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October 23, 2014, 09:11:32 AM
TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsDungeon Dashers - Fast Paced Turn Based Dungeon Crawling [GREENLIT]
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« Reply #300 on: October 03, 2012, 10:46:48 AM »

The game is looking good so far!

Definitely try giving each enemy a trick or two, as foes which just walk up to you and swing their blade/whatever hardly make for memorable opponents.

The "trick" might be anything from a special ability, a passive buff (to self or other kinds of monsters), a gimmick, a mechanic, anything interesting really.

The fir elemental, for instance, might leave a trail of fire tiles behind when moving, which harm players (or other non fire-aligned creatures) if stepped upon.

Trolls are naturally gifted with natural regeneration in many fantasy settings.

A Cockatrice/Medusa or similar creature might petrify (stun) any player who directly face her at the end of a turn.

Poisonous creatures (or opponents wielding poisoned weapons) could ofc inflict DoT effects with standard attacks.

You can get incredibly creative with this sort of stuff for very good results.

At times though, you just want plain basic enemies which don't do much. Even at those times, try to give 'hem some character.

Weaker/easier enemies might use to come in big packs, to sort of make up for their individual frailty.

Say, for example, Goblins are coward creatures, they try to overwhelm the player with sheer number, but every time one of their kin is killed they get scared and run away from the players, not even fighting back for a turn or two. BUT, if a Goblin commander is nearby, they are immune to that auto-frightening status.
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« Reply #301 on: October 03, 2012, 07:09:57 PM »

The game is looking good so far!

Definitely try giving each enemy a trick or two, as foes which just walk up to you and swing their blade/whatever hardly make for memorable opponents.

The "trick" might be anything from a special ability, a passive buff (to self or other kinds of monsters), a gimmick, a mechanic, anything interesting really.

The fir elemental, for instance, might leave a trail of fire tiles behind when moving, which harm players (or other non fire-aligned creatures) if stepped upon.

Trolls are naturally gifted with natural regeneration in many fantasy settings.

A Cockatrice/Medusa or similar creature might petrify (stun) any player who directly face her at the end of a turn.

Poisonous creatures (or opponents wielding poisoned weapons) could ofc inflict DoT effects with standard attacks.

You can get incredibly creative with this sort of stuff for very good results.

At times though, you just want plain basic enemies which don't do much. Even at those times, try to give 'hem some character.

Weaker/easier enemies might use to come in big packs, to sort of make up for their individual frailty.

Say, for example, Goblins are coward creatures, they try to overwhelm the player with sheer number, but every time one of their kin is killed they get scared and run away from the players, not even fighting back for a turn or two. BUT, if a Goblin commander is nearby, they are immune to that auto-frightening status.

Thanks!

I do need to vary the enemies' behaviour since there isn't much difference at the moment. Most enemies walk at you and attack, but there are a couple of interesting ones. The spider for example is more interesting now.

I really like your idea for the fire elemental leaving a trail of fire. I may implement that, as it creates a more dynamic battlefield.

Also I just had an idea for an enemy that reflect damage to the player if they melee, so you'd have to take them out with range.

I might spend some time on AI/behaviour today and see how it goes.
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« Reply #302 on: October 03, 2012, 11:05:07 PM »

I really like your idea for the fire elemental leaving a trail of fire. I may implement that, as it creates a more dynamic battlefield.

Glad I can help in any way.

Also I just had an idea for an enemy that reflect damage to the player if they melee, so you'd have to take them out with range.

Would be a nice effect. Be extra careful though when considering monster-abilities which shut down a broad range of player-options (or entire classes!), as balancing those without making the player feel frustrated might be tricky. Maybe make the % of reflected damage so that meleeing is still an option, although a sub-optimal one.

But I guess the impact of this might be far less impactful, since DD is a Party vs Environment experience, so other party members can make up for melee ones.

As with anything else, test, adjust, test more until perfection.
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« Reply #303 on: October 04, 2012, 08:06:52 AM »

Day 278
* Implemented a new sound engine (refactoring)
* Added Sound Effects volume option to options menu
* Developed new impact sounds for swords
* Made new level with 4 rooms full of monsters
* Added in new teleport tile graphics
* Bugfix with blinking onto spikes



I decided today that each character should have a permanent skill which doesn't have to be chosen. This was in my original design but I took it out to add more "flexibility", however it made things more complicated! I decided to always let the Rogue have blink, so that maps can be designed around knowing that the Rogue has blink. The Elf already always has her arrow shot, but I'm not sure what the Knight and the Wizard should have. The wizard could have a weaker "magic missile" or something to that effect, but it doesn't seem all that unique right now.

I'll release a new build tomorrow to people who have purchased. I would have released it tonight, but the game is currently too difficult! The cooldowns I added in for spells the other day make it much harder to kill things.
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« Reply #304 on: October 04, 2012, 08:59:43 AM »

I decided today that each character should have a permanent skill which doesn't have to be chosen. This was in my original design but I took it out to add more "flexibility", however it made things more complicated! I decided to always let the Rogue have blink, so that maps can be designed around knowing that the Rogue has blink. The Elf already always has her arrow shot, but I'm not sure what the Knight and the Wizard should have. The wizard could have a weaker "magic missile" or something to that effect, but it doesn't seem all that unique right now.

It's interesting and I would at least try it out and test it a bit, getting feedback from early purchasers etc. Sort of a "natural" class skill.

I'll throw in some ideas for alternative natural skills, just cause that's how I roll. You might as well take these as "normal" skill ideas instead.

Concerning the Elf's and Wizard's ranged attack:
I strongly feel like those should get their ranged attack for free, on top of any Natural hero skill. They are supposed to attack from a distance as their main choice, the downside for this being they are not as resilient as the knight nor as stealthy as the rogue.

If they ever opted (or were forced) to bump into melee combat with an enemy, their regular ranged attack might be overrided by a weaker (0.5 regular damage maybe?) attack as a penalty.

To balance things out, you don't even have to make normal ranged attacks way less effective than knight/rogue melee ones. Maybe some enemies are especially resistant to ranged attacks, maybe some other enemies can use skills to shut ranged attacks down for a number of turns (something like a blind status?), maybe some enemies' behaviours are specifically designed to primarely target ranged heroes.

Balancing enemies in respect to players strengths make for far more interesting and engaging gameplay.

Natural Rogue skills
- Improved Critical Strike: An attack which deals 3x dmg even when attacking from the sides. Costs little more APs than normal attack and comes with a brief cooldown.

Natural Elf Skills
- Sniper Shot: inflicts damage as normal ranged attack but has far higher range
- Elven Agility: The Elf instantly gains X additional APs this turn. Doesn't cost APs, but has a long cooldown. The Elf gets normal APs on her next turn.

Natural Knight skills
- Taunt: forces the targeted enemy to attack none other than the knight for any number of turns. Doesn't cost AP, short cooldown.
- Bloodlust: The Knight can use his normal attack for free for this turn, effect immediately ends as soon as any of his attacks misses (though I wonder if an attack can actually miss at all in DD xP). Might not really fit the Knight theme, but cool skill idea imho.

Natural Wizard skills ideas
- Chilling touch: Melee attack which stuns the target for 1 turn on top of dealing some damage. High AP cost, brief cooldown (couple turns).
- Arcane Meditation: The Wizard starts Meditating, immediately depleting all of his APs ending his turn. During his next turn, any attack skill (including normal ranged/melee attack) cast receives a damage % buff, any non-attack focused skill benefits from a reduced % AP cost. The damage/AP-cost % is directly proportional to the amount of APs spent in Meditation. Doesn't cost APs but has mid-to-long cooldown (Hope this explanation makes sense).

I'm enjoying this skills-suggesting process. Hope this helps or inspires you!
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« Reply #305 on: October 04, 2012, 11:12:06 PM »

I'll throw in some ideas for alternative natural skills, just cause that's how I roll. You might as well take these as "normal" skill ideas instead.

Concerning the Elf's and Wizard's ranged attack:
I strongly feel like those should get their ranged attack for free, on top of any Natural hero skill. They are supposed to attack from a distance as their main choice, the downside for this being they are not as resilient as the knight nor as stealthy as the rogue.

This creates a difficult problem, because I gave the archer her shoot arrow skill since she always uses ranged weapons. There is no button to press to use a melee attack like the Knight/Rogue so they don't have an equivalent skill for their primary attack. If I give the elf another "free" skill then she'll have 2 which she always has on top of however many she is allowed to choose. If she's allowed to pick the same number of skills as everyone else, then she'll end up having more, even 5 if she picks 3!

Quote
If they ever opted (or were forced) to bump into melee combat with an enemy, their regular ranged attack might be overrided by a weaker (0.5 regular damage maybe?) attack as a penalty.
Mage/Archer can currently melee. It does as much damage as their normal attack at present but I intend to change it. I think reduced damage is a good way to go (half of what they normally do as you suggested). One other alternative is no melee and a minimum range of 2 tiles away to shoot which makes them more vulnerable and true ranged characters. I think they should have a melee attack however, because it's a bit flow-breaking if you spend a lot of time walking into enemies to attack them and then you have to remember that for two of the characters you're unable to do that.

Quote
To balance things out, you don't even have to make normal ranged attacks way less effective than knight/rogue melee ones. Maybe some enemies are especially resistant to ranged attacks, maybe some other enemies can use skills to shut ranged attacks down for a number of turns (something like a blind status?), maybe some enemies' behaviours are specifically designed to primarely target ranged heroes.

Balancing enemies in respect to players strengths make for far more interesting and engaging gameplay.

I need to put in more buffs/debuffs/attack types on both the players an enemies. Not entirely sure of all the attack types left. It starts to add a lot of complexity (in most ways good) to the game when enemies have strengths weaknesses based on attack types, but it does make logical sense (fire monsters should be weak to ice attacks).

I also had an idea for "synergy" bonuses. Perhaps if you arrow shot someone who was frozen it would shatter and give a bonus, allowing players to use their abilities together effectively.

The AI is flexible enough for me to make it focus on particular players depending on their stats/class/attributes. But at the moment they are just targeting first/closest LOS.

Quote
Natural Rogue skills
- Improved Critical Strike: An attack which deals 3x dmg even when attacking from the sides. Costs little more APs than normal attack and comes with a brief cooldown.

Natural Elf Skills
- Sniper Shot: inflicts damage as normal ranged attack but has far higher range
- Elven Agility: The Elf instantly gains X additional APs this turn. Doesn't cost APs, but has a long cooldown. The Elf gets normal APs on her next turn.

For "Improved Critical Strike" and "Sniper Shot", I have a couple of moves like that already and I found that they don't actually work very well (though I just realised how I can make them work). The problem with them was that there wasn't a real reason why you would use them over a normal attack. If Sniper Shot gave you triple damage, then it would be easier to just fire 3 times instead - and it would cost around about the same AP. But I just realised that now that I have cooldowns, I can afford to make the damage much greater but give a very high cooldown. I could do an attack that does 5x damage but cooldown of 10 turns.

I really really like the idea of Elven Agility. I'll most likely put something like that in Smiley

Quote
Natural Knight skills
- Taunt: forces the targeted enemy to attack none other than the knight for any number of turns. Doesn't cost AP, short cooldown.
- Bloodlust: The Knight can use his normal attack for free for this turn, effect immediately ends as soon as any of his attacks misses (though I wonder if an attack can actually miss at all in DD xP). Might not really fit the Knight theme, but cool skill idea imho.

Taunt is planned already pretty close to as you described it!

Bloodlust probably won't work so well, as you surmised that characters rarely miss. I forget what the percentage is now, but it's quite low. I realised that missing for no reason just isn't a fun mechanic. All it does is make the player feel cheated and make things go slower. But when it's a low enough probability it's not very annoying for the player and may lead to interesting situations if it was a crucial shot.

Quote
Natural Wizard skills ideas
- Chilling touch: Melee attack which stuns the target for 1 turn on top of dealing some damage. High AP cost, brief cooldown (couple turns).
- Arcane Meditation: The Wizard starts Meditating, immediately depleting all of his APs ending his turn. During his next turn, any attack skill (including normal ranged/melee attack) cast receives a damage % buff, any non-attack focused skill benefits from a reduced % AP cost. The damage/AP-cost % is directly proportional to the amount of APs spent in Meditation. Doesn't cost APs but has mid-to-long cooldown (Hope this explanation makes sense).

There's an ice blast move in already which does a 1 turn freeze.

