Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Logical Flow & MP Conversations (Revisited) (POLL: MP Conversations)

As I was writing a conversation for one of the companions that a player can add to the party, it slowly dawned on me that there was more needed for this conversation than first realised, for two reasons:-

1) Surrounding events needed to make more sense than they currently did.
2) This conversation needed to be common to all players in a MP game.

The first problem was one concerning "logical flow". Without going into detail (through fear of spoilers), it soon became obvious that the event being discussed was too important to be isolated to this companion and the PCs. "Fixing" this "logic" required an additional number of "new" conversations for new NPCs, plus I had to make a number of edits to existing ones.

As I was finishing the templates required for the additional conversation, I also realised that this conversation needed to be seen by all players when considering a MP game, as it was also a pivotal plot conversation.

In this campaign (unlike the official campaigns), different players take control of their own PCs. So, if one player decides to go in one direction compared to another player, then the PCs they "own" stay under their control and follow them, or carry out whatever they were last commanded to do. I give players this degree of autonomy all the while they are in the same area, only requiring them to all move together when going to a new area. A problem arises, however, if there is a conversation requiring the entire party in an area (like the one above), and the players are spread apart when the conversation begins.

I then recalled that this was also an issue in the official campaign, in that all players in a MP game would have a MP conversation start for them even if they had not been the player to start the conversation and weren't near the speaker in question.

After giving it some thought, I am not sure there is any way around this particular style of delivery. Furthermore, as I have used the "MP" switch in a number of conversations, then this conversation delivery will occur for all players in a MP game from time to time. I have looked at adding some checks to ensure players will be in the same region of an area when a MP conversation starts if possible, but there are likely to remain some conversations that will not have such checks.

If anybody has any more builders tips about helping to reduce this issue, then please leave a comment advising.

So, my POLL this time around is to find out what players think about MP conversation considerations. Do conversations starting outside of your control offend you? Do you recognise they are necessary for a MP game? And so on ... Please leave a comment if I have not covered your option, or if you have anything more to add.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Party Helpers: Henchmen

It's been some time since I last wrote about the player's party, so I thought I would bring this blog up to date with some more information on the sidekick, the henchman. As The Scroll is designed for both multi-player and single-player, deciding upon whether to include any henchmen at all and if so, how many, have been in question for me. Note: The player already has the option to design their own party and/or complement the party with companions that are included in The Scroll. Therefore, henchmen may, at first thoughts, appear unrequired.

First, to remind the reader, in the post link above I define henchmen as those NPCs that the player can add to their party, but whom the player has limited access to ... or control of. Whereas the player can possess companions/cohorts, access their inventories and even control their development as they progress in levels, they cannot do so with henchmen. Therefore, at first glance, the henchman may appear to the player as the "poor mans" choice of party members. However, for some players (and especially at the lower levels), the henchman may be the preferred choice of party membership, and here is why:-

1) Henchmen will auto-level as the party increases in level: For players who like to have party support, but wish to avoid having to control their development, then the henchman is the perfect choice. Access to the main character screen for the party member will still be available to the main PC to monitor such changes in development.

2) Henchmen follow basic commands only: For some players, not having to issue commands beyond the basic ones like "Attack Nearest" or "Stand Ground" may be a preference. That said, greater AI control is still available if the main PC "examines" the NPC and alters settings via the "Behaviour" tab.

3) Henchmen support is unconditional: Henchmen, generally, will not object to a player's actions like a companion/cohort might. E.g. A companion/cohort may prevent or advise against certain actions that are against the party alignment, whereas a henchmen is simply along for the ride.

4) Henchmen deaths are at party level only: Whereas companions or cohorts die when they reach zero hit points (unless observing a Life Essence rebirth choice), henchmen simply fall unconscious when they reach zero hit points. If anybody in the party survives the battle, then the henchman will regain consciousness with 1 hit point. As a player has limited interaction/control over a henchman, then this level of "death control" was a good alternative in my opinion.

To remind the reader: Some henchmen may require payment, some may be less trustworthy than others, but in all else the henchman will provide company as the player carries out their adventure. So, whether the player chooses to build the entire party using only cohorts, or find the support of companions who may have their own opinions, or add a few henchmen, then in all cases, the player can be far from alone ... even if only playing single player.

And just to have an excuse to add a few screenshots, here is where the player can meet at least one henchman to aid them in their adventure:-


Coming into New Edgeton on a cloudy and rainy evening.


The rain has not kept the locals from coming out.

The shops look like they are still open.