The only place you'll ever hear the truth

Moderators: jelco, DTNC Vicious, bert_the_turtle

Worlds of Possibility

Worlds of Possibility

Postby Icepick » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:28 pm

Some of the more interesting parts of working on a game entirely from scratch are the things that happen accidentally. As I was extracting the specifics of Tactinomicon’s tutorial level to a definition file, I realised today that, with the exception of some small parts of the World Map, all of the content currently in the game is defined in simple text files. If I am able to keep this up for the entire length of the project, the end result will be a system that will be completely modable by the player, up to the point that they could create an entirely new world from scratch, with new maps, levels, cut scenes, equipment and characters.

Whether or not this is something I’ll actually go ahead with remains to be seen – it’s still early in the project after all, and who can tell what requirements I’ll have in the future.

Here’s a screenshot of the first incarnation of the world map.
Image

One of the things that will make Tactinomicon different from other Tactical RPGs is that there are no defined character classes in the game. There are no tough-but-stupid Warrior types charging into the front lines while the squishy Wizards sit at the back casting their fireballs and lighting bolts. Instead, all of the abilities of a character are defined entirely by their equipment, allowing the player to customise their characters as they see fit. Of course, you’ll easily be able to re-create the archetypical classes found in traditional RPGs – you could easily create a wizard-style character by equipping them with a robe that gives a boost to magical damage and allows the use of ranged fire magic, and because their robe would offer very little protection, they’d be just as vulnerable at close range as you’d expect.

The beauty of this system is that, as long as I design all of the equipment carefully, it will become entirely self balancing. You might think that giving a wizard a load of heavy armour to make him harder to kill up close would be a good idea, but that heavy armour would be lacking in the bonuses that give your character more magical power, meaning he won’t be a very good wizard at all. Ultimately, the hope is that the player will have a lot more freedom in the way they choose to build their party of characters that in most RPGs, while at the same time basing the players success or failure on those same choices.

This all leads straight back to the possible modability of the game – with all character abilities set entirely by the equipment, budding modders could create entirely new styles of gameplay for their own personal world. As I said, I’ve not yet decided whether or not this will be an actual feature of the game, but it definitely has a lot of potential. We’ll just have to see how it goes.
Icepick
level5
level5

 
Posts: 7526
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2001 10:29 pm
Location: Bradford, England

Postby sfericz » Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:45 pm

Games that can be modded are usually my first pick to play and buy. Its the best when you can extend the life of a game through a few mods.


You might think that giving a wizard a load of heavy armour to make him harder to kill up close would be a good idea, but that heavy armour would be lacking in the bonuses that give your character more magical power, meaning he won’t be a very good wizard at all.


So does this mean there will be characters better suited for each equipment? Or was you giving an example of what your trying to avoid while making the characters?
User avatar
sfericz
level5
level5
 
Posts: 1336
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:25 am
Location: USA

Postby Artman40 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:02 pm

I remember once having an idea to make RPG/RTS mess (having dozens of identical versatile characters) which would have been resource-based and almost every item would quickly break down or run out of ammo and to regain resources, that large party has to be transported constantly from one part to another.

Due to not having coding skills, results were obvious.

Seems you're doing something similar! Good news!
Artman40
level1
level1
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:47 am

Postby shinygerbil » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:22 pm

More modding possibility = more fun. :)

Why, only this morning I was playing Etrian Odyssey and lamenting the fact that all the equipment is very linear in progression - there aren't lots of different weapons for a particular class which are all vaguely equal but differing in usability depending on your needs. It sticks to a very standard RPG model - you basically have Sword, then Sword v2, then Sword v3, which are all clearly increasing in attack value with nothing else going on. No real way to mix and match. While Etrian Odyssey is not a tactical RPG, no tactical RPG that I have played has come close to what I want to see, which is, well, hundreds of weapons (and other equipment too) which are all diverse without there being a clear 'winner'.
User avatar
shinygerbil
level5
level5

 
Posts: 4653
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:14 pm
Location: Out, finding my own food. Also, doing the shinyBonsai Manoeuvre(tm)

Postby world idiot » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:06 pm

this would solve the problem i have with fire emblem and similar games:

it's too much about how well you know each character class' advantages and disadvantage.
User avatar
world idiot
level4
level4
 
Posts: 588
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:37 pm
Location: losing miserably (as always)

Postby Xocrates » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:07 am

I am Xocrates and I approve of this message!


I do have a question though: Do the characters level up? Or is it going to use a system similar to Dungeon Siege were the characters level based on the skills they use?

I'm asking because if feels a bit weird to be able to change a mage to a warrior on a whim.
User avatar
Xocrates
level5
level5


 
Posts: 5251
Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:34 pm

self balancing and the sum of parts

Postby maninalift » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:15 am

The trouble is the effect of different items is not purely additive where as the cost presumably is.

Of course a little of this is good: There should be some skill in choosing a effective combination of items. However, to give the classic example learned many times in tactical games, fast + powerful is worth much more than fast and powerful separately.

On another note: In strategy games I'd like to see an end to "% health" it's stupid and it damages gameplay. Characters should be alive or dead (or wounded if you have small numbers of characters and want to go into that detail - but wounds should be disabling injuries _NOT_ half way to death). Simple probability of dying (and being wounded if you are doing that) is a much better model and makes more interesting tactical decisions than removing a % of your heath.
maninalift
level1
level1
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:31 am

Re: self balancing and the sum of parts

Postby Xocrates » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:31 am

maninalift wrote:On another note: In strategy games I'd like to see an end to "% health" it's stupid and it damages gameplay. Characters should be alive or dead (or wounded if you have small numbers of characters and want to go into that detail - but wounds should be disabling injuries _NOT_ half way to death). Simple probability of dying (and being wounded if you are doing that) is a much better model and makes more interesting tactical decisions than removing a % of your heath.


I would call it "unrealistic", but not stupid and it certainly doesn't damage gameplay. Also, one thing that professional gaming dislikes is probabilities, as in the case of similar levels of skill the game can be decided on luck.

But ignoring that last point, there have been games that use a similar system to what you refer. Multiwinia is probably the closest I can recall, but in Company of heroes, although units have a health bar, they go down so fast that in essence works like that.
The one thing that those games have in common is that units die really quick. This works well in more tactical environments or when you have units to spare, but not in more "classic" RTS and especially when you have several well defined unit Tiers, as having high tier infantry die to basic infantry can be annoying as it would be decided mostly on luck.

Besides, who are you to claim that in a genre filled with genetically engineered super soldiers, aliens, robots, magic, etc... having a health bar is stupid :wink: do you have a phd in Elven anatomy by any chance?

That said, I think they should lose effectiveness the more damaged they are, but Health bars are not a bad idea.
User avatar
Xocrates
level5
level5


 
Posts: 5251
Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:34 pm

I was a little bombastic

Postby maninalift » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:51 pm

My tone was a bit dictatorial.

Of course there are many good tactical games that use health bars but it's also a convention that has grown up an and in many cases we would be better without.

Risk and probability often add to the skill in a game particularly when playing against other humans or human-like AI where you can manipulate your opponent's attitude to risk or perceived risk. Ever played poker? The guy who gets dealt the best cards wins, right?

And that's not all. A strategist deals with uncertainty but does not leave his plans to chance, you must organise contingencies or else not make the success any single part of your strategy critical to the whole.

IMO it also adds to your investment in a game, particularly when you don't have massed units whose number acts almost like a health-bar in itself: It's not a matter of estimating that you will lose 20% getting past gun turret X, you take the risk.

You may argue that dealing with low-health units, usually returning them to "base" to restore their health, is an interesting element of gameplay in it's self but in my experience it is usually more of a distraction. All across the battlefield you have to be involved in micro-management to get weakened individuals back. A more interesting scenario is that where you may have one or two critically weakened units (groups of individuals) who need to be protected.

Psychological effects on units are also all good, remember Shadow of the Horned Rat and Dark Omen?
maninalift
level1
level1
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:31 am

Postby Xocrates » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:18 pm

That poker analogy is a really, really bad one. As poker relies heavily on the other players not knowing what cards you have. So you can win with a really poor hand as long as you can bluff your opponents into folding.
Try playing poker with your hand showing and I doubt that would work.


Other than that I really don't understand any of your points. Almost nothing of what you said is an argument that can be applied to one method over the other, as those were simple strategic observations.
Also, I really do not understand how being unable to predict the likely outcome of a battle improves my involvement with the game.


And another Also: Knowing when to retreat and when to push is one of the most important strategic decisions one can make. And even without an health bar you will need to retreat to your base, if not to heal then to reinforce and/or regroup.
Last edited by Xocrates on Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Xocrates
level5
level5


 
Posts: 5251
Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:34 pm

Postby Icepick » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:21 pm

Xocrates wrote:I do have a question though: Do the characters level up? Or is it going to use a system similar to Dungeon Siege were the characters level based on the skills they use?

