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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsLand of Strangers (western/fantasy turn-based roguelike)
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agingminotaur
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« on: August 31, 2018, 04:04:48 PM »

DOWNLOADITCH.IOBLOG

tl;dr: Buckaroo fantasy roguelike in the making; please play and/or comment Smiley

promo gif for release #12 (Night Errands)

Greetings to all! I decided it was time to post about my game-in-progress here at the forums. Land of Strangers (LoSt) is a vaguely Western themed, tactical Roguelike. It's been in development on and off since 2013, having gone from a 7DRL entry with card based mechanics, to a coffee break RL about a lead mine slave uprising, to the current version, which plays more like an open world RL, although the game could definitely do with more content at this point. Nevertheless, don't hesitate to try it if it sounds interesting! It's open source and written in Python, with binaries currently available for Linux and Windows.

The Land itself is a randomly generated scrubland that may not be set in historical America. It mashes some pretty disparate inspirations, overall falling on the queer/weird/acid side of the Western genre. There's no magic or tech, or even ghosts (yet?), but it includes mildly speculative/fantastic elements like randomly generated animal species and mercury bubblegum (≈potion of speed Tongue) I'm personally no huge Western buff, but have my genre favorites, of course, and guess I ended up with a Wild West RL because it feels like the world is missing one. There are some entries, but mostly of the roguelite or coffee break variant, whilst LoSt tries to fill more or less the niche that Abura Tan once aimed for (and sadly failed; or else I'd probably be fiddling with my superhero RL instead (which, incidentally, would be feckin' awesome)).

I'm posting here in the hopes of getting some comments, of course ^.^ In particular, I'm interested in how fundamental systems like interface and combat come across, but really anything that springs to mind when playing, of course. The basic rules for fighting and wounds are probably in place, though the UI may need some polish? To get play testers started, the current release has a (cheesy) mission assignment for you (hint: side with the opposite faction for an optional reward). On the way, you are likely to come across some random encounters.

Moving forward, there are some pressing issues before the game can be deemed presentable. Mouse support is just partially finished, and the graphics engine also needs a rehaul. Fixing the mouse interface shouldn't be too much work, but we'll see how deep I cut with the graphics in the near future; I may also just patch up the worst glitches for now (vanishing sprites, hopping speech bubbles, and fullscreen crashing in certain resolutions on Windows). No No NO

On the content-side, I'm working to add more places of interest for the next release, and a more focused system to distribute and vary them across several playthroughs. I have very elaborate dreams for world building, but starting small, as always. This week I took an evening to add a random NPC that might show up in town. The next on the short todo-list is random reavers, which should be generated from a list of epithets (typically "<adj> <noun>" to get encounters like "shotgun-totin' lunatics" and "cannibalistic warriormonks"). That might be fun.

Regarding the long todo-list, I won't even start. This already turned out a slightly lengthy post. If you're still curious, the best way to get an idea of the current state of the game is of course to give it a spin. I'm also posting more or less regularly to the game's blog (link on top), and will be sure to update this thread with info, answers to questions and maybe even some queries of my own, if I sense any interest in the project Wink

As always,
Minotauros

PS. What this forum lacks, is the emoji with a cowboy hat. In the meantime, here's a random screenshot with some kind of gargantuan desert dog, I guess:


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Zireael
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2018, 11:16:59 AM »

Fancy seeing you here, Aging Minotaur!
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agingminotaur
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2018, 12:41:02 PM »

Hey, Zireael, good to see you Beer! Yup, I figured this is where all the cool kids hang, so maybe someone like me can sneak in the back door, at least Wink

As always,
Minotauros
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2018, 01:34:33 AM »

To those it might concern, I had some Windows users report crashing bugs. A quick'n'dirty patch of the exe can be gotten here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/40wkrn2k95je0k0/LoSt_12.1_win.zip?dl=1

That should work Roll Eyes

I'm not quite sure how prevalent the bug in question is, but this means I should get a new official release out of the door as soon as possible. But I may try to put in a few coding sessions first, to bake in some small additions I've been working on.

As always,
Minotauros
« Last Edit: September 06, 2018, 01:44:04 AM by agingminotaur » Logged


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agingminotaur
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2018, 05:38:57 PM »

Bugginess ensued, especially for Windows users trying to run the previous version. But I am happy to announce a new release which should be much more stable:

LoSt #13 (One Crawled out of the Foxhole)

Get it from the blog or from itch.io, or click to download the game directly:

Windows binary
Linux deb installer
Linux binary
Python sources

This is mostly a bugfix release for Windows users, who reported frequent crashing with the previous version. With a bit of luck, number 13 will work better for everyone Wink I also fixed some minor issues and rebalanced some items and shticks. I think the biggest addition is that NPCs now can accept generic gifts. If you get a green speech scroll in reply to giving a gift, it means your favor with the individual in question has increased, which may in turn increase your long term reputation with that NPC's factions. Once I can confirm that the game is working as expected, I'll get on with the plans for the next release.

As always,
Minotauros

Changes
Grid view generated too big for screen (crashed in Windows)
Trying to give/drop props crashed in Windows
Typo in data files sometimes caused game to (region hogging ai)
Plants sometimes marked as dead (when not)
Newly dead corpses no longer curse at you for killing them
Sprites in upper left corner vanished between turns
Speech bubbles flicker less in this release
Some speech bubbles were getting supressed
Drifting smoke wasn't spawning/working properly
Dilettante didn't have access to "shooting" shtick tree
Skills with direct damage (eg. Butt whipping) weren't working
Spawning corpses could cause game to crash
Game sometimes crashed when sightblocking objects were destroyed
Shtick T.Y.T. didn't show up during character generation
Removed msg "You stand in uffish thought" when passing a turn
Removed "Trick shot" shtick (not very interesting)
Sledgepick damage set to 1♥
Modified critical hit of knifes (always inflict 1☠ extra)
Nerfed shtick Feel no Pain
Removed shtick Iron Mind (obsolete)
Renamed shtick The Breathing Way to The Blood Way
Shtick Burro is back in the game Smiley
New critters: Traveling saleskid
Added more cash to the game world
Description of shtick Skillful -> "Gain a random skill."
Scissors now tagged as a blade
NPC AI can use distance measuring in more varied situations
NPCs now accept gifts (and are pleased at getting things they like)
Autopickup no longer works on items marked as corpses or trash
(chargen) Random choice won't pick 3 point foibles (most severe)
Skip repeating messages in log
Crashlog now includes python traceback, when applicable
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2019, 02:49:16 PM »

I've not exactly been cultivating this thread, but the project is slowly moving ahead. As a heads up, I figure I'd cross-post the latest entry from the blog, the (probably) last in a series of monthly updates, where I also take the opportunity to outline some plans, short and long term.

TL;DR (more or less): most basic systems are now in place, but the game is still lacking content. Compared to the current public version, the next release will feature some interface fixes and quality of life updates, but more importantly, I'll be concentrating on adding more places of interest (aka Sites) and quests (aka Bounties).

LoSt this month: Enemy of the state of the art

At the turn of a calendar year, it's customary to take stock of the year that went and the current state of affairs Wink Regarding Land of Strangers, 2018 was a relatively slow year, although I did manage to release version #13. And have been going at it (slowly) since then. 2018 actually marked the 5th anniversary of LoSt, and development, I guess, is going more or less according to plan.

Looking ahead, my current goal is to make the game more "presentable", a two-fold task. For one thing, the current interface is still a bit rough around the edges, though mostly complete now. Second, the game needs more encounters, places and things to do in general (and reasons to do them).

In December, I did some work on LoSt.

The game now has a mouse interface. It's click to walk towards a tile or bump into an adjacent being (open a door, attack a target). Right clicking will bring up a menu next to the cursor, where you can choose an action or prop. The new action menu, that hovers over the map, is now also bound to the keyboard's "action hotkey" (Space/C). The keyboard bindings were thus switched around, since the "inventory hotkey" became obsolete. Instead, I added a pure utility command to toggle through your inventory. This made sense now that inventory handling doesn't cost any game time.

I'm still testing out the default configurations, but think the details will iron themselves out naturally as development and testing continue. For instance, I still want the game to register a mouse grab/long click (default to the same as right click, for anyone with a one-button mouse?), as well as double clicking (autowalk to a visible hex on the map).

Regarding content, I've been hacking away at some of my "sites", as I call them. They're just glorified place templates/blueprints with moving parts and various variables. I have some sites to play around with now, and plan on adding to them as I go along. At the moment, I'm working out basic patterns for placing them in relation to each other. The sites themselves are currently quite insular, in that there is little direct interaction between them, although this is going to change.

The long term plans are quite grandiose, of course (and I easily see another half-dozen years before the game is feature complete). There might be something like pseudo-random factions, each with their influence in the form of sites and encounters across the map. Random quests should reflect faction enmities, alliances and goals, and provide the player with a means to influence the story. While some factions will mostly be guaranteed, like robbers and law kids, some should be optional or highly random, such as ranches and trading companies, a traveling circus, or the ruins of a toppled civilization scattered across the Land.

In the short term, I'm concentrating on adding some plot hooks and bounties that might later work as side quests, or as segments of longer quest lines.

Also on the short term todo list is to make a few last fixes to the interface, to improve graphics rendering a bit. This shouldn't be too big of an undertaking, and needn't happen asap, but I probably want that in before the next release, at least, in the name of "presentability".


LoSt with a mouse (though, as you see, sprite rendering is still buggy)

Meanwhile, in the future

Going onward, I'll continue fleshing out sites and factions, and making interactions more detailed in general. Regarding long-term plans and feature ideas, I've glossed over some old notes and todo lists, and might at least give a rough outline of some of the ideas that have persisted over the years and may perhaps come into fruition one day…

Non-lethal combat: There should be the option of running away, also on the NPCs' part. I might add a "neutralized" state, when a critter doesn't have any untapped grit (red hearts) left. At this point, the critter is immobile and at the mercy of the environment. Defeated NPCs can be dealt with as the players wants (leave them, rob them, kill them, etc). Likewise, NPCs might opt to spare a defeated player character's life, typically incurring some other loss. Ending up in prison, or tarred and feathered in the middle of the desert, can work as an appropriately harsh, but not final, defeat in a game that on the one hand features permadeath, but on the other doesn't offer to advance the player character to godlike abilities.

Posses: I'm thinking of a more detailed system for defining units of NPCs, from a flock of birds to a band of robbers. There is also no reason why the player shouldn't be able to join or gather up posses of their own. In fact, I intend the game to encourage it. There should be shticks and props to recruit NPCs, depending on factors like your reputation. Again, adding NPC allies might be a way for the player to increase survivability. More importantly, perhaps, I imagine it fun with scenarios where the player has to cooperate with computer-controlled units.

Expanded usage of Grit ♥ and Lead ♄: I might to try to make small changes to how these traits/stats work. I think ♥, aside from being a health bar, could be used to measure fatigue and other ailments, and maybe even as slots you can fill with status effects (for instance, being hasted from mercury bubblegum might tap a single ♥, or sprinting makes you accumulate fatigue markers). ♄ (lead) is also a stat that might be expanded a bit, perhaps to represent resources on a more general level. Some actions could cost a few ♄ to use, like tinkering shticks.

Ropes and miscellaneous: Rope could be an option to deal with prisoners, like hog-tying a neutralized foe and bringing them alive before their perpetrator. There could also be props like fuses and trip wire, or shticks to set traps. On the topic of "tinkering and utility" shticks and props, I can currently only say that all of that might or might not make it into the game. There will certainly be some rules for harvesting/building in the Land. I've set this up with destructible terrain and all that – but it remains to be seen which directions these ideas will take.

Riding, velocity: I've pretty much worked out in my head how I'll try to design this. When a being is moving fast, the game will assign it a certain velocity/inertia. Sprinting humans will be moving 2 hexes/turn, with some animals going faster. The next logical step would be to add mounts – probably some kind of hossies, broncos or other equines. That entails rules for animal taming and more, and while I'm at it, I'll probably want to add a system for pets in general Tongue The velocity system can be expanded to some pseudo-Galilean rules for moving platforms (boats, carriages, trains). I think riding as fast traveling can work well with the game's "reasonably big" overworld. Walking from town to town might be a bit of a chore, but it should be bearable on horseback and outright luxurious to ride a train.

Fire and flooding: I'm gonna want at least some rules for the elements, including wildfire setting off dynamite and other slapstick situations.

Landscape elevation and such: This is another feature I hope to somehow kludge through. There will probably not be a proper z-axis in the world's coordinate grid, but some tiles may serve as terraces or slopes, almost like the old Zelda-games, with unclimbable cliff sides segmenting mountain areas, balconies that can only be reached by a staircase, etc. I do also have ideas for something similar to Rogue-stairs, which lead to a separate map, for places like mines and cellars. It would be quite cool if I could implement standing on the roof of a house, or even atop of a moving wagon or train. In general, I can think of a lot more landscape features that could be added, like quicksand, ravines, landslides, dust devils, swarms, etc.

Gatling guns: At that point, you should be able to get scenarios like going down a dangerous river arm on a boat with a mounted machine gun.

Gambling: Current ideas include a simple dice game, as well as betting on fights between animals and/or humans (or even becoming a professional pit fighter). I want the interface to be pretty simple, most likely betting by bumping or dropping some ♄ on the bookie/table. By striving for a seamless interface, I hope to include ways to influence the outcome and proper responses. You might get away unnoticed with feeding some Kraft-Futter® to give "your" bird the edge in a cock fight, but maybe not shooting one of the contestants in a dog race.

Drinking and drugs: I'm still not quite sure how to bring this into the game, but it certainly deserves a place in the setting. Since it's a one player computer game, I want some technical incentive for using intoxicants, as well as punishments for abuse and addiction. It seems hard to balance. I guess you can have "speedy" combat drugs, or effects like sipping whisky to shake off negative mental effects, or even eating a weird root to go on a spirit quest. For adverse effects of abuse, that topic is probably tied in with the next …

Passage of time: The current public release features the very bare bones of a "passage of time"-system, used to heal long term wounds and "cash in" on your achievements, getting new shticks and reputations. There is certainly room for expansion and improvement. In the long run, I imagine a several systems coming together here. With each passing week, there may be a chance of "newsflash" events which affect the current state of various sites and factions. For instance, if there is a conflict (quest/drama) with a village being plagued by a group of bandits, and the player just passes time, something might happen, like the robbers besieging the village, or the villagers organizing a militia to strike back. There may also be changes occurring in the longer run, including aging and other effects of wounds, abuse, trauma and karma.

In-game hall of fame: Surprised that not more games feature this, I'll definitely add an in-game graveyard/high score in LoSt. Boot Hill should be an actual place you can visit, with gravestones for some of your former top characters. There are some more far-flung ideas for features that could let a player character influence future playthroughs, from a postal service à la Shiren, to options for retiring a character, to actual vengeful spirits of characters past.

Rounding off 2018's installment of monthly status updates with yet another week-late post, I don't think I'll extend the series into the coming year. Whilst writing these "LoSt this month" posts has helped me keep my eyes on the road, I hope to use the blog for some other ramblings in 2019. Stay tuned, of course, and in the meantime, cheers to an auspicious future, and to all of you, players, developers, dabblers and lurkers.

As always,
Minotauros

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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2019, 05:13:43 AM »

Shamelessly cross-posted from the blog (edit: typo)

Say Yes to Drugs

  Just say No
   to family values,
   and don't quit
   your day job.

   Drugs
   are sacred
   substances,
   and some drugs
   are very sacred substances


   –John Giorno, Just Say No To Family Values

In development, certain features give instant gratification to implement. From getting "a @ walking on a map" and onward, it's thrilling to see your game take form. Other features require more extensive work before they start to become noticeable in the game. Seeing these grander plans gradually unfold carries a joy of its own, but for motivation's sake, it's good to sprinkle some short term design goals into the mix here and there.

After I announced the feature poll a few weeks ago, some votes have started to come in, and the option that currently seems to be getting ahead, is to add drinking and drugs to the game. Cheers. So, on the side of working on random sites and factions (which I'm starting to realize will be quite a big undertaking), I started to make sketches for intoxicants for Land of Strangers. It's something I can probably add without too much hassle, but with a lot of potential depth.

So, how to implement drugs in a Roguelike? I think it's a point to keep the presentation tight, as fluff-free as possible. Since this is a one player game, it was clear to me from the onset that the character needs a  mechanical incentive to ingest drugs. Another point that felt natural in LoSt, was to opt for random drugs.

Experimenting with random drugs (click for larger image)


Thinking about taxonomies and making plans for drug effects, it struck me that some of the substances that cropped up, would be "drugs" in the wider sense of actual medicines, but with possible side effects. It will be appropriate to add "druggist" saleskids who peddle anything from psycho serum injections and hallucinogenic meat, to painkillers and natural medicine. Additionally, substances that come from plants and animals can be linked to species in the random biomes.

When it comes to random content in LoSt, I sometimes imagine the templates as something akin to tarot readings or solitaires, with "cards" (kit plugins) laid out in patterns. If the reading is for a person, each node or card represents a strength, weakness, or other detail. If the reading is for an objective, the nodes represent obstacles, helpers, ulterior motives, etc. These nodes branch out and connect, and may spawn nodes of their own (as the random artifact gets an effect, the effect gets a random duration). A prop template for a random drug can probably be structured with nodes in about six different categories:

Form/source, method, dosage: Is it a powder, beverage, flower, etc? Some forms are available in nature (raw or prepared biotic/mineral parts), others are synthesized in a lab. Method and dosage indicate how to administer the drug. This data is at least used to generate the drug as an actual prop in the game world, and provide a skeletal "consume" event with pending effects.

Effect: Most drugs should have a (potentially) beneficial "main" effect. There is a subset of pure combat drugs, but also some effects for other stimulants, depressants, hallucinogenics and miscellaneous. Effects of drugs are typically not instant, but have an onset duration/curve, which can itself be randomized.

Side effect: Potential or guaranteed side effect, typically a penalty, like a hangover.

Overdose, extradose: In excessive doses, the substance can have extra potent (side) effects, including death. Overdose effects will need a probability of incurring depending on dosage and other factors. There can also be a possibility of other "extradoses" that could be outright positive, expanding on the normal effect.

Long term effects: Side effects which can be temporary (chronic as long as you keep using) or permanent (even after you quit). Again, I probably need to randomly set thresholds, timers, etc. for each separate effect. Addiction could be classed as a form of this, but may also merit its own category.

Addiction: Drugs are more or less addictive, with more or less severe withdrawal symptoms, etc.

There may be other systems I'm overlooking that should be proper to the drugs as actual props and related events in the game world. But I think that covers the basics. Other questions come on top of the actual prop design, however, including how to put drugs in the game world, and how to present them in the interface.



For intoxication itself, a simple interface may work well. Being influenced could tap one ♥ with a flag describing your feeling. The effects themselves need to be implemented, but a lot can be done with simple status flags. Finer points, like long term effects and poly drug use, will have to be ironed out along the way.

Setting the dials to max random in a prototype generator yields some pretty varied results, like "Murphy (PBUH)", a plant juice to be ingested in the rectum, causing hallucinations, but with the possible side effect of strong and fast on-coming diarrhea. Frankly, that's one of the less weird ones. Transitioning from the prototype generator to data modules will definitely incur some fine-tuning, although hopefully with room for the occasionally utterly absurd.

One thing to make sure of, is that some sane default templates are more or less guaranteed to be generated. For balance' sake, there should probably be at least a few stimulants that increase healing or combat capabilities. We also can't have us a Western without booze, although the drink of choice across the Land may vary from banana wine to corn spirits. Some of the weirder drugs may come with factions and sites of their own, from Delphic cults who gather at natural gas sources to inhale the intoxicating fumes, to outcast colonies that willingly inflict themselves with a euphoria-inducing virus. Other encounters may include junkies/pharmacists paying for rare substances, ranches/pens with psychoactive herds, and other silliness. Sinister drug dealers may be a thing, but there will probably not be any legal sanctions against drugs as such, seeing as how the game plays in a land that hardly has had the time to get any laws at all. There may be abolitionists or a Temperance League, of course, possibly even zealots that sort rather in the general category of "homicidal maniac".

One funny thing that struck me in all of this, was that the question inevitably cropped up whether it could be alienating or inappropriate towards some audiences to add drugs in the game. I had the same thought about swearing at one point. And had to laugh at myself for questioning this in a game that's basically about killing vaguely defined "enemies". If anything, it shows I'm a product of cultural cliches.

Morality studies in the Land


On the other hand, I think the random generator will be spitting out some quite dangerous drugs, so I probably can't be accused of glorifying drug abuse. Regarding ethics as such, LoSt was never ever intended to be a showcase of goodness, and it's rather been a stated design goal to grey out "the alignment scale", aiming instead to focus on factors like reputation and social standing. If the game has an age rating, it's some Parental Guidance shit at least, although I can't imagine most kids would take any damage from messing around with my little Roguelike. I think the best I could hope for, would at least be to teach them some naughty words.

As always,
Minotauros
« Last Edit: March 06, 2019, 06:18:17 AM by agingminotaur » Logged


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