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Messages - Paul Jeffries

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Design / Re: My thoughts on deep mechanics.
« on: August 10, 2015, 08:46:26 PM »
There's not really much to discuss in there, but:
- I wouldn't typically class detailed descriptions as a 'mechanic' unless there is some sort of URR-style deductive-reasoning gameplay built around it.
- Simulationist item interactions are fine if done well, but can also be a colossal waste of development time and resources that might be better employed on core gameplay systems and can cause the UI to become bloated and unfriendly.  You note the latter, but are very vague on how you plan to deal with it.  Being able to eat chainmail is mildly amusing and if I know I can do it I might try it once to see what will happen, but after that I'll know its a bad idea and won't do it ever again.  In fact, if it's instant-death it may just dissuade me from experimenting with using equipment in unusual ways in the future. Maybe it becomes slightly more interesting if I can play as a Troll who can eat metal but even in that case it's something that will either kill me or it won't - it's still not necessarily a 'deep' mechanic if there's no meaningful trade-off involved.

Design / Re: Thoughts on this identification system idea?
« on: August 05, 2015, 07:22:49 PM »
On the topic of realism, though; it has always struck me as very strange that some anonymous wizard goes to the trouble of brewing up all these potions and lugging them into a dangerous underground dungeon to leave them scattered randomly around the place for wandering adventurers to find and yet never bothers to actually label any of them.  That's a pretty weird hobby.
Equally as strange as stuffing gold up monsters' bums.

Actually, that one has a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Design / Re: Thoughts on this identification system idea?
« on: August 04, 2015, 10:36:04 PM »
Let's say I'm holding an unknown potion.  In a real pinch, rather than gulp the whole damn thing like a fool I'd probably sip just a tiny bit it and see what the effects were.  Unless it's the most potent of poisons I might still live, or I might only immolate a little bit and survive.  I think I'd find it strange that I'd have lived to at least adolescence (able to carry weapons and shoot bows), and yet no one ever gave me any hints on what common odors or colors some potions might be.  Perhaps I know that health potion smells [sweet | acrid | etc.] just like an immolation potion, but that eliminates a couple of possibilities without revealing the identity completely.

Poor little @, his creators made him a fool so he drinks the whole potion every time without considering any alternative, and he fancies himself an adventurer without ever asking anyone in the (procedurally generated) universe anything about what such a life might be like.  Of course, I might expect this behaviour from a brutish hero, but not from a mage or some such who you would expect would have studied the common color / smell / viscosity / etc. properties and be able to discern the rough probability of a potion's type.  Let's face it: If every potion of "healing" can be identified on sight after the first one is quaffed then there's a good chance there were similar looking healing potions around when growing up, or at least rumours about them.

To nit-pick; that assumes that the only ingredients in each potion are the active ones and they're distinctive enough to be able to recognise them by smell and texture, which may not be the case.  Lemon and Blackcurrent Lemsip do the same thing but taste, smell and look very different, for example.  Go into somebody else's medicine cabinet and empty out all the pills into a pile without looking at the bottles - do you think you'd be able to identify what each pill was just by looking at them?  Probably not, though after you've tried some of them you might be able to figure out that the small round ones made your headache go away, the red ones get you high and the blue ones cure erectile dysfunction.  In a medieval-esque fantasy world pre-mass-production there's no real reason to assume that potions made by two different people would be anything alike and prior experience of other healing potions may not help you recognise the kind found in the dungeon.

On the topic of realism, though; it has always struck me as very strange that some anonymous wizard goes to the trouble of brewing up all these potions and lugging them into a dangerous underground dungeon to leave them scattered randomly around the place for wandering adventurers to find and yet never bothers to actually label any of them.  That's a pretty weird hobby.

Early Dev / Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« on: August 01, 2015, 03:03:24 PM »
– Fixed a thrilling bug where chairs sometimes decided to spawn in the empty void of nothingness outside the map… and then NPCs wanted to sit on them.

And thus the Ultima-Ratio-Regnum-Land Space Program was born.

"I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of sitting a man on the chair and returning him safely to the earth..."

Early Dev / Re: Space Grunts - in development
« on: July 21, 2015, 08:40:28 PM »
You sound frustrated, what with italics and such, but that`s understood - it`s a feeling often expressed when there`s an elephant in the room.

I'm frustrated precisely because it isn't an elephant in the room - in order for it to become one people would have to stop moaning about it at every opportunity.  What we actually have here is a room with a colossal amount of shit in it, which you are attempting to blame an elephant for when it is perfectly obvious that the culprit is a bull.

@orangepascal: Apologies for the disruption to the thread about your game, which I for one am interested in hearing about.

Early Dev / Re: Space Grunts - in development
« on: July 19, 2015, 10:50:11 PM »
And the risk that they`ll be swept away and forgotten is real.

Well then go post on a thread about one of them.

Early Dev / Re: Space Grunts - in development
« on: July 08, 2015, 10:46:31 PM »
Looks nice!  It's certainly a lot 'juicier' than the average roguelike.  From the video, it seems like the main combat mechanic revolves around selecting the right weapon to use in the right circumstances.  Is there any more to it than that?  If not, I'm worried that may become repetitive - what might be fun in an action game for ages can quickly become tedious in a turn-based game if there are not sufficiently deep consequences to your actions.

Early Dev / Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.7 released, 18th April!)
« on: July 06, 2015, 11:15:18 PM »
Looks good!  I hope you saved the earlier 'dancing' code so that civilisations can throw street parties.

I'll stop boring everybody with "In Architectural Design We..."'s at some point I promise, but; in architectural design we use similar crowd simulations to help design routes through buildings etc.  There's a manual for our in-house software for that here; you might find the 'How Massmotion Works' section interesting and maybe it will give you some ideas you can use.

Another great show (and good to see that the points I raised last time have been addressed) - keep up the good work!

Design / Re: Thoughts on this identification system idea?
« on: May 15, 2015, 10:37:09 PM » interesting decision to me would be one that increases my knowledge of the game. Isn't that the definition of interesting? :D

I might agree with you in a non-permadeath game where you would only ever need to do that once, but in a Roguelike increasing your knowledge of the game will only happen the first time you do something, but you'll still have to keep performing that interaction over and over again to get the benefit every time you die.  There has to be another layer to the decision-making to keep it fresh when repeated.  Realism is already broken by being able to start the game again when you die and you have to take account of that in your design.

Design / Re: Thoughts on this identification system idea?
« on: May 14, 2015, 10:59:24 PM »
Meandering here a bit, but please bear with. If the trope/system is so important to the genre why do you only get two options? drink, or not drink. With a possible third being throw I suppose.

Why can't we actually do our own alchemical experimentation? Pour out a bit. On what? The ground? This wooden (organic) chair. That stone (inorganic) table. This (organic) orc corpse. That (unconscious organic) goblin body. This bone. That weapon or piece of armor. Etc.

Some games (I'm thinking mainly of POWDER, but others have it too) let you dip objects into potions, which may or may not reveal the type of the potion (or item) and may or may not damage/destroy the item.  I quite like that system; it requires you to risk something in exchange for knowledge but the consequences of an unlucky dip are not totally devastating, plus thematically it isn't quite as stupid as just downing every random bit of sludge you find lying around in a dungeon.

I think the problem with pouring stuff out onto the ground/common environmental features is that there's nothing really at stake (especially if you're only using a bit of the potion) and no reason not to do it.  That means that once the player has learned a series of steps to identify a potion it's then a solved problem and they'll just need to repeat those steps every time they play.  So, it's realistic, but probably a bit dull in gameplay-terms.  You need to give the player some kind of cost to that action to make it an interesting decision.

7DRLs / Re: Hellion 7DRL
« on: April 30, 2015, 10:00:22 PM »
That's intentional (even if it's not entirely logical!) - there are three categories of upgrade each with a 'deck' of six upgrades from which one option is selected randomly.  The four extra inventory slot upgrades are split evenly between the shield and the fuel upgrade groups.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

7DRLs / Re: Hellion 7DRL
« on: April 29, 2015, 09:50:05 PM »
I've just released a new version of Hellion - v1.1:

This should (hopefully) fix the shader problem that Xecutor was having.

