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Saturday, 17 November 2018

The Adventure Continues ... 1. Welcome Home! (The Scroll Undergoes Some Multi-Player Fixes)

Any kind of significant updates to The Scroll have been short coming over the last year since the last major update in v2.02, which came out on 19 December 2017. However, I have finally been able to begin a multi-player trial with my wife and friend, from which I hope to address any new issues we may discover during our time playing.

Since v2.02, there has been some minor preparations in updates for MP gaming and for any potential new modules to the campaign. To date, the latest version available is v2.09, which is the most stable SP experience, but does still contain some issues for MP gaming that will be addressed with later version updates.

Full MP Testing Finally Underway

My wife, Jennifer, and a friend of ours, called Graham, formed a small party of PCs to play “The Scroll” with me using the DM Client (acting as the HOST). They connected via LAN and WAN respectively. This method of play through allowed me (as the DM), to monitor actions taken by the players and take notes for any fixes required.

Even this initial testing has revealed that there are need of some fixes when playing “The Scroll” in multi-player, especially when using the DM Client as the host. As I have said before, v2.09 is (as far as I am aware), a solid single-player experience now. However, some of these later fixes will have some benefit to a single-player experience too. E.g. Typo corrections.

Below is a list of fixes that have already been addressed and will be available in the next game files updates. (I will keep readers updated when latest file revisions become available.): -

NB: Remember that these fixes mainly affect multi-player gaming experience: -
  1. TYPO correction in “Real Life” Rule Info section - “Equivalent”.
  2. Calendar Rule Info now updates at the correct game trigger when selecting Option 1 Background.
  3. Multi-player CHAT window toggle (via Rod tool option) now keeps correct toggle between areas/loads.
  4. In the event of a player leaving a game, any plot Items are now temporarily stored on the HOST rather than a potential leader of party. This is in case it was the leader who dropped out from the game that a DM was hosting. (i.e. The leader is not necessarily the HOST in a MP game, which had been the previous assumption. Especially when there is a DM at the helm.)
  5. Area Entry code had some other fixes, especially relating to the DM Client as HOST, including: ensuring the SAVE GAME request stopped repeating between sessions; preventing combat GUI from falsely starting on first entry of DM.
  6. Campaign Welcome “sound” message fixed for SP game.
I am also currently looking into changing the default colour of the “greyed” text that a player (not directly involved in the conversation) sees when another player is in a conversation. It is “greyed” because the indirectly involved player is not able to make any selections. However, I think it would be better for these players to be able to read the options in a COOP game more easily than the grey version, to help discuss with player making the selection. I need to find a colour that will still represent their inability to directly participate, but be clearer to read that the grey currently does - and assuming I can “fix” this. UPDATE: This has now been fixed via quickchat.xml file.

The Adventure Continues ... 1. Welcome Home!

So, how did the gaming session play out ... with warts and all?

NB: Contains spoilers for Option 1 background.

The three of us started the session with an understanding that this was the first time The Scroll had undergone a proper MP session since our last attempt in the previous June, when some fixes and preparations had to be later implemented due to some "serious" DM Client issues that prevented us from going any further at that time .. and so we were prepared for a potentially bumpy ride.

Thankfully, although it took a couple of minutes for the server to have the players ready to play (loads take longer in MP games), everything started as it should do, and those problems of last June were not present. Graham (on WAN) created a fighter PC called Helden to act as the party leader, with two other supporting PCs, a wizard called Karasten and a cleric, called Elana, for a total of three PCs. My wife, Jennifer (on LAN), played a single PC, a rogue called Myara. So, the session started with three players, with me as the DM and HOST of the session, and two other players controlling a party of four PCs among them.

PLOT ITEMS ISSUE: The first "major" issue we encountered was when Graham on a WAN connection needed to drop out of the session and rejoin (due to an innocuous sound issue, which was resolved on restarting). This revealed the issue that any PLOT items (item 4 above) MUST needs transfer to the HOST. This was an issue because in this case, Graham, although playing the leader of the party was NOT the host, and so when the game tried to preserve plot items within the session by transferring them to the "leader" of the party (which is usually the HOST in a MP session without a DM), it was not possible as they were the same player that was dropping out in this instance. This led to a plot item that Helden was carrying (from the start of the game) to be "lost" by the time he had rejoined the session.