Arcane Meditation sounds cool but a little complicated to implement and comprehend for the player as well. I understand it I think - basically an AoE buff that makes your team more awesome for a turn?... On second thoughts that sounds pretty cool.

Quote
I'm enjoying this skills-suggesting process. Hope this helps or inspires you!

Very much so! I'm enjoying your feedback and discussion a lot. Thank you! Smiley
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« Reply #306 on: October 05, 2012, 02:15:52 AM »

Please do not think I want to lecture you, I'm just exposing my reasoning in the hope you might get inspirations from it. I do realize this is going to be a TL;DR;, but I hope you might come back and read these stuff later in the development process whenever you have issues figuring out things.

Ranged attacks
The fact which makes me wonder a lot is, ranged attack is the natural way for ranged heroes to, well, attack. I still find it strange for they to have to give up a skill slot. But who knows. I've not yet played the game, so maybe something like what you're planning might work and feel right under your system.

Monster Design
Definitely put a lot of thought and iterate a lot. Different people have different philosophies about how to deploy Monster Design, but I'll stress again about giving each monster something unique.

Also, please do not go too far with Monsters' weaknesses. The "classic" elemental system "Fire creatures weak vs water/ice but resistant to fire" might make sense and seem fine. On paper. While in reality, it is a bland system which gets old pretty quickly and ends up funneling player's skills/equipment selection ("ok, lots of fire elementals in this level... better fire up ice skills!), based on any given level's monster population. Use it sparingly, at best.

You may want to tackle on the concept of monster roles, if you haven't already. Important thing is, give each monster at least 1 unique feature, be it a purely aesthetic or mechanical one. Memorable monsters make for memorable play experiences.

Once you feel you've designed a monster who can stand on it's own (in terms of character and mechanics) try to make him interact with other foes in some interesting way (see Goblins + Goblin Commander example above). Monsters interaction allow for a broader spectrum of scenarios, possibly unexpected, to keep players on their toes. That's on top of giving level designer many more possibilities when designing interesting encounters.

Skills/Heroes synergies
The more the better.

Say, for example, The Knight's Guard skill granted a fraction (half?) of the defense buff to other heroes, as long as they stand next to him. The player could still use the Guard skill to benefit the Knight only, but you add an added layer of choice ("Do I want to approach the enemy caster who's blasting my party from afar with my knight? Or do I want to move him next to the rogue before doing so and use the guard skill, since he's on low health?).

Similarly to monsters interacting with each other, skill synergies make for far many more interesting scenarios and broaden the amount of meaningful choices the player needs to make.

Skills which have 1 simple, even if powerful, and straightforward way to be used are a waste, if you ask me, especially in a tactics game.

I especially liked the "Arrow shot shattering frozen enemies" idea. My addition to that would be, do not make a broad category of attacks/skills interact with any given status effect. Rather do something like "The Elf's X and Y, the Knight's Z and U skills gain additional damage (or any other kind of bonus effect) on a enemy affected by status S".

The reasoning behind that being, allowing for interesting skills-selection options.
- A player might still want to pick a skill which inflicts status V on an enemy, just because it is a useful skill on its own.
- The he might want to focus his strategy around skills which have synergy with that one. But he still has more choices to make: do I want to pick Elf's skill X (for its "bla" synergy?) or do I want to pick Knight's Z skill (for its "other bla" synergy)? Might I even want to pick both X AND Z?
- Maybe some synergies are not useful in all instances (ie, not a +damage synergy), so you introduce a situational choice.

Also, adding on the concept of synergies, skills which interact in many different and varied ways allow for emergence. This might lead (among other things) to interesting skill combos.

Skills balance: AP cost and cooldowns
I sense you might be a bit struggling with juggling the numbers around. I might be wrong.

AP cost shouldn't go up linearly with the skill's damage all the times. Think more about the interaction between AP cost, available AP, cooldowns.

You should mainly tune the AP cost of skills around the the question "how many things do I want Hero X to do during any given turn under normal circumstances?".

Some skills might feature a lower damage/APs ratio, but the player might still want to use those over regular attacks, either because of other skill's effects or because of situational factors. If the choice is always obvious (given AP costs, there's no reason for the player to use this skill at any given point) you obviously have a design issue: either the skill is uninteresting (ie, it just deals damage) or the AP cost needs to be tweaked.

Low AP skills are meant to impact the hero's AP budget slightly. The player only gives up a normal attack or some mobility for the current turn.

Medium AP skills means the hero is likely to give up on doing other meaningful things in order to perform the skill. He might need to resort to not attacking this turn, for instance.

High AP cost... you got it.

Cooldowns serve a different purpose. It's a mechanic mainly meant for allowing powerful skills to be spammed every turn. Balance, essentially. But CDs introduce one more layer of planning for players too! Do I want to use this powerful skill now? What if something bad happens during the X few turns and my life-saver skill is on CD?

Very short CD skills (1 turn) essentially mean the player can still use the skill every turn if he needs to. The main point is, the player can't use such a skill multiple times during the same turn, regardless the AP cost.

Short CD skills (2-3 turns). Some skills are not powerful on themselves, but might allow players to perform a lock. A lock is when the player can repeat a given order of commands to make enemies helpless. Say the Wizard has a skill which can stun an enemy for 1 turn. If such a skill had no cooldown, the wizard might use the stun skill over and over again on a powerful monster while the other heroes pummel it down. This saves you from having to make certain monsters immune to some attacks as the only way to balance them vs player power, which would in turn feel unfair to players.

Long CD skills. Other than a balancing factor for very powerful skills, long CDs make players unable to rely on a few end-all skills to deal with specific issues every single time, knowing the CD will quickly fade. The player might want to save those up for very tight spot, and better have some fall-back plan once those have been fired.

I think you can tell I love thinking this kind of stuff xD

General considerations on Skills
If I'm remembering right, I think you said the player can pick 4 skills out of 7 for each hero. This is on top of the Natural class skill right?

I like this a lot, although I think the 7 skills pool might be a tad larger (but do not fret, just focus on creating 7 great skills first! Tongue). You'll always be able to add more skills later on.

The important point with this is, with such a system you absolutely need to strike a good deal of variety within each hero's skills pool. If the player has to pick among 5 possible ways of dealing damage and only a couple skills which do something else... uninteresting.

Also, as pointed out above, be sure skills do interact in meaningful ways, both with skills among the same pool and with skills from another hero's list. This way, players are far more likely to pick a given amount of skills because of how those work together, rather than for what each of them do.

