Author Topic: Possession 2 - Playable!  (Read 11954 times)

Rickton

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Possession 2 - Playable!
« on: November 15, 2013, 05:26:26 PM »
Latest news:
There's now a preview build of the game! Last updated Nov 6, 2016. Three complete levels from the final version are playable!

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Original Post:
Apologies if this is in the wrong place, wasn't sure if here or the Incubator was better.

   Recently I've begun working on a sequel to my 7DRL Possession. I don't know how widely-played it was, but from what I've seen people talking about it, it seems to have been pretty well-liked. Anyone who's played it, feel free to chime in with your opinions on how you think the changes I'm suggesting are terrible ideas that ruin the basic concept that made the original game so great.

   Obviously the new game will feature a ton of new content and more varied maps, but I'm also considering making some mechanical changes as well. In my mind, one of the strengths of roguelikes is that the player's choices are important. When a wrong move can wipe out your entire game and nothing can be taken back, being forced to choose between two unknown outcomes has a lot of impact.
   However, in Possession, there are a couple of places where I think the choices aren't that difficult, because the right choice is obvious.

   The first, which may not really be that much of a problem, is that there's no incentive to continue exploring the level once you've found the stairs. There are no items or treasure to pick up, so you're not going to find anything useful. The only reason to stick around would be to prepare for the boss fight.
   One way I'm going to change that is by some levels having keys or bosses/mini-bosses scattered around that you have to find/defeat before going to the next level, rather than the boss just showing up when you try to go up the stairs. (Keys would be abstracted, there still won't be an inventory, because I just feel like dealing with items while switching bodies all the time would be a major pain).
   I'm also considering putting "soul orbs" scattered around the level that enable you to increase the powers of your ghost and maybe even gain special abilities, but I'm not too sure about that. I feel like that might detract from the central premise of the game, that your ghost is totally weak and powerless except for possession.


   The second, and in my mind more important problem (because it involves the central mechanic of the game), is that it's almost always better to possess a new body instead of stay with your current one. Granted, if the new body is a different monster you have to make the decision of switching to a different monster that you might not like as much as the one you're possessing, so that's fine. But if you encounter another copy of the monster you're currently possessing, there's no reason not to pick the new one. Either the old body's already been in some fights and so has taken damage, or if not, fighting the new monster will cause the old body to take damage, so you might as well just possess the new body and keep full health.
   I've got a few ideas on how to make this choice more interesting. First of all, I'm pretty much certain I'm going to have the possessed creature "level up" as you defeat other creatures. This'll also make it so that lower-level creatures are still useable in higher-level areas; in theory, I'd like it to be possible (if extremely difficult) to play through the whole game while only possessing a single creature.
   In the old game, damaging a creature made it easier to possess, but possessing a creature healed it completely, so really the only risk you faced was that you might accidentally kill it. I'll probably also change it so possessing something doesn't heal it completely, so you have to weight the consequences of damaging it to make it easier to possess, but also meaning it'll be weaker once you DO take control.

Then there are a couple of other ideas I'm tossing around that'll change the way things work a bit more, that I'm more interested in getting feedback on:
  • You have to leave your current body to possess a new one: In effect, using the possession skill while in a body will automatically leave it, even if the possession fails.
  • You have to be next to a creature to possess it: Using the possession skill will cause the ghost to zoom to the target. This also makes it riskier because if you fail you have more of a chance of being attacked (I'd probably make it so the intended target would be stunned for a turn, so failing a possession isn't a guaranteed insta-kill, but you'd still have to worry about enemies NEAR your target).
  • However, if you're in a body AND next to the target of the possession, you don't have to leave the body (but the chances of success might be lower than if you were out of a body).

Anyway, if anyone has any comments about any of the above, feel free to chime in. I'm normally pretty bad with doing dev logs, but I'm really going to try to actually post stuff about the development of Possession 2.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 10:54:54 PM by Rickton »

Jo

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2013, 03:13:16 AM »
Just in case, do you realize this game was one of the top rated games of the 7DRL?

