Author Topic: Content queries & Suggestions  (Read 30251 times)

Satyr

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #45 on: February 20, 2007, 05:22:59 PM »
What's with all the religion? What do saints do? Are they even implemented yet? How do you increase x skill, like virtue or whatever that aren't combat orientated? When you go to the in and pick learn/practise x skill it doesn't work, same with trading.
Interesting concept though.

Offline Hellequin

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #46 on: February 20, 2007, 05:52:09 PM »
Some answers for you:

1) There are few things that were more pervasive in the period in question than religion.  So if you're seeing a lot of it, that's why.  You're welcome to play hard-bitten atheists, you'll just be cut off from a few possible approaches to things.  (However, you'll also free up your attention to put into other skills and so forth, so depending on your playstyle it's no great loss.)  The occasional bit of dialogue will also be out of place; everyone in this era makes a de facto assumption that everyone who isn't a witch, savage, or Jew is Christian, and all interactions in this world assume that as a baseline.

2) Absolutely.  Saints are implemented and have been for a while.  All saint's blessings which are a bonus to a skill, proficiency, or attribute are implemented, as well as a number of the other ones such as resistance to fire, party travel speed, blessed weapons and armour, and so forth.  Experiment with them and find out.  They can be a really substantial boost to your performance...

3) When you go to the inn and elect to train a skill, you'll note the (X) mark beside it, indicating that this feature has not been coded yet.  What will happen is that various townsfolk can be paid to agree to train you for a price, and then (once it's all coded) that action will activate and there will be a chance, based on the townsperson's skill and your own, that your skill will go up one or more points.

The exception is Virtue, which can only be raised through good deeds, and Endurance & Perception, which are actually attributes in Darklands.

Currently the only skills you will see improve in play are proficiencies, Power Strike/Throw/Draw, Athletics, Ride, Shield, First Aid (based on how badly wounded your team gets), and Virtue (certain actions, and if you use blunt weapons there's a fairly small chance that your decision to pummel rather than slay will get you brownie points with God).

I am considering, but haven't yet decided to, implement a small chance of skill improvement each time you make a skill roll behind the scenes (in menus, etc).  However, this is part of revisiting my core dice-rolling code, which I want to do but which will be a slow and careful grind, so I'm going to wait on that for now.

4) Working an honest job while staying at the inn is, like training, marked (X) to show you that it hasn't been coded yet.  Please remember that this is 0.1 release.  One of the things I need an unskilled volunteer for is for someone to map out the "what skill gets you what profession gets you how much money" patterns in the original game.  A call for volunteers on this will be going up in the next couple of days; if interested, PM me.

Hope those help you enjoy the parts of the mod that are active now...

Satyr

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #47 on: February 21, 2007, 06:25:24 AM »
Thanks for that. Great help. Awesome mod as well with it's innovative style.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #48 on: February 22, 2007, 06:59:13 AM »
Had a thought...

I know, I shouldn't have thoughts.  When I have thoughts, insurance companies go bankrupt.

Seriously...

The part about potential virtue gain from using non-lethal weapons is anachronistic.  Church law at the time required sentences of death for most everything - heretics, witches, missing three weeks of Mass in a row ....  Civil law usually either had perpetrators executed, exiled, or in the case of more minor offenses, enslaved or conscripted into armies.  (Half of the Spanish expeditions into the Americas, beginning this period, were crews drafted from debtors prisons.)

There was NO social or moral stigma about the use of deadly force, as such.  Use of force against innocents was forbidden, but use of deadly force itself was actually encouraged in many cases.  Defeating a robber or a heretic and NOT killing him could actually get you into trouble with the Church - aiding a fugitive, as it were.

The more I thought about that, the more I realized that it detracts from the feel.  Much of the strength of the original DL was little elements of culture like that, and it would be a shame to let it go.

Make it so that prisoners can be turned over to local lords/city governments, to be used as servants or conscripted labor/soldiers, or in the case of heretic types, the church for trial by the Inquisition.  Don't just assume that non-lethal force was considered admirable.  Nice idea ... wrong century.


Offline Hellequin

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #49 on: February 22, 2007, 10:43:16 AM »
Hmm.  I'm not sure.  Some of that suggestion just can't be done - there is no prisoner-taking in Schattenlander, so the question of what you do with them is moot.

