Choose Your Language

Friday, 25 December 2009

Power To The Player!

Although I am still tied up doing a fair amount of beta testing for people, I was still able to do some coding for my own mod in between sending back test reports. It was E.C. Patterson's Trinity that grabbed most of my play testing last week, which I hope to have finished early next week. First impressions show an extremely well put together mod with only a few glitches that need ironing out before release. Trinity is a story based mod with great scenery and areas that will keep the player wanting to play more. And while it may not push every hard core D&D fan's buttons due to lack of certain things like crafting and overland maps, it will thrill and excite those players who like to follow a good story and be bestowed with rewarding cutscenes, various style quests, exciting encounters and some interesting differences to play, like being able to climb in certain areas. I have yet to finish it, but the inbuilt timer says I have played five hours already and I reckon it will take at least another 2-3 hours more to finish.

Ranges & Feedback

One of the differences in Better The Demon will be the changes in range settings. Too often when playing I have found my PC running forward to cast a spell which I thought was quite well within range. And I miss the ability to be able to release a fireball at one side of an area to course across its width to the enemy on the far side. To this end, I have set the following distances for the known ranges (for both spell and ranged weapons):
  • TOUCH: 7 Feet (Unchanged.)
  • SHORT: 50 Feet (Increased from 26 Feet.)
  • MEDIUM: 130 Feet (Increased from 65 Feet.)
  • LONG: 410 Feet (Increased from 131 Feet.)
Furthermore, to help the player calculate the distance of an object from them for the purposes of casting a spell (or using a ranged weapon), I have amended the examine GUI to show the distance (and range factor in parenthesis) when a player examines a creature, placeable, door or object. As an addition, I have also increased the height of the examine window to help reduce the amount of scrolling to read an object's description. (Check the screenshot, although the item examined was not the best example as it does not have much description in this case.)

Multi Player Combat Assistance Tool

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I am writing Better The Demon to cater for multi-player play as well. This is no easy task, as there are always many other aspects of coding to consider even when you think you have a piece of code written and working. Another aspect of a multi-player game is the ability for players to be able to communicate to each other, especially when not in the same room, and to this end, I have included a small tool that every player receives in a multi-player game.

This tool allows a player to target an object, which then highlights the location with an effect to another player. This allows simple communication when trying to explain what they are targeting. Furthermore, the same tool also gives distance feedback in the chat window to the location selected, for ranged weapon and spell distance considerations. (See the screen shot.)

Lastly, this same tool allows the player to add lines (of red, white, green or blue) into the area, again to aid in player communication and discussion of player tactics in combat. The tool allows up to 9 markers to be set that the have beam effects join each marker so that the player can section off an area in question. This facility does not have to be used just with combat, but whenever the player may want to describe something to a fellow player across a WAN. However, it was primarily designed to help support combat tactics and complement the unique combat auto-pause system I have implemented within the game. (Optional use.) (*)

This image shows one blue line (two markers) already set and the player setting a third marker (beam from their head) to mark the point where the beam from the second marker will attach to.

After the target for the marker has been selected, the player can choose to set the marker or change the colour of the new beam before setting the marker.

The player has a choice of four beam colours to help represent different things.

Once the third marker has been set, a beam appears within a few seconds extending from the previous marker to the newly placed one. A player can set up to nine markers this way to draw a tactical zone if required.

(*) I have already uploaded a very basic version of the auto-pause combat system to the Vault for use with other modules, but the one that comes with Better The Demon will be more dynamic in that it can also be set to auto-pause on encounter and I am planning to have it give round number feedback to help casters determine when spells may be about to run out.

Rallying The Troops!

Finally, I have just finished working on another system to allow players to alter their party at certain locations during the game if they have a change of mind about the PCs they are currently using. I aimed at flexibility for the player, but have also kept in some limitations to ensure the game does not become unbalanced. To this end, the module only allows a party size of 6 characters in total. (Including other players, created PCs or companions. UPDATE: This is the limit for MP and SP games now.) As an aside, I do not allow the following anachronistic classes to be available in Althéa: Harper, Red Dragon Disc, Shadow thief Amn, Neverwinter Nine, Red Wizard, Arcane Scholar, or Doomguide. This is because they make mention of backgrounds that do not exist in the world of Althéa.

PLOT PREFERENCES: Do Not Forget To Vote!

If you have not yet voted, thne I am still after your vote (and feedback?) on your gaming preferences as requested in this post.


Tauschitz said...


Are you aware that Tony_K's more recent AI updates now include settings that "auto-pause" every round (effectively making that game very turn based feeling)?

Since many of us use the latest Tony_K AI in order that enemies use as many tactics and pieces of equipment against the player as possible, the question becomes:

Will Tony_K's most recent AI (2.2) be compatible with your mod, given that you are adding coding that will create auto-pauses?


Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Tauschitz,

If it is the system I think you mean, then yes, I do recall the system I looked at did include a pause system. My own auto-pause also pauses *every round*, which I may not have made clear. :) I just added that it also pauses at the start of an encounter. :)

To answer the question about compatibility... I am not sure at this stage. HOWEVER, my own system can easily be turned on or off and so I imagine they may well be ... and it will probably be up to the player about preferences.

My own concern is that I have seen a few (perhaps minor) issues using AI systems and am not really a fan of them (not sure if this was Tony_K's), especially ones that try to do a lot more than normal. In my lastest encounter (testing Trinty), I have found equipment being strangely swapped in and out on my companions even though they were not carrying it! And monsters standing still even though I had opened with spell fire.

My own system is far less intrusive to the core code and simpler, but hopefully works well enough (regarding pausing at least). However, my own module also adds a few other elements of player control to do with multi-player games (such as players controlling their own PCs from each other, even though they are one party). It starts getting rather complicated trying to include other AI packages when a module is trying to accomodate more than one player.

Maybe (if a get a volunteer at beta-testing time hint hint), someone else may be able to say whether it is compatible or even required?

Hopefully, if I get more time, I will take another look at AI packages and Tony_K's in particular. (I am fairly certain it was that one I looked at - Is it the one that adds a lot more ptions for the player in the PC behaviour section of the character screen? If it is, then I did look at that one.)

Let me know if I am talking about the right one .. :)