Ultimately, each hero needs a couple different ways to directly or indirectly deal damage, a couple skills to help them stay alive or deal with specific threats, a big blast skill, and a reminder of assorted useful skills. This of course varies depending on the specific hero (because of hero roles and hero fluff).

Consider a skill might cover more than one use-case at once. A skill might both deal damage (attack skill) and inflict some status effect (debuff/survivability skill). Another skill might deal damage (attack skill) and grant a buff to the caster (utility skill).

It's ok if you still have a few straight up one-use skills though. But still try to make those work in different ways by considering synergies.

Specific Skills considerations
I'm sorry, but I don't currently have access to the game. It would be cool if you guys took the time to compile a list of skills currently in the game, including what they do, AP costs and cooldowns.

I was going to throw up a whole lot of stuff about skills, but this has reached EPIC WALL OF TEXT status already, so maybe next time!
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« Reply #307 on: October 05, 2012, 10:02:48 AM »

Day 279
* Added new features to sound engine to allow different enemy attack and death sounds
* Added new arrow shoot/hit sounds
* Added new dagger/broadsword sounds
* Added new miss/dodge sounds
* Added bat death sounds, orc death sounds, and player death sounds
* Added monster attack sounds
* Added critical hit and quest complete sounds
* Released Build 272 for pre-purchasers
* Released new Gameplay Video on YouTube

Spent almost all of the day developing new sounds and putting them into the game. I released a new build and then I then spent all of the evening making a new trailer for Build 272. I'm really happy that I found Movie Studio from PixelProspector on a thread here on TIGSource as it has enough options such as rendering with XVid and other nice features, but not too much complexity. It just works.

Take a look at the YouTube trailer I made for Build 272 today:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7D_LBdAkGs


@Bandreus - I will answer your post tomorrow, I've been swamped with stuff today and it's now 4:02AM so I should probably get to sleep Tongue I did read over it and it has a lot of great ideas and points.
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« Reply #308 on: October 06, 2012, 07:33:19 AM »

feedback/opinions after first hands-on with the actual game.

 Beer! The feel of the game is great.
Simple things like walking Heroes around, hitting monsters, smashing chairs/crates/tables all feels great. Sound FXs and Visual feedback work together in a way they just make you want to bump into more stuff. Good work on this!

 Beer! The music is very catchy too! Great feeling, love the sound of retro-style synths. It gets repetitive quickly though, but it's a great start to build upon for whatever you're going to do with DD's soundtrack later in the development process.

 Huh? I'm a bit torn about the current implementation of the AP system. I feel like high AP counts for both Heroes (see Rogue) and some Monsters (see Bats) make predicting how a turn will pan out a bit hectic. This might need quite a bit of experimenting and tuning.

 Huh? As a consequence of the above, the Knight only rarely gets anything meaningful accomplished.
- The Rogue (which is also likely to act first most of the times due to high mobility) can basically reach and likely kill an enemy or two no matter how far.
- The Elf can shoot from afar, so she's likely to land a couple shots each turn.
- The Wizard has very low AP, but he can usually land 1 powerful blow per turn.
- The Knight... given anything is alive by the time he finally gets close to enemies, usually lands a few blows per fight. The most he can do usually revolves around taking LOTS of hits from enemies when the opposing force is vastly superior in number (which I think it's fine given he's the only tank in the group?).

 Angry I hate Goblin Archers. Ranged foes are going to be a pain in the ass in DD! Likely tp be your high priority targets in most instances.

 Huh? You might want to put a limit for how many summoned minions a Necromancer can deploy on the mup at any given time, those guys just keep popping out skele after skele after skele.

That's it atm. I'll post more in-depth opinions later as I think more about stuff, but I wanted to post the most significant feedback ASAP.
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« Reply #309 on: October 07, 2012, 01:50:12 AM »

Some thoughts about the last build:
- The blue "signs" are a very good add!
- The design of the yellow sign is better.
- I didn't notice if it was possible to change the items before, but it's pretty fun!
- since the first build, I can't have a fullscreen game: I have big black borders...
- Options: the music/SFX slides moves but the numbers don't change.
- why do we have to use the mouse in the menus/options while we use the keyboard the rest of the game: I think it's quite inconvenient. We should use them both (mouse AND keyboard) or only one.
- some bugs with the monsters icons (not the rights ones or red blank icons)
- sometimes the yellow sign is over the characters

Some quick suggestions:
. add little HP potions in the chests, or create "Fountains of Youth" (only one character can regain HP).
. add oil bottles  in the chests, to light the torches (some rooms could be very dark,  and some ennemies could benefit to attack in the darkness: Vampires, etc.)
. add a "RESTART THE MISSION" in the "resume/quit" menu
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« Reply #310 on: October 07, 2012, 03:38:34 AM »

Jerom brings up good points.

I would also like to elaborate a bit on the teleport glyphs. You've been iterating on it a lot, and I get you had a TP button in the UI at one point.

I mainly see 2 issues with glyphs. 1) You can't step over one without having your party be teleported 2) It may cause headaches during level design.

You know, if you want to put a glyph in a corridor right before a door, then you need to make the corridor wide enough (to allow for players to walk around them, if they feel like it). One alternative would be having a dialog window to pop up when a glyph is stepped on... inconvenient. A simple TP button allows for players to controll much more freely when they want to teleport Heroes around.

All in all, I think having a TP Party button is a simpler and elegant solution. Ofc the button would be displayed and clickable only during free-move mode.

But the following made me think a lot.

add oil bottles  in the chests, to light the torches (some rooms could be very dark,  and some ennemies could benefit to attack in the darkness: Vampires, etc.)

This might end up being an interesting mechanic to build upon.

I would however go without oil bottles. Just make it so that any torch can be turned on/off by simply bumping into them. It's just simpler that way, you avoid introducing another resource (oil flasks) to be managed, and you also don't introduce unfair situations (I really need to lit that torch but I have no oil).

What I like about this is, you would introduce one more aspect for the environments and the combat mechanics to interact with each other in interesting ways.

I might go as far as adding fog of war (ie, not visited place are obscured by the fog). You have line of sight implemented already anyways Wink

Each hero/monster would have a vision range, things outside that range are not visible. This way, ranged characters wouldn't be able to shot from impossible distances too. You wouldn't be able to see enemy movement in areas outside of your party's vision either.