It even got a perfect score from one of our reviewers, the only perfect score in the competition.

http://www.roguetemple.com/7drl/2013/

As you can see you tied for first!

There is quite a bit of commentary in the reviews there.

7DRLs are rarely that widely played, but this one was solid as hell. I'd love to see what you do with it.
Klingon RL, Gunfist 7DRL, Cardlike 7DRL, Cardlike: Quest for the Goat Horn, Sun Crusher 7DRL, The Littlest Princess 7DRL and dozens of board and card games.

Jo

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2013, 03:26:54 AM »
Note there is a video play through from Game Hunter as well.

His commentary is invaluable. He did a vid for every single 7DRL game. Crazy man.

The vid is linked from the link I, um, linked.

Please tell me you knew about this? That you 'won' the competition?

If you didn't know then please come back and tell me, I would LOVE to have been the one that broke the news to you 8 months after the fact.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2013, 03:31:43 AM by Jo »
Klingon RL, Gunfist 7DRL, Cardlike 7DRL, Cardlike: Quest for the Goat Horn, Sun Crusher 7DRL, The Littlest Princess 7DRL and dozens of board and card games.

Rickton

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2013, 05:59:12 PM »
Hah, no, I definitely knew (has it been 8 months already though?). That was very cool to see. There is definitely some good stuff in there (well, from 2 of the reviewers anyway). I'd seen Game Hunter's video, it actually was responsible for the majority of the interface changes I made for the post-comp version...watching someone else playing and commenting on your game is really enlightening.

I attribute a lot of my success on the tools I was using...I was using LÖVE, which is a lua-based game framework, so I didn't need to worry about writing graphics code, or keyboard and mouse code, I just had to write the game itself. And since everything was in Lua, I didn't need to recompile, I just needed to restart the game to see my changes.

Anyway, I've implemented some of the changes I talked about in the top post: having to leave the body and zoom to the new one before you possess a new one unless you're already next to it. It works pretty well on the lower levels, I haven't made it to the higher levels without dying (usually due to something not working how it should) or crashing yet though, so we'll see how tough it is with enemies who have low possession chances.
I should have a dev version up for testing today or tomorrow.

Jo

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2013, 09:52:21 AM »
Cool.

I'd love to have been the bringer of that good news though.  ;)
Klingon RL, Gunfist 7DRL, Cardlike 7DRL, Cardlike: Quest for the Goat Horn, Sun Crusher 7DRL, The Littlest Princess 7DRL and dozens of board and card games.

Rickton

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2013, 08:04:30 PM »
OK, here's a version testing some of the possession changes I talked about in the first post. Possessing a creature you're not next to causes you to automatically leave the body you're in (exploding it, natch), and zoom to the new body. If you fail to possess it, it's stunned for a turn, so it won't just attack you and kill you immediately (though you do have to worry about other nearby enemies).
No new content, it's basically the same as the first game aside from the above changes, though there are some interface improvements (and the cavern generation code has been tweaked to allow more variety).

Mac Version
Windows Version (untested)
.love file (Usable on Mac, Windows or Linux, requires LÖVE Client

Rickton

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2013, 11:17:29 PM »
I've added in projectiles, which are a feature that was sorely missing from the first game.
Pictured here, my test case: a skeleton throwing its own bones at people.

Darren Grey

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2013, 05:21:46 PM »
As the person who gave you a perfect score I suppose I should comment on how you could improve on that... ;)

I agree on many of the design changes you suggest. However I think forced keys/minibosses is a bad idea. If you feel the exploration is lacking in the game then cut it out entirely. Make the levels smaller, but with the other stairs still a guaranteed distance away. With smaller levels you can still do minibosses - just have every 3rd level be the proper boss. You can also keep the same enemy types across these sections before the boss fight leads to an environment change.

Levelling up your ghost seems wrong. The whole "weak ghost" thing was really appealing to me.

A bit of levelling up possessed creatures seems good. But I also did like how "disposable" they could be at times, and it was nice to be forced to try other creatures, even if the creature you switched to was technically weaker. Don't make it too hard to switch between bodies, just enough that it's a tactically interesting choice. And don't make staying in one form too advantageous, since it would be really boring to find one "ultimate" creature that you just stick in for the rest of the game. In particular be careful with any healing you allow, and have proper caps on added power from experience.

