Monday, 27 January 2014

Conversations Continue ...

For the last two weeks, I decided to try to finish the remaining conversations for the module. This also meant having to tie in remaining quests and adding the remaining NPCs that the player will encounter ... which meant I did NOT finish them after all! I found I did not have the concentration I need to do them satisfactorily at the moment, so it will take me longer than I thought. (Real life events have been draining me and preventing me from doing much else at the moment.)

I did also manage to tidy up some scripts that work new GUIs, and add another puzzle ... related to a conversation ... but even that needs finishing off and "polished" to meet my satisfaction.

Hopefully, I will have more to report in my next blog post. This was more to say that I am still progressing as and when I can ... and aim to keep plugging away until finished.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Changes ...

There are certainly some changes going on in my life at the moment, and these changes are having an impact on my vision of the module as well. The bottom line, I am making changes that I hope will make things easier to implement both in this module now and any modules I may do in the future. Life has enough difficulties of its own without me complicating this hobby, which I want to be relaxing. So, let us look at the changes am I making ... Basically, the first two changes are a confirming and cementing of the idea changes I had in mind back in July 2012, and the third I had also discussed in July 2011.

No More Fighting Friends!
1: "PlayersCanAttackNeutrals" Campaign Setting Now FALSE

This was originally set to TRUE so that the player could attack any creature they wanted to, be they friend or enemy. While this added a level of "realism", I felt that it was an issue that was not worth the time and effort to "secure" against properly. Furthermore, since I have included the ability for a player to examine a creature and toggle them HOSTILE in given situations, the ability to attack different creatures is still maintained, while not making it the default setting. i.e. The premise has been fixed that the player now intends to treat friendly's as friendly unless they have strong reasons to attack them on sight. Therefore, this campaign setting has now been set to FALSE.

We Can All Be Difficult Now & Then
2: Graded Influence System Abandoned

This has become a real burden to maintain ... and adds nothing useful to the gameplay as far as I have done it. The idea of keeping an individual influence system between the party and NPCs appeared a good idea at the time, but it has turned into a pointless exercise. Basically, I concluded that a game's general time span is too short to mess around with "relationships" that make any real difference as I have currently done it. It just makes the gameplay and resulting relationships appear fickle. (Maybe that is closer to real life than I realise.) Anyway, the point is, while I will leave those areas of code and conversations in place that have been done to date, I will no longer be adding to the conversations in this way in the future, and will instead, concentrate on major player decisions only. i.e. Relationships will be more solid and rely on players actions at certain "crisis points" rather than based on a sliding scale of events. I intend to hide this completely in future modules.

Get to the point then!
3: Simplify Conversations

Actually, to a degree, this "change" will be automatic with the two changes above. Also, having written some now (and experienced them in other games), I am beginning to recognise a more efficient way of writing conversations. Mainly, however, moving forward, I hope to try to keep things simpler (more direct). That's the idea, but how it will turn out in practice I don't yet know. I know I also said this back in July 2011, but as I am designing for a MP environment, I feel that I need to be more streamlined than I am currently. It's a difficult choice to be sure. Cut back too much, and it may leave the player (especially single player gamers) wanting more. Leave too much text, however, and it may interfere in a MP session.

In conclusion, I recognise that I am still trying to escape the same bugbears of my original design concept, and may not be totally free of them until I have finished the current module and can start afresh. I suppose this blog entry is as much about me trying to refocus my efforts where they are required, and to encourage myself back into finishing the module. Maybe with all the changes in my life at the moment, I may be able to take the steps I need to make changes in the module design as well. Wasn't that why Bilbo ("Lord of the Rings") threw the birthday party? So that he could give away things and make it easier to pass on the ring as well. And although my life changes were not set in motion by myself, maybe I can still use them to pick up from where I left off a few weeks ago and carry on with these changes more firmly in mind, so that I can finally finish it!