It also adds a bit more content and polish:

- New zone: Water world
- New boss
- Skybox scale adjusted
- Cooldown time now indicated on weapon icons
- Enemy spawn rates further adjusted
- Shields now restored at the start of each zone
- Can now hold down the mouse button for continuous movement
- Energy bar changes are now animated
- New item: OmniCell
- New item: Pulse Bomb
- New item: Super-Shield
- Bugfix: Messagelog text resizes to window correctly
- Bugfix: Shader parsing error with some graphics cards

Design / Re: Thoughts on this identification system idea?
« on: April 27, 2015, 10:46:04 PM »
My first thought is to wonder how you would represent the possible options in the game - would you just present a list of what the potion could be when the user examined it?  That seems a little inelegant to me, and raises the (thematic) question of how they can tell it might be those four things but not anything else?  One other problem I see with it is that the identification game might be neutered depending on what exactly each group of four was.  If all four are beneficial then you know you can try it without worrying about it, if all are bad then you can just throw it at an enemy and see what happens and so on.  Maybe that's what you want but if the groups are randomised then it means that some runs could be much harder than others.

It seems to me that you're thinking 'how can I make this system less-bad?', which strikes me as a strong case for getting rid of it entirely.  I would come at it from the other direction: presumably you want it in there for some reason, so what is that reason?  What, exactly, do you want the ID system to add to this specific game?  My advice would be to think of specific gameplay situations that you want to create and then work back from there.

The main problem that I have with ID systems is when they conceal an item which is pretty much vital for survival (usually healing potions) where failing to randomly ID it towards the start of the game can significantly handicap you.  I dealt with that in Rogue's Eye by, as well as the healing potion which needed to be ID'd, giving you a separate medkit item which had a clear function from the start.  That way, even though IDing healing potions was ideal, you still had a reliable means of healing during the early game - not knowing didn't cripple you.  I think making the player too reliant on IDing things is a dick move that tends to make the early game much harder than the late game.

Here's a system that I'm pondering for my current game:
- Every individual potion is unique and has multiple (two or three) randomised effects.
- You therefore don't learn to recognise potions, you learn to recognise effects.  So, you might be able to recognise a healing effect but the potion may have additional side-effects that you don't know - it might heal you but also poison you at the same time, for example.
- Effects don't always ID on use.  You might have to use multiple potions with the same effect until you can pick out the tell-tale scent, for example.
- You can mix potions together to strengthen effects or cancel them out.  For example, mix a Healing/Acid potion with a Healing/Alkali potion (either of which would burn you on its own) to end up with a base Double-strength Healing potion.  Some effects might combine to produce others.

This means that every potion potentially has both good and bad effects and the identification game doesn't become 'solved' as quickly - just because you've ID'd a positive effect it doesn't mean drinking a potion with that effect will be safe.  It also makes the choice of when to drink each potion more interesting - do you drink the potion of healing/strength now to get the STR + 1 or do you wait until you need the healing?  The potion-mixing sub-game lets players take some control over this to mitigate those risks and gives you ways of IDing effects without having to test them on yourself.

Early Dev / Re: Ultima Ratio Regum (v 0.6 released, 13th December!)
« on: April 07, 2015, 10:42:28 PM »
The generated images are super-cool.  As somebody who's done some procedural art stuff myself, I'm interested in how exactly you go about generating them and how you define the rules of the generation - do you have some kind of base image which then gets procedurally modified or is it all done from scratch?  Have you got some kind of editor that helps you define the parameters?  How constrained is it?  (I've been thinking of implementing some of SPARTAN's procedural stuff in-game to generate tiles etc. on the fly, but find that a lot of the generators produce stuff that looks good for some seeds, but absolute garbage with others - it needs a human driving it to avoid creating things which instinctively look 'wrong'.  How are you dealing with this kind of 'quality control' problem?)

It seems a bit of a shame if the player has to specifically press a key to look at them - if it's vital to look at everything then it might get annoying, but if it isn't the player is probably going to miss out on a lot of the procedural pretties.  It would be nice if there was some small sub-window permanently on-screen that showed whatever was under the mouse and/or the nearest interesting object, although I suppose that would take up a lot of valuable interface space...

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