It's been a difficult couple of weeks since my last update due to various life turmoils. Suffice to say, the module has taken a back seat as I have had to deal with health issues and other upsets. I'm not downhearted, but simply report this to let you know why there has not been much to update you with today.
Future Design Changes
As I slowly approach the end of module one, I am giving some thought to what I will be keeping or losing in the final two modules of the campaign. Recognising how long this module has taken me (far too long), I have decided to re-examine some of the design concepts I started with for the campaign, and leave out those aspects that are simply not "worth" the time they take to include. Note well, I believe everything I have included is "worth" it from one viewpoint, but I have to recognise that it is not worth it, if it adds too much time to the overall development to the point where some players are no longer around to play it! Here are some of the changes that I will probably make:
1) Simplify Party Influence
One aspect that I am considering losing is the "influence" system I currently use. Please note, that I am not talking about doing away with choices that make differences in play, but about an underlying system that monitors the PCs friendships with NPCs, subject to how they treat them. The problem is (as it works at the moment), is that every step the PC makes can (if used) alter the way an NPC will respond to a player subject to a "score" the party has with the NPC in question. Keeping track of this is quite awkward, especially when it comes to tracking quest states where the NPC may be "required" to have some form of talking relationship with the party. Having to do write around this system slows down other aspects of module building, which I can do without.
2) Immortalise Quest Handlers
It grieves me to have to do this change, but having to work around whether a player will or will not kill an important NPC with respect to fulfilling a plot is another system that eats into time to do properly. At the moment, whenever I create an NPC that handles a quest, I am having to consider potential workarounds should the player decide to kill the NPC for some reason or another. I enjoyed this aspect when I first started it, but soon realised that it becomes almost impossible to work like this without ensuring at least some NPCs remain alive to deliver the story. If this means making them immortal (or plot) from the start, then I believe it must be a compromise to my own design desires to allow the game to work with more stability.
I believe the above two changes are essential if I hope to ever finish the final two modules of the campaign. Thankfully, I already have 90% of the areas for the next two modules designed, by help from other builders; and once this module is completed, I will have 90% of the scripts required for them as well. What I am trying to do now, is reduce the amount of conditional work that only serves to make further module writing spiral exponentially out of control.
POLL: Fun v Realism
I would be interested to hear from other players and builders about what aspects of a module they consider as "acceptable" with respect to what can and cannot be done in a module. With this in mind, I have put up a poll asking what players like (or accept) as fun for their style of gameplay. Here are two examples of my own, which I offer as a guide to readers when thinking about answering this poll:
1) I played Legend of Grimrock (nostalgia), and never questioned its logical flow. As just one example: the need to find a key for a locked door and yet not be able to pick it or bash it. It offered very little in the way of options for overcoming a locked door, but I still found it relatively fun looking for a key I needed. Even more unrealistic, the key could often be found sitting in a small alcove somewhere else. This design went quite against my own, but I still had "fun".
2) I like to drop into and play some of Two World 2 now and then, and noticed they also used a kind of "influence" system where a player might upset the locals if they bumped into them. At first I found that quite realistic and an interesting idea. However, as I have played more, I have found the system quite "pointless" in some ways, because (a) I only bump into them by "mistake" as I run by and (b)unless I do this a lot, it has little bearing. Even when I did have my influence taken to an extreme (I ended up having to fight someone), it just caused difficulty with the game as I had to wait for the system to allow me to speak to anybody else after that. (My own system is a bit better managed than that I hope.)
Let me know what aspects of a game you have played that have been fun or not ... or has even worn off as the game continues. Please vote in the poll and leave comments/examples of games you have played and your own experiences with them.