Saturday, 26 September 2009

Goodies For All!

I did some more work with the overland map this week with respect to the “goodies” that can be discovered and random encounters. It was interesting to see the code used in the OC, but I also found it rather complicated and decided to simplify and make it more “party” oriented than the OC system. For instance, in the OC, “goodie” finds are based on the leader’s ability only, whereas my system uses the best skill score in the group to make the checks. Therefore, a well-balanced party with mixed skills has more chance of discovering “goodies” than having to rely on one good leader.

As I have barely started looking at the random encounter code, I don’t have a lot to say about it. However, I do intend to use it and would like to have feedback from readers if they would prefer to switch the encounters on and off? Or even have an option to increase or decrease the chance of encounters, as if the party were out looking for monsters, or deliberately trying to avoid them! (Please leave feedback if you have any preference.)

Crafting Items

Another aspect of which I am very aware when playing SoZ is that making sure the player will have “potential” access to all crafting materials is vital. After all, having recipes that cannot be followed due to a lack of materials will become a quick turn off if not managed correctly. To this end, I am ensuring all recipes do have the potential to be crafted if the player ensures they have the capabilities to acquire and work with the materials. It will be a two-way responsibility: I will ensure provision if they take the trouble to learn to craft. And as regular readers of this blog will know, every recipe has now had its gold requirements reduced (in most cases) to ensure there are no extreme prices for said items, but at the same time, maintaining a balanced economy.

Moving Forward

I have also managed to do more work on one of the side adventures. I was reminded just how difficult it can be to do something that may be slightly different from the norm. For instance, a “simple” transition I was working on was complicated by the fact that I wanted to offer more ways to use it, subject to the party’s skills and abilities. Instead of being able to use the normal simple transition lines in the properties, I ended up writing four separate scripts!

Party Focused

I want to stress how this campaign will be written with the party as the focus rather than a leader with a group of followers. An example of such was given above where every member of the party will be checked when discovering “goodies” on the overland map. I also wrote my own system for “party conversations” before SoZ came out, which allows responses from all party members and not just the main PC speaker. After all, party members should not stand mute if they have something valuable to offer. This system is slightly different from the SoZ system though, in that the options present themselves immediately without having to click on the party member in the conversation menu. Note: I will probably make use of both systems as required.

The Rewards Poll

This is still up and running at the Vault and currently has the following scores …

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, allowing the player to switch on and off encounters is a major design shift. The major issue I see--leaving aside the issue of whether or not it'd be a good idea--is the amount of experience the player would get going through the game.

A player might simply avoid all the combat on the overland map and garner vastly less experience than one that just went through the game "normally"(not grinding for monsters, basically). So, you'd have the major difficulty of keeping the game balanced for additionally divergent game styles.

It could work, I imagine, but it'll require a fair amount of work to make sure the game still functions(i.e, can the player still beat the 'last boss'). It *is* worth looking into, and I applaud you for even thinking about such a major change.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Chaos Wielder,

Yes, I see that balancing XP rewards could be a potential issue. However, I was uncertain just how much XP wandering creatures actually gave by the end of a module?

For instance, do they reward an amount that overly shifts the balance by more than one level?

My current reasoning assumes that there are a *finite* number of creatures for an overland map (that would actually have enough morale to confront the PCs). If I add up all the XP for these creatures, would it (over the course of the module) really add significant amount of XP?

I know it *does* get a PC levelled quicker than one who does not, but over the course of the module (and as XP rewards scale according to party level), would not fewer random encounters simply award more XP than more rewarding less?

In hindsight, perhaps I cannot allow a definite "zero" encounter setting, but maybe fewer (with more XP) as opposed to more (with less XP) is the way to go.

As you say though, it may be more difficult to pull off than first considered. I have not checked how the random encounter scales encounters yet, and so cannot comment there at the moment.

The whole idea is based on the assumption that there are only a finite number of creatures that are brave enough to challenge the heroes when crossing the overland map, and that in the end, even if the encounter system was set to maximu, the player would eventually run out of *worthwhile* encounters, either because (1) the creatures have been mostly eliminated from the area, (2) the creatures recognise the heroes and now run away from them, or (3) The amount of XP would not be worth the trouble to keep on looking for random encounters on this particular world map.

Any more thoughts?

Lance.

Anonymous said...

Having only a finite number of monsters does greatly change my view of it. SOZ had infinite opponents so, if one were willing, level 30 could be reached--a limited number is far more appealing.

If it's a finite number of monsters, then you can accomodate balance much better. It allows you to know how much XP the player can theoretically *not* have at any given point, rather than you just being unsure and totally in the dark.

I like the idea much better this way. I thought you were doing something more akin to SOZ which, despite my fondness for it, probably shouldn't have infinite monsters.



Now, as far as whether the player should be able to stop all monsters from showing up--that's a different thing. Maybe it could be set up that only really determined monsters will show up(the player is making the party *really* hard to find). So, let's say you killed an Orc chief and the tribe wants you dead--they might still find you, or something like that.

In any case, this seems like it will end up with many, many lines of code and some difficult 2da messes. It sounds promising, I think, but your head will go bald from the scratching on trying to find the proper balance. ;P

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Chaos Wielder,

LOL: My head is already balding! :)

And now I know why. ;)

I hope to look at the random monster spawning code next, so I will be able to ascertain how "easy" or not it will be then. Mind you, many things appear easy when you start and then end up being a lot more involved than when you first thought. Whatever the case, I will be setting a finite number and will make sure wandering monsters cannot be completely turned off, so as to help keep XP balance easier to control.

I'm hoping it will involve minimal editing of 2das and only a couple of script line changes. (Famous last thoughts!)

I just had to go over some earlier code (stolen item stuff in red) after I realised anybody determined and with the know-how could actually alter this the way I currenly had it set up. At least now, the code is more solid, but it all adds to the time the module takes ... and I think this is the kind of thing I forget about and is why making a mod takes longer than one first thinks about.

Cheers,
Lance.

Quillmaster said...

Hi Lance,
Did you get my e-mail?

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Geoff,

Yes, I received an email from you on 23rd September and replied the same day. :) I have just forwarded the same response with some extra info. Let me know if you fail to receive it again.

Lance.

Anonymous said...

Swithching encounters on and off is definitely a good idea. In SoZ they were at times just annoying and time consuming, not fun at all.
Since the reason of it was most often the huge number of encounters, the finite number of monsters will also improve the system greatly. Some great ideas here!

Just as great is the party focused goodie system. It was extremely frustrating swithching leader every few steps hoping to trigger anything and it made me wonder what's the point of having a balanced party.

Better the Demon sounds better each time I read your blog! Hope to see some progress to Plot soon!

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for your encouraging words of support. I certainly hope the "plot" side of things will start to speed up soony myself. It's very disheartening not being able to say the plot has moved on. :( I have the plot in my head and written in notes, but getting into module form is often slowed by niggling technical details that I like to iron out first.

If you read any of the previous posts, you will probably see that I have decided to keep encounters in, BUT ensure there are a *finite* number, which I hope fits the best of both worlds: Not having the player swamped with encounters, but ensure there are enough to not miss out on balanced XP for all.

I'm glad you like the "party" balancing ideas I am trying to incorporate. They are something I always intended from initial design and its good to know there are others like yourself who are going to appreciate the approach. :)

I hope to go into some of the scripting I have covered in the encounter side of the map in my next blog, and you will see I have continued the design concept there too. :)

Lance.