Friday, 27 July 2012

Design Changes? (POLL: Realism To Fun Ratio)

It's been a difficult couple of weeks since my last update due to various life turmoils. Suffice to say, the module has taken a back seat as I have had to deal with health issues and other upsets. I'm not downhearted, but simply report this to let you know why there has not been much to update you with today.

Future Design Changes

As I slowly approach the end of module one, I am giving some thought to what I will be keeping or losing in the final two modules of the campaign. Recognising how long this module has taken me (far too long), I have decided to re-examine some of the design concepts I started with for the campaign, and leave out those aspects that are simply not "worth" the time they take to include. Note well, I believe everything I have included is "worth" it from one viewpoint, but I have to recognise that it is not worth it, if it adds too much time to the overall development to the point where some players are no longer around to play it! Here are some of the changes that I will probably make:

1) Simplify Party Influence

One aspect that I am considering losing is the "influence" system I currently use. Please note, that I am not talking about doing away with choices that make differences in play, but about an underlying system that monitors the PCs friendships with NPCs, subject to how they treat them. The problem is (as it works at the moment), is that every step the PC makes can (if used) alter the way an NPC will respond to a player subject to a "score" the party has with the NPC in question. Keeping track of this is quite awkward, especially when it comes to tracking quest states where the NPC may be "required" to have some form of talking relationship with the party. Having to do write around this system slows down other aspects of module building, which I can do without.

2) Immortalise Quest Handlers

It grieves me to have to do this change, but having to work around whether a player will or will not kill an important NPC with respect to fulfilling a plot is another system that eats into time to do properly. At the moment, whenever I create an NPC that handles a quest, I am having to consider potential workarounds should the player decide to kill the NPC for some reason or another. I enjoyed this aspect when I first started it, but soon realised that it becomes almost impossible to work like this without ensuring at least some NPCs remain alive to deliver the story. If this means making them immortal (or plot) from the start, then I believe it must be a compromise to my own design desires to allow the game to work with more stability.

I believe the above two changes are essential if I hope to ever finish the final two modules of the campaign. Thankfully, I already have 90% of the areas for the next two modules designed, by help from other builders; and once this module is completed, I will have 90% of the scripts required for them as well. What I am trying to do now, is reduce the amount of conditional work that only serves to make further module writing spiral exponentially out of control.

POLL: Fun v Realism

I would be interested to hear from other players and builders about what aspects of a module they consider as "acceptable" with respect to what can and cannot be done in a module. With this in mind, I have put up a poll asking what players like (or accept) as fun for their style of gameplay. Here are two examples of my own, which I offer as a guide to readers when thinking about answering this poll:

1) I played Legend of Grimrock (nostalgia), and never questioned its logical flow. As just one example: the need to find a key for a locked door and yet not be able to pick it or bash it. It offered very little in the way of options for overcoming a locked door, but I still found it relatively fun looking for a key I needed. Even more unrealistic, the key could often be found sitting in a small alcove somewhere else. This design went quite against my own, but I still had "fun".

2) I like to drop into and play some of Two World 2 now and then, and noticed they also used a kind of "influence" system where a player might upset the locals if they bumped into them. At first I found that quite realistic and an interesting idea. However, as I have played more, I have found the system quite "pointless" in some ways, because (a) I only bump into them by "mistake" as I run by and (b)unless I do this a lot, it has little bearing. Even when I did have my influence taken to an extreme (I ended up having to fight someone), it just caused difficulty with the game as I had to wait for the system to allow me to speak to anybody else after that. (My own system is a bit better managed than that I hope.)

Let me know what aspects of a game you have played that have been fun or not ... or has even worn off as the game continues. Please vote in the poll and leave comments/examples of games you have played and your own experiences with them.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Locate Or Create!

I have taken a break from writing conversations this week to concentrate on a loot script. The scripts that come with the official campaign are too generous for my tastes, and offer too many items that simply do not fit in with the style and design of the Althéa Campaign. As regular readers will know, this campaign is based upon my world, Althéa, and has nothing to do with the OC setting. This means I have to edit the scripts that give the loot, including any 2da tables that might be used. It is something I have been meaning to do for some time, as this particular loot script I am writing addresses potential weapon and armour drops, among other items.

The PC comes across some weapon racks! Maybe they will contain something useful?

Thankfully, I was still able to make use of many lines from the existing nw_o2_coninclude script that comes with the game, even if I ended up changing many of the items that can be dropped. Furthermore, I have redesigned the way the script works from the base up, as its probabilities are rather convoluted and are strongly tied into items that I do not want to include in the drops. The main thing I wanted was a script that could be made to randomise the chances, quantities and types of drops subject to parameters I set at build time. And while I have not yet completed (made use of) class related code, it is place to make use of if I ever want to come back and do so.

Crafting Reference Lines

Fellow builders may be interested to know that I discovered one needs to add a line to the crafting_index.2da if one is adding recipes to the crafting.2da. You need to add a line to the former 2da file to inform the latter which line the associated crafting item reference starts from. If you do not do this, then the ginc_crafting script will not work properly and always return a failed recipe. This module, The Scroll, makes use of all the crafting systems that have ever come with the NWN2 games, but this is referring to the earlier original system. Hopefully, the compiled image below will help explain.

Make sure you add the starting line for any new craft recipes required in the crafting_index.2da

Build It Or Loot It?

Now, you may be asking why was I editing crafting systems while writing a loot script? The answer is because I have added/edited in items to the loot script that reflects what players can also craft. This includes the various forms of splint mail (darksteel, mithral and adamantine), which I have found missing in the original campaign, but have added back for my own modules. In fact, the whole crafting system has undergone quite an overhaul over the years, which I hope will give the game a fresh feel for players when the time comes.