Dark (unlit) areas would greatly reduce heroes/monsters vision range, although some monsters (think bats or vampires) or hero skills might be capable of better or complete vision in unlit areas. As an example, the Knight might have a vision range of 8 tiles, but only 2 tiles in dark rooms. Thel Elf however (Elves are usually depicted as creatures gifted with sharp eyes and night-vision) might have a vision range of 10 and 5 in dark rooms.

(One small caveat: since DD is a party based game, I would suggest for the game to consider everything within the sight range of each Hero to be visible by every party member at once).

As suggested by Jerom, you might introduce enemies which perform better or can use special abilities in dark (or even lit?) areas only. The player might likely be interested in trying to light up a torch in a dark room, but this introduces interesting scenarios and decisions to be made.

Say, the player opens a door onto a dark room. He sees a few tiles, a monster is right there, but the rest of the room is pitch black. The enemy also is a night creature (buffed if standing in dark areas) "Do I deal with this enemy right here right now? Do I enter the room searching for a torch to be lit and make the enemy weaker? What if more (maybe even deadlier) creatures are waiting in the shadows? Thrilling. ^_^

Also, this system might open up possibilities for many kinds of interesting interactions within different elements of gameplay.

- A Fire Elemental would cast a small area of light when in dark areas. He's on fire baby!
- Some enemies might be able to create darkness by using monster skills. Say, a necromancer or what have you, might cast a darkness spell over an area. This could severely limit the player's vision, not pleasant. But if, on top of that, vampires or other kinds of creatures of the night are there as well? Big trouble man, big trouble!
- Some AoE skills (fire based ones) might be use to lit up a torch from a distance. The Wizard might use his fireball spell to damage enemies in the dark and lit any torch which happens to be within the spell's area of effect.
- Hero skills might be introduced to specifically deal with Player's vision and unfavorable lighting conditions.

Let's see a couple Hero Skills which might fit.

- Elf Skill - Infravision: The Elf gains +X to vision for Y turns. The Elf doesn't suffer any vision penalty when in dark rooms while this Skill is active. Also, the Elf cannot miss when using her bow while this skill is active.

Please note, A Skill like this could be used in order to gain an advantage in more than one way. It would be an easy pick if you need to fight in dark areas. But, even in lit areas, this skill might be useful to shot down enemies from longer distances then usually possible. Bottom line, even if anything else, this skill still grants a small but useful buff (never missing a shot).

- Wizard Skill - Globe of Light (streight from D&D xD) The Wizard hurls a mystical glob of light which floats to the targeted tile and lasts for X turns. The Globe of Light lights up an area of Y tiles around it. If the Glob is cast directly onto an enemy, it deals Z damage. Creatures of the night take T damage at the beginning of their turn if they stand in the area lit by the globe.

Again, a multi-purpose skill. It might be used for its utility (lighting up dark areas) as well as a single-target attack spell. It also doubles up as a AoE+DoT spell vs. enemies of the "Creatures of the night" kind.

Similarly, some monsters might use skills which directly or indirectly affect lighting and vision.

Also, you might have enemies which instead benefit from standing in lit areas.

- Carnivorous Plant Abomination: A gigantic man-heating plant which can use its overgrown roots to slowly move around the dungeons. By using photosynthesis, it is capable of fast regeneration. At the beginning of each turn, if the CPA stands in a lit area, it regenerates X hps.

When fighting similar creatures, Players might even go as far as turning torches off! They would indeed give up on vision, but the enemy might be easier to take down overall. A Wizard who cast a Globe of Light skill when facing these creatures would in turn put his group in big troubles!

By using your imagination, you can come up with many more ways to have various systems within the game to work together to create interesting dynamics.

Another TL;DR; oh well...
« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 03:48:01 AM by Bandreus » Logged

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« Reply #311 on: October 07, 2012, 05:13:46 AM »

Getting around to answering all these posts and questions from the past few days!

Please do not think I want to lecture you, I'm just exposing my reasoning in the hope you might get inspirations from it. I do realize this is going to be a TL;DR;, but I hope you might come back and read these stuff later in the development process whenever you have issues figuring out things.

Ranged attacks
The fact which makes me wonder a lot is, ranged attack is the natural way for ranged heroes to, well, attack. I still find it strange for they to have to give up a skill slot. But who knows. I've not yet played the game, so maybe something like what you're planning might work and feel right under your system.
I'll see how it goes. It is their primary attack, but at the same time, it's better than a normal attack due to its range. So it's not exactly the same as taking up a slot for a normal attack. If it does feel unfair I will give them another skill, but I think that would be too many.

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Monster Design
Definitely put a lot of thought and iterate a lot. Different people have different philosophies about how to deploy Monster Design, but I'll stress again about giving each monster something unique.

Also, please do not go too far with Monsters' weaknesses. The "classic" elemental system "Fire creatures weak vs water/ice but resistant to fire" might make sense and seem fine. On paper. While in reality, it is a bland system which gets old pretty quickly and ends up funneling player's skills/equipment selection ("ok, lots of fire elementals in this level... better fire up ice skills!), based on any given level's monster population. Use it sparingly, at best.

You may want to tackle on the concept of monster roles, if you haven't already. Important thing is, give each monster at least 1 unique feature, be it a purely aesthetic or mechanical one. Memorable monsters make for memorable play experiences.

Once you feel you've designed a monster who can stand on it's own (in terms of character and mechanics) try to make him interact with other foes in some interesting way (see Goblins + Goblin Commander example above). Monsters interaction allow for a broader spectrum of scenarios, possibly unexpected, to keep players on their toes. That's on top of giving level designer many more possibilities when designing interesting encounters.
I agree with not having a massive elemental system. I contemplated it in the early stages of the game, but I don't think it would be good to have a rock/paper/scissors - "this element beats that". However, if a handful of enemies had particular weaknesses or strengths, I think it would be a nice addition.

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Skills/Heroes synergies
The more the better.

Say, for example, The Knight's Guard skill granted a fraction (half?) of the defense buff to other heroes, as long as they stand next to him. The player could still use the Guard skill to benefit the Knight only, but you add an added layer of choice ("Do I want to approach the enemy caster who's blasting my party from afar with my knight? Or do I want to move him next to the rogue before doing so and use the guard skill, since he's on low health?).

Similarly to monsters interacting with each other, skill synergies make for far many more interesting scenarios and broaden the amount of meaningful choices the player needs to make.

Skills which have 1 simple, even if powerful, and straightforward way to be used are a waste, if you ask me, especially in a tactics game.

I especially liked the "Arrow shot shattering frozen enemies" idea. My addition to that would be, do not make a broad category of attacks/skills interact with any given status effect. Rather do something like "The Elf's X and Y, the Knight's Z and U skills gain additional damage (or any other kind of bonus effect) on a enemy affected by status S".

The reasoning behind that being, allowing for interesting skills-selection options.
- A player might still want to pick a skill which inflicts status V on an enemy, just because it is a useful skill on its own.
- The he might want to focus his strategy around skills which have synergy with that one. But he still has more choices to make: do I want to pick Elf's skill X (for its "bla" synergy?) or do I want to pick Knight's Z skill (for its "other bla" synergy)? Might I even want to pick both X AND Z?
- Maybe some synergies are not useful in all instances (ie, not a +damage synergy), so you introduce a situational choice.

Also, adding on the concept of synergies, skills which interact in many different and varied ways allow for emergence. This might lead (among other things) to interesting skill combos.
I'll keep in mind allowing a wide range of uses for a skill. I'm thinking of creating some kind of switch that only the archer can shoot, and another one that only the wizard can shoot to activate too.
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Skills balance: AP cost and cooldowns
I sense you might be a bit struggling with juggling the numbers around. I might be wrong.

AP cost shouldn't go up linearly with the skill's damage all the times. Think more about the interaction between AP cost, available AP, cooldowns.

You should mainly tune the AP cost of skills around the the question "how many things do I want Hero X to do during any given turn under normal circumstances?".

Some skills might feature a lower damage/APs ratio, but the player might still want to use those over regular attacks, either because of other skill's effects or because of situational factors. If the choice is always obvious (given AP costs, there's no reason for the player to use this skill at any given point) you obviously have a design issue: either the skill is uninteresting (ie, it just deals damage) or the AP cost needs to be tweaked.

Low AP skills are meant to impact the hero's AP budget slightly. The player only gives up a normal attack or some mobility for the current turn.

Medium AP skills means the hero is likely to give up on doing other meaningful things in order to perform the skill. He might need to resort to not attacking this turn, for instance.

High AP cost... you got it.

Cooldowns serve a different purpose. It's a mechanic mainly meant for allowing powerful skills to be spammed every turn. Balance, essentially. But CDs introduce one more layer of planning for players too! Do I want to use this powerful skill now? What if something bad happens during the X few turns and my life-saver skill is on CD?

Very short CD skills (1 turn) essentially mean the player can still use the skill every turn if he needs to. The main point is, the player can't use such a skill multiple times during the same turn, regardless the AP cost.

Short CD skills (2-3 turns). Some skills are not powerful on themselves, but might allow players to perform a lock. A lock is when the player can repeat a given order of commands to make enemies helpless. Say the Wizard has a skill which can stun an enemy for 1 turn. If such a skill had no cooldown, the wizard might use the stun skill over and over again on a powerful monster while the other heroes pummel it down. This saves you from having to make certain monsters immune to some attacks as the only way to balance them vs player power, which would in turn feel unfair to players.

Long CD skills. Other than a balancing factor for very powerful skills, long CDs make players unable to rely on a few end-all skills to deal with specific issues every single time, knowing the CD will quickly fade. The player might want to save those up for very tight spot, and better have some fall-back plan once those have been fired.

I think you can tell I love thinking this kind of stuff xD
I think I've got the use of Cooldowns and AP down, but balacing those numbers is still hard. One of the difficulties is how the items affect total AP. At the moment there are huge variances in the AP available depending on your item selection, and in the current build the player can select a fair few different items. All the numbers that are in the game at the moment are my second or so iteration, so they still have a lot of tweaking to do. I think I'll need to rebalance the items so that the AP doesn't vary so much. The speed element doesn't seem to matter as much as I thought it might as well, as some items increase/decrease speed which allow you to have your turn earlier/later than others.

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General considerations on Skills
If I'm remembering right, I think you said the player can pick 4 skills out of 7 for each hero. This is on top of the Natural class skill right?

I like this a lot, although I think the 7 skills pool might be a tad larger (but do not fret, just focus on creating 7 great skills first! Tongue). You'll always be able to add more skills later on.

The important point with this is, with such a system you absolutely need to strike a good deal of variety within each hero's skills pool. If the player has to pick among 5 possible ways of dealing damage and only a couple skills which do something else... uninteresting.

Also, as pointed out above, be sure skills do interact in meaningful ways, both with skills among the same pool and with skills from another hero's list. This way, players are far more likely to pick a given amount of skills because of how those work together, rather than for what each of them do.

Ultimately, each hero needs a couple different ways to directly or indirectly deal damage, a couple skills to help them stay alive or deal with specific threats, a big blast skill, and a reminder of assorted useful skills. This of course varies depending on the specific hero (because of hero roles and hero fluff).

Consider a skill might cover more than one use-case at once. A skill might both deal damage (attack skill) and inflict some status effect (debuff/survivability skill). Another skill might deal damage (attack skill) and grant a buff to the caster (utility skill).

It's ok if you still have a few straight up one-use skills though. But still try to make those work in different ways by considering synergies.

Specific Skills considerations
I'm sorry, but I don't currently have access to the game. It would be cool if you guys took the time to compile a list of skills currently in the game, including what they do, AP costs and cooldowns.
I think if the player has 5 skills in-game then that's too many. I'd really like to limit it to 4 max. With 5 skills there would be a huge range and it would be likely that your cooldowns wouldn't effect you as much since you'd have so much choice. I want to try and avoid a hero having too many skills that are "essential" such as I think the heal skill will be for whoever I give it to (I think there will be potions as well though to counter-act this). However, it may be unavoidable for some skills that are awesome.

I'll post a list sometime of my proposed skills, I'm still playing with ideas.
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I was going to throw up a whole lot of stuff about skills, but this has reached EPIC WALL OF TEXT status already, so maybe next time!
But a thoughtful, well written wall of text! Thanks!
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« Reply #312 on: October 07, 2012, 05:40:00 AM »

feedback/opinions after first hands-on with the actual game.

