Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Runes Revisited

Some time ago I made a blog post about some puzzles I am going to include in the module. One of them involved runes: a fantasy element that lends itself to puzzles and magic. This time around, I have expanded on the idea that the PCs are required to seek and collect various runes that they will need to help with the "puzzle" itself. At this stage, the puzzle acts as a "lock" to whatever the PC is trying to gain access to. However, I have also added the idea that these same runes play another active role in rune magik, which the PCs can learn about in one of the adventures they have. I won't go into detail of the latter, but here are some screen shots that give an idea of the former rune puzzle, which has a gaming element similar to the classic "Mastermind" puzzle.

The PC encounter the "Rune Lock" puzzle and the game automatically presents all the runes that the party have acquired in their adventures to date. (Gaps are missing runes.) In this case, the heroes have found half of the 24 runes that are available.

The player starts to enter possible combination of runes and observes the rune reactions. It looks like none of the first four runes tested are required for this lock! One attempt down!

The player tests another set of runes from those they have available to them. Ah! A bright glowing rune that indicates it is correctly positioned. But now only eight attempts remain and the party only has 4 remaining runes to test. Do they have the runes they require? Unlikely!

In this case, the chances are that the party have not yet even found all the runes they need to unlock this object. So, they must continue their search for runes to help them past this lock. If they fail to find the combination in the attempts remaining, then they can either expend a Life Essence to give themselves another attempt (one Life Essence per additional attempt) or wait a period of time for the lock to reset. Most Rune Locks start with ten attempts, but it may be possible to find Rune Locks with less attempts available from the start.

Module Progression

Along with designing more puzzles/mini-games, I have been continuing to work on conversations that join the areas and story together. As I have reported before, it is a slow process, but it is coming along.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Eguintir of Eguintir Ecologies for helping me with the design of a couple of areas. As regular readers will know, I find designing and working with areas one of the hardest aspects of the game, and Ryan very kindly offered some of his time to take care of a couple of interior areas that were outstanding for this module. He has already returned one area, which is near completion, and I believe is hard at work on the second. His contribution is very much welcomed, and I hope players will appreciate his work in this module as much as they may have in his own modules.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Map Pins For The Player

I have found that another enjoyable aspect when playing an RPG involving maps is not only having Fog of War, but also having the ability to add notes to a map in the way of map pins. NWN1 had this capability, but, for some unknown reason, it was not included in NWN2. Over the years I have been writing this blog, readers will know that I have been looking at a system that allows a player to add personalised map pins to the area map. In the last week or two, I have polished this some more to work in the following manner:-

1) Map Pin controls have been moved to the Area Map GUI itself (rather than be on the Main Menu).
2) The Area Map has had a face lift to complement this, by having the map name moved to a better position.

Map Pin Focus

The Map Pin system is controlled by a player's Main PC only, which means all map pin buttons are only available to the player's Main PC (the one they log into the game with), and pin locations are set according to this PC's location in the game. This avoids confusion of pin placement if the player had been controlling a different PC other than their Main PC at the time of adding a map pin. The Map Pin button are:-

1) Add Map Pin: This allows the player to place the Map Pin and add some text to it.
2) Edit Map Pin: This allows the player to either edit the Map Pin text or remove the pin completely.
3) Update Map Pins: This immediately adds floaty text to the Map Pins on the Area Map. (SP game only.)

Map Pin Text

With my system, when a player creates a map pin using the Add Map Pin button, they are presented with a text input GUI where they can add some descriptive text. When they select the Create Pin option, a small visible pin is placed in the game area with the text the player added, and a small blue pin marker is added to the Area Map at the same time. However, the blue map marker does NOT have the usual floaty text added at this time. All the while the blue map marker does not have floaty text (which is added if the player leaves the area), then if the player chooses to delete the Map Pin, then the associated blue map marker is deleted at the same time.

Area Map Floaty Text

When a Map Pin is first placed, the associated Area Map blue marker does NOT have floaty text like pre-placed map pins usually have. In the case of player created Map Pins, floaty text is only added to the Area Map blue marker after the PC leaves and re-enters the current area where the player has added Map Pins. Furthermore, if a Map Pin is deleted by the player after it has had its floaty text added (by the player leaving and returning to the area with the Map Pin), then the Area Map will not update (have the blue marker deleted) until after the PC leaves the area and returns to it again.

Forcing A Map Pin Update (SP Only)

In a single-player (SP) game, a third button labelled Update Map Pins is available (if not in combat), which forces the PC to immediately exit the current area and return to it again (at the same location). This then updates all the player's Map Pins since their last update by either:-

1) Adding floaty text to Area Map blue makers of newly added Map Pins or ...
2) Removing blue markers (with floaty text) from the Area Map of recently deleted Map Pins.

NOTE: This option is disabled for a multi-player (MP) game to ensure added game stability and to avoid confusion for other players.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Placeable Hit Points Matter!

Thankfully, all matters pertaining to the database issues have now been sorted, and I have been able to return to adding to the module content in general. This has included more conversations, decorating some areas and basically adding content in different areas as I decide to do it. And it was as I was adding one piece of content involving a placeable object, I made a discovery regarding hitpoints of objects: If a placeable is not given any hitpoints, then it can have a different reaction with script.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I designed a placeable object that presents the player a GUI when they click on it. However, I discovered (after comparing another placeable object to this one), that where the new object had zero hitpoints (HPs) assigned to it, a PC would not move up to the object (as if interacting with it) before presenting the GUI. On the other hand, if the same placeable was assigned a few HPs, then the PC would run up to the object as if interacting with it just fine.

What Shall I do?

Furthermore, I discovered that a placeable with or without HPs will also elicit a different response from the script attached to it. This is a little hard to explain, but it's as if a placeable without any HPs is treated as a "non-responsive" object compared to one that does have HPs. Now, this may be obvious to some builders (and already known by them), but I had no idea that this distinction of HPs for placeables had, and is why I am now mentioning it in case others did not know either. For instance, in the same test, the placeable with no HPs would not fire another script attached to it when certain variables are met, compared to the placeable that did have HPs associated with it!

The Script Function

The function involved in the initial script I was using is GetPlaceableLastClickedBy. Whether the responses I was having are restricted to this single function or not, I do not know. However, if you do use it, or have found PCs not responding to placeables in the way you might expect, then check the placeable's HPs, as it makes a difference as to whether they have any or not!

New Area Design

On another point, I am pleased to report that Ryan of Eguintir's Ecologies is hard at work finishing off/designing a couple of interior areas for me. Ryan has already designed some areas for The Scroll (Pt 2), but these latest additions will be used in The Scroll (Pt 1). When these two interior areas have been finished, only one or two minor interiors remain, requiring minimal work.

I thank my readers again for their patience with me on this project, and I hope their patience will be rewarded with an exciting module to play. The amount of time to develop a module does not guarantee such of course, but I do hope the wait will be worth it one way or another.