Looking forward to seeing what you produce :)

Rickton

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 05:45:41 PM »
Thanks for the comments, Darren! (And for the perfect score  ;))

I agree on many of the design changes you suggest. However I think forced keys/minibosses is a bad idea.
The keys and minibosses wouldn't be for every level. I'm going to be putting in special levels (think DCSS's branches vs. main dungeon), and was thinking of the keys/minibosses for some of them. I'll try it out and see if it's too annoying.
I might also, rather than forcing players to explore, come up with powerups or something scattered around that they can pick up (limited-time buffs, healing, etc.). Carrot vs. stick approach, I guess.

If you feel the exploration is lacking in the game then cut it out entirely. Make the levels smaller, but with the other stairs still a guaranteed distance away. With smaller levels you can still do minibosses - just have every 3rd level be the proper boss. You can also keep the same enemy types across these sections before the boss fight leads to an environment change.
I don't really like the idea of keeping the same enemy types across multiple smaller levels. That just kinds of seems like adding unnecessary padding just to make the game longer. I am planning on making the game longer, but doing it by adding more content.

Levelling up your ghost seems wrong. The whole "weak ghost" thing was really appealing to me.
Agreed. After thinking some more about it, I've scrapped that idea.

A bit of levelling up possessed creatures seems good. But I also did like how "disposable" they could be at times, and it was nice to be forced to try other creatures, even if the creature you switched to was technically weaker. Don't make it too hard to switch between bodies, just enough that it's a tactically interesting choice. And don't make staying in one form too advantageous, since it would be really boring to find one "ultimate" creature that you just stick in for the rest of the game. In particular be careful with any healing you allow, and have proper caps on added power from experience.
Yeah. Bodies should definitely feel disposable. The mechanics should support the callous disregard the ghost apparently feels for the dungeon creatures. I just don't want it to be an obvious choice to switch to another one, there should be trade-offs. The way I'm leaning, possession is probably actually going to get easier...just more risky if it fails.

Looking forward to seeing what you produce :)
Thanks! It's always good to know someone out there enjoyed something you've made.

Rickton

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2013, 06:25:19 PM »
Semi-crossposted from my development blog

The new game will feature graphics (though ASCII will remain as an option), and I've got someone better than me at that working on them, hopefully I'll be seeing what he's done this weekend.
For the time being, I've been texting out the graphics code with some pixelly programmer art:

I actually kind of like them, but hopefully my artist's art will be better. At the very least, it makes screenshots more interesting, at least to non-ASCII-literate people.

I've also added and fully implemented the first new creature of the game: the caretaker! He’s found on the first level, and is a sort of stealth-based character.

He has some unique abilities that aren’t really like anything in the first game. First of all is Undead Repellant, which keeps undead from noticing you (though they’ll still notice you if you attack them!). The second one is Undead Bait. If you throw it at an empty square, it will make nearby undead congregate around it. But, if you throw it at another creature, it will make all nearby undead attack THEM instead!


(Unfortunately, after taking the screenshot I noticed that the creature will also attack ITSELF, so that needs to be fixed).

Jo

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2013, 12:57:41 AM »
I like your tiles. Very clear. Lots of fun.
Klingon RL, Gunfist 7DRL, Cardlike 7DRL, Cardlike: Quest for the Goat Horn, Sun Crusher 7DRL, The Littlest Princess 7DRL and dozens of board and card games.

Rickton

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2013, 05:45:30 PM »
I like your tiles. Very clear. Lots of fun.
Thanks. We'll see if that ends up being the final style or not.

New devlog, crossposted from my blog. "Artificially Intelligent Tourists."

I've made some improvements to the creature AI, using a lot of the information from this article as a starting point. Different creatures now behave in different ways...most still act like they used to, blindly charging at you and attacking you. But they can also be (and become) hostile to other creatures, and fight them rather than you! Some types of creatures will even be friendly to you if you're possessing one of their own. They also have the ability to get scared and run away, or, for more long-range creatures, try to maintain a minimum distance.

