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Messages - Paul Jeffries

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Challenges / Re: Early 7DRL Declaration
« on: January 28, 2013, 12:40:59 AM »
I might see if I can find time to give this a go this year.

Current plan is for a game with a combat system based around dice, a little like the Heroquest or Blood Bowl systems (and probably a few more).  The basic idea is that each weapon has its own particular die covered in symbols that denote different effects.  So a sword might have one cutting attack side, one stabbing attack, one block (cancels out the opponent's attack) and three misses, while a shield would have two blocks, a bashing attack and three misses (for example).  When you bump an enemy, you get to roll a bunch of dice based on what you have equipped and your skills and then choose the result of one of them as your action that turn.  You also have a finite stock of re-rolls.

So far so might-as-well-be-a-boardgame.  But: the advantage of using virtual dice rather than real ones is that you can mess around with them easily.  So, there will be ways to alter what is on each die.  You might add a fire enchantment to a sword, which will switch one of the faces - at random - with a flame attack.  You also have an additional 'skill' die that gets rolled during combat which starts off blank but to which you can add new special abilities as you level up.

I guess the main aims are:
- Make melee combat actually interesting
- Expose the randomness of the game to the player in a way that seems fair(ish - it's still a gamble but at least you know the odds).
- Have a slightly more interesting progression mechanic than just 'number goes up'.

Of course I may change my mind completely before then and I may not have time to compete at all... we will see!

Programming / Re: Rogue/Roguelike to practice tiles on?
« on: January 17, 2013, 11:19:38 PM »
Nice.  This thead makes me want to do some spriting again...

I understand not wanting to go too overboard with shading, but I think that some simple and sparingly-applied two-tone shading could look good here (a lot like Commander Keen did it), even if only as some anti-aliasing.  As it is, some of the sprites look a little flat and some areas run into one another (i.e. the main guy's face and hair).  I would also say avoid using full black inside the images themselves except for where absolutely necessary, just save it for the external outline.  That's only really personal preference, though.

Other Announcements / Re: IRDC 2013
« on: January 12, 2013, 11:01:52 PM »
Please come to IRDC 2013, Krice.  I think it would be fantastic to meet you in person  :)

Don't do it, Krice!  It's a trap!  He just wants to kidnap you for your precious Finnish blood!

Other Announcements / Re: ROTY advertisement fairness
« on: January 06, 2013, 12:55:23 PM »
I have an enormous amount of respect for Andrew and the many many good things he does, plus it's his poll and he can put down whatever arbitrary restrictions he likes... but I think he's gone bat-shit loopy la-la over this.

The poll is not and never will be some kind of objective measure of quality - it's a measure of who can mobilise the biggest community.  A related measure, perhaps, but not the same thing.  I always assumed that was understood, and that it was just meant to be a bit of fun to get people talking and to expose people to roguelikes they might not otherwise try, and in that I think it does a good job*.  Furthermore, in that regard DarkGod advertising the poll in any way can only be a good thing.  Especially when the means he is using is specifically targeted to only reach those people who are actually playing the game.

The idea that huge numbers people actually give enough of a shit about winning that they will specifically alter their games to accomodate it (and as I understand it, TOME's in-game news system was pre-existing(?)) seems ludicrous to me.  And if they do - well, good luck to them.

I however also don't understand why DarkGod feels the need to continue to try to get the ToME community worked up about this poll. He's already won it twice. What does winning it again prove?

What, really?  You can't see that, perhaps having won it the past two years in a row actually puts more pressure on DarkGod to try to defend the title?  Winning might not prove anything, but losing might make it look as if the game had diminished somehow.

If you want the results to be more interesting and don't want TOME to keep winning every year, then just make a 'hall of fame' for games that have won three times in a row or something and exclude them from the voting.  Or, just exclude the previous year's winner (but let them compete again the next year) - that way you'll get some variety but still keep their communities interested.

*I think it would do a better one if all the games had links to their download locations, but I understand the massive amount more work this would require.

Off-topic (Locked) / Re: Titan Quest Steam Key
« on: December 24, 2012, 11:52:55 AM »
Sorry guys, my bad - I did send Kraflab a PM to say thanks, and I intentionally waited a week before I tried the key so I figured nobody else wanted it.

To atone for my terrible lameness: I have a spare copy of Civ 5 on my Steam from when I pre-ordered XCOM.  I already offered it to Kraflab as a thankyou, but since he doesn't want it I'll open the offer to all.  (PM me your e-mail or Steam ID and I'll gift it to you.)

