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Messages - merrak

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Return to Routine. A lot of us in the Carolinas are looking forward to getting a normal routine back. Fortunately, my town fared okay all things considered. Hurricane Matthew tore down most of the weaker trees, so this time around clean-up was quicker and power restored faster.

RPG Issues. I spent some time thinking about how to configure NPC enemies and maps. Up until now my main focus was on the engine, so I threw out some stats that worked and went with it. Now that I'm shifting to map and NPC design, I need to think carefully about how to balance the game.

I passed some time watching The Game Making Journey. Around video 8 or 9 he mentions using a spreadsheet to play out different scenarios in an RPG. That seemed like a good idea to me, so I threw this together in an afternoon:

Full Size: Link!

My spreadsheet lets me plug in some statistics relevant to player and NPC attack/defense and get a rough idea of the likelihood of negative outcomes. Obviously I can't model every variable--but this is a vast improvement over nothing.

The spreadsheet computes four difficulty ratings on a 0-10 scale. "Attack Count" is difficulty due to the number of rounds in a battle. "Health Risk" is difficulty roughly based on the probability of the player dying. "1x Exhaustion" is based on the chances the player will run out of movement points in battle, and "Group Exhaustion" is similar, but takes into account multiple NPCs in a room.

It's worth noting that "Attack Count" is not redundant, even though exhaustion is also based on the number of rounds of battle. The longer a battle lasts, the greater the odds that the player will make a mistake. The "patience" stat is a rough idea of how long the player can go before making an "oops".

This will help a lot when I get back to map design. I now will have a better idea of where to place enemies and what effect they'll have when the player is at a certain stage in the game.

Design Goals. One of my goals is to make combat "flatter". In a traditional RPG, the character level structure divides the game into distinct stages. For example, a level 50 character will have no use for a level 1 area, nor will a level 3 character stand a chance against a level 90 character. This would force me to create a linear game world.

"Towers of Vallas" shares a trait of the Megaman games--there are four "bosses" that can be defeated in any order. The player starts in a central area and finds their way to one of four towers. Each tower contains a couple of maps, capped with an end boss. Each boss also has a special weapon, skill, etc. that the player can obtain, which will make the next easier.

This is a tricky design to balance because I don't know what order the player will choose to complete the towers in. Like in Megaman, each boss has a weakness to the bonus awarded by defeating another boss. So in that sense there is an intended order. That's left for the player to discover.

Ask a Question / Re: Why ipa is heavier than apk?
« on: Today at 10:18:15 am »
Is it always like 40% on top for ipa?

I'm not sure, it's not something I have first-hand experience with. I just googled "ipa vs apk file size" out of curiosity. Looks like the answer is usually "yes"--or even more.

Ask a Question / Re: Why ipa is heavier than apk?
« on: Today at 08:44:52 am »
When I exported my game for Android I've noticed that apk was just 150Mb when for Apple devices my ipa is 250Mb. Where did 100Mb go?


Journals / Re: Merrak's Isometric Adventures -- Artificial Intelligence!
« on: September 13, 2018, 01:19:52 pm »
Hope you will be save"

I've done absolutely nothing on the game this week :P Everything at the university shut down so I would actually have some more free time, but I've been storm proofing the house as best I can. The usual problem is water: the highways around town pass through low areas so the town almost becomes an island if enough rain falls.

Just sit and wait, now. One thing I can do to be productive and also pass the time is balance the game. I've just been making guesses as to how to set things like NPC hitpoints, weapon damage, that sort of thing. I never really sat down and worked out just how all the numbers will work together.

I'm keeping the same mechanism for experience and leveling that I outlined once before. The key differences from the usual RPG fare:

-- The player does not have a level. The player can find books, and experience points are spent to acquire knowledge from the books. Since Towers of Vallas is a shorter game, there aren't that many books and there is no hierarchy. Idosra has a more complex setup. For example, most of the books in that game are written in other languages, which would need to be learned first.

-- Experience points are awarded for completing objectives. NPCs can be ground (grinded?) for some points, but most are rewarded for accomplishing certain tasks. The objective in Towers of Vallas is simple: loot gold. Some points are awarded for gaining access to certain areas, and then some points for finding gold... a lot of which is hidden in secret areas.

-- Character selection: You can play any character you want from the following list: Marika.

Actually, the engine is set up to allow for multiple players. I've entertained the idea of using SocketMUD and PHudBase to set up a real-time multiplayer game. How well that works would depend on how much I am able to optimize data transfer. I really don't see an MMORPG on the scale of hundreds or thousands of players working, but if the SocketMUD idea worked then I could see people setting up small-scale multiplayer sessions.

Critical position-based functions in the game use the row, column, level (RCL) coordinate system, not grid coordinates. It wouldn't be necessary for all players to know the exact positions and states of the others, so long as the sector position and RCL position are in sync.

Anyway--I'm rambling at this point and the wind's picking up so I think it's time to cut this update off and post while there's still power.

Ask a Question / Re: Id like to make a pacman game
« on: September 11, 2018, 09:42:28 pm »
is there a way of making the enemys go everywhere in stencyl

There are several ways to interpret that question. Are you trying to get actor movement working? Implement pathfinding or other AI?

Journals / Re: Merrak's Isometric Adventures -- Artificial Intelligence!
« on: September 09, 2018, 02:43:44 pm »

I think I'll need to make a couple more tweaks aside from what I mentioned... not much coding, just trying different things and seeing what looks best. In rooms that are already very bright there are no shadows. Each sector has a base lighting level ("sector ambient") and each light adds to this value. It's meant to simulate light that comes from all directions, like reflections off of walls, but the affect is too strong.

Ask a Question / Re: Many actors but is a RTS
« on: September 09, 2018, 02:18:36 pm »
100 doesn't seem like a lot. I routinely go into the hundreds and thousands and my actors are doing a lot more than what you described.

There are a lot of reasons you might be getting lag. The good news is there is almost always a solution. The bad news is you have to pinpoint the problem first. hxScout is a good tool for this purpose, but there's a bit of a learning curve to it.

Starcraft required a Pentium 90 MHz and 16MB of RAM. A lot of these kinds of speed issues have less to do with how fast the computer is and more to do with how well your code is optimized.

Journals / Re: Merrak's Isometric Adventures -- Artificial Intelligence!
« on: September 09, 2018, 11:12:40 am »
GIF Update!

Looking very, very nice.

Can you show us a GIF from the gameplay. I want to see the lighting in action please!?!?!

Here's one I recorded. It's a largish file, so I'm just going to leave a link to it rather than embed it in the post.

There are still a few rough edges to smooth out. The shadow is cast by a simple box. I do have a mechanism to cast a shadow of the figure itself (explored in "Goat Problem"), but because of the low resolution I think just a little bit of fuzz around the edges of the shadow will suffice.

Also, sometimes the shadows disappear entirely. This occurs if Marika or one of the other actors walks into the light source itself... in this case, the little lights on the walls are actually in the center of the tile they open up into. The map editor lets me set the row,column,level of a light. I just need to fine tune the position of the light so it is against the wall, but not in it.

Journals / Re: Merrak's Isometric Adventures -- Artificial Intelligence!
« on: September 08, 2018, 09:25:37 pm »
GBJam 6 Update. My "entry" for GBJam 6 is now back on track, and only 14 days late so far! I think I made the right decision. The renderer upgrades have been well worth the trouble. I've made several more complex rooms and haven't found any rendering errors so far.

I'm surprised how well the live/dynamic shadows run. Granted, the Game Boy resolution is only 160x144--but shadow casting time is a function of the number of walls and actors in the room, not the resolution of the screen.

Here are some screenshots.

Marika's shadows are clearer in the top and bottom image. When a room has a single dominant light source then the shadows are solid. Rooms with multiple light sources cast almost no shadows, so I think I'll still need to place a little dark spot under the actors like I originally planned. One other thing I definitely plan to do is make Marika, and the other actors, brighter and a bit bigger. They're too hard to see in their current state.

The middle image is a goof--the light source has the wrong coordinates set and placed the light inside the pit. I like how it makes the pit look more dramatic, but it also messes with the perceived geometry of the room. One of the practical purposes of the lights is to make the room's geometry clear to the player.

Some thoughts for the future. When I get back to Temple of Idosra, I'm wondering if I should revert back to the original full-color version. The primary reason I dropped my plans back to the 8-color version is that I didn't think the renderer would be up to the task. The software renderer has proven to be quite capable to handling my original vision. The full-color renderer is much better at producing the kind of atmosphere I wanted for that game. These are older renders from last year:

I can also make a couple of upgrades. Since the game knows where the different rooms are ("occupiable volumes"), I should be able to generate atmospheric effects like light rays shining in from the windows. I really haven't explored the idea much. I don't think it would look good in rooms that had a lot of windows, so it might not be worth it.

The biggest upgrade would be to take advantage of shaders--pass the shadow vectors into a shader and let it handle rendering. The software renderer is still the dominant consumer of CPU power... and unlike shadow casting, its demand is a function of screen resolution.

All of this can wait for now. I'm working on maps for GBJam 6 game, dubbed "Towers of Vallas". The current plan is 10 full size maps and 5 mini maps for bosses. I'm shooting for a game that can be completed in 1 - 3 hours... or maybe a bit more if the player wants to look for all the secret areas. I already added one.  :D

iPhone / iPad / Android / Re: Coin Push
« on: September 08, 2018, 03:25:19 pm »
Maybe you can get LGR's attention.

Chit-Chat / Re: Pixeltail Character Mechanics (Looking for Feedback)
« on: September 08, 2018, 03:23:28 pm »
I saw another IT person who installed some sort of firmware update that fixed everything! I’ll continue PT5 work now, and start on that PXT demo!

Good to know there's a solution.

Ask a Question / Re: How to solve collision issue?
« on: September 04, 2018, 06:44:18 pm »
What do you mean by using debugger?

Like GDB. Run the program with the debugger and when it crashes, read the backtrace. What I'd expect to see if we're both right is that some function gets called over and over, running in a loop that doesn't break.

Ask a Question / Re: Publishing to arcade doesn't work (Need help soon)
« on: September 04, 2018, 05:57:40 pm »
That shouldn't be too big. There's also and GameJolt

I saw the log you posted on Discord. This looks odd:

Code: [Select]
2018-09-03 12:43:35,702 ERROR [pool-3-thread-4] stencyl.sw.editors.snippet.designer.codebuilder.xml.XMLParser: Can't load definition: groups
2018-09-03 12:43:35,702 ERROR [pool-3-thread-1] stencyl.sw.editors.snippet.designer.codebuilder.xml.XMLParser: Can't load definition: groups
2018-09-03 12:43:35,703 ERROR [pool-3-thread-2] stencyl.sw.editors.snippet.designer.codebuilder.xml.XMLParser: Can't load definition: groups
2018-09-03 12:43:35,703 ERROR [pool-3-thread-1] stencyl.sw.editors.snippet.designer.codebuilder.CodeBuilder: Failed on snippet: scripts.SceneEvents_0. null

Might be something wrong with your installation... that's my best guess based on what I have to look at. I'm not sure about the port error. I use Linux so am not familiar with Windows related issues.

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