Choose Your Language

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Multi-Player Plot Item System

I have been concentrating on a couple of things this week. First, I have been giving some time to help beta-test Amraphael's Zork module. This is one of three modules I have been trying to spend some time with. The other two, which I have started (but only just) and need to do more with (if and when I get the time) are: Fate Of A City and Price of Honour. I am prioritising the Zork adventure for now, as I did say I would try to help with the testing.

The second thing I have been concentrating on this week turned out to be quite a difficult thing to do, but eventually I succeeded: Design a system to ensure plot items would remain in play in any/most combinations of a game. While this is more important for MP games, it also has some benefits for a SP game. E.g. If a player drops a companion or decides to leave them behind (and they happened to be carrying a plot item), then the item will automatically be given to the main PC. In a MP game, this process becomes somewhat more complicated, as we have to consider other players coming into or leaving the game, who also may or may not have companions and be carrying plot items. In this situation, if a player leaves and they were carrying plot items, then they are passed over to a player still on the server so that the game can continue if they need to. If the same player should return to a later saved game (and still has plot items on them), then they are removed in favour of the player who is currently running the module.

The whole procedure of trying to keep a database of plot items (stored as resrefs on the module that are preserved between game saves - storing objects failed to work), which could also be duplicated or even have tag-based scripting was quite a coding headache. However, after a few days of trial and error, I believe I have a solution. I even had to update the barter.xml code, because if a player cancelled bartering plot items, then the code that updated the plot state was not updated. It was a complicated affair with adding code to the On Mod Leave, On Area Enter, On Acquire, On Unacquire and some specific scripts that I use when handling companions. Now that the job is done, however, I can happily (hopefully) add plot items with alb_plot_ at the start of their resref and the code will take care of the rest. That's the plan at least, and the system is capable of checking 100 items per module as it currently stands, which should be ample. Remember, these are plot items and not just any item: Items that must be acquired and used to complete a quest.

Maybe I can get back to working on the story again now. ;)

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Keeping The Faith!

This week I planned to spend some time making items that I am going to need for the quests involved at the start of the module. This should have been a reasonably straightforward task, but it was interrupted by a few things I discovered along the way:

1) A bug with opening books with a contents menu. (Now fixed.)
2) A bug when players switched PCs while reading a book. (Now fixed.)
3) A bug in the ambient system where NPCs would stop walking. (Now fixed.)
4) Players could change their god (not wanted) between levelling up. (See next.)

It's amazing how many things you can "suddenly discover" need dealing with when you are set on moving onto the next stage of building. The fact that a player can change the god they follow during a level up was something I did not know about and only came to light as I tested an XP award. This becomes a problem in the Althéa Campaign, because a PC is not supposed to be able to change their faith this way. Changing the god a PC follows is only meant to be possible if a PC finds and reads a holy book on a new faith. Once chosen, a PC then keeps their faith for the rest of the adventure ... unless there are some very unusual circumstances for such a change. In the end, I managed to fix this as well.

As far as making a start on the new areas where the early quests take place, I did take up Frank Perez's (Faithless) recommendation of Smorpheus' Toolset Visual Index DELUXE, which (from what I have managed to see so far), may go some way to helping me with the huge number of placeables that are available to choose from when trying to decorate an area. If I find I use it more and more, I intend to give some feedback for the author.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Painfully Slow

I tried my hand at doing an interior this week - and how painful it felt! It's not that I did not know how to do it, but that finding the placeables I wanted to use among all those available felt like a very laborious task. And then there were the options to change the different styles the actual tile sets could take in colour and design. The number of options and choices is absolutely marvelous, but having so many options did place my "wanting to do things to the nth degree" under a lot of strain. In the end, I decided that my patience was too lacking to spend too much time looking around at different objects, and decided to say "enough is enough" and kept the design a bit more basic than perhaps I could have done. It still has plenty to look at and do (I hope), but I hope that I can spend the time more productively elsewhere. After all, having nearly finished only one interior, I am not sure I can add much more than 0.5 % to the overall complete score. (I have decided to hold back screenshots until I have more material to choose from.)

World Map Poll Results

The World Map Poll came to a close this week and the results (from this small poll of 23) tend to suggest that most (11 at 47%) are happy with any of the map systems, with some added comments that suggest "as long as the system fits the style of the game". There were similarish results for the next two most popular results for those that definitely preferred the SoZ map system (7 at 30%) or were happy with the original mapping system (4 at 17%). And there was one person (representing 4%) who said they could live without any map altogether.

From this, I think I can be happy that the majority of people do like to have maps in their game, which makes the effort of doing such worthwhile. My only slight concern is for the 30% who really do prefer the new SoZ system, which (at the moment) my campaign is probably going to avoid using. However, as I believe I have mentioned before, I do have some other ideas on how I might be able to put the SoZ mapping system to use. Whether I can do this or not, only time will tell. Other than that, I will have to hope that the modified versions of the static maps I am using adds an interesting element for those gamers.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

A Beginning ...

I think the bulk of the house decorating is behind us now, and I am slowly regaining energies to start looking at the campaign again. It's always hard getting back into a module after a break (as I am sure you will know), as one has to become familiar with all the different scripts and aspects again, so that you know where you were.

As it turns out, I think I was at the point where I could continue work on one of my side-quests. It happens to be the first side-quest, and in a sense is the first "plot" section I have written. I have the main story penciled in of course, but other than designing a couple of its areas (very roughly), even that part has not had any conversations done yet.

To mark this stage, I will add a percentage score in the left sidebar for the amount done for the two module sections: Mechanics and Plot. I did this with Soul Shaker and I know it helps players get a feel of how the work is proceeding. Mind you, please don't be put off by the figures, as I sometimes do larger chunks than at other times, so bear with me. ;) I will also add a new label, "Better The Demon", which is the current title for the module. This label will be used for posts that will contain more emphasis on plot writing. That's the theory anyway.