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Expanding the Framework and Overhauling Character Roles

  • Red_Nova
  • 07/01/2016 04:09 PM
  • 3092 views
Yikes, my blogging game has gotten pretty weak, hasn't it? Let's fix that.

Despite what the lack of tangible progress reports may indicate, work on PotF has been pretty consistent. It's just that the progress has almost all been in back door fields that don't make for interesting blog content (unless you think Word documents and database entries are interesting) and so I've been rather silent save for mini updates on Twitter.

However, it has been a month, and some sort of substantial update is overdue, so here I am.

90% of my work has been, as stated before, in back door fields. By far the most time and effort spent last month was laying out the story point-by-point. Sure, I knew what was going to happen and when before, but it wasn't until I started writing an actual synopsis (which, including just the absolute vital points to the story, just touched 11,000 words!) that I caught minor points and issues that needed addressing.

The biggest reason for laying the entire plot down to the specifics, though, is that just like Soul Sunder, PotF determines its ending based on the results of player actions instead of choices, so a lot of time needed to be spent making sure the criteria for each ending is a fair assessment of the way the player played as each character during their respective stories. This isn't something I can go back and change later for people who have files from future releases, so this needed to be right coming straight out of the gate. Just so there's no misunderstanding (and sorry if this breaks the immersion somewhat), your actions during the prologue were not judged in any way to determine the ending.

It's done, though, and now all that's left is to implement the listeners for these criteria before moving on to the dialogue proper. So yay!

*Side note: I would have been done quicker if I hadn't gotten carried away with writing optional skits. It'd be great to find a place to put them, but having the parties chat among themselves is so much fun!*

----------------------

There's been a fair amount done on the gameplay side, as well. Since the stat overhaul, a lot of previous strategies laid out for the characters became obsolete. Therefore, the rest of the cast needed to change accordingly. You may remember seeing a glimpse of Luke's abilities from a blog way back in December where he could demolish enemies due to his arsenal of magic attacks. Well, now his offensive capabilities have been pulled back a bit in favor of a wider variety of actions.


Frankly, I got bored to death of giving him every elemental spell, so this is his new loadout instead to encourage using other party members. He'll gain more abilities as he levels up, but his pool of spells should still have this kind of ratio.

Since Luke has no Drives anymore, his role as a nuke has been scaled back to only a few spells, and now includes more debuff and ailment-inflicting abilities. The lack of Drives meant his weapons also needed an overhaul, so changing his gear in battle focuses more on stats and resistances.

There's also been a tweak to the armor equip system, but I'm in more uncertain territory here. The idea behind the current system was giving the ability to have every character equip every piece of armor in order to allow you to create your own loadout. In practice, this became an absolute nightmare to test. Being a single individual with no ability to clone himself (yet), something had to be done, either by limiting the available armor or add in some restrictions if I ever wanted to make some semblance of progress within my lifetime. Currently, I'm playing around with a little bit of both.

Right now, I've changed the system so that not everyone can equip medium and heavy armor. Mia, for example can no longer equip heavy armor, so the Chain Mail you get in her prologue will have to be given to Amalie instead. The biggest issue holding me back from really delving deep into an equip overhaul was the fact that changing the system now will cause some issues with your save file if you've already played the current demo. For instance, there's already an issue with Mia and heavy armor if you (understandably) gave her Chain Mail during her prologue, but it's nothing game-breaking. Mia will still have the Chain Mail equipped, but will be unable to re-equip it if removed. However, I've been playing around with the idea of letting Relics be equipped in the same place as armor and removing the Relic slot entirely (sort of like Soul Sunder), but that has caused way more issues with a file if a character already has a Relic equipped.

Since I really don't want to force players to replay the demo over again for something so small, I think I'll leave it at the armor restrictions for now and just limit how much armor you can get. We'll see how this plays out during tests.

That's it for this blog! Sorry again for the lack of updates, but I hope this makes up for it. I'll talk a little more about the next party member in the next blog. For now, though, here's a little something that might pique your interest in her if you've played the demo:


What?! M-Miasma Charge?!

Posts

Pages: 1
unity
You're magical to me.
11063
Nice to see you're still hard at work and making the game even better!

Wow! So Trill can use the enemies' Miasma Charge!? Very cool! Makes me even more curious about the Manna! :DDD
zDS
Besr Richard Slayer
4616
Keep up the good work! The back door stuff can be the hardest for me at times, especially if it's for a project on the scale of this one.

Once the planning/database/graphics stuff are done, progress sky rockets.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478
author=unity
Nice to see you're still hard at work and making the game even better!

Wow! So Trill can use the enemies' Miasma Charge!? Very cool! Makes me even more curious about the Manna! :DDD


Yep! It's been a lot of fun getting Miasma abilities to work for an ally, and I hope it shines through once it's integrated into the game! It was teased a little bit during the Manna fight in the prologue when they could use Miasma Charge, so it only made sense to have a Manna ally be able to do the same thing.

author=zDS
Keep up the good work! The back door stuff can be the hardest for me at times, especially if it's for a project on the scale of this one.

Once the planning/database/graphics stuff are done, progress sky rockets.


Amen to that. The end result is definitely worth all the hard work, though!
IIRC, it was not only shown in battle that the manna can use miasma charge, it was also explicitly stated in a dialog box.

So Mia can no longer equip the chain mail. I think it took me roughly 0,1 seconds to decide to never use it once I looked at its stats. I am curious if other people use heavy armor though.

Less offense and more utility for Luke seems like a good idea. The Final Fantasy type black mage rarely brings much tactics to the table. If an enemy if weak against say fire, figuring out that you should use the fire spell is roughly as mentally challenging as a toy made for a two years old.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478
author=Crystalgate
IIRC, it was not only shown in battle that the manna can use miasma charge, it was also explicitly stated in a dialog box.

So Mia can no longer equip the chain mail. I think it took me roughly 0,1 seconds to decide to never use it once I looked at its stats. I am curious if other people use heavy armor though.


Yeah, looking at stat changes and refusing to equip certain armors was definitely the intention originally. I was hoping players could see that Mia would lose more than she would gain by equipping the chain mail. Problem is, optimal or not, it was still an avenue that needed testing, and adding that to a large amount of other possible armor combinations per character would take up so much time that I eventually went with nixing the option altogether.

Less offense and more utility for Luke seems like a good idea. The Final Fantasy type black mage rarely brings much tactics to the table. If an enemy if weak against say fire, figuring out that you should use the fire spell is roughly as mentally challenging as a toy made for a two years old.


The ability to exploit elemental weaknesses was actually the reason Skill Lock was implemented in the first place. The very first demo let you use the same Drive over and over again as long as you had the SP cost. Locking skills prevented spamming attacks, but Luke was still so strong with magic that weaknesses didn't matter so much.

You can still lob Firebombs to exploit weaknesses, but losing a finite resource made the option much more valid to me.
author=Red_Nova
What?! M-Miasma Charge?!


Ditto!

author=Red_Nova
author=unity
Nice to see you're still hard at work and making the game even better!

Wow! So Trill can use the enemies' Miasma Charge!? Very cool! Makes me even more curious about the Manna! :DDD
Yep! It's been a lot of fun getting Miasma abilities to work for an ally, and I hope it shines through once it's integrated into the game! It was teased a little bit during the Manna fight in the prologue when they could use Miasma Charge, so it only made sense to have a Manna ally be able to do the same thing.


Okay. She is a Manna. That explains things. ... Manna can't reproduce with humans, right?
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478
author=Malandy
Okay. She is a Manna. That explains things. ... Manna can't reproduce with humans, right?

Yep, she shares the characteristic of a Manna: Dark skin, height, and red eyes.

As for your question... I wonder? :)
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478
herp derp double post why does my brain think the edit button is the quote button?
author=Red_Nova
Yeah, looking at stat changes and refusing to equip certain armors was definitely the intention originally. I was hoping players could see that Mia would lose more than she would gain by equipping the chain mail. Problem is, optimal or not, it was still an avenue that needed testing, and adding that to a large amount of other possible armor combinations per character would take up so much time that I eventually went with nixing the option altogether.

That's true, anything that's not supposed to be a good idea needs to be tested anyway. I've experienced it myself, I can take a lot of measurements to discourage a certain playstyle, but when testing that playstyle still proved to be superior to the intended one.

The ability to exploit elemental weaknesses was actually the reason Skill Lock was implemented in the first place. The very first demo let you use the same Drive over and over again as long as you had the SP cost. Locking skills prevented spamming attacks, but Luke was still so strong with magic that weaknesses didn't matter so much.

There is one interesting aspect of Luke's elemental spells combined with the skill lock. If a troop has both one enemy weak against earth and one against wind, there's an actual choice to be made. If you distribute the two spells among the two enemies, you end up causing more total damage than if you focus one one. On the other hand, focusing the damage is usually better than spreading it out. Well, in theory this is true, but it remains to be seen how it works out in practice.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478
author=Crystalgate
That's true, anything that's not supposed to be a good idea needs to be tested anyway. I've experienced it myself, I can take a lot of measurements to discourage a certain playstyle, but when testing that playstyle still proved to be superior to the intended one.


Happens quite a bit when developing games like these.

There is one interesting aspect of Luke's elemental spells combined with the skill lock. If a troop has both one enemy weak against earth and one against wind, there's an actual choice to be made. If you distribute the two spells among the two enemies, you end up causing more total damage than if you focus one one. On the other hand, focusing the damage is usually better than spreading it out. Well, in theory this is true, but it remains to be seen how it works out in practice.


The other risk you take in spreading out the damage is using more of Luke's SP, leaving him more vulnerable to damage in case you don't kill an enemy. You can use both spells, then have him Focus to restore SP, but then (in this particular scenario), that still leaves two enemies alive and ready to hit back. So you can either have a party member move in to finish off an enemy or have Luke finish them off with an attack item and let him regen SP as the fight goes on.

Risk/reward.
author=Red_Nova
There's also been a tweak to the armor equip system, but I'm in more uncertain territory here. The idea behind the current system was giving the ability to have every character equip every piece of armor in order to allow you to create your own loadout. In practice, this became an absolute nightmare to test. Being a single individual with no ability to clone himself (yet), something had to be done, either by limiting the available armor or add in some restrictions if I ever wanted to make some semblance of progress within my lifetime. Currently, I'm playing around with a little bit of both.

Make a script to auto-battle and sequentially go through the whole equip list? I guess that might that take too long, even with a speed booster like Cheat Engine's Turbo...

author=Crystalgate
There is one interesting aspect of Luke's elemental spells combined with the skill lock. If a troop has both one enemy weak against earth and one against wind, there's an actual choice to be made. If you distribute the two spells among the two enemies, you end up causing more total damage than if you focus one one. On the other hand, focusing the damage is usually better than spreading it out. Well, in theory this is true, but it remains to be seen how it works out in practice.

I'd try and take out something as soon as I can, to reduce the number of attackers.

author=Red_Nova
The other risk you take in spreading out the damage is using more of Luke's SP, leaving him more vulnerable to damage in case you don't kill an enemy. You can use both spells, then have him Focus to restore SP, but then (in this particular scenario), that still leaves two enemies alive and ready to hit back. So you can either have a party member move in to finish off an enemy or have Luke finish them off with an attack item and let him regen SP as the fight goes on.

Risk/reward.

Hmm... Well, grinding long enough allows you to not worry by having a Armor buffer to replace SP... And also more SP.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478
author=Malandy
Make a script to auto-battle and sequentially go through the whole equip list? I guess that might that take too long, even with a speed booster like Cheat Engine's Turbo...


That's a lot of effort to test not only different equip loadouts, but different strategies with said equip loadouts. It's just not worth the trouble, especially if some strategies aren't what I had in mind when playing the game, anyway.

Hmm... Well, grinding long enough allows you to not worry by having a Armor buffer to replace SP... And also more SP.


That's a problem I'm still looking into. It's mostly an issue for Aeyr, as he has a healing ability. Mia's party does not, and has to manage a finite amount of healing items while going through a linear path, so grinding is not an optimal solution for her.

When the game was first planned, there was an option on the table to nix levels entirely and boost stats based on equipment, but then there wouldn't be any real point to fighting random battles, and there would have to be a new method of learning Burst Drives (right now, they're learned by gaining levels), so levels remained. If players want to give the system the middle finger and grind away, then that's their choice if it's possible.

Besides, I feel weighing the need to gain exp to level up your characters with ever dwindling resources is part of the challenge and tension of a survival game like this.
author=Red_Nova
Besides, I feel weighing the need to gain exp to level up your characters with ever dwindling resources is part of the challenge and tension of a survival game like this.


*nods* ... Was this always known as a survival game and I just didn't realize until you told me? Or is it a surprise to other people too?
zDS
Besr Richard Slayer
4616
This was always a survival game for me.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478
author=Malandy
*nods* ... Was this always known as a survival game and I just didn't realize until you told me? Or is it a surprise to other people too?


It's in the short description.

I call it a survival RPG due to the lack of reliable healing abilities as opposed to more traditional RPGs.
author=Red_Nova
author=Malandy
*nods* ... Was this always known as a survival game and I just didn't realize until you told me? Or is it a surprise to other people too?
It's in the short description.

I call it a survival RPG due to the lack of reliable healing abilities as opposed to more traditional RPGs.

Do you mean this section?

author=Red_Nova
Deep, engrossing battles with inspirations from classic survival-horror games.

'Cause I just interpreted that as the battle-system being survival-horror inspired...

***

... So, are ya gonna release Trill's art on the Character's page? ... I thought those lines near her eyes on her red outline portrait were tear tracks, but on closer examination, they don't touch the eyes, and are further away from the eyes in this newest art... ... I wonder what the lines mean... Warpaint, Cultural bodypainting... Etc...
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478


^^I mean this section.

And I'll add Trill to the character page once I actually talk about her.
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