 Beer! The feel of the game is great.
Simple things like walking Heroes around, hitting monsters, smashing chairs/crates/tables all feels great. Sound FXs and Visual feedback work together in a way they just make you want to bump into more stuff. Good work on this!

 Beer! The music is very catchy too! Great feeling, love the sound of retro-style synths. It gets repetitive quickly though, but it's a great start to build upon for whatever you're going to do with DD's soundtrack later in the development process.
Thanks! The new sounds are recent so it's good to know that they work. I'll be putting in more tracks soon. I've had about 4 for months but the engine hasn't been there to nicely transition between them all, so I've had to settle for putting one track in at a time.

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Huh? I'm a bit torn about the current implementation of the AP system. I feel like high AP counts for both Heroes (see Rogue) and some Monsters (see Bats) make predicting how a turn will pan out a bit hectic. This might need quite a bit of experimenting and tuning.

 Huh? As a consequence of the above, the Knight only rarely gets anything meaningful accomplished.
- The Rogue (which is also likely to act first most of the times due to high mobility) can basically reach and likely kill an enemy or two no matter how far.
- The Elf can shoot from afar, so she's likely to land a couple shots each turn.
- The Wizard has very low AP, but he can usually land 1 powerful blow per turn.
- The Knight... given anything is alive by the time he finally gets close to enemies, usually lands a few blows per fight. The most he can do usually revolves around taking LOTS of hits from enemies when the opposing force is vastly superior in number (which I think it's fine given he's the only tank in the group?).
I've heard that the Knight is useless before from other people who have played. He's meant to be the tank, but enemy AI can shoot through him at the moment. Need to fix that. Some leadership-type buffs such as AoE damage buff to surrounding units might make him more useful too.
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Angry I hate Goblin Archers. Ranged foes are going to be a pain in the ass in DD! Likely tp be your high priority targets in most instances.
Good Tongue

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Huh? You might want to put a limit for how many summoned minions a Necromancer can deploy on the mup at any given time, those guys just keep popping out skele after skele after skele.
I kind of like that they overwhelm you, making them a true essential target. Granted, I probably won't have 3 of them in a room, but their power comes from simply being alive. If you take them out early then they won't be a threat, but if you let them live, they'll overrun you.

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That's it atm. I'll post more in-depth opinions later as I think more about stuff, but I wanted to post the most significant feedback ASAP.
Thanks again!


Some thoughts about the last build:
- The blue "signs" are a very good add!
- The design of the yellow sign is better.
- I didn't notice if it was possible to change the items before, but it's pretty fun!
Great! Smiley
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- since the first build, I can't have a fullscreen game: I have big black borders...
The big black borders is related to an aspect-ratio thing. The game is designed for 16:9, but I think it underscales a little too much on certain resoltions. What's your screen resolution? 1440x900?
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- Options: the music/SFX slides moves but the numbers don't change.
The numbers represent the min/max of 0 to 100. It's temporary art anyway though so it will change before the final release.
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- why do we have to use the mouse in the menus/options while we use the keyboard the rest of the game: I think it's quite inconvenient. We should use them both (mouse AND keyboard) or only one.
The game is still WIP and so complete mouse controls have been low priority. My aim is to be able to have either all mouse controls or all keyboard controls or a combination of both in the final release.
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- some bugs with the monsters icons (not the rights ones or red blank icons)
- sometimes the yellow sign is over the characters
The game is still WIP and so the portraits are still being worked on. The icons are red or an Orc if the character does not have a portraits. Yellow sign above characters is a bug.

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Some quick suggestions:
. add little HP potions in the chests, or create "Fountains of Youth" (only one character can regain HP).
. add oil bottles  in the chests, to light the torches (some rooms could be very dark,  and some ennemies could benefit to attack in the darkness: Vampires, etc.)
. add a "RESTART THE MISSION" in the "resume/quit" menu
I'll be adding some sort of healing soon, hopefully in the next build. Restart mission button is a good idea, I'll try to add that too.

Thank you for the feedback!
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« Reply #313 on: October 07, 2012, 05:53:34 AM »

Jerom brings up good points.

I would also like to elaborate a bit on the teleport glyphs. You've been iterating on it a lot, and I get you had a TP button in the UI at one point.

I mainly see 2 issues with glyphs. 1) You can't step over one without having your party be teleported 2) It may cause headaches during level design.

You know, if you want to put a glyph in a corridor right before a door, then you need to make the corridor wide enough (to allow for players to walk around them, if they feel like it). One alternative would be having a dialog window to pop up when a glyph is stepped on... inconvenient. A simple TP button allows for players to controll much more freely when they want to teleport Heroes around.

All in all, I think having a TP Party button is a simpler and elegant solution. Ofc the button would be displayed and clickable only during free-move mode.
While a teleport button would be cool (and was actually in the last build), ultimately I think the teleport glyphs are the best solution (and thank you for the word "glyphs", the word has slipped my mind - I kept called them "hexes").

For these points:
1) You can't step over one without having your party be teleported
>> That's correct. It's a design choice. For linear dungeons you will always want to teleport your team together, and for linear places where all heroes are going to meet up, you will want to teleport your heroes together. In these situations the glyph will be put in an unavoidable location (such as before a boss battle). The reason I changed it from an active statue to a floor tile was because the floor tile is passive in nature. Grouping your players together is not something you want to have to think about. It slows down the game and puts in too much micro management. In previous builds it automatically teleported you on each door and I did intend to make that a toggle-feature, but that is just too much micromanagement. Unlike doors, glyphs don't have to be put infront of every door.

For rooms that are not linear, then glyphs are put in more optional locations, such as off to the side of paths.

2) It may cause headaches during level design.
>> I disagree! Their placement is very natural and easy to work out.

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But the following made me think a lot.

add oil bottles  in the chests, to light the torches (some rooms could be very dark,  and some ennemies could benefit to attack in the darkness: Vampires, etc.)

This might end up being an interesting mechanic to build upon....

While the whole idea of having lighting affect gameplay is pretty interesting and opens up a lot of possibilities, I won't be including it in the game. It changes the core mechanics of the game completely and I don't think it aligns with the vision I have for Dungeon Dashers. I think that having something like that would slow down the movement a lot as you would always be having to think about how much light there is in every room and how your characters react to those situations. It really makes most of the game being about managing line of sight. In addition, the lighting system is optional and can be turned on/off, so it's not designed to be incorporated into line of sight.

