev forums but hadn't checked it out until now. Just died for the first time on Anomaly 2.
I'm impressed. The game is really good! Don't know what they were like before, but the credit system seems to work well (though I'd maybe suggest a more thematic name than credits ;)). I really like the way you can customize your player and your demons with merging and transferring abilities. The variety of demons and powers also means that you have to switch between them a lot (although I did manage to make a super-healer fairy that I never unsummoned). I liked the variety of recruitment events too, I was expecting it to be just SMT-style negotiations (not that there'd have been anything wrong with that), but there was some neat variety in there (I really liked the Headless special recruitment!).

From a game design standpoint, the only thing that really sticks out at me right now is resting. Since there's no food clock or anything, there doesn't seem to be much reason *not* to rest after every battle (unless you're in a timed recruitment event).

I'm really enjoying it though, time to go pick a different relic and see how a second play through goes.

Interesting...sounds like there are some pretty substantive changes here besides the species. For one, the XP from potions only not from killing probably changes up some strategies quite a bit.

Ah, the Fabled Year of the Linux Desktop was also something that never happened

Linux has a desktop I guess. I think this is getting off-topic, but who cares. Linux has couple of problems and it's true that non-commercial nature of the OS is one of them. You have to be able to release games in binary mode compatible with all linux versions, which I hear is impossible. So Linux will never have software it needs to be a complete OS for real life use. The real problem is that linux people don't get it. They only see what they want to see, from their point of view. It's like these non-roguelikes that claim they are roguelikes, because it's a genre or in this case a "brand" for marketing.
So when a roguelike is commercial it's bad, but when an OS is non-commercial it's bad. Got it.

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