Death Penalties, Quick Follow-up

Thanks for all the death-penalty feedback from the last post! I’ve decided to heed a couple of suggestions:

  • I’m removing the XP rewards, so now there’s no tangible benefit to being Hardcore. That removes any chance of people perceiving Hardcore mode as “mandatory” (in order to be optimal). I’ll still add rewards, but they’ll be in the form of unique weapon and armor appearances — so you can show off, but you won’t be able to level faster.
  • I’m dropping Casual. It’s too stigmatized a label, and the Normal death penalty is already the industry standard “casual” death penalty.
  • For the pre-alpha, I’m going to KISS — keep it simple, stupid — and just implement one new death mode, so there’ll be Normal and Hardcore. Hardcore is where you drop 25% of your items on death. I’ll see what people think of that and then decide if we need more tiers.
  • I’ll eventually add Perma-death, too, for the insanest of the insane players — but I don’t really want people playing perma-death characters during a pre-alpha. It doesn’t really help me get feedback if you’re constantly dying and restarting at level 1!

Thanks again, and if you have more thoughts feel free to share them, here or on the previous post. I’m still readin’.

Status Update: Targeting

One of the big complaints in the last test was that it was hard to target some creatures. This turned out to be a whole bunch of issues, and it’s taken a long time to get everything working well. But it’s in pretty good shape now — you can click on things to select them now, just like you’d expect. You can even click on them if they’re dead! Fancy, I know.

I also made the mouse cursor change into a hand when you’re over something you can interact with (in addition to the “highlighted” graphical effect on the item itself). Finally, I’ve been experimenting with new selection indicators. Here’s what I’ve got at the moment, a sort of full-body wrap around the selected item:

Still experimenting with all that.

Status Update: New Skills

I really need to improve group combat mechanics, but it’s really hard for me to test that right now, because I don’t have people I can jump in and playtest with. So I’m going to do lots of the group-combat development during the pre-alpha, where I can playtest and iterate each day after getting feedback. In the mean time, I’m adding a bunch more skills and systems, because those are much easier to test on my own.

I’ve added Skinning (which works about like you’d expect: skin a corpse, get a skin), and am working on Tanning. I also have Leathercrafting and Leather Enchanting in various states of construction. For the next pre-alpha, I’m hoping you’ll be able to craft and enchant leather armor, from start to finish. Lots more content is needed before that’s possible, though, so we’ll see how far I get.

The most complex new game system for pre-alpha 3 is Animal Taming and the related skills of Animal Husbandry and Genetics. I’m still neck-deep in genes at the moment, trying to figure out how to make an easy-to-understand genetics system that lets players really have fun breeding and selling unique combat pets. This is not as easy as it sounds. Most games’ “breeding” systems are opaque — you can’t really understand what the hell is going on when you breed two pets together. That’s because it’s very hand-wavy: they just roll some dice behind the scenes. I don’t want hand-wavy! I want expert geneticists to be able to see exactly how each gene is set, and what it means!

Of course, husbandry is only half the equation — the other half being the actual combat with your pets. So there’s lots of complexity that I have to chew up into simple chunks.

I’m doing some more prototyping this week, and will post more about animal taming soon!

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12 Responses to Death Penalties, Quick Follow-up

  1. Zubon says:

    Why “Leather Enchanting” rather than just “Enchanting” that works on many things? The latter would be my intuitive expectation, but as a game and a world. Unless it is a form of necromancy that is summoning forth cow spirits to enchant the armor, then that totally makes sense in the world, and metal armor enchanting would be a form of communing with the elements.

  2. whackedenforce says:

    Looking more and more amazing every read cant wait to try it out looks so fun!

  3. Xhi says:

    I don’t know if you are looking for suggestions, but what about something like this for genetics? It seems simple enough considering its trying to be genetics. I have played games with this type of setup before and enjoyed them. I don’t know what stats you want to give pets so I just used a basic 3.

    If you don’t want suggestions, just say so and I will stop with the walls of text. =)

    Dominant (D) / recessive (r)
    1) +Stamina / -Stamina
    2) +Strength / -Strength
    3) +Speed / -Speed
    4) +Stamina / +Strength
    5) +Stamina / +Speed
    6) +Strength / +Stamina
    7) +Strength / +Speed
    8) +Speed / +Stamina
    9) +Speed / +Strength

    So if you were high enough level to see genes 1-3 you might see something like the following when examining the animals tissue sample:
    You can see this animal has the following Dominant (D) and recessive (r) genes:
    1) +Sta (DD) / -Sta ( ) = +Sta
    2) +Str (D ) / -Str (r ) = +Str
    3) +Spd ( ) / -Spd (rr) = -Spd

    The first 3 genes are a nice obvious positive or negative rather than a choice between two positives to provide some basic dangers of inbreeding, but they are the first genes you learn to identify as you level up so you can prevent them early if you are careful.

    When you say you don’t want hand-wavy though, does that mean you don’t want random chance? Because this example (like the real world) has random chance until you breed out all Dr mixes and are just left with DD or rr. Part of the fun in breeding though is culling the undesirable descendants and maybe even harvesting them for mats of some type.

    This type of stat/gene setup makes understanding and breeding for any specific gene fairly straightforward, but trying to achieve something like a pure strength pet fairly time consuming (especially since you have to level up first to see what you are doing).

    Trying to breed for two pure strength pets that have all DD or rr genes to guarantee a pure strength baby every time would take a lot of time, and if its not taking long enough you can always add more genes. =)

    The problem I see with this type of system though is where are you storing your breeding herd? Or do you just have something like a # of slots that you can fill from the wild by accessing at a pasture NPC?

  4. Xhi says:

    I got to wondering, were you talking about breeding only the same types of animals together (cows with cows, wolves with wolves, etc) and aiming for stat changes, or did you mean to allow anything to breed so we could end up with an omnivorous, clawed, scaly croco-pig-wolf?

  5. kdansky says:

    Selection: I really liked what WoW did for selection:

    - All clickable objects have some sort of invisible, clickable box/shape around them that is significantly larger than they actually are. It also covers “holes” like between the legs or arms, where in older games (such as DaoC) it was quite difficult to click an enemy mid-animation.
    - If there is a person behind another person, the overlay of the one in front is disregarded if the mouse is over the actual model of the one behind. That way, the helper from version 1 does not get in your way if stuff gets close and personal.

    It’s not actually very hard to implement, and I think interface polish such as this is what makes the difference from an iPhone to an Android 1.0 phone (brilliance that sells like electricity at a LAN-party versus a prototype that is used by professional torturers).

  6. “I got to wondering, were you talking about breeding only the same types of animals together (cows with cows, wolves with wolves, etc) and aiming for stat changes, or did you mean to allow anything to breed so we could end up with an omnivorous, clawed, scaly croco-pig-wolf?”

    Ye gods don’t give him ideas. Players can turn into half of those critters, next thing you know Bestiality is going to be a skill. :P

  7. Curtis says:

    Looks like a step in the right direction. Glad you only went with 2 and looking forward seeing how you later implement Perma-Death. As for me, perks or not I would never play NORMAL mode if HARDCORE is available. Otherwise I would be another scrub afraid to lose my gear, and obviously I am to hardcore for that. Slight sarcasm but there is truth in jest. Just make sure everyone knows how HARDCORE I am with shiny tags or different radar color etc.

    Best of Luck!

  8. Eric says:

    @Xhi – thanks! I’ve actually got something very similar to that, but I was randomizing which genes you saw. I like how your system has some “starter genes”, that’s good stuff!

    And yeah, you can only breed animals with their same species.

    @Green Armadillo – heh! … hmm. Yeah, this game goes to some really weird places sometimes. I’m definitely not going to let animal-form players breed with their pets… gross! But on the other hand, players can get married to NPCs, and there might be sentient NPC deer out there somewhere… so can player-run deer marry those sentient NPC deer? If they’re both sentient, consenting adults, I guess… sure, why not? But still, no kids.

  9. Lolin says:

    “Ye gods don’t give him ideas. Players can turn into half of those critters, next thing you know Bestiality is going to be a skill. :P”

    You sir….or m’lady….are awesome. Long, tiring, worrisome week….ending with some silly talk on a really exciting game. I needed that.

    Eric, keep up the good work!

  10. Mouse says:

    In your taunting/mentalism thread, Curtis touched on your genetics and pet control and how in other games folks eventually drove to the same ‘perfect’ pet.

    A setup like Xhi suggested, while excellent, runs into the same problem. People cherry pick and breed to all the bonuses and have a ‘perfect’ pet, or a few branches of average with one stat ‘perfected’. I have a game design (which I’ve never implemented) which heavily involves breeding and genetics. The solution I came up with was to have some genes like Xhi suggests with clear good vs bad choice (or choice of equal good), while other genes are mixed.

    Dominant (D) / recessive (r)

    7) +3 Strength -Speed / +2 Speed (Do you want Strength, or Speed?)
    8) +2 Speed -Stamina / +Stamina (Speed or Stamina?)
    9) +Strength / +3 Speed -2 Stamina (Strong, or fast and sickly?)
    10) +2 Speed -Strength / +Speed (Speedy and weaker, or moderately speedy without a drawback?)

    You can breed for purpose. Do you want the glass cannon pet, the tank pet, a pet that can win on the racetrack, or some middle ground?

    I had a wider array of stats than 3, as Xhi and I both expect you will.

    You can even get as complex as linked genes:
    3) +Speed / MindRend1
    7) +3 Strength -Speed / MindRend2
    14) +Speed +Stamina / MindRend3
    If you can get all three recessives then your pet has the Mind Rend ability. Or colouration like a White Tiger skin rather than the traditional variety.

  11. Chad says:

    It seems to me you would be better off just making an Enchanting skill and offering a bonus to enchanting leather goods if you also have a good Leathercrafting skill

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