Choose Your Language

Monday, 9 March 2015

Checking The Logic

It's been a while since my last post, but that's because I have wanted to use the time and energy I have to keep this project moving forward. Health issues have hampered me as usual, but I am still managing to make progress ... slowly, but surely.

I have been continuing to work on a dungeon (a crypt), which the heroes have to explore. This dungeon, however, supports a theme I have been working on and involves quite a bit of thinking ahead on my part, to ensure the logical flow works for the player irrespective of the path they take. Part of that logic check involves deciding if the player already controls PCs that can or cannot perform certain tasks according to their abilities. (I know I am being vague, but I am trying to not give spoilers.) Then, subject to that, I am designing the dungeon to work according to events that have already occurred in the past ... or may be happening still. While sorting through that logic, I am writing scripts to ensure certain items become available at the correct time, and trying to make sure everything balances in terms of combat and skill checks.

It occurred to me as I was working through the process that this is probably one of the most time-consuming tasks I have to do ... plan and check the logic of events and tasks that can occur for a player. Most of this takes place in pencil and paper as I make notes about what I intend to do. Then, the writing of the script is the next stage, before finally adding the objects to the module to test.

QUESTION: How do the rest of you builders manage your dungeons?

Do you plan events as you go .... (or are your events more straightforward) ... or do you also find there are a number of events you have to consider that may affect the overall running of the dungeon? I recognise that most builders will have a selection of dungeons where some are more straightforward than others. However, it is the planning of the more complex dungeons I would be interested to hear how you plan.

This door does not open in the normal manner!
I have also had to work around a couple of glitches I found in a tileset (RWS Dark Ruins), which ended up requiring more time. However, the end result has ended up in a neat idea that I hope will keep the players on their toes!

Hopefully, this dungeon won't take much longer to get to a working stage, and then I will switch to finishing another I was working on. My campaign design requires a number of placeholders between dungeons, and I like to work on each placeholder as I do the internal testing. This means I do not necessarily complete one area before another, but complete areas as the story requirements develop.


Kamal said...

I'm not a big fan of puzzles that require me to think as opposed to checking my characters thinking (via skill or stat checking). After all, if my character is a wizard with 24 intelligence, he's MUCH smarter than I am. My cleric is likewise much wiser than I, and my bard knows vastly more lore of the realms than I do.

As a result, for the few puzzles I put ingame, I try to make them solvable based on the party's skills and abilities/knowledge, not the player's skill and knowledge. A skill or stat check gives them the answer, and I as the player don't have to drag out paper and start writing down math formulas or some such to solve a puzzle.

I do try to make my dungeons "realistic" in the sense that someone built them and they had some sort of logic for why they built them the way they did. Thus my own notes I may have a few sentences about why a dungeon came into being and what it was used for, even if that information is never given to players or their characters.

It may be something like "a fort that was along a mountain border centuries ago, later abandoned as kingdom A took over kingdom B, eliminating the border and the need for a fort here. Later, bandits found it and decided the remote mountain location was useful for a hideout. Built long enough ago the locals have forgotten this fort ever existed, they just know that there are bandits out there hiding in the mountains somewhere."

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Kamal,

I suppose the real question when it comes to puzzles is whether intelligence (above a certain level) actually makes much difference for the level of puzzles I am designing.

For instance, I have not designed any puzzle that the average person could not solve. Furthermore, I have tried (especially for essential puzzles) to offer an alternative method of solving the same puzzle.

That said, I do understand how some aspects need to be carefully handled. I for instance am immediately turned off a game if and when it starts to inform platforms and jumping .. I always fail at those tasks and it can (if I was not so persistent) end a game early for me. Hopefully, my puzzles will not come across too much like a "platform" does for me.