These behaviors can also be combined to result in interesting behavior. For a good example, we have Tourists. Tourists are now "hostile" to all other creatures, but they won't attack outright. They prefer to hover around their target without getting too close, occasionally taking pictures, and running away if they're approached. Occasionally, the creature they take a picture of will get pissed off and start chasing them trying to attack them.


(Recommended soundtrack)

They're a nuisance, because their camera flash will stun you, but if they're focused on one of your enemies they can be helpful, because the camera flash will stun your enemies, too!

Sidenote: Before I had the maintain-minimum-distance code in and set the tourists as hostile to other creatures, they'd roam around the level attacking other creatures. Since I also hadn't finished the code that makes creatures hostile to things that attack them, they offered no resistance, so the tourists were basically traveling around killing everything. Games as social commentary!

This new system also has better support for passive creatures. For example, Snailpeople are described as peaceful. In the old game, they'd only attack you if you attacked them, except that the way the AI was written, they weren't aggressive enough to pursue you if you attacked them and then ran away, or were attacking them with a spell from far away. Now, they'll ignore you if you leave them alone, but if you hurt them, they'll chase you with no forgiveness. Some creatures also ignore you unless you get too close to them.

The new AI also includes AI for follower creatures, so they're slightly better now, finding their own targets to attack rather than waiting for you to target something. Creatures are also able to follow other creatures, for example necromancers now spawn with a few zombie followers.

All of these improvements do come at a cost though. On my 6-year-old laptop, the new AI code is 10 times slower than the old code. Not much of an issue, for my computer it now takes a 10,000th of a second per creature rather than a 100,000th of a second, so there's no noticeable change. But if it gets too much slower, there would be (and actually, there was, before I improved a certain part of the code that was being unreasonably slow).

There are still some improvements I'd like to make, but we'll have to see how much of a hit they cause performance.

Rickton

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2014, 07:43:29 PM »
Crossposted from my blog.

Happy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Writing devlog posts just kind of fell behind over the holidays, but work has continued.

Today I’m going to talk about the levels. Possession 1 had just one level generator. It worked pretty well, and made pretty good-looking caves, but there wasn’t much variation.

I’ve added some more randomness to the cave generator, so that sometimes it makes more open cave and sometimes more enclosed ones, but I’ve also added three more level generators. They all will receive some more tweaking as work continues, but here’s what they look like so far:

The “BSP Tree“:


Click to enlarge.

The standard seen in most roguelikes, this generates a bunch of rooms and links them together with corridors.

The Maze:


Click to enlarge.

Pretty self-explanatory. Generates a maze. To make it more interesting, I remove all the dead ends (except two, where I place the entrance and exit), and add some extra passages and rooms.

The “Drunk Walker”:


Click to enlarge.

It needs a little more work to ensure that more of the level is open, but this builds random, more natural-looking tunnels across the level.

There’s more new stuff in levels besides changes in their shape, though. There are going to be special levels (the first of which is almost finished and will be the subject of a later post), as well as modifications that can be made to basic levels, such as adding rivers (of water, lava, blood, slime, etc.) and chasms, or covering the level in (flammable!) grass and trees:


Click to enlarge.

I’ve also written the graphics code for tiles in the levels themselves. There are seperate tiles for walls depending on what other walls they connect to, and various floor tiles to make the level look more varied. You can also see a chasm on the left. Chasms can be crossed by flying creatures, but not by others, and you can knock your enemies into chasms if you have abilities that let you push them around!


Click to enlarge.

Not all levels will look the same in graphics mode, either. Special levels will have special tilesets. For example, here’s the “graveyard” tileset from the first level:


Click to enlarge.

All the environment graphics are pretty ugly, I know…I just made them quickly for testing, the final versions will look better.

Vanguard

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2014, 07:23:40 AM »
That looks pretty cool!

Enke

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Re: Possession 2: Return to the Nether Regions
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2014, 12:35:31 AM »
This seems pretty interesting! I think I'll give this a try.
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