First: I am totally glad that suddenly there's lots of terrifying Gruedorf content that is awesome and intimidating (deferred lighting! 3D engine releases! SpriteWright!) I'm still going to beat all of you, but I like an honorable victory, yo.
Second: Let's look at last week's goals.
- Finish the enemy spawn code/add all combat zones.
Done, at least for the desert map, except for some weird treasure-chest side branches. It occurred to me at some point while doing this that it's silly to have a desert map that functions as a maze, since the point of a desert is that it's featureless and terrifying. In Chapter II you get to actually go further into the desert at some point and I'll make a more open-ended non-linear desert map because I really don't want to change this canyon-like thing at present.
Finish all of the enemy AI/stats for the desert enemies plus the jail guards. These can and should be tweaked later but every enemy should be at least playable.
Not totally done. All but one of the regular desert enemies are playable--that one won't take really much work to set up; I'm just not into scrabbling around in the AI files right now. The town guards aren't done, but they don't really have a lot of AI: they're supposed to be horrible enemies that you want to avoid fighting because they'll probably kill you, so really all they need is an unfair HP/ATK/DEF rating and the ability to summon reinforcements when they're alone. Coding the ability to summon reinforcements will be horrible so I may, um, defer that for a while.
- Add a generalized chest function, make chest/jar tiles and put some treasures in the game.
Done! Only two irritating things with this: some of the maps (blackmoss) don't have the chest tiles in their .vsp and I don't want to add it until I overhaul the entire VSP and map (sometime after the game's playable.) Also it's a drag to have to manually test/reset the chests on mapinit--it'll be fine once it's done; it's just a boring task to set up.
- Block out the jail map. If time, put in the link to the cave map after.
Didn't do this at all. Probably next week's project is just to build quickie versions of these maps.
- Do some drafts of the story elements in the jail map--these are probably going to be the trickiest to write since a lot has to happen fairly quickly and without too much exposition. If time just draft the whole rest of the release--I think there are only like two or three story sequences after the jail stuff, plus some little lines here and there.
A lot of this is done; the story now takes you up to the requisite Unwinnable Boss Fight. After that it's just some quickie scenes in the cave, the Winnable Boss Fight, and the ending. I'm going to save writing the ending until everything else is coded and working reasonably well just so I have something plot-wise to look forward to.
Pics or it didn't happen, eh? OKAY:
I revised the equip menu a little and added an overlayer and underlayer for all menus. This will make it easy to make all of the menus cooler and visually distinct, possibly with little item icons etc. Right now I just have these done. There's now a third accessory slot to give you slightly more customizability, since I want the game to be full of weird accessory items that do all sorts of zany things. The equip menu has major bugs but sort of works some of the time.
A treasure chest, with a bandage inside! Bandage is actually a piece of armor, which I should, um, make clearer somehow.
The BP system is mostly done, although not really tested. The last major feature to implement is the "storage" ability, where you can auto-allocate BP to any of your stats: the code is there, but it doesn't actually do anything yet. Basically it's like with every experience level, you get five to whatever stat increases, and you buy them as you progress toward the next level. Once you run out of increases you have to accomplish some kind of ridiculous task to gain your level: in this one I think it'll just be like (1) kicking some guy's ass and maybe (2) solving a quickie block puzzle in the cave area. I can see obvious problems with this system but hopefully limiting the number of stat increases you can get in this way will resolve a lot of them.
Eventually (like, Chapter II and beyond) it'd be cool to have different guilds that you can join that allow you to increase the growth rate of certain stats. Right now all of the code is there to manage the growth rate of stats by rank, so characters are basically differentiated by their starting rank: Chocolate has a high speed/evade and psi/will growth rate, but a low atk/def growth rate, whereas Cass has a high atk/def but sucks at everything else. The idea is that characters can individually go through retarded guild initiations later on to increase their growth rates forever. Plus it's totally cool to force a character to join the merchant's guild and shit. This will allow me to, um, pad chapters where there isn't a lot going on in terms of actual plot.
Here's an enemy, spawning perfectly on the map! Awesome! (Note the new, better sand tile.)
Here's that enemy trying to kill you! Note the two new pieces of art: the battle background by me and the enemy art by Xerxes Verdammt. There are two other pieces of enemy art in-game right now that I'm not going to show you, but they're rad.
Now that the enemy spawn code is in the game it's possible to face randomly-determined, horribly overwhelming odds. This actually isn't as bad as it looks just because at this point I've abused the BP system and exploited the bug in the equip menu that lets you equip the same stuff over and over for stat increases every time. (This is hopefully the last of the placeholder enemy art to get rid of.)
This, however, is totally horrible (Loping Legs just wails on you), and these jokers killed me like that. That's how I found out about the huge bug that crashes your computer 25% of the time when you lose a battle!
Now that I have battles to play around with I'm learning about how not to design enemies. I talked with the guy who made this (you should really play that; probably the best independent RPG currently out there if you likes your jrpgs) about balancing stats/money/etc. He gave me really good advice (set up a global "exchange rate" between literally every stat/status condition in the game, and make sure you obey it exactly) that I totally haven't implemented yet because I'm not sure exactly how some of the later-game abilities are going to work. But here's a pro-tip: if you increase an enemy's HP, don't also increase their attack stat unless you want to ramp up the difficulty a lot. (Especially if you're working with stupidly small numbers like me: Chocolate's starting ATK value is 3 right now.)
Also: I started work on the save/load function. Currently it saves the current version number of the game. And I registered a domain name, http://valentinesoftware.com: currently it just points to the RPGCreations home page, which is the former name of the game company I'm in, etc. etc. Since we're changing our name I'm changing the site name. It'll come in handy for hosting this game, as well as setting up like--an actual portfolio so that I can find some kind of decent-paying work. If I have to I'll just go back to the bookstore for a while, but I'd like to avoid that since it's a long cold subway ride into Manhattan every day.
(Oh yeah, um, I quit my job also since it was driving me insane. If any of you like--know someone who's looking for a tech writer for contract work, hook me up, yo: jwthornton aaaat gmail dot com.)
I want to say there's something else I've done but I can't remember, so it's probably not important. Next week, the goal is just to work on tiles, make maps, and finish story up to the end of the game so that I can get a mostly-working prototype to Longe and the music can get finished up.
I pushed the version number up to .34 -- at .4, all of the battle commands are in and working. That's going to be a bigger jump than I thought because right now I handle status effects very stupidly, and I'm going to need to change the way that functions altogether. If I get the basic prototype of the game done then I'll start finally hammering at that.
I think that testing at least can happen by October. That makes something like 4 months of dev time, start to finish, for chapter I. I believe it!
Oh yeah, and I'm also working on another project. This one should be done like--next week, since I have a lot of free time, and I can upload it to verge-rpg and be done with it. It is something that I think is needed and something that everyone will like. Here's the best screenshot ever: