Friday, June 14, 2013

Combat Screens

I've been thinking a lot about how I want to approach combat in this game.  There are a couple of different options.  The one I wanted to pursue was to do the combat in a manner similar to the old Gold-Box style games (Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, etc).  But, the amount of work involved might be more than I want to undertake at this point, since the project is already so large.

There's a term called "scope creep" that's appropriate here.  You start off with a project that is simple, but you continue to add new things to it and it gets larger and larger and takes longer to finish.  Eventually, you add so many new things that you just lose track of what you're doing and the whole thing sinks.

Let's take a look at the original way that combat was presented in the old version of the game:

Fairly simple

Some of the feedback I got was that this kind of combat wouldn't be as "tactical" as other combat options.  I took this to heart, but I'm starting to think that those people don't understand my vision for this game.  I wanted it to have combat similar to the SSI game "Phantasie," and that's exactly what I accomplished.

So, even though I haven't made up my mind 100% yet, I'm starting to work out how the same combat system would work in Unity.  So far, this is what I have come up with (this is a staged combat between a party of female adventurers and several goblins and giants in the forest):

Same simplicity

This is an early version screenshot that I created just for layout purposes.  It isn't a working system at this point (but that will come soon enough).

Perhaps, instead of trying to replicate what has already been done, I should just stick with the combat engine I already created and update it.  It's different from what you usually see in western style CRPGs.  And even though it is similar to combat systems you sometimes see in eastern JRPGs, it's not quite the same.

It's still a toss-up at this point.  I originally pursued the type of combat I did because it was better than the "text-only" style of combat that appeared in games like "The Bard's Tale," but still simple enough for someone to pick up pretty easily.  I think that combat like this can still be "tactical," even if you don't involve yourself in a lot of moving around.  You still have to know when to cast precious spells or hold on to them, when to heal members of your party, and which opponents to strike to do the most damage and bring them down before they can hurt you.

It's a tough call.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Building Characters

It's been a while since I've had time to update the blog.  Since my last writing, I have started school again to pursue a bachelor's degree in Software Development.  So, I've been quite busy with school work and prepping for certifications.

However, work has not stopped on the game.  In fact, I have increased the number of options available for characters.  In the old version of the game, you got four randomly rolled stats (Strength, Intellect, Agility and Willpower) and you got to choose your from four different classes.  And that was were stuck with those choices.

The new version of the game is a whole different kind of beast.  I've already mentioned that the number of classes has gone from four to twelve.

Part 1: Selecting your character's class

In addition to changing the number of classes you get, I have also removed the random elements from the attributes.  You are no longer stuck with fickle dice routines to figure out how strong or smart your characters are.  Now, instead, you can use a point-buy system to decide that for yourself.

The numbers are much lower now, but the outcome is the same.  Having a 5 or 6 is a really good score to start with, and there will be opportunities to increase them as the character goes up in level.

Part 2:  Figuring out your attributes (is it just me or does this screen need work?)

But, I really wanted to make the game do a whole lot more than represent classes and numbers for the characters.  I wanted to find ways for the player to tailor their characters to be individuals and to have whatever strengths that the player wanted to build towards.

So, I devised a working skill system:

Part 3: Buying skills using skill points

Skills increase a characters chance to do something.  Obviously, having a "One-Handed Sword" skill of 3 will make this character hit more frequently and perhaps for slightly more damage when using that type of weapon than someone who has a 0. 

There are even skills for dealing with things outside of combat, like diplomacy, research and bluff.  And yes, I do intend for them to be used within the game.  Nothing represented in the skills will be unused.

But, the good news is that none of the skills require you to have points in them.  A score of 0 just means you don't have any kind of your chance is just less good than another character that might have spent points to build the same score up to 5.  All skills can be used "untrained."

Of course, I didn't stop with skills.  I went the distance:

Part 4:  Selecting Character Perks

Characters can also select from a group of perks to help enhance their characters further and really give them some interesting choices.  They will get a couple to start with and will have opportunities to pick up a few more as they progress in levels.

All in all, I think this will help bring the characters in the game to a whole new level versus the way that they were handled in the original version of the game.  I'm pretty excited about the direction it's headed.