Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

 
Advanced search

1370249 Posts in 64449 Topics- by 56501 Members - Latest Member: liquidpigstudios

December 09, 2019, 01:09:17 PM

Need hosting? Check out Digital Ocean
(more details in this thread)
TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsA Door to the Mists--[DEMO updated!]--traversal, exploration, puzzles and combat
Pages: 1 ... 14 15 [16] 17
Print
Author Topic: A Door to the Mists--[DEMO updated!]--traversal, exploration, puzzles and combat  (Read 26229 times)
Zuurix
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW
« Reply #300 on: September 04, 2019, 11:54:08 AM »

Can confirm, works now. Will do some testing later =]
Logged

Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #301 on: September 04, 2019, 11:57:45 AM »

Excellent, and I'm glad to read it--on both counts! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Zuurix
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW
« Reply #302 on: September 05, 2019, 01:53:20 PM »

To start - I think the protagonist needs a better motivation, there are dozens of options that might feel more natural than just "I want to get the cool blue mist place because I always wanted to."

Anyway, I am having trouble with climbing on top of the pyramid. I did it once somehow, but then I had to restart and couldn't do it anymore for whatever reason.

I am supposed to hold space and point at a thing I want to climb on, right?

Also, I had to restart because I got stuck inside the pyramid. I was climbing up the rope and I ended up inside the pyramid's wall. Maybe because my character model collided with the wall while moving up the rope.
Logged

Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #303 on: September 06, 2019, 10:08:27 AM »

To start - I think the protagonist needs a better motivation, there are dozens of options that might feel more natural than just "I want to get the cool blue mist place because I always wanted to."

I don't know: "I live for adventure and there's this magical, inaccessible otherworld, full of who-knows-what, all but unadventured-in, and I really want to get in there to adventure and explore" makes a lot of sense to me.

However, I can very much buy that I haven't conveyed it sufficiently well--I may well go back to the intro and look to rewrite it a bit!

Anyway, I am having trouble with climbing on top of the pyramid. I did it once somehow, but then I had to restart and couldn't do it anymore for whatever reason.

I am supposed to hold space and point at a thing I want to climb on, right?

That is indeed how it's supposed to work!

The only caveat that occurs to me is that if you were to jump or drop, holding "space" while doing so, then hit the ground without climbing anything, and then walk around with "space" still held, I think that the character won't climb again until after you've release the "space"-key.

Hmm... Would you be willing to record yourself trying to climb the pyramid, please? Seeing where you're having trouble might help me to improve it!

Also, I had to restart because I got stuck inside the pyramid. I was climbing up the rope and I ended up inside the pyramid's wall. Maybe because my character model collided with the wall while moving up the rope.

Ah, that's a pity! Theoretically there's logic in place to prevent the player from moving into walls while climbing a rope, but clearly it's not working as well as I'd like. :/

Hum. I'm tempted to remove those interior ropes, between this issue and another player being confused by their sudden appearance...
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #304 on: September 09, 2019, 08:22:42 AM »

Blog post (9th of September, 2019)
A Visual Novel Week


Summary: In which I have a bit of a rest after the demo's release; I nevertheless attend to quite a few issues raised by demo-feedback; a new version of the demo has been released; the prologue-traversal has been updated; the combat tutorial has been reworked somewhat; saving is disabled during combat; the main-menu lore-screen gains a heading; and the "Wandering Visual Novel" project comes to the fore, and starts to become an actual game.

Greetings and salutations!

For this week's screenshot, the altered traversal-challenge found in the prologue/tutorial level:



The week just past was a somewhat-quiet one, I feel:

As you may know, the demo of A Door to the Mists has been released, and with that done, I decided to take a bit of a rest from assiduous development on the game.

So, starting on Wednesday (I think that it was), I moved A Door to the Mists onto the back-burner. (I currently intend to return it to primary development on Thursday of this week.)

But I didn't eschew it entirely: feedback on the demo gave me a number of changes and updates to attend to, and I've been working on these "after hours".

And indeed, a new version of the demo has already been released--perhaps most saliently, this version fixes a rather serious issue in which the game crashed when opening the main menu under Windows. (The problem, as it turned out, was that I had omitted converting file-names to OS-specific format in a few places.)

You can get this new version via the same links as the old--the files held on those pages should be updated to version 0.7.2.

For the sake of convenience, here are the links again:
Windows 64-bit Build
Linux 64-bit Build

In addition to fixing that issue, I made quite a few other changes in the week just past! A few of these are in the above-mentioned version of the demo; others have yet to be released.

There are enough of these changes that listing all would make for quite a lengthy post, I fear. So, in addition to saying that a number of bugs were fixed and touch-ups made, let me highlight just a few:

As shown above, the traversal encountered in the prologue/tutorial level has been changed a bit. Previously, the player was expected to run across the slope of the pyramid to get from one platform to the next. However, this seems to have proved rather unintuitive (and understandably so)--and what's more, that slope-running trick isn't used thereafter.

So I've altered one of the extant stones to make a new platform lying on that slope, providing a step along the way and a much more obvious route, I hope!

Alas, the combat tutorial seems to have proven insufficient: players reported having quite a bit of trouble coming to grips with the mechanics. So I've reworked the tutorial somewhat, in particular expanding it and adding detail and advice. Hopefully this will prove more instructional for subsequent new players!

I've also disabled saving during combat. If I recall correctly, it was not intended that the player be able to do so--but I'd overlooked enforcing that. What's more--and what brought this to my attention--it turned out that attempting to save during combat results in a crash (if I recall correctly). Thus I've now added logic to prevent the player from saving, as well added a pop-up that informs the player of this should they attempt to quick-save.

And finally, I've added an indicative title to the lore-screen that's accessed from the main menu. Previously, it was perhaps not clear that (A) this lore-screen is separate from the one accessed in-game, and (B) this lore-screen holds lore that's collected, not lore that's initially available. Hopefully the title helps somewhat with clarifying that!



Overall, the demo hasn't been met with a huge response thus far. Still, I want to update it further with at least some of the changes made in the week just past, and likely more still to come, and perhaps that updated version will draw more interest.

As to my "Wandering Visual Novel", during this rest-week I've brought it to the fore. And indeed, with its editors pretty much functional, I've moved on to building an actual game with the system. (And fixing bugs and adding features along the way.)

While still somewhat nascent, the core idea has the player exploring a temple--both the active and disused parts. Through talking with the people therein and discovering hidden places, they will eventually find a long-lost document of import to their religion.

And indeed, having reached this point in the "Wandering Visual Novel" project, I'll probably stop including updates for it in these blog posts: it's coming to time, I think, that it has a devlog of its own. (If I do start one, I may link to it in one of these posts, at least.)

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Zuurix
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW
« Reply #305 on: September 09, 2019, 11:50:56 AM »

Okay, I managed to get through the pyramid level.

I couldn't climb up because I was also holding a direction key.

Some random notes:

- Combat feels very clunky. I was able to kill automaton after lowering difficulty, but it wasn't a pleasent experience. Not sure what to do about it, maybe just simplify it. If it's not possible to block/attack with directional keys, that would be my suggestion. Mouse just doesn't feel right.

- I like the translation minigame. It's neat.

- I love that this game is like a ruin exploring simulator. At least as much as I've seen it. As someone who actually explored soviet ruins - I'm from Eastern Europe - it's pretty immmersive.

- Making area bounds more random, not just perfectly square would be even more immersive.

- Coupled with atmosphere and puzzles, lore is interesting. Those hand drawn images are just right.

- Protagonist is still overreacting about the mist place.

- Currently I'm stuck at the barrow level, can't find the any more symbol pieces. Is the level unfinished? Please don't tell me I have to use the tree to climb on top of the tall buildings behind the barrow - I tried, it's very difficult.

- Don't like that cutscenes can be skipped with left-click. ESC would better, harder to accidently use.

- Overall game feels very not casual player friendly. It's not a bad thing, unless you want casual players to play it.
Logged

Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #306 on: September 09, 2019, 12:28:19 PM »

Okay, I managed to get through the pyramid level.

Well done! ^_^

I couldn't climb up because I was also holding a direction key.

That's very odd. I should test this, I think--climbing while holding a directional key should work... (Unless it's a keyboard thing, perhaps? I seem to recall that some keyboards react poorly to holding certain sets of keys together. Have you tried re-binding the "jump" key, to see whether the problem persists with different sets of keys?)

- Combat feels very clunky. I was able to kill automaton after lowering difficulty, but it wasn't a pleasent experience. Not sure what to do about it, maybe just simplify it. If it's not possible to block/attack with directional keys, that would be my suggestion. Mouse just doesn't feel right.

Hmm... Interesting and troubling to read.

I think that I recall that one reason that I went with the mouse was because I found that keyboard controls for such things tended to be unintuitive for me, and I felt that the mouse would be more so.

Specifically, this combat mechanic takes a lot of influence from the Quest for Glory series--specifically, Quest for Glory I through III. Those games had a similar mechanic (multiple attacks and defences), which I loved. But it was controlled via the keyboard, which I never really got on with all that well.

I will say that I've implemented the suggestion made earlier in the thread of limiting the space in which the mouse-pointer can move, preventing it from ending up far from the active area. I think that this might help a bit.

Conversely, however, I have had other feedback suggesting that it might be better to use mouse-directions instead of a mouse-pointer; perhaps that will help?

I don't know--it's going to call for some thought, I think. It's especially troubling because I genuinely really enjoy this combat mechanic--in particular with the mouse-control... :/

- I like the translation minigame. It's neat.

Thank you! I'm really glad to read that! :D

I was honestly a little worried that it wouldn't go over well. ^^;

- I love that this game is like a ruin exploring simulator. At least as much as I've seen it. As someone who actually explored soviet ruins - I'm from Eastern Europe - it's pretty immmersive.

That's really great to read! :D

And you're not far off regarding the rest of the game! While there are some non-ruins planned (a cave-system, a king's tomb, and an abandoned-but-intact-and-thus-not-technically-a-ruin magic-user's house come to mind), I intend to have the game spend a lot of its time in such places. ^_^

(I haven't gotten to do any real urban exploration myself, although I suspect that I might really enjoy it.)

- Making area bounds more random, not just perfectly square would be even more immersive.

The next level is much less so, I do believe! The prologue and first "main" level are both rectangular due to the sort of place that they each are, but the levels move away from them pretty quickly, I think.

- Coupled with atmosphere and puzzles, lore is interesting. Those hand drawn images are just right.

That's really encouraging to read--thank you very much! :D

- Protagonist is still overreacting about the mist place.

Hahah, on that I think we'll have to agree to disagree! ^^;

I'm reminded--if I recall correctly--of the person who, when asked why they climbed Everest, answered "because it was there". This might be a bit more extreme than that, in all fairness, but not unbelievably so, I think.

- Currently I'm stuck at the barrow level, can't find the any more symbol pieces. Is the level unfinished? Please don't tell me I have to use the tree to climb on top of the tall buildings behind the barrow - I tried, it's very difficult.

I, um, I have some bad news for you... XD;

The level isn't unfinished--but you do indeed have to climb that tree. And if you're having trouble with holding both a directional key and the jump key, then indeed, climbing it might be difficult... :/

- Don't like that cutscenes can be skipped with left-click. ESC would better, harder to accidently use.

Hmm... Theoretically, it should be possible to skip a cutscene with just about any key--the idea being to allow players who aren't interested to skip quickly.

However, with the "action" key being so often used (and in fact generally used immediately before a cutscene), maybe it would be a good idea to limit skipping to one or two keys. Maybe the "back" button (i.e. "escape" in the default key-bindings) and the "jump" key (i.e. "space" in the default key-bindings)?

- Overall game feels very not casual player friendly. It's not a bad thing, unless you want casual players to play it.

Hmm... In all fairness, I'm reminded of an annual game-jam that I took part in for a few years--and where with at least one other forum-member I had a bit of a reputation for making entries with very high difficulty levels. I fear that it may simply be that I'm not great at judging how difficult a challenge will be for others!

I suppose that in part it's a little hard for me to gauge because I'm so very familiar with it. That prologue traversal is a matter of seconds, and I had a little challenge to myself to kill the prologue enemy before the tutorial was done. (And that challenge might be no challenge at all any more, with the expanded tutorial...)

So, I'm not yet sure of where I stand on this, or how to approach it. I'll give it some thought, I do intend...

I suppose that the sorts of games that I had in mind when designing this were things like the original Thief games (the traversal takes a lot from them), and perhaps other exploratory games like Ultima Underworld. (And, for the combat, the above-mentioned Quest for Glory.)

[edit]
A thought: Have you tried the game with a gamepad? While I personally much prefer keyboard-and-mouse, I'd be interested to know whether you find the climbing to work better and the combat to be more intuitive by gamepad...

[edit 2]
I just tried climbing, and on my keyboard it very much seems to work even with directional keys pressed. Could it be that you're experiencing the issue described in the following thread?
https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/cant-press-shift-space-w-together.2004367/
« Last Edit: September 09, 2019, 05:36:46 PM by Thaumaturge » Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Zuurix
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW
« Reply #307 on: September 16, 2019, 06:47:12 AM »

- I have beaten the "boss tree" and I am getting used to climbing controls.
Again, not a good thing if learning how to traverse takes more than 5 minutes.
Maybe you could show some visual hints to make it easier, e.g.: Cursor is red while you are pointing to somewhere you can't climb?

- When "toggle to crouch" is enabled, falling off the tree makes you crouch and it's very confusing. "AAAAAAAAAA DID THIS TREE JUST GOT TALLER?!" =]

- Without hints (kudos for having such an option) it's very unclear how the first jigsaw minigame fragments need to be arranged.

- Currently, I am stuck in the deeper part of the barrow. Right after killing mummy. I don't know what to do, hints would be appreciated. I checked behind the curtains, there's nothing, I translated the "I will join my fellows" journal, nothing. I checked everything.

- Are chests just a decoration? Can only pick them up and put them down.

- Pressing D while reading "I will join my fellows" journal closes the game abruptly.
Logfile, just in case:

Quote
Known pipe types:
  wglGraphicsPipe
(all display modules loaded.)
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:bullet(warning): rigid body already attached
:task(error): Exception occurred in PythonTask eventManager
:GameMessages(warning): Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "GameCore.py", line 1262, in <module>
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/build/__whl_cache__/panda3d-1.10.4.1+opt-cp36-cp36m-win_amd64.whl/direct/showbase/ShowBase.py", line 3124, in run
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/build/__whl_cache__/panda3d-1.10.4.1+opt-cp36-cp36m-win_amd64.whl/direct/task/Task.py", line 531, in run
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/build/__whl_cache__/panda3d-1.10.4.1+opt-cp36-cp36m-win_amd64.whl/direct/task/Task.py", line 485, in step
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/build/__whl_cache__/panda3d-1.10.4.1+opt-cp36-cp36m-win_amd64.whl/direct/showbase/EventManager.py", line 49, in eventLoopTask
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/build/__whl_cache__/panda3d-1.10.4.1+opt-cp36-cp36m-win_amd64.whl/direct/showbase/EventManager.py", line 43, in doEvents
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/build/__whl_cache__/panda3d-1.10.4.1+opt-cp36-cp36m-win_amd64.whl/direct/showbase/EventManager.py", line 99, in processEvent
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/build/__whl_cache__/panda3d-1.10.4.1+opt-cp36-cp36m-win_amd64.whl/direct/showbase/Messenger.py", line 333, in send
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/build/__whl_cache__/panda3d-1.10.4.1+opt-cp36-cp36m-win_amd64.whl/direct/showbase/Messenger.py", line 418, in __dispatch
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/KeyMapper/KeyMapper.py", line 1251, in keyPressed
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/Adventuring/MenuSystem.py", line 797, in keyStateCallback
  File "/home/thaumaturge/Documents/My Game Projects/DoorToTheMists_DEMO/Adventuring/MenuSystem.py", line 810, in keyPressed
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'movementCeasesMouseMode'

About combat:

If it's inspired by another game, I guess a good start to improving the combat would be making sure it works as good as in the original.

Anyway, the combat doesn't seem like a crucial part of the game, puzzles are the most important and they function, so it's not that bad, even if combat is unfun to some players.

About user-friendliness:

It's a well-known fact that the game seems much easier for a developer than it is for an average player. Just make it extra easy for yourself and players will probably still find it challenging.

Get it to the level where players are complaining about game being too easy =]

Best would be watching someone play, then you can get the idea of how it feels to the new player.

About the protagonist's motivation:

I understand the "I want to climb Everest" motivation and I want it to be delivered better. Less table slamming, more... mature. "Would be nice if I could get into the blue mist magic place, that's, like, my big ambition as a magic thing looter."

I seriously want to make some of the best games of this century - I bet many of us are going for that - and my goal is just as impossible as your protagonist's if I understand that correctly, but I'm trying to keep the drama at an acceptable level =]

Maybe your character is all bubbling with passion - that's not unrealistic, just it makes it hard for me to relate to her.

She's acting as if someone's life depended on getting to the Mists, but it's not like that.

* * *

Hope this helps - if not directly then at least to create a feedback pattern.
Your game's idea is good, puzzles, traversal, and tomb looting is a decent experience, just needs polishing.

I'll try to keep playing, need to see what's next =]
Logged

Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #308 on: September 16, 2019, 11:39:04 AM »

Thank you very much indeed for all that feedback! :D And I'm glad that you've made progress in the demo! ^_^

Again, not a good thing if learning how to traverse takes more than 5 minutes.

Are you still having trouble with climbing not working if you're holding a directional key? It would be helpful to know to what degree that's an issue (as I think that it might be keyboard-related), and to what degree the issue comes from identifying where you can climb.

I've been thinking about that tree: do you think that it would help if I made it a leafless (i.e. dead) tree, thus perhaps less-obscuring the branches?

(I can still have more-challenging leafy trees in a later level, after all.)

- When "toggle to crouch" is enabled, falling off the tree makes you crouch and it's very confusing. "AAAAAAAAAA DID THIS TREE JUST GOT TALLER?!" =]

Hmm... I should look into that, I think. Theoretically, you should only find the character auto-crouching when they have too little space above to stand--but it's possible that it's triggering during the fall (perhaps a branch passes overhead), and isn't being undone on landing, despite having plenty of head-room...

- Without hints (kudos for having such an option) it's very unclear how the first jigsaw minigame fragments need to be arranged.

Interesting! I had hoped that I'd provided enough clues on the pieces, but you're not the first to have this problem. More (or greater) clues are called for, I fear!

And thank you for the kudos! I'm trying to make the game at least somewhat accessible. ^_^ (Within the bounds of not making it take too much longer for me to finish... ^^; )

- Currently, I am stuck in the deeper part of the barrow. Right after killing mummy. I don't know what to do, hints would be appreciated. I checked behind the curtains, there's nothing, I translated the "I will join my fellows" journal, nothing. I checked everything.

- Are chests just a decoration? Can only pick them up and put them down.

These two things are connected. Wink

But two slightly more-direct hints:
 1) You can put chests down on top of other chests.
 2) Look up. Wink

- Pressing D while reading "I will join my fellows" journal closes the game abruptly.
Logfile, just in case:

Oh dear! ^^;

It looks like a crash related to the system that handles non-mouse navigation of menus. In short, pressing "d" (being a directional movement key) starts attempting to navigate the menu by keyboard. However, it seems that there's a bug there!

I may already have this one fixed on my end--but I intend to check.

Thank you very much for the log file--it's very helpful! ^_^

If it's inspired by another game, I guess a good start to improving the combat would be making sure it works as good as in the original.

That's the thing: I thought that it worked better. ^^;

However, I've been giving more thought to this, and I've decided to take some of your suggestions (and those of others), and am in the process of reworking the combat mechanic a bit.

It's still fundamentally the same, but I've removed the "turning" element of movement, simplified dodging, and changed the controls a bit. I'm also working on the AI. More details in my blog post, just after this, I intend!

It's a well-known fact that the game seems much easier for a developer than it is for an average player. Just make it extra easy for yourself and players will probably still find it challenging.

Yup, you are quite right, I do think!

Best would be watching someone play, then you can get the idea of how it feels to the new player.

Hmm... I'm not sure of how easily-available that is to me right now (save perhaps for roping in family).

I understand the "I want to climb Everest" motivation and I want it to be delivered better. Less table slamming, more... mature. "Would be nice if I could get into the blue mist magic place, that's, like, my big ambition as a magic thing looter."

I seriously want to make some of the best games of this century - I bet many of us are going for that - and my goal is just as impossible as your protagonist's if I understand that correctly, but I'm trying to keep the drama at an acceptable level =]

Maybe your character is all bubbling with passion - that's not unrealistic, just it makes it hard for me to relate to her.

Fair enough, I suppose. But on the other hand, I don't want my cutscenes to become over-long, not for a game of this nature, so I'm hesitant to fill them out with more characterisation. :/

As to "bubbling with passion", I would say that's accurate to her--remember, this is someone who said that "[adventuring] burned in [her] blood the day [she] was born".

I can definitely seeing not relating to her if your perspective is very different; and without a lot of characterisation work to back it up, that may be a problem for some players.

Hope this helps - if not directly then at least to create a feedback pattern.
Your game's idea is good, puzzles, traversal, and tomb looting is a decent experience, just needs polishing.

I'll try to keep playing, need to see what's next =]

I really appreciate all of that--it all helps, whether in feedback or encouragement. So thank you! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #309 on: September 16, 2019, 11:42:15 AM »

Blog post (16th of September, 2019)
Reworking Combat


Summary: In which A Door to the Mists returns to primary focus; the ropes are removed from the prologue level; in the ropes' stead, work is done on using the lift; combat is reworked, in interaction and AI; and a new combat prototype is being made.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a glimpse of some changes being made to the combat mechanic, via related changes in the options menu:



As I believe that I mentioned last week, the period up until Thursday of the week just past was a partial rest-week for me; I only returned to focussing primarily on A Door to the Mists on Thursday. As a result, it wasn't a very busy week--but it did make for a nice change of pace for a while!

Still, some things did get done:

Something that seems to have been causing some trouble in the demo has been the rope-climbing found in the prologue level.

Those ropes are a little inexplicable: they're unmentioned before they suddenly appear out of nowhere, and are never mentioned or used again thereafter. Worse, I've had a report of a difficult-to-reproduce crash that occurred when using one of them, and possibly a case of a player ending up in a wall, as I recall.

So, I've decided to remove them. In their place, I intend to have the lift within the pyramid convey the player back up to the top.

I've begun implementing this: the ropes are gone, and the lift is partially functional in its new behaviour, I believe. It's a little awkward, as the lift's object-type wasn't designed with multiple destinations in mind. Still, I think that it's coming along.

But perhaps the biggest news this week is that I'm reworking the combat mechanic.

This, again, is something that demo-players have reported having trouble with. For one, respondents seem to have had trouble with the controls, finding the use of the mouse unintuitive. And in general, I have the impression that some have been finding the mechanic over-difficult, in a few ways.

So, I've set about reworking it.

To start with, I've removed the left- and right- dodge actions, leaving only a backwards dodge. Aside from reducing the number of actions involved, this removes the element of relative orientation from combat, leaving all motion to occur on a single line. Overall, this should hopefully simplify things somewhat.

Furthermore, with only one dodge-action, only one button-input is required for dodging, and it needn't be a directional one. (Specifically, it's now the "crouch" button.)

This frees up the directional movement-buttons for use in specifying a defence/attack direction, as at least one demo-player suggested, I believe. (The "looking" buttons (which are now defined even in the default keyboard-and-mouse button-bindings) can also be used for the same purpose, providing players a choice of whichever they find more comfortable.)

And with so much input done on the keyboard, I've implemented the use of the "jump" button as an alternative input for attacking, alongside the previously-extant use of the "action" button.

(I would like to keep the mouse as an option for inputting defence/attack directions, but with players disliking the cursor-based approach to that, I don't see a good way of doing so right now.)

I think that this new control scheme works. Is it better than the old? I don't know--I quite liked the old scheme. But it is simpler and quite intuitive, I think. We'll hopefully see what players say!



And I've taken a step further: For a while now, I've been a little dissatisfied with the combat AI. It was fine, I think--but it wasn't as good as I might have liked, and the code was a byzantine mess of arcane variables and equations.

So, with some trepidation, I've ripped out a good chunk of it, and built a new version.

This system essentially works by counting how often the AI's opponent performs a given action, and then treating that count as an "expectation". The more often the opponent does something, the more it's expected that they'll do it again--and the less it's expected that they'll do something else.

What's more, it keeps track of the opponent's previous action, too. This allows it to somewhat associate actions: if the opponent always follows a left-attack with a right, then the AI's expectation of a right-attack is higher after a left-attack.

Actions that are expected are then more-easily defended, while unexpected ones are less well-handled.

I've also brought to greater prominence the AI's ability to "make mistakes"--that is, to occasionally recover slowly from an action, giving the player an opening in which to attack.

(This system takes inspiration from both the old Quest for Glory games, and from sport-fencing, as I recall.)

I'll confess that I am a little sad about so reducing the mechanic--I quite liked the previous version. But, as they say, sometimes it's called for to "kill your darlings".

All that said, this new system is as-yet untested.

To that end, I've begun work on a new combat prototype, which I hope will both allow me to test the AI and, once ready, get some feedback on the new systems.

This prototype is very much a work-in-progress, but I hope to have it ready soon!

In the meanwhile, here's a screenshot of the prototype's player-model (seen from behind), and one enemy-model (possibly work-in-progress). I'm keeping the art-style very simple and slap-dash: it is, after all, just a prototype. (I haven't yet decided whether I'll light the models, or leave them flat.)



And finally, along with the changes to the AI, I've made some changes to the accessibility options available for combat. Instead of a single "difficulty level", there are now several separate changes that can be made. (And of course, "explorer mode" remains available.)

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #310 on: September 23, 2019, 08:02:32 AM »

Blog post (23rd of September, 2019)
A Week of Combat


Summary: In which the combat prototype sees work; as do the combat -mechanics and -AI; and said prototype is nearly ready to be released.

Greetings and salutations! ^_^

This week's screenshot shows the main menu of the new combat prototype:



Indeed, the week just past was given pretty much entirely to that prototype, and to work on the combat mechanic itself:

The prototype itself is a fairly simple thing:

The player can engage in combat against two different enemies--one (intended to be) very easy, and one (intended to be) rather tough.

Instructions on how to play are given in a straightforward text-format, while a simple pop-up menu offers access to the combat-mechanic's various accessibility options. (The content of this options menu is pretty much copy-pasted from the options menu of A Door to the Mists, but without the latter's stylisation.)

Finally, there are buttons allowing the player to quit, or to view the credits/license text.



As I think that I may have mentioned, I intend to release this prototype in order to get feedback on the reworked mechanics and AI. However, even before that's done, it has already proven useful: having a quick-and-easy way to test the combat has allowed me to uncover a lot of issues--both bugs and points to improve--and thus to do a lot of fixing and tuning.



One particularly useful tool has been an on-screen visualisation of the AI's data: various bar-graphs and lines depicting particular values used by the AI. This has proven helpful in showing me how the AI is responding (or not responding) to the action, and thus providing clues as to how to improve it.



And while I won't call either the mechanic or AI perfect, not by a long shot, I do think that they are both very much better than their previous forms!

Overall, I think that I have the prototype pretty much ready, and the combat itself almost so. There's still a bit more work that I intend to do, I believe--but I'm hopeful of releasing the prototype within a few days of this blog-post. ^_^

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #311 on: September 23, 2019, 08:24:47 AM »

Bonus: A gif of the combat in action:

(Cropped for gif.)

Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
dspencer
Level 3
***


View Profile WWW
« Reply #312 on: September 23, 2019, 09:02:36 AM »

One particularly useful tool has been an on-screen visualisation of the AI's data: various bar-graphs and lines depicting particular values used by the AI. This has proven helpful in showing me how the AI is responding (or not responding) to the action, and thus providing clues as to how to improve it.

Ooh this is awesome. What kinds of fighting styles / behaviors are you hoping to get out of your AI?
Logged

Currently: Ruins of Atlantis
Previously: Graveyard Birds | Dogma
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #313 on: September 23, 2019, 09:25:36 AM »

Ooh this is awesome.

Thank you very much! ^_^

I intend to leave the AI-data visualisation available in the prototype, so that those who are interested or curious can take a look at the AI's data.

What kinds of fighting styles / behaviors are you hoping to get out of your AI?

Hmm... I hadn't really thought about it in quite those terms, I'll confess! I've largely been thinking in terms of competence (this AI is good at fighting, while this one is bad), specific attacks and defences (this AI can headbutt the enemy, stunning and doing a little damage), and any special logic for using its abilities (this AI should prefer to headbutt when the enemy's stamina is high; it's less useful when the enemy's stamina is low).

Thus I suppose that "fighting styles" largely come down to what attacks a given AI has available, and how it's intended to use them.

More generally, I want the AI to seem "intelligent but fair": a "tough" enemy should be hard to hit, and a competent attacker--but shouldn't be so perfect at defence that the player can't get a hit in. Part of this comes from the AI data mentioned above: the AI observes the player's actions, and comes to "expect" frequently-used actions. Thus if the player uses a given attack frequently, the AI is quick to defend against it. But conversely, the AI is slower when dealing with "unexpected" attacks.

(There are also a few built-in "tricks", like not blocking attacks made at very low stamina, which do no damage anyway, or avoiding attacking if it thinks that its opponent will attack before its own attack would finish.)
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #314 on: September 30, 2019, 08:49:08 AM »

Blog post (30th of September, 2019)
Combat Prototype Released!


Summary: In which the combat prototype is released; bug-fixing and touching-up continues; a climbable tree is bared; the prologue lift is almost done; and some tweaks and changes are made to traversal.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a touch-up to level one: the baring of its climbable tree.



The week just past was somewhat split; it started with further work on the combat prototype, and then moved into tweaks and fixes in response to demo-feedback:

To start with, the combat prototype is now done! Indeed, in the week just past I released it on TIGSource and the Panda3D forum, hoping to get some feedback on the revised combat.

If you'd like to try it out, you should find it here:
TIGSource Forum Thread
(And I'd very much appreciate feedback, I believe, if you have any!)



With that done, I actually took a day (more or less) off--as I recall I was feeling rather drained, between work, sleeping issues, and a cold that hit me somewhat hard during the week just past. And honestly, it was nice to take some time off after releasing the prototype, I think.

Thereafter, then, I moved on to general touching-up and bug-fixing.

To start with, and as shown above, the climbable tree found in level 1 is now bare. I'd had some feedback of people having trouble with this tree, and am hoping that the bare branches will both be easier to see, and thus climb, and be more-obviously something climbable.

I also continued working on the lift found in the prologue.

As I believe that I've mentioned before, I've removed the ropes that were previously used to escape the pyramid in the prologue. In their place, the internal lift now returns the player to the top of the pyramid, then resets to its starting position, ready to be used again if the player desires to re-enter.

I did make once concession to expedience, I'll confess: when the lift returns to the top of the pyramid, the player is locked in place until the journey ends. This means that I don't have to worry about detecting the player leaving the lift, or about resetting it if they do. It's slightly out of character for this game, but a small thing in a single-use object encountered in the prologue level, I feel.

This change isn't quite yet done--I have some tweaks that I still intend to enact.

On the technical side, I made some changes to the game's traversal code.

The largest of these is that the player now slides down slopes, where before they could more or less run along them. That "slope-running" proved unintuitive, I fear. Furthermore, having the slopes of the prologue-pyramid be unnavigable should, I hope, make finding a path to the top a little bit simpler.

The other changes are relatively minor, but should hopefully make for an easier and more-intuitive experience: jumping on a slope no longer propels the player outwards when attempting to jump upslope, and the forward-speed of jumping has been increased slightly.

And finally, I made a number of other bug-fixes and changes that don't seem worth detailing here!

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #315 on: October 07, 2019, 09:07:50 AM »

Blog post (7th of October, 2019)
Player Feedback


Summary: In which the combat prototype's code is integrated into the main game; combat-related art is worked on; as is the combat tutorial; feedback comes in regarding the combat prototype; certain bits of in-level player-guidance are (hopefully) improved; a popup directs players to the options menu on connecting a peripheral; and a major issue is uncovered, and being worked on.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows a bit of additional player-direction in level one:



The week just past was a mixed one: a week of bug-fixing, of small improvements, of merging in prototype code--and of the discovery of one rather nasty issue that's proving a bit of a pain to deal with...

To start with, in the week just past I received some feedback on my combat prototype--and it was pretty positive, I'm happy to say! This feedback came in the form of a short video playthrough with commentary; if you want to see it, you should find it embedded below:





Encouraged by this, I set about integrating the prototype's code into the main game, and converting the extant enemies to reflect the mechanic's changes. I'm glad to say that this went rather more swiftly and easily than I feared!

As part of this, I reworked the art for the new "stun-ring" that was introduced in the prototype; what's shown below is intended to be final:



I also touched up the player-character's model and animations a bit: I fear that her proportions were previously a bit off, and certain animations and stances stood to be improved.

And finally, I reworked the combat tutorial. For one, it now reflects the changes to the mechanic. For another, it no longer requires the player to click on a button in order to continue; instead, that's done via a press of combat-related controls.

Returning to feedback for a moment, I will say that I did subsequently receive two pieces of feedback that were more negative. One of these harked back to a much earlier and more-action-y and physics-driven prototype. The other was unhappy with the keyboard-based controls, wanting something mouse-driven.

The former might just be a mismatch between game and player: that earlier prototype was a different experience, and a player who particularly enjoyed that might well not enjoy this.

The latter is a trickier question. I would love to have mouse-driven control in this mechanic (as I had in the demo of A Door to the Mists). But right now, I don't see a good way of doing so without returning to my previous mouse-controls, which seemed to be generally disliked.

On the level side of a development, I spent some time (hopefully) improving the guidance given to the player in two aspects of the extant levels:

First, I had feedback from a player to the effect that, after talking to the other adventurer in level two, they were a bit lost as to what to do next. I've thus tried to make it more explicit that they're expected to simply leave the level at this point. This is done both via a "character thought", and a change to the goal-text that's given.

And second, I've had a few reports of players getting stuck in level one by virtue of not finding a certain hole in the ceiling. As shown in the main screenshot above, I've thus added some marks to the walls beneath it, intended to hint at the idea of looking up in that location.

On a similar note, the game now has a little popup that appears when the player connects a peripheral that isn't used by the current control-bindings. This is intended to point the player to the options menu, in case they want to use that peripheral for input.



Alas, late in the week just past, a major issue was uncovered.

I had previously been given feedback reporting a significant slowdown occurring when the player reloaded their game multiple times. I wasn't able to reproduce the issue on my machine, however, so I hoped that it might be something fairly innocuous.

It wasn't.

With a corroborating report and some guidance from the Panda3D forum, it turned out that the game has at least one memory leak. In and of itself this wouldn't necessarily be a major issue when developing with Python: just find the offending un-disposed-of objects and clean them up.

It's finding the things that proves tricky, however.

What I'm doing at the moment is using reference-counting code gathered from the Panda forum, and a LibreOffice spreadsheet to compare those reference counts before and after reloads. In addition, in some cases I'm printing out node-names to help narrow down which objects to look at.

This still involves inference and hunting around at times. But while there's more to be done, I believe, I think that I'm at least making some progress.

Otherwise, a number of other changes and fixes were implemented in the week just past that don't seem worth detailing here.

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #316 on: October 14, 2019, 10:30:12 AM »

Blog post (14th of October, 2019)
Patches of Detail


Summary: In which the memory-leak hunt is, I think, complete; combat sees further polish; level two starts to gain additional patches of detailing; a new collectible is added; and a skeletal hand is made easier to find.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot depicts a bit of work-in-progress graffiti, intended for level two:



The week just past was another varied one, but primarily one of hunting memory leaks and of polish:

To start with, the memory leaks: I mentioned in last week's blog-post, I believe, that a serious memory-leak issue had been discovered, and that I was working on it. In the week just past, then, I continued that work--and indeed, I think that I have the leaks resolved!

From what I've discovered, it seems that some of these leaks stemmed from cyclic references, or from objects that I was leaving un-cleaned-up. In one case I was creating an object twice, the second time without cleaning up the first, which resulted in some the latter's references to leak. One significant set of leaks stemmed from an oversight in how I cleaned up certain events: Those events stored references to certain objects, and with the events going undiscarded, so too did the references.

As to the game itself, combat saw continued tweaking: there were minor changes to enemy AI, the reworking of certain sounds, and the updating of a few animations, all (hopefully) making combat a little better than it was.

In addition, it was suggested to me in response to the combat prototype that an additional setting for enemy "telegraphing" durations be added, between the settings that were at the time called "normal" and "short". That has now been implemented: the setting that was labelled "short" is now labelled "minimal", and between that and "normal" lies a new "short" setting.

The week just past also saw some level-building work:

What is perhaps the most salient part of this came from a piece of feedback regarding the demo of A Door to the Mists, which indicated that the streets of level two were a little lacking in variation.

Now, I am developing this game solo (aside from the use of royalty-free music), so I fear that it's not terribly wise for me to attempt to fill the streets with detail.

But I can, perhaps, add isolated patches of it, portraying elements of that part of the city. If representing the city directly isn't to be done, perhaps I can still at least give an impression of it.

I have a number of such elements in mind, and the first major one of these is shown in the screenshot above: a piece of charcoal graffiti, depicting a face backed by a solar disc.

Aside from these elements, two more changes seem perhaps worth mentioning: First, there is now one more collectible to be acquired: a figurine that was previously just examinable, not collectible; and second, the lore-giving skeletal hand found in a rubble-slope should hopefully now be a little easier to find.

And in addition to all the above, a few other changes were made that don't seem worth detailing here!

That then is all for this week--stay well,and thank you for reading! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Zuurix
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW
« Reply #317 on: October 14, 2019, 03:07:09 PM »

Glad to hear that combat is getting improved!
Logged

Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #318 on: October 14, 2019, 03:28:40 PM »

Glad to hear that combat is getting improved!

Indeed! And I hope that this new version will be found enjoyable. ^_^

I'm glad to say that the prototype for the new version--which you should find a few posts up, if you want to try it out--has actually received some positive feedback, in contrast to the original version which had very little.
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Thaumaturge
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #319 on: October 21, 2019, 08:26:38 AM »

Blog post (21st of October, 2019)
Pottery, Sacred and Otherwise


Summary: In which two new scenes are added to level two; an isolated marking is likewise added; the face shown last week is integrated into the level; and the player can look around on the prologue lift.

Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot depicts a small shrine, found in a building within level two:



The work of the week just past was pretty much entirely given to various enrichments of level two, with just one exception.

To start with, there are two new scenes to be discovered in level two:

The first is shown above: a small Earth-Mother shrine that may be discovered in one particular building. On a shelf above rests a small clay figurine; the player can attempt to take it, but our protagonist will refuse, citing that it was someone's god. On a shelf below is a pair of partially-used candles, and the remains of one or more small burnt offerings.

The second scene is shown below. This one is... a little less pleasant. At the end of a blind alley one may find the remains of several small, broken clay pots (and one intact), along with liquid-stains on the cobblestones and the neighbouring walls.




In addition to scenes, I've added an isolated charcoal marking, much like the face shown last week. This one is a simple guard-mark, used by patrolling guards to communicate with each other.

Speaking of that face, it's now in the level, with final touch-ups made in order to integrate it with the seams in the stone blocks on which it's drawn.

I said above that there was one exception to the general rule of the work that was done in the week just past. That exception is a minor change to the "lock" placed on the player when ascending on the prologue-level's lift:

Previously, ascending on that lift not only locked the player in position, but also locked their ability to look around. (This as a result of the feature that I was using to implement it.) However, being unable to look around did not feel good at all--indeed, I imagine that it would more likely feel like a bug than something intentional.

So, in the week just past I implemented a simple solution that enables the player to look around while nevertheless held in place. It's a little hacky, but it works, and I think that the result is a significant improvement!

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^
Logged


Traversal, exploration, puzzles, and combat in a heroic-fantasy setting
Website ~ Twitter
Pages: 1 ... 14 15 [16] 17
Print
Jump to:  

Theme orange-lt created by panic