Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Levels and Tooltips

After rebounding from all the errors I uncovered during my last post, I have started work on the system that tracks the character's experience points so that they know when it is time to level.  I thought for a long while about how to best show that a character is ready to level.  In old school games, they sometimes didn't even show you when you were ready to just had to guess.  In later games, like the SSI Gold-Box games, they changed the character's name to a different color to indicate that they should head to the training hall.

My approach is more akin to modern gaming, where a '+' symbol is sometimes used.  I decided to use an upward "arrow" to let the player know that a character is ready to increase their level and head to the Training Hall.  It looks like this:

The green arrows indicate that all four of these characters should head to the Training Hall.

But, how will a player who hasn't read this blog know what those green arrows are for?  Good question...which brings me to my next topic: tooltips.

Despite this game taking on many of the trappings of an old school CRPG, I made the decision to include some modern advancements as well.  Since there won't be any sort of documentation with this game (I'm not planning on writing a user's should be straightforward for most CRPG fans anyway), I decided to include tooltips instead.  They will give a lot of information about things in the game and what buttons do.

So, when the green arrow comes up, a player will know that it's time to level just by reading the tooltip that pops up when they hover over the arrow.

To give an idea of what the tooltips look like in the game, here's an example of one that explains what the Damage Bonus is for:

The mouse is pointing at the Damage Bonus tag, but the screenshot removes the just assume it is there.

In this way, I feel I will be able to communicate information to the player without needing to provide any outside documentation.  It's something that could have been really handy in the olden days of computer gaming, but they just didn't have the option.  I I've decided to put it to use.  As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with that.

As always, any feedback is good feedback.  If you have an opinion about it either way, be sure to let me know.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Don't You Hate It When...

On the one hand, things are coming along smoothly.  I really like some of the recent changes to the program and what they've done to shape up the game.  With that said, though, I've run into some problems.

Some systems and bug-fixes that had previously been in the program are now gone.  I know at one point I had, on accident, erased a current copy of what I had been working on.  I had a backup that was only a few days old, and I didn't think I had missed that much.  I am now discovering that a few important things are missing.

I've fixed some of these things today while doing a playtest.  Somehow, the resting system was incomplete (even though I had finished it previously).  It still needs a few tweaks, but it's almost back to where it was.

A few glitches in the first dungeon area are rearing their ugly head again.  Things I had fixed already (missing walls, problems with items, etc). 

What's really weird, though, is that the spellcasting system seems to have some issues it didn't previously have.  I think that has to do with the system-wide implementations I did recently.  I will need to look into it, but there are definitely some things that need to be addressed (characters using the wrong mana pool to cast spells, not spending mana when casting spells, etc). 

So...yeah...not the best day in the development of the project.  I'll get it all sorted out.  I had it working at one time, after all, so it's really just a matter of tracking down what's going on and hammering the code back into place.

This update is just to serve as a placeholder to let you know that the game is still progressing...if you call taking a few steps forward and a few steps back progress.  Still, I have every confidence it will all work out in the end.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tracking Quests

As it turns out, switching things over didn't take nearly as long as I thought.  Here I am, less than a week later, with a new update to the game after having restructured most of it into a true object-oriented program.  That's good news.

While the rest of the country votes on the outcome of the future President of the United States (2012) for the next four years, I've been fiddling about with a quest system that can help track what the player is up to.  This is really helpful in the creation of journal system that the player can access via the character screen.

As you can see here, I've already created the button:

Notice the "Quest Journal" button.

If you look at the other pictures I've posted of the character screen,  you might notice some other small changes, but it's still basically the same screen.

Now, if only I had time to create the actual journal screen itself.  That would be quite the accomplishment, wouldn't it?  Oh, but seems I've been sick all week and there's nothing on television because of the election, so I guess I did have time...because here it is:

Showing the same quest you've already seen.  No sense in giving away everything about the game.

It's not 100% completed yet, but its functional.  There are still things that need to be tweaked and finished for it to be where I want.  Still, I'm not unhappy with what I've started.

And, more than that, I'm glad to be posting updates to the game again after a few months of busy work.  It feels glad to be making progress.  So, stay tuned...there's more to come.

I think it's pretty interesting how the character screen has evolved over this last year.  Instead of having you do all the legwork to compare all the screens, I'll just put them all here for you to see.

The oldest version of the character screen.  Probably from February, 2012.

The next incarnation of the character screen.  Came into being maybe June or July of 2012.

Final version of the screen (same picture as above).  Created on November 6th, 2012.

If you have opinions on which one you like better, let me know! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Behind The Scenes

Work has resumed on Lands of Adventure, but unlike my previous posts, it's not the kind of work where I can show screenshots proving my progress.  Just this morning, I did three hours of work on the code, but you wouldn't know it from looking at the program.

For those of you who aren't programmers (which is likely a lot of you), most of what I'm about to say won't make sense.  Suffice it to say that the original version of the program was written as a procedural program rather than an object-oriented program.  The primary building blocks of any object-oriented program are the objects themselves, which I didn't implement in my first version.  A lot of that had to do with my lack of understanding of their importance and in how to implement them correctly.

One could argue that the program works fine without this implementation, but if I ever want to reuse parts of my code, creating proper class objects and functions will be essential.  If there were ever any sequels made or other CRPGs built from the engine, these classes would be necessary.  Since I'm hoping I can do something else with my work in the future, let's just say it's a good thing I'm taking the time to do this rather than taking the lazy way out.

It's a good thing for the project, especially if I ever want to bring in another programmer or two, which could happen.  There are a lot of talented coders out there who love CRPGs, after all.  I think a lot of us are geeks at heart.

I don't know how long this transition will take, so there may not be any new screenshots to show off for a bit.  But, I promise, as soon as I'm working on something shiny again, I'll post a lot of pictures.