I'm asking because if feels a bit weird to be able to change a mage to a warrior on a whim.


Characters will level up, yes. My current thinking is that as you level up, the attributes of the character that increase are effected by the abilities you use in the course of that level. Additionally, if you use an ability enough, you will eventually be able to memorise it, and use it more freely. So if you level up a character as a spell caster for 20 levels, you are free to then change him to a warrior, but he won't have the advantage of those 20 levels of using warrior-like abilities - he'll basically he starting from scratch, with all of his bonuses coming entirely from his equipment rather than his 20 levels of experience.

With regards to health bars, yes, characters will have a traditional health bar. My current plan however is not simply to have a character 'die' when they reach 0 health; they will be incapacitated. Characters in this incapacitated state will have a certain chance of regaining some health and getting back up at the start of each turn (or maybe after a fixed number of turns, I haven't decided yet). The only way to truely finish off a character will be to use a 'finishing move', which will be available once your target is at (for example) 20% health, and the odds of its success will improve as that health value gets lower. So at 20% health, the odds of a finishing move working successfully would be (say) 5%, but once they are down to 0 health, that chance goes up to 100%. I am also considering penalties as characters drop below certain health brackets - so maybe they would lose some Evasion at 75% health, lose some speed at 50% and lose some movement at 25%. The whole idea of this is to remove the idea of a character being perfectly fine constantly, all the time, up until the point where his health drops to 0 and he suddenly drops dead.

Of course, none of this is set in stone yet. I may change or completely drop these ideas, so don't take them as gospel.
Icepick
level5
level5

 
Posts: 7526
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2001 10:29 pm
Location: Bradford, England

Postby Xocrates » Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:26 pm

Icepick wrote:My current plan however is not simply to have a character 'die' when they reach 0 health; they will be incapacitated. Characters in this incapacitated state will have a certain chance of regaining some health and getting back up at the start of each turn (or maybe after a fixed number of turns, I haven't decided yet).


If I may make a suggestion, D&D (if I recall correctly) uses a system where the characters are incapacitated at 0 and dead at -10 (by default). Maybe you could use a similar system as a compromise: since it is unlikely that the attacks will send a character to exactly 0 points, you can have an incapacitated character regain a small, but fixed, amount of hitpoints every turn until it's back on the positive side.

This can also be used to do one of two things: A powerful enough regular attack can also kill a character if it sends the hitpoints bellow the "death" threshold, or, in case you want to only be able to kill the characters with finishing moves, have the most severely injured characters take the longest to recover.

Keep in mind that these are just a random rambling of mine and I have no idea how well this would work in the concept you're working on. So, as it goes without saying, feel free to ignore me :P
User avatar
Xocrates
level5
level5


 
Posts: 5251
Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:34 pm

Postby Icepick » Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:34 pm

Im actually thinking more along the lines of certain attacks doing damage as well as counting as a death blow - so the really powerful attacks will be able to out-right kill the target, assuming it drops them to the appropriate amount of health.
Icepick
level5
level5

 
Posts: 7526
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2001 10:29 pm
Location: Bradford, England

Postby Khrrck » Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:36 am

This is reminding me a little of the Disgaea series.

One thing I'd suggest (if it fits with your Plans) is having some measure of character skill carry over between classes. For example, if you train a wizard to level 20, then switch him to a fighter, he'll be a comparatively terrible fighter, but he'll still retain a decent chunk of wizardy ability. If you then train him to a level 20 fighter, you'd have a character which isn't as strong in either specialty as a level 40 wizard or level 40 fighter, but has some abilities of both.

Disgaea featured something like this, but it was (as most things in Disgaea are) needlessly convoluted, involving reincarnation and farming skill levels and god knows what else. The fact that it was geared towards complete brokenness didn't help (all the power of a Level 100 mage AND a level 100 fighter, anyone?)

EDIT: Final Fantasy Tactics was a little like this too. You retained some of the experience and skills of your previous class when switching, and good strategies were based around combining classes and their abilities in one character.
Khrrck
level0
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:35 pm
Location: California

Postby mr_shoe_uk » Fri Feb 13, 2009 1:05 pm

I wouldn't say Disgaea was broken, just geared towards being a massive timesink. If you want to spent 100+ hours making one character supremely good at everything, you can, and they will completely kick arse.

Anyway, this game is sounding pretty good. Will it have multiplayer too? Don't forget to give it a few nice [steam] achievements :p
mr_shoe_uk
level1
level1
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:42 pm
Location: East Anglia
Next

Return to Introversion Blog

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest