Monday, April 02, 2012

Status update + First poll of the blog.

What happened this week? Well, I am currently working on another quest (It could end up being a big quest, depending on a few design choices, but even if I cut things here and there, it will surely be at least medium-size), and this one was suggested by tempestreturns (who is also the main and only contributor of the week, with his greatly appreciated 10 US dollars). Since I had an idea to add something similar from a long time, I welcomed his suggestion right away (speaking of suggestions: magma, a forumer from the hypnopics forums, gave me a couple of ideas for quests, and one of them is probably going to be in the next release! Thanks for your help).
I am working on the game daily, but since this time around I am working on quests for the game, I can't really make estimates on the time frame, since I didn't plan them in details. Most of the quests I am writing won't have fights in them, which means I need to think of different gameplay mechanics for each of them, sort of. Once this release is done, I will probably have to work on adding new core mechanics to the gameplay (a hacking mini-game, for example, as was discussed in the thread at the hypnopics forum).

Also, I want your opinion on something concerning the gameplay. The game has some RPG elements, but it's really minor, at the moment. One of the things I might want to change, is how the traits (athletic, smart, sexy, perceptive, lucky) works. I would like to turn them into Stats, meaning that the players would be given a set of points to distribute among the stats, with the possible values for each stat varying from a minimum of 1 to a max of 10. That would change greatly how the game works, allowing for "jack of all trades" players, but, unlike the current system, you wouldn't get to see all the events related to a certain stat, unless you decide to put 10 points in a single one. It would also influence more the combat system, with bonus/malus related to some of the stats (right now, you get a bonus for some of the traits, but there aren't penalties of any kind).
I hope you will partecipate to the poll, as it is really important for the game!


  1. I voted "Traits!" on the poll, just thought I'd mention why. These are of course just my own opinion.

    - Stats require more development time to implement and balance against each other and all possible scenarios.

    - Stats are enjoyed most by min/maxers, I find, who end up eviscerating the game and finding the best three or four combinations of stats for all kinds of playthroughs... which isn't all that different from having three or four combinations of traits anyway.

    - Stats can lock you out of content in unpredictable ways, depending on whatever checks the developer thought were appropriate for a certain situation. What's more, if you have stats in the game, you become tempted to introduce more and more checks just because they fit the action you're describing. You then have to double-check that it's actually possible for players to get through the whole sequence of checks, and if it isn't you have to change your story just because of the stats, or lower the checks into insignificance.

    - Stats that can improve over the course of a game distract from the actual story: players will often have to think about whether to pursue a course of action because it will boost one of their favourite stats, even though it doesn't fit the character they're trying to roleplay.

    - The only stats I support are the ones that track your decision-making. Since this game is influenced by Mass Effect, call it reputation and paragon/renegade if you like. It still takes some effort to make them work so that players don't feel locked out of certain opportunities, but at least it reinforces the in-character decision-making process with in-game rewards, instead of constantly requiring the player to make meta-game decisions.

    Stats have their place, notably in pen-and-paper rpgs where you can take literally any decision whatsoever and the GM has to figure out the result based on as few numbers and rolls as possible. In a story-driven, fairly self-contained game with a limited number of actions and strictly defined mechanics, I think stats are just distracting for both player and developer.

    Here's my 2c anyway. Keep up the good work :)

    PS: I notice you liked the Mass Effect 3 endings, too. I found this thread to be very helpful in dealing with them.

    1. Thanks for taking your time to elaborate on the reasons for your vote. I must admit that most of them were the very same reasons I opted for the current system, too. But I wondered if people would have liked a system a little more complex, that allows for a deeper customization of the protagonist, and that's why I made the poll. I like RPGs a lot, so I felt my current system was too shallow.

      As for ME3, I already saw that thread (some of the pictures are truly hilarious!), but it's nice to know other people know about it. But my problems with the ME series run deeper than that, I didn't like all that much neither ME2 nor ME3 as a whole. I tolerated ME2 just because I was hoping they would do something better to close the trilogy afterward... -_-

  2. I thought I'd posted before but I guess it didn't take :(. I'm generally with Bob with this a lot of extra effort for very little extra gain.

    1. Don't read too much in the effort it requires (that's something for me to worry about! ^o^ ) but focus on what's better for the game. I proposed this because I thought it might be good for the game, but it's something that affects the gameplay deeply, that's why I asked what the players thought about it (although only a handful of people voted... ;_;). I assume you would still vote to keep the current system, but I just wanted to clarify.

    2. Yeah I guess that's the designer in me :D.

      To be honest I think the focus the traits (yeah I choose traits) give is a better fit for the story your trying to tell. I don't think a jack of all trades character is that suitable for the games.

      Cause if you did want a JoaT option you could just offer it as another trait choice, a possible comprise position.

  3. The positives of stats, I guess, is increased player flexibility (not a bother, as it's already half a mile more flexible than most of it's competitors), and the ability to use changing of stats as a stick/carrot in game.

    The negative of stats is that it takes away some of the mystery and immersion of "I'm right strong, I am." Frankly, traits (which I voted) for, make more sense in a more story focused game.

    1. Well, to be sincere, the traits system isn't more mysterious than the stats would be (it's basically the same, with less flexibility, so it's even less mysterious, in a sense). What the traits system has over the stats, is that it's simpler to use (3 choices, and you are done); you can't miss a lot of content (but you will still miss some, as a few options will only be available with the right "mix" of traits) and it's not too different from playing a min/maxed character with stats. Stats are useful only for jack of all trades characters (impossible in the current system), for those who want just a bit of everything.