TANGENT: Space Pirates!

I am a regular reader of CRPGaddict’s blog. (crpgaddict.blogspot.com) and I recently read his series of posts about Pirates!http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2011/01/game-40-pirates.html

It strikes me that this would make a really, really good space game. A couple of different factions who control several dozen worlds. Commodities that are produced on certain planets and are desired on other planets. A simulation mini-game to depict ship combat, another mini game to depict boarding combat. Items to boost your captain’s abilities. Officers who affect your ships abilities.

I could totally see this as a game. I am not going to make it, not now, I am (lack of updates to the contrary) quite deep into my own project at the moment, but I may have to slowly cook this on the back burner for my next project. Maybe in Java? Might be fun!

SPARK: Weapons and Armor

I am thinking about changing my approach to weapons.

Before I have always favored the D&D approach that pretty much every CRPG out there uses. Long sword does this much damage and has this much chance to hit, broadsword does more damage but is harder to hit with, great sword does way more damage, but takes two hands, etc. In this system, weapons and armor are just another kind of item.

There is nothing wrong with this system, but you know what I have noticed? When I look at fantasy fiction (high or low) the characters there pretty much use the one or two types of equipment in a story. This is a device that makes the story more about the character’s abilities and capabilites than the sum of the equipment they carry.

Vorpal? Who needs vorpal?

 

So why not make weapons and armor part of the character generation process? They become part of each character’s style, and the character relies on increasing skills to increase damage to more powerful foes, not a huge personal arsenal.

Of course, this does not mean a character cannot switch out weapons and armor, but it will basically be more of a stylistic choice and will not make a character more effective without training.

Minecraft: Tour beautiful Mt. Cathedral!

Mt. Cathedral is a natural formation, I just dug a couple entrances and set up shop!

Welcome to Cathedral Mountain

Minecraft is addictive, like crack for my brain. I blame this on the part of my brain that makes me fascinated with Legos. Fortunately in this case, unfortunately in others, I have always had a somewhat short attention span, and I seem to be weaning myself off it.

Last night is the first time since I got the Alpha version of Minecraft that I didn’t play it. I actually got some sleep! Then again, here it is on a Friday night, and I just got finished playing it again, so we will see.

Let my addiction bring you entertainment, internet! I decided to post some pictures from my latest project, a tour of Cathedral Mountain.

Here is a picture of my avatar, and a cobblestone sword.

The view from the top

This one is first-person

Another view from the top of Mt. Cathedral

Continue reading

SPARK: Magic

Let’s break magic down into some broad categories: Spells/Abilities that help people, Spells/Abilities that hurt people, Spells/Abilities that change the environment, and Spells/Abilities that give information.

Not all of these effects will probably make it into my game, I am just musing on magic and its applications in preparation of making spell casters. I do want to make a game with all of these effects sometime though. The effects would show up in different spells at different potency levels, and combined with other effects to make a decently long spell list. Like I said, however, this is probably too complex for my current project.

 

Ways that spells or abilities could help people:

  1. reduce wounds (this is basic healing)
  2. increase health (temporarily increasing maximum health)
  3. reduce timer on status effects (reducing effects of things like poison or paralysis)
  4. remove status effects (removing things like poison or paralysis altogether)
  5. boost attributes (SPARK attributes)
  6.  imbue weapon with accuracy (bonus to hit)
  7.  imbue weapon with extra damage
  8.  increase damage resistance (basically boosting armor class, to borrow a D&D term)
  9.  increase magic resistance
  10.  increase elemental resistance

 

 

Ways that spells or abilities could hurt people:

  1. Touch spells/abilities (melee attack)
  2. Bolt spells/abilities (ranged attack)
  3. Burst spells/abilities (affects everyone within radius of caster)
  4. Area effect spells/abilities (affects everyone within radius of target)
  5. Conical spells/abilities (affects everyone in area, cannot resist more than half damage without immunity. Think Dragon’s breath.)
  6. Static spells or abilities (effect stays in one place and damages anyone that enters affected area. Cannot resist more than half damage. Think Wall of Fire.)

 

Types of damage:

  1. Physical damage
  2. Magical damage
  3. Elemental damage (fire, ice, volt, corruption, mind)
  4. add status effect
  5. reduce attributes
  6. reduce weapon accuracy
  7. reduce weapon damage
  8. reduce damage resistance
  9. reduce magical resistance
  10. reduce elemental resistance

 

Spells/Abilities that change the environment:

  1. Mud traps (slows movement)
  2. Vine traps (halts movement)
  3. block doors (holds doors closed until countered by magic)
  4. unlock doors/chests (unlocks doors or chests without lockpicking. Also counters ‘block doors’)
  5. light (creates light, allowing characters that require it to see)
  6. darkness (shrouds area in darkness, blinding characters that require light to see)
  7. Wind wall (blocks ranged attacks)
  8. Barrier (creates walls)
  9. bless area (penalties to demons, fiends, and undead in area)
  10. curse area (bonuses to demons, fiends, and undead in area)
  11. magic spring (magically provides water)
  12. bear fruit (magically provides food)

 

Spells/Abilities that give information

  1. Sense magic (marks magic items as such, gives clue to function by displaying the type and alignment of spells cast on an object. Also can be used on map features and spell effects.)
  2. Sense evil (shows caster the location of the ten closest evil creatures)
  3. Sense good (shows the caster the location of the ten closest good characters)
  4. Sense traps (highlights nearby traps, includes doors and chests)
  5. Scry (allows caster to view an area remotely)
  6. Block Scry (blocks attempts to scry. Passive ability)
  7. Identify (reports detailed information on an object)
  8. Divine Lore (more detailed information on objects, including backstory, if item has one. Can also be used on areas.)
  9. Find destination (marks most direct route to specified location for caster)

MineCraft is crack for my brain

Ok, so I splurged and donated to MineCraft for the full Alpha version a little while ago.

I get it now.

this game is going to kill me, please help…

Class Focus: Fighters

 

Quick  Brainstorm: Types of Fighters: Barbarian, Knight, Soldier, Pikeman, Light-Fighter, Swordsman, Axeman, Guard, Bandit, Paladin, Ranger, Cavalier, Man at Arms, Warder, Kensei, Samurai, Brawler, Wrestler, Hammerite, Thug, Praetorian….

…That’s all I can think of, and a bunch of them are redundant. Lets narrow it down:

  • Knight – Heavy armor, trained in horseback fighting. Tends to be noble, (by birth not necessarily by behavior,) In battle Knights act as shock troops. They make up for being few in number with sheer ferocity of their charge, and the relative invulnerability of their armor.
  • Soldier – Soldiers are trained with large shields that they use to parry blows, and with polearms that they use to attack enemies at reach length. They excel at holding their ground, giving up some movement to make their attacks and parries more effective. They work best when their flanks are supported by other soldiers.
  • Weapon master – Trained in the use of a particular weapon, they tend to use that weapon exclusively. Weapon masters tend to wear light armor, trusting their reflexes and superior training to see them through a fight. As such, they tend to shy away from mass combat and seek out individual challengers.

If anyone is reading this, any suggestions?

Blogs, Blogging, etc.

A quick list of the pc gaming blogs I follow:

  • Twenty Sided – Shamus Young has a large body of readers. His blog has high quality writing with a large volume of posts. He has been blogging for a while. He also has an irrational dislike of Fallout 3, which I am struggling to forgive him for.
  • the CRPG Addict – An unnamed professional. CRPG Addict set out a while ago with upon a quest to play a veritable timeline of CRPG games in order. He is up to about 1987 so far and going strong. This is a really interesting read, steeped in the lore of CRPGs.
  • I visit the forums at MossMouth Games  occasionally. The main site is blocked at work, or I would visit it more. I really like Derek Yu’s work, he is a Name in the indie dev world, as much as that world has names. Look around mossmouth, and especially his other blog TIGsource and it is not hard to see why.
  • Tilting at Windmills – This guy is a trip. He is blogging about developing a CRPG on a TI-99/4a. The challenges of developing a CRPG alone are not enough of a feat for this ironman, he also throws in the headache of memory management for antiquated equipment. This, to me, equals Awesome-Nerd-On! Unfortunately he has not updated in a while, it seems he has been lulled by the siren song of MineCraft.
  • GameDev Dad (Used to be Viridian Games ) – Anthony Salter. I have never met the man, but I would love to do so. He has been a huge role-model for me ever since reading his saga of developing a 40-hour game. He has been going through a tough time lately as life unfolds in the way that life does…
  • Stingy Hat Games – Handshakes is a student/writer/game developer. His current project is a dating-sim flash game I think? Its not really my niche so I haven’t been following it real close. His blog has some awesome stuff on it about a quake based project. I am anxiously awaiting updates.
  • Ultima Aiera – This is a site I found at Stingy Hat Games. It is a news site, that updates frequently. Who knew Ultima still had so much activity! I have a soft-spot for Ultima, and there is some good stuff here.

I was thinking about these blogs as a whole, and I realize that they fall into two broad categories: Critics and Artists. I am not saying that any of these are only critics or are only artists, but the divide exists.  Neither of these viewpoints is wrong, they are just…different. If you have looked at my past posts (which doesn’t take very long, I am a bad blogger.) you can see I have indulged in both myself.

Artists are in tune with their work. They are excited by a new development, they are slogging through a grindy bit, they are relieved that a certain part is “done*”, or they are talking about new tools or methods. They very rarely look up from their work, and are not considering the larger framework og games that their single project will encompass.

Critics are looking at a submission, they want to have fun, but they have a very high bar. They are comparing each game to other games that they like or dislike, and making corresponding judgements. These judgements may or may not be fair, depending on a whole slew of things.

So what does this have to do with anything? I was reading a post by Viridian today about how he wants to improve his game in a great many ways. The game he is talking about is Inaria, which is the game he completed in 40 hours and inspired me in the first place. What frustrates me is that about this is that previously he was just talking about avoiding feature creep, and then in the next post he is talking about surrendering to feature creep altogether!

So why do I care? Feature creep is a real concern to me. I am working on a project that I hope to finish, and I understand the lure and the danger of feature creep all to well. There is so much temptation to say “Oh! I forgot to add broadswords!” and then add that to your item list. Then you have to consider where the player will find broadswords and add the objects there. Then you have to consider how a broadsword is different from a longsword or a cutlass and account for that in the way you balance the pace of your story and the progression of your difficulty…. etc.

 Artists are on one side, Critics are on the other, and the game is in the middle. This is the fundamental conflict: Critics say “Why couldn’t the developer just make this one tiny little change? It would have been more fun!” and artists say “Well, I could make that change, but then I would have to change this, and this, and this, and this…”

 Lord, give me the wisdom to know when I have enough features, and the strength to resist designing more.

*No project is ever truly done to the designer. It just stops accepting changes. In the case of a single developer-designer, you just have to will yourself to forget about it and not change it anymore.