I will however consider allowing the player to turn torches on and off just for fun, because that sounds like a nice little environment touch, and could even allow some secret switches/passages.
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« Reply #314 on: October 07, 2012, 06:53:03 AM »

Day 281
Didn't get much done today on code for the game, I had to empty out my workspace because there's work being done under the house and they're accessing it through my bedrom (I'm a bedroom coder!). I've moved into another room and the desk setup is less than ideal. I also spent a lot of time replying to emails and talking with people who had questions about the game. I did manage to do some design though. Chris developed some new portraits which I will implement and Philip has done a lot more to the ancient tomb tileset.

Design-wise I've been thinking about how I'm going to focus on turning the parts of the game that feel like an engine into a real game.

So this week, in addition to adding new sounds and features, I'm going to jump into the progression system some more. Here are my aims:

1. Build more levels, with their position in the game in mind (e.g. level 2, level 3, etc.)
2. Unlock recipes from beating quests (and give the player very little to start with)
3. Item/Skill/Stat balancing - some items are horrible now.
4. Add the ability for storyline text

With a few more levels and some actual progression, the next build will allow people to play through and feel like they're getting somewhere.

I have two problems which I haven't worked out at this stage. One is, I don't know a good way to give "storyline text" to the player. I intend to deliver storyline to the player by displaying a few sentences between levels. However, I can't think of a good place to put this text later, for when the player wants to read it again. If there is some kind of "book/codex", it could be all placed there, however then the levels for which it refers to would not be there for context. If I put it in the level select screen then it takes up a bit more space which I might need for displaying other information. In addition, I'm still uncertain if the level progression should be linear or give you choices among a few different levels. I initially thought the player would have a choice among a few different levels at any one time, though that makes a story harder to weave among them - Where do you fit storyline text? Or is it only given every few levels? If I do go down this non-linear route then a world-map might be a good way to do it (though it's another [large] art expense).
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« Reply #315 on: October 07, 2012, 07:35:30 AM »

You might think about implementing a diary.

Like, the main menu would have
-> Mission
-> Shop
-> Diary

etc.

You would deliver storilines, objectives and the likes before, during and after levels.

Example: The player starts the Lich King's forgotten Tomb mission
Dialogue:
NPC - Quick, you need to break into the Lich King's Tomb and retrive the epic muffin!
Knight - On our way!
Rogue - I love muffins!

During the level you read a sign, talk to an PC, retrieve objects, and more storilines unfold

Final Battle:
Lich King - The epic muffin is mine!
Rogue - I want it so badly, die!

After winning mission: more storylines

If you access the Diary after completing the quest, you would show a brief summoary of the story

- The Lich King's forgotten Tomb
"An NPC meets the Heroes to beg them to retrive the epic muffin. The Elf approved. After long battles and [bla bla bla] the Heroes successfully retrieved the muffin. The NPC never heard of the Heroes back, so he immediately suspected the Elf wasn't able to resist such epic deliciousness."

Or something like that.

Also, the Diary might be a good place to collect other game progression related things, like
-> Achievements
-> Rare items found
-> Statistics (time played, number of deaths, etc.)
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« Reply #316 on: October 07, 2012, 07:44:44 AM »

You might think about implementing a diary.

...

Also, the Diary might be a good place to collect other game progression related things, like
-> Achievements
-> Rare items found
-> Statistics (time played, number of deaths, etc.)

That's the kind of solution I had in mind too. Though there's still the non-linear aspect of it. Perhaps if it had "pages" that were unlocked as you completed the associated quests/levels, then that would work best. For example, level 1 = page 1, level 2 = page 2. Then if you beat level 2 before level 1, it just has page 1 as being blank/locked. having the stats/achievements/etc. too all fits in there.
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« Reply #317 on: October 07, 2012, 11:53:19 AM »

Even if you try to keep it as simple as possible, a linear diary structure might still work pretty well, as you're suspecting.

You can assign pages to missions in a way for the diary to follow a nice order. And yes, uncompleted mission = locked pages.

Example:

- mission A
  |- mission B
  |  |- mission E (completing B required)
  |- mission C
  |- mission D
     |- mission F (completing both C and D required)
        |- mission G (completing both E and F required)

You would assign pages to mission like this
p1 - Mission A
p2 - Mission B
p3 - Mission E
p4 - Mission C
p5 - Mission D
p6 - Mission F
p7 - Mission G

headaches  Facepalm
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« Reply #318 on: October 08, 2012, 05:39:32 AM »

Day 282
* Added map title (with new typeface) and fade effect on start of each level
* Fixed bug with spawned monster directions + Lich King direction (couldn't critical hit them sometimes)
* Added new portraits for Dragon, Armoured Skeleton, and Fire Elemental
* Began code for giving player a recipe when they beat a quest
* Playersave.dat file now partially generated if it doesn't exist

Today I added in the display of the name of the level when you start. It fades in from black with the title and then fades out. This took a while as I had to draw a new typeface of the bitmap font at a higher resolution (I wanted smoother edges than just simply doubling it - still needs some touchups).

I also started putting in code to allow the game to start without any save file, as currently it loads most of the settings from the one I've been providing with builds. This is working towards the game in an initial state, and paving the way for me to add more unlocks.

So from my list for this week I was working on "2. Unlock recipes from beating quests". I'll finish that off tomorrow and then look into balancing some of the starting items, as well as adding in another level to teach the player their starting skills better.



You can assign pages to missions in a way for the diary to follow a nice order. And yes, uncompleted mission = locked pages.

Yep! Something like that sounds right.
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« Reply #319 on: October 09, 2012, 06:50:43 AM »

Day 283
* Worked out the overarching storyline for Dungeon Dashers
* Wrote a first draft for the dialogue in the first "cutscene"
* Developed a cutscene system

I spent most of the day trying to write a storyline for Dungeon Dashers. I wouldn't say that I have strong fictional writing skills, but it's something that has to be done! I was reading up on lots of different storyline structures and fantasy settings and I think I've come up with something that should work quite well. I spent the developing a cutscene system which displays text from the story, and will be displayed between levels.

My art budget probably won't allow for large pixel art pieces to go with the story at this stage, even though that would be really awesome. If sales pickup I'd like to include some.

I'm going to create a new introduction level tomorrow based on this storyline which should teach the player how to play the game (through gameplay) and will make everything flow better.

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