Week of July 31, 2011
So I just had a friend play the game. Few things I learned:
1) Menu systems should actually work
2) My friends don’t really give a shit about dialogue so whatever
3) The combat is actually pretty fun
It was basically summed up as him running around, spawning hundreds of enemies, and blowing them up. He seemed puzzled as to why he kept losing XP and levels, but I’ll chalk that up to him being retarded, because I told him flat-out that dying costs you XP, and multiple deaths cost you a level, and he still spawned hundreds of enemies for ‘optimum XP’. Then he died. Constantly. I’ll just assume the rest of you aren’t that retarded. But yeah, he spent ages just sitting and killing things, so I guess it must be fun.
More writing. But who cares.
Completely rewrote the system used for items and inventories and shit. Basically, before the player would have a ‘red sword’, and that sword would take all its information and stats from the database where the ‘red sword’ was kept… meaning, the stats among all red swords were the exact same, because they were /all essentially the same sword/. The only way to change the swords was to change the database, which would affect all of them. This was the case for all items. But I wanted all the items in the game to be different. I wanted the player to customize their shit, maybe upgrade them or decorate them, or whatever. So now when the player gets a ‘red sword’, it creates a new ID and saves that to a database, and the player gets that all to themselves. The stats of the red sword can change, and nobody else need be affected.
It also saves and loads the entire database properly. Which is almost pants-shittingly unbelievable for me.
To test that new revision, I gave weapons a ‘durability’ stat that goes down with each use. Not sure what it’ll do when it breaks, because I mostly just did this to test having multiple, self-contained copies of each item, and it was an easy variable to test. I guess it gives things more depth, but is it fun? Hm.
Saving and loading is now more reliable. Like, 3/5 of the time, not 1/5 of the time.
Improved the crosshair that’s used for locking on… specifically making it smoother, locking on more reliably, and all that. Also added a graphic that draws a line to the target from where the player is, so they can track the direction of their attacks when locked on, or firing a gun freehand. It even has a shadow when height is involved.
Improved the inventory menu with an actual graphic (!) and mouse controls. Before you just used WASD to tab around. Now you can just click to select, and double-click to equip/use. It even highlights stuff when you mouse over it.
Improved the ‘pause menu’, also with a graphic, and mouse controls. Can also just click at the top of the screen to activate it instead of pressing a button.
Improved the sounds made during melee. Swords have a ‘woosh’ to them. Lot more fun just to swing ’em around. Can’t wait until there’s graphics!
An ‘energy’ meter. When your character dies, they only lose a chunk of XP, then get back up again. I want death to have consequence, but the fact is that, well, it’s an action game. I can make it so that death is always nobody’s fault but your own (that’s just good game design), but, the fact remains, life or death is a matter of reflex – it can come within seconds. So I can’t make the death penalties too strong… but, death penalties are the worst, gameplay-wise, and if they’re that light, then it makes the whole game seem frivolous and easy-going. And it’s not that kind of game. It’s a harsh game that’s meant to challenge the player. ‘Energy’ makes the more serious death penalties a matter of more long-term thinking. Basically, it’s a hunger meter on steroids. As time goes on, it slowly goes down, reflecting your body’s natural energy consumption. As a robot, everything you do comes from this one battery. Therefore, if you have to regenerate health, or shields, or whatever, then it goes down faster. If you ‘die’, as in, get knocked down, you take a big hit to energy as you encounter a ‘critical error’ and have or something. You regenerate energy with food and sleep. Then, once it hits zero, you die ‘for real’. You lose a level, and you wake up in the hub (provided you’re not in the middle of a scripted event or something). Since the game is also a social sim, and dungeon crawling occurs in pockets, having to eat and sleep isn’t as much as an annoyance as in other games. It takes a while to go down, too – unless you absolutely suck at the game, and die frequently. This also gets the player involved in the towns and all that. In most RPGs, you basically just stop into the ‘adventurer shop’ and get your adventurer stuff. Now you have a need for food and a house. I want more of a social sim thing going on, with nice, peaceful city stuff to do.
Redesigned the interface in general. Looks less like ass, now.
In an attempt to make death less sudden, health now decreases gradually once hit, not instantly. If you’re hit with something that takes off half your health or one-hit kills you (not that that’s common, of course) then you have time to restore it and get away. Like Earthbound, I guess. I just feel that dying too quickly and suddenly is more frustrating than not, because it’s very easy just to blame the game. Playing Uncharted 1 kind of confirmed this, because the entire time I was just thinking ‘fuck this game’.
Pathfinding for NPCs is now less of a bag of dicks.