I’m not dead! Just … didn’t really have much to talk about for a bit there. I’m months behind my target date for pre-alpha 3, but I’m now at the point where I could put the game live with a weeks’ notice.
For months the hold ups were due to technical issues, but now the hold up is the new art from the LoE guys — the art I’ve gotten so far has some rigging bugs (which distort the animations in surreal, terrifying ways). To fix those errors, they’ve gone back to the drawing board and are doing a new rig entirely, so I’m not sure what sort of timeline I’m looking at. Not trying to point fingers at them — making an art pipeline is no small task! So I’m not too surprised that there’s setbacks. But… yeah, there’s setbacks.
Unfortunately I ripped out the placeholder human art a while back, so I can’t switch back to that easily. But if things take too much longer, I’ll just deal with the animation glitches and run it with whatever I have… I’d really like to start getting feedback again! Both because the feedback would help me shape the game, and also because it’s such a motivator to see people using your stuff.
So… soon. Gonna set an arbitrary date: I’ll put the pre-alpha back up on, hmm, let’s say the 25th. In whatever state it’s in!
In the meantime I’ve been working on content, mostly focusing on random treasure, making that fun. There are now well over 100 different powers that can show up randomly on treasure, and they let you customize your play-style to a high degree.
For instance, all Combat Psychologists have the same 6 basic abilities (in MMO terminology, they are: a combo instigator, a mez, a fear, a ranged instant attack, a targeted heal, and a detaunt). However, the equipment you wield changes the effects pretty dramatically. If you want to focus on debuffing, you can get equipment that makes your mez cause Depression (reduces the monster’s damage output), Numbness (slows movement), and various other effects, as well as its usual mez behavior. If you’d prefer to focus on a support role, you can improve the effects of your heal, and get the ability to make monsters worth more XP when killed. And of course there’s lots of in-between steps.
Most combat abilities aren’t quite so versatile — for instance the Sword skill is always going to be about killing things first and foremost. But your equipment lets you choose between pure dps or focusing more heavily on the swordsmans’ Rage-reducing powers. And there are other choices to make when you try to combine two skills at once. (Because remember you have two combat skills active at the same time.) If you’re a Swordsman/Psychologist, you might want to use Psychology as a ranged pull, or as a pick-off-fleeing-enemies tool. Or you might focus on the Psychology abilities that let you heal yourself and get out of scrapes. Different equipment would work better in different cases.
Anyway, I’m liking the test loot that comes out of the system so far. The numbers and stats on the loot are mostly placeholders — I’ve tried to get them in the right ballpark, but I’ll have to do a whole lot more rebalancing down the line. First, though, I’m just trying to let you explore different meaningful combinations.
There are a million ways it could break down. For instance, the large number of skills means it’s harder to find loot specifically for the skills you use. So players might fall behind because they can’t find good enough loot. Or they might be bored by the loot because it’s all fiddly effects, not just a couple of numbers. It takes a lot of effort to evaluate and compare items. Or maybe lots of these powers don’t work very well, so everybody finds one or two combos that work and people end up pretty samey.
Fortunately most potential problems have pretty easy solutions — or at least ways to make them less painful. So I’m really dying to see the system in use.
Hm, I wanted to talk about the playable races today but I got distracted talking about loot. Will talk about that more soon.
And I’ll see you here on the 25th if you’d like to play test! Pre-alpha 3 will last at least a month. (And possibly stay up forever, depending on how the testing goes…)