RETURNING TO A GAME IN SESSION: There was also a related issue in that when Graham returned to the game, the code had "lost" where to jump the player to to join the other player(s), as it was trying to jump to the leader's position, which he already was! Therefore, I updated the code to ensure the returning player is jumped to the HOST, which if it is the DM, then the DM can ensure the player thereafter reaches the correct area and position (if need be).

RELOADING A GAME: Because the party leader, Helden, had "lost" a plot item upon returning to the session, we decided to reload the game. This is when I noticed the DM was asked to SAVE the game again (item 5 above), which was not required. Furthermore, nearby creatures could cause an invalid combat alert (which did self-terminate correctly anyway), when a DM entered, but this has now also been corrected, as it was a nuisance. Lastly, the MP chat window (which we had closed before saving) had not remembered our settings (item 3 above). This was also fixed.

After reloading and ensuring all items were present and correct (and giving the players time to become familiar with the new interfaces and campaign rules), the party set forth on their adventure. They recognized that Vol had returned them to Althéa close to their home village, New Edgeton, and so knew Taloy, the village Reeve, should be able to help them out. (Graham selected the "Companion Protector" Vol Gift for his PCs, and Jennifer chose the "No Fear of Death" Vol Gift for the party as a whole.)

With journal and DM guidance, the players headed east/south towards where they knew the village was located. Travel was smooth and without incident, although time had moved on and by the time they reached the village, it was already dark and around 9.00 pm. Only the Blood Guard patrolled the village area. (The earlier first cut-scene had worked fine.) Other villagers were either already in bed or at the local inn, The Bloated Buckle. This did not stop Myara from casually looking over a nearby building that intrigued her (Merkes Place), and discover a secret door to the building. The party checked out the secret door and followed it inside, but decided not to go in any further under advisement of Karasten, and especially as they lacked any equipment, including weapons or armour that may be required for entering where they were unwanted. For the time being, the heroes simply made a mental note of the secret entrance and continued into the village.

MINOR JOURNAL GLITCH: While traveling about the village, the "CALENDAR" information journal entry updated sooner than it should have done. (Item 2 above.) This has now been fixed to only update for background option 1 after speaking with Taloy, which is when it was supposed to update. (On a positive note, the optional campaign quiz event started without problems, and the players are already starting to fill in the answers.)

Shortly after wondering further into the village, Myara was pulled over for a random search by one of the Blood Guard. Thankfully she was "clean" of any stolen goods and the guard allowed her to move on. This was a new experience for Myara though. Since when did guards start patrolling basic village streets and do random searches? After all, New Edgeton was only a village, not a town! As it was late and the party had missed the local traders opening times, the heroes decided that a visit to the local inn was probably a good idea to find company, food and a place to stay.  

Upon visiting The Bloated Buckle, the heroes found Taloy, and managed to catch up with events with him. A lot had changed since they had last spoken: Events such as The Darkening had taken place, and there had been the coming of the Empire! A lot of changes in what they had perceived as so little time, but then again, more time had passed while they had been away in the Outer Planes than they had realized: eighteen months had passed!

Taloy not only brought the party up to date with events, but also generously gave each of them 10 gp towards food and lodging, as the party had returned from the Outer Planes with nothing more than worn under garments. (ECONOMY: The campaign has had the economy settings redefined to equate 1 gp being equivalent to one day's work for somebody well paid. Therefore, when Taloy handed out a total of 40 gp, that would equate to around one months wages for somebody in his position. For many on low wages, this would equate to 2-3 months wages. As another guideline, ten days food rations costs 1 gp. Although, a meal at an inn could cost 1 gp, or as much as you could drink for the same money.)

Knowing that even the generous 10gp that Taloy gave to each of them would not last long, the party also made inquiries how they might be able to earn more gold. Taloy directed them to help out the guards along the west road (as long as they acquired a work permit first), and towards the Mercy Board at the local sanctuary that advertised tasks for a reward of gold. And if they wanted to know more about the Empire, they needed to check out the Notice Board outside the inn, which also sometimes advertised work required doing for gold.

And that is where we are at for the time being .... the party making contact with the local village, acquiring 40 gp for the four of them, and in need of some rest and new equipment, as well as needing to start finding some tasks to earn more gold!

TOTAL SESSION TIME: 44 Minutes. (This was shorter than normal due to the need to restart.)

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