Merrak's Isometric Adventures -- Artificial Intelligence!

mdotedot

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Super glad that you are ok and that the hurricane didn't hit home so to speak!

Since I don't like the value/experience/based games that much I haven't much to say about balancing. I'm more of a puzzle / adventure kind of player and when bashing keys need to be done I'm not interested in that gameplay.
Having a running Spreadsheet with formulas to balance gameplay sounds like a bit overcomplicated thing to do, but again I'm not into designing these kinds of RPGs.

Finding secrets and other treasures is what I do like. Also the idea you had about sounds and the possible interference you could do with the golems was what I was interested in. I would love for games where you can turn on/off certain features so that people can play the game more suited to their needs. If the player doesn't want to fight have an option to turn fight-mode off.

I know that will do much about the balance of the game, but it will allow those people to go and find the route to the balcony :D

Hanging out in the Chat:  http://www.stencyl.com/chat/

Proud member of the League of Idiotic Stencylers! Doing things in Stencyl that probably shouldn't be done.

merrak

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...I'm more of a puzzle / adventure kind of player and when bashing keys need to be done I'm not interested in that gameplay.
Having a running Spreadsheet with formulas to balance gameplay sounds like a bit overcomplicated thing to do, but again I'm not into designing these kinds of RPGs.

I tend to fall somewhere in between. I've mentioned a few times that the Vallas Engine games take a lot of inspiration from a MUD server I used to run ~15 years ago. The MUD was based off of a system called "ACK!MUD", which was heavily hack-and-slash. I found that gameplay very repetitive, albeit enjoyable in shorter bursts and mixed in with other challenges. So that's what I had set out to do back then.

For "Towers of Vallas" I'm sticking to the Game Boy as much as possible: resolution, sound, and controls. Between the limited controls and resolution, I'm probably going to end up with a game that is a lot more hack-and-slash than I'd prefer... but I'm also not intending it to be very long.

I'm viewing "Towers of Vallas" as part exercise/part "real game". It's a bit of a tangent project... but it's simpler and will allow me to test a lot of engine fundamentals before stepping up to more complex features. When I get back to Idosra and its golems, there will be more opportunity for the gameplay I'd really like to have.

mdotedot

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Wow!
That will be indeed a good test of the engine.
I was a bit confused with all the different things you did in this 29 page journal :D
And then I just revisited your first post and noticed you edited it!! That made sense. I should have read that earlier.

So you have temple of Idosra where the Thief of Vallas (Marika) is locked in a temple. (http://www.stencyl.com/game/play/35396)
The latest AI gameplay videos are kind of the latest state of things?

And then you have Towers of Vallas which is the GameBoy version for which I couldn't find a playable version. But you posted that awesome gif:
http://anorthogonaluniverse.com/misc/vallas/2018-09-09-01.gif

Are you switching development between those two projects or do you change the engine with both projects in mind and test the changes on both of them?!


Hanging out in the Chat:  http://www.stencyl.com/chat/

Proud member of the League of Idiotic Stencylers! Doing things in Stencyl that probably shouldn't be done.

merrak

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...And then I just revisited your first post and noticed you edited it!! That made sense. I should have read that earlier.

It's probably out of date again :D I've gone back and forth so many times. Part of that is bad planning, but also part is due to unexpected surprises. In a lot of ways the engine is more capable than I thought it would be.

"Temple of Idosra" is the main title. "Towers of Vallas" is a prequel of sorts. I do have a rough story arc in mind, but it's not terribly important. The enemies in Towers are just guards. Nothing special about them. Their AI is even limited. I use simpler AI so that I have more control over the difficulty of the game. In my mind, Towers is an exercise in level design... something I need to learn more about.

Both games use the same engine--even the same renderer. The engine offers two renderers: a blending renderer (this is the one that made the red/green columns) and a dithering renderer. Both of these games use dithering.

The only real difference I've run into so far is that Towers, with its Game Boy resolution, is more prone to numerical errors. The engine is very customizable through XML files. In fact, although both of these games are separate Stencyl projects, I could bundle them together and even mix "Game Boy" levels with "Idosra" levels. That feature is a holdover from when the map parameters were defined from the Stencyl scene that initialized the map. Before I used XML data to configure a map, I used a scene behavior and the scene gravity, tilesize properties, etc.

merrak

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November Update! A couple weeks ago I set a goal of working toward a playable demo of "Towers of Vallas". I don't think I have much exciting to show in Alpha Release 1, but it's a good milestone. The last playable anything I made with the Vallas Engine was the original "Temple of Idosra".

My to-do list is quickly dwindling. I'm still chasing the occasional odd bug in the shadow and rendering code. One of the worst offenders was in the light copy code. When I'm constructing a sector, each wall gets its own copy of each light. Each copy then has a list of the shadows that are cast against it. Somehow I had set it so that each copy of the light also copied all of the shadows casted against each other copy. The result was an exponential growth in shadows that wasn't apparent unless I had a room with lots of lights (like rooms with a lot of window panes).

So that was a dumb bug  :P Rooms with lots of windows now work a lot better--but I also went ahead and changed it so that each group of window panes counted as a single light, rather than every single pane.

I also fixed the way the physics of light is implemented. I had an error in the formula used to compute light intensity as a function of distance. The result produces a bit more dramatic lighting, which I'm happy with.


I made a variety of changes to the player avatar. I'll probably end up taking out the sprite shadows. It's a neat proof of concept, but the game resolution and number of light levels is just too small to put it to real use. Each pixel can have only one of nine light levels. So I don't get a smooth transition in the sprite shadows--and the low resolution makes them look too chunky. It's hard enough to see the sprites as it is.

Speaking of which, I did finally add code that adds a spot shadow under the feet of NPCs and the player.


Unlike the "Isometric Crash Course" demo that's on the very top of the first post, the spot shadow is a properly drawn shadow--not a separate actor. So the spot shadow correctly follows the slopes of stairs and doesn't "hang over" cliffs when the player is halfway off of a ledge.

I haven't gotten to the NPCs yet, but Marika herself is now higher contrast.


This helps her stand out more than any of the other changes. For the attacking image I added a swipe effect so that it's clearer where her attacks will connect. Melee combat is a bit tricky because the collision boxes for actors are right cylinders. This means when you walk into an NPC to get close enough to attack, you're more likely to slide around it.

I haven't figured out a good solution to that problem yet. Marika can't move while the attack animations are playing, but there's still too narrow of a window between walking and pressing attack. Attack too soon and Marika will be too far away. Attack too late and she'll slide past her opponent.

If the actors were bigger, I don't think it'd be as much of a problem. A tile is only 8x8 grid units, so there isn't much grid resolution to work with.

The last thing I added was a ranking system. My old MUD server that this game draws some inspiration from had the same kind of system that rewarded players with higher EXP points for completing special tasks within an area.


The usual A, B, C, D ranks are there, awarded for recovering various amounts of gold from the towers. There's also an S rank which requires the player find the secret area. If the player retrieves all of the gold, obtains the maximum player character level by finding (and reading) all the books, and doesn't die, a P rank is awarded.

I'm not completely settled on the names, but the final ranks will be something like these.

Code: [Select]
Rogue Rating  Rank Name / Pts

D  Daring Damsel            0
C  Dauntless Desperado    240
B  Robust Raider          440
A  Predominant Prowler    600
S  Cunning Corsair        720
P  Mighty Marauder        800 (Perfect)

I don't really like "Daring Damsel", but that's the D rank, so maybe I leave it for some incentive to do better :P