Programming / Re: Torso & Head direction
« on: December 11, 2012, 12:46:44 AM »
I think the best way to pull off something like this would be to have it viewed from first-person in a Dungeon Master/Legend of Grimrock style.

However, that said - I was working myself on an FPS-Roguelike a while ago but found that I didn't really like the feel of it and eventually switched to an overhead third-person view.  First-person view felt very restricted, in the sense that it gives you far less information about your surroundings than you would actually have in real life.  Most FPSes get around that by limiting themselves in some way (mainly by making the game about shooting things a long way away, so that your immediate surroundings are not as important), but for something like a roguelike I didn't think it a good fit.

Programming / Re: Maths for a good, balanced and interesting semi-roguelike
« on: December 11, 2012, 12:32:35 AM »
If you wanted to look at it mathematically then as a simple first step you could try setting up something like an excel spreadsheet where (for example) each row is an encounter with a monster - you set your variables for the things you mention above and then roughly calculate the most likely outcome of combat based on the average statistics of players, monsters, equipment etc.  Model (roughly) the rate of increase of monster and player stats, health regeneration and so on and iterate for the number of monsters you think the player is likely to face.  From all that, you should end up being able to tell the rough likelihood of the player being able to survive and can tune your input variables and progression formulae until you get the difficulty level you want.

Of course this will only give you a rough idea to use as a starting point - if your game is in any way worth playing you won't be able to accurately simulate it through such simple means.  Some people take this super-seriously and write AI bots to simulate combat more exactly or even to play the entire game as a human would.  From this they can quickly calculate a whole series of simulated runs and use the results to tweak the difficulty.

Ultimately, however, I strongly suspect that these methods are a poor substitute for simply playing through the game yourself many times over and organically tweaking things until you have a system that feels right to you.

Programming / Re: Ranged attack idea
« on: December 04, 2012, 11:45:11 PM »
It's a very interesting idea.  I do see a couple of potential issues with it, though:
- You could end up with ridiculously high rates of fire.  If a standard roguelike tile is only one or two paces across then firing once per turn is pretty fast in comparison to movement anyway.
- It's mainly suited to automatic weapons.  For something like a shotgun it doesn't seem to quite fit.
- You'd need to have a separate 'end turn' button for when you're finished shooting, which would complicate the interface and slow down playing.

So, here's an alternative system:
- Only one shot per turn.  (So, firing ends your turn automatically)
- Your accuracy is represented on-screen as a meter, which is persistant across turns.
- Some actions raise the meter and some lower it.  So, standing still would raise accuracy; moving and firing would reduce it.

This system would give you some nicely organic options for the way you want to shoot.  For example take these sequences of turns:
SHOOT-SHOOT-SHOOT-SHOOT: Full Auto - gets steadily more innacurate
SHOOT-PAUSE-SHOOT-PAUSE: Aimed shots - slower rate of fire, but more accurate
MOVE-SHOOT-MOVE-SHOOT: Firing while running - inaccurate but high mobility
SHOOT-MOVE-PAUSE-SHOOT: Firing while walking - some mobility, slightly more accurate

You could also give different weapons different accuracy penalties for different things, thereby giving them different tactical roles.  So, a sniper rifle might have a massive penalty for movement, meaning it's best to set up and wait
a couple of turns before firing.  A shotgun might need to be pumped after every shot, but have a very low accuracy penalty for movement, making it a good assault weapon, etc. etc.

Programming / Re: Random Roguelike Town
« on: December 04, 2012, 10:55:59 PM »
How about an Undertaker's office?  Could be a source of certain 'supplies' for Necromancer characters and perhaps you could also buy certain permadeath-related bonuses: a decent burial could prevent your character from coming back as a ghost on future playthroughs and a posh headstone could make his/her entry on the high-score table a bit fancier...

Incubator / Re: Call for New Developers
« on: December 04, 2012, 12:17:57 AM »
I'm interested in taking advantage of this once my current project is in a more playable state.  However; my game does commit the vile heresies of being real-time and having 3D graphics.  Would such deviations from The One True Form be allowed within the Incubator?

Re: How the Incubator coexists with the Announcements sub-forum: In the Blender Artists' forums (which I also frequent) they have two feedback forums; 'Works In Progress', which is where people post stuff for other people to take a look at and comment on in a fairly informal and genial way, and 'Focused Critique', which as the name suggests is far more about tearing things apart (in a constructive way) and has far higher expectations on posters.  This is a system that works really really well, mainly because everybody who starts a thread knows exactly what to expect, and I think that a similar relationship between the Incubator and Announcements forums could work just as well here.

Programming / Re: Cooldown based timing system for complex RL timing.
« on: November 24, 2012, 09:11:50 PM »
Internally, AS.T.Ro uses pretty much exactly that system.  However, after some testing, I ultimately ended up making every action have exactly the same cooldown.  Mainly that was because it is a multi-character game, and it became very annoying when you couldn't predict the order in which you would control your party.  In a single-character game that obviously wouldn't be a problem.

I guess it depends mainly on the 'feel' you want the game to have - set length turns would make gameplay feel a bit more 'solid' and predictable, while variable-length actions would probably feel a bit more fluid and 'realistic'.

A happy medium might be something like Brogue's rapier (which attacks in half a turn) and Mace (which takes two turns to attack) - it gives those weapons interesting characteristics, but still leaves the outcome easily predictable.

Incubator / Re: Roguelike Bundle preparations
« on: November 13, 2012, 12:28:15 AM »
I think the idea of a bundle of games selected for quality and accessibility is a good one.  But, it's still undermined somewhat by the fact that these are (presumably) freeware games that it will usually be easier to download (and make sure you have the latest version etc.) direct from the developer's site.

So, what I propose is that the bundle goes a bit beyond just being a zip file of games and includes a bit more supplemental material as well.  Since 'accessible' in roguelike terms still equals 'bleedin' obtuse' in common english the bundle could also contain a bunch of other stuff intended to ease new players into the world of roguelikes in general and the bundle of specific games in particular - simple, easy to understand documentation, introductions that explain the key features of each game, step-by-step player's guides, a suggested order to try the games in, lists of things to try out, tutorial videos... etc. etc.  The bundle could then be essentially a 'one stop shop' for people new to roguelikes to help them over the various hurdles that are involved in getting into the genre.

Off-topic (Locked) / Re: Burn Out
« on: November 10, 2012, 01:14:42 PM »
I don't know. It feels like you have to force yourself. One problem is that when you get older games somehow are not interesting anymore. So it's quite difficult to get excited about them. When you are young everything is more interesting and there is something to reach for. Or maybe I'm just depressed.

Yeah, I don't think forcing yourself is ideal, but the way I look at it is: it takes a lot less force to get myself to work on something that I last worked on yesterday than it does to force myself to work on something that I haven't looked at for a month.

I also actually find being a hollow, bitter and cynical old man to be an advantage in some ways - when I was a kid I could never finish anything because as soon as I got a tenth of the way through I would have some other (in my mind) brilliant idea and I would have to drop everything to start working on that instead.

Of course everybody is different and gets motivated in different ways, so there's every chance that I'm just a freakish anomaly with tentacles for arms.

Off-topic (Locked) / Re: Burn Out
« on: October 31, 2012, 12:25:30 AM »
I find the trick with programming big projects is to do a little bit each day.

That probably comes across as a general-purpose 'keep at it, champ' platitude, but that's not quite what I mean: when you're writing a bit of code of any decent size being able to build and maintain a mental model of the way the program is working and the relationships between its different parts is vital.  You need to be able to see the whole whirring mess of machinary in your mind's eye in order to understand the effects of tinkering or adding to it.

I tend to find with coding that once I've established at least a vague feel for the structure of the code my productivity shoots through the roof.  But even if I leave it alone for as little as one day that mental map starts to break down and it can take sometimes several weeks of painfully slow picking at the code until I can fully rebuild it.  So, even if I don't feel motivated to do any coding for a few days I try to at least open up the IDE and glance through the code of a class that I haven't touched in a while just to slow down the decay a bit.

Programming / Re: Programming habits, standards, and learning.
« on: October 23, 2012, 11:23:33 PM »
C++ isn't worth learning unless there is a professional need for you to do so.

That's a pretty strong statement for something that's basically just individual preference.  I have to use VB.NET at work, but when I'm programming recreationally I typically choose of my own free will to use C++ (out of the five-and-a-bit languages I'm reasonably competent with).  Sure, there's more that can go wrong with it and it can take a bit longer to write something than it might do in another more friendly language, but I never feel that I have to compromise with C++.  If I want to write high-performance code that will run on pretty much anything then there is nothing intrinsic to the design of the language that stops me from doing that.

Plus, as I said before, I think that the greater depth of knowledge and discipline that C++ demands has made me a better programmer overall even in completely different languages, so I would say it's definitely worthwhile learning even if only for that.

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