The law was harsh, both civil and religious.  But you're not the law, and murder (even of non-innocents) was still prosecutable and frowned upon even in that day, at least under some circumstances.  I may rephrase it, but I still want to (a) reward mercy, and (b) attach a small benefit (and trust me, it's small, above 20 Virtue or so out of 100 the odds are quite against it going up) to counterbalance the generally weaker game stats of those weapons.

I may have that kick in only after some kind of scripted event, an exhortation by a clergyman or something.  Or only in connection with a particular companion being in your party, perhaps.  But the effect is desirable regardless of your read on the cultural connotations; they simply imply that it wants more specific context.

Offline Fisheye

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #50 on: February 22, 2007, 11:10:30 AM »
I agree with Ron... from a gameplay perspective. Virtue is really useful stuff, more useful even than reputation since it's persistent. If using blunt weapons gained virtue I'd be stalking the alleys with my blackjack 24/7 looking for easy prey to bludgeon. I don't feel that kind of action is particularly "virtuous".

What you really want is a balance to the ineffectiveness of non-lethal weapons. So ask, why did these weapons exist? Because a lot of the time taking someone alive was absolutely critical to the success of the mission. Nothing to do with virtue. What you need is some interesting missions. A lord wants you to send a "message" to his rival to back off - break into his house and leave a note, but you don't get paid if any of his guards die because that causes escalation. Rescue the guild leader's brainwashed daughter from the satanists but if you kill her then you're wanted for murder. That kind of stuff. And dont forget good old slavery as an excuse for taking people alive.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2007, 11:17:52 AM by Fisheye »

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #51 on: February 22, 2007, 11:18:13 AM »
The elimination of "taking prisoners" seems to be removing a useful trait.  Handing over muggers to the city guard seems an excellent way to improve local rep, and maybe even virtue.  Turning in prisoners would probably be viewed better than just killing them, if for no other reason, just so the city could make examples out of them.  Of course, it would have to be the right prisoners - thieves to the city, heretics to the church, captured city guards are not worth anything.

The killing of certain things/people should certainly be bad for virtue/rep/whatever.  The use of non-lethal weapons in these situations could be a way to avoid (or at least reduce) the penalty.  That could be useful.

Actually, the original book with "Darklands" had some material on public opinion and violence at the time, complete with some excellent sources back in the bibliography ... but alas, I can't remember all of them (even though I read a couple of the books in their bibliography, just because the game used them), because that was back in the Dark Ages when DL first came out.  Anyway, I didn't just pull that data out of my head - some big-name historians have noted the same thing.

The thing that should improve virtue would be the rescue - every time you join a battle between robbers and peasants, there should be a chance to improve virtue for coming to rescue them.

But just letting wounded enemies go, especially if those enemies were heretics or criminals, would probably not be viewed positively.

Offline Hellequin

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #52 on: February 22, 2007, 12:06:57 PM »
There's no way I'm putting the capture of prisoners, in the M&B sense, back into Schattenlander.  It's a form of micromanagement that I find particularly repugnant, both from a historical perspective, a practical perspective (with a team this small, just one determined captive is more than enough to give you a serious headache), a gameplay perspective, and an aesthetic perspective.  When a particular quest calls for it, sure, and in that case I've got the M&B infrastructure for it all ready and set to go, but it simply isn't ever going to be a routine component of the battlefield, period.  I'd far rather write in the act of turning them over to the guard, or ransoming the knight, or whatever, into the result descriptions; it's not an act which warrants further attention than that.

And incidentally, I reiterate - this effect will really only carry you up from a Virtue of zero (unusual) to maybe twenty, tops, before you get to the point where you can spend all day every day on blackjacking thieves and get maybe another point after a month.  A Virtue of 20 will satisfy only 18 of the 125 saints.  So Fisheye's concern is one I've already thought about; it just doesn't hold water.

Ron's suggestion that they be a good way to avoid killing certain people is solid; I can certainly work with that, as part of it, although a detail of the M&B engine requires that they be standard troops and not companions, otherwise I can't tell whether they were bludgeoned or slashed.  And of course rescue is virtuous as well as reputation-worthy, and I like Fisheye's quest suggestions - those are both cool in their own right.

Anyway, I'll keep those comments in mind, but I think for now I'll probably leave the effect in, small as it is.  I will go reread the manual bits on that, though; that's a good thought regardless, just in an effort to keep putting the little historical touches in.  And that may convince me, if it's as one-sided as Ron recalls; I don't remember it being that way, myself, but as he said it's been a long time.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #53 on: February 22, 2007, 09:02:05 PM »
Two other "features" - one from DL and one from M&B.

Darklands allowed you to create your companions.  If you got one killed, you could replace him.  The team would only go up to 4 plus a visitor (my next point), but the logic was that you could always find more people.  The ability to custom-build your team was part of the versatility of the game - you could weight your team toward your particular play style.

(Speaking of getting companions killed, TLD has a system of long-term wounds ... it's simple and arbitrary, but it's a start.)

Then there's the M&B feature of variable team size - with all of its code for map travel time, food usage, salary for hired troops, etc.  That's something DL could only dream of - computers at the time could barely handle 4.  It would be a shame to nerf M&B's greatest addition to the RPG.

DL also allowed collective cash flow.  The problem with more people was that you had to equip them, pay for their lodging, heal them, whatever... That would tie back into the last comment about more NPC's - you still have to feed them.

Just some things to think about.

Offline Hellequin

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #54 on: February 22, 2007, 09:41:43 PM »
Collective cash flow is already in Schattenlander.  All of the party's cash is always stored with the player, to spend in stores and so forth; there's never any need, and in fact never any opportunity, for your companions to carry their own cash.  Part of why your party members are always present in shops is so that you can buy stuff, hand it off to them and/or pick up loot they're carrying, and turn back to the shopkeeper directly. This was the best I could do in terms of replicating DL's anyone-can-shop mechanics, and IMO it works pretty well.

Part of why Darklands worked was that your party was too small, and too constrained, to allow you to cover all your bases.  I've considered increasing the party size, perhaps to one per five points of Charisma or something (thus absolute max 6) plus possibly a hireling/visitor (and possibly, in the most generous variant, your sibling would not cost the five Charisma)... but I'm very leery of losing that balance of constraint.  [And, not a trivial issue, increasing party size past 5 will require a huge amount of hunting through my code, probably cost me a week, a week that could be better spent on more important features.]  Trust me on this one - constraining the decision space, rather than increasing it, is one of the most important things a game design can do.  I say this through my Origins-award-winner's hat, and say it thrice for emphasis.

Food usage and salary frankly don't excite me; they're micromanagement details which add to realism but detract from focus, and I have no particular desire to emulate them in Schattenlander (any more than I have to).  If they come up, they'll come up as specific plot points - starvation during a siege; a particular companion who, unlike the others, actually demands a salary or other direct recompense.  (I've been considering this - see the first bullet point below for an example.)

The high costof having to equip multiple people is in there now; the item degradation through use which is present in 0.1d means that you'll spend a larger proportion of a finite cash flow on keeping everyone's gear fresh, if you have a larger party.  Lodgings, etc., will scale by party size once I bother to code it as such.  I'm also considering having each companion's unique disadvantage (everyone except your sibling will have one) scale up per party size; people get more fractious the bigger your group is.  This last is the only thing that might induce me to go to a variable party size with a max over 4+1.

All of which addresses all of your points but one.

------------------------------------------

Creating your companions.  This is a sticky point.  You can create the stats, but you cannot create the face, nor can you change the name.  The mechanics just don't exist, they're hardcoded.  This is what led to the logic of the system I've implemented right now... more along the lines of the Final Fantasy series of games, each companion has a sketched-out backstory and a fixed face (and, in this case, name), by necessity.  Eventually I do want to have enough of them around that losing a companion is, indeed, not the end of the world... but I'm also sufficiently perfectionist that I want an interesting persona for each and every single one, and interesting methods of getting them into your party.

And, because I believe in TANSTAAFL and because it's fun, each one will also have a unique disadvantage.  These are unusual people, willing to take to the road with no security or guarantees, possibly on knowing you only a short time; they've got unusual flaws and issues.  I'm not going to go into detail on the ones I've got planned for sure (even Franz's is not yet fully coded), because it's far more interesting to discover them in game.  But two examples I've brought up recently, one thought up while writing this post and one over on Taleworlds, can give you a taste of what I mean:
  • A fellow whose joie de vivre is such that he can't stay focused on learning/working/praying the same way everyone else can; where, for the others, drinking and making merry drops below the game's resolution and happens in tandem with other actions, for him they are sometimes (roughly once a week) a way to spend the entire day - so he automatically selects "Spend (random largish amount of money) on beer and women" every once in a while for his day's occupation.
  • A companion (probably with a background inclining him toward something in the general range of oblate/friar/soldier/knight) who has such vast girth that he can wear only certain suits of clothes or armour (which have been meshed fat just for him specially) - the ones he brings with him, and certain custom suits of high-quality armour.  Normally purchased clothes are just not big enough.

I like this approach better than the Darklands method.  It's just going to require more content on my part, making sure there are enough there to adequately support any style of play. But that's okay.  As the core mechanics come closer to completion, I have more and more room to start working on this sort of thing instead.  I think you'll like the end results a lot.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #55 on: February 22, 2007, 10:28:56 PM »
Make the big guy a friar ... a thinly veiled literary allusion to a certain Friar Tuck of the Robin Hood legend.  What would games like this be like, without cheezy stereotypes?

Seriously, it should be possible to do both ... create a list of bizarre personality traits/disorders, and randomly attach them to generated characters.  Creates a back-story without having to hunt all over creation for your team - reduces that "find the widget" feeling.  Maybe randomly generate the characters and stick them into taverns, refreshing them with new characters every few days, whenever you enter the city.  DL was great because it was very hard to see the scripting - a list of where to pick up your party members is too obvious.

I would not think that slightly larger teams detract.  Sure, the 5000 strong armies in Holy War turn it into a very different game.  However, many DL fans greatly lamented the loss of tactical options caused by a team of 4.  It was impossible to have stronger and weaker characters - one weak character would cost you the game.  Everyone had to be front-line fighter, and any other skills they had were relegated to secondary, or you just couldn't get ahead.  If there were even 6 to 10, you could afford to protect one or two.  (Kurosawa thought you should defend a village with seven samurai - that created a good mix of personalities and skills for a movie.  Tolkien used nine for the fellowship of the ring.)  Four was just too darned restrictive - it struck you as painfully arbitrary.  At least it did me (and I loved DL - I was one of its biggest fans).


Offline Hellequin

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #56 on: February 22, 2007, 10:37:28 PM »
I only ever had two front-line fighters, personally.  The others just had to be able to hold their own in a pinch, and support with missile fire / prayers / potions.  Or simply be able to run away a lot, distracting some enemies while the others killed their own men and then met up with the weaker members.  As such I found it added, not removed, tactical flexibility.  But I'll keep your comments in mind nonetheless.

Taverns? Taverns?  Ack!  That's all I have to say about that suggestion.  Try not to think of it as hunting all over creation; try to think of it as going at it alone, initially, just you and your brother/sister, and gradually running across others who will join you.

And if you think that one can detach the idiosyncrasies from the face and the name, you must be thinking of a different style of idiosyncrasies than I am, or less picky about faces and names.

Offline Fisheye

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #57 on: February 22, 2007, 10:52:08 PM »
The magic number of 4 is crucial in this mod. It's not arbitrary. It's exactly the number of roles that Darklands required. Speaker, Artificer/Sneaker, Priest, Alchemist. No more, no less. Also all 4 are fighters.

Scion's Mercenary mod is exploring the use of large numbers of NPC heroes - it will have a very different dynamic and much less characterisation. Gain some, lose some.


Offline Ron Losey

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #58 on: February 22, 2007, 11:07:45 PM »
The magic number of 4 is crucial in this mod. It's not arbitrary. It's exactly the number of roles that Darklands required. Speaker, Artificer/Sneaker, Priest, Alchemist. No more, no less. Also all 4 are fighters.

Scion's Mercenary mod is exploring the use of large numbers of NPC heroes - it will have a very different dynamic and much less characterisation. Gain some, lose some.



I need to get with him about how that turns out - I was thinking of exploring that possibility, using ONR as a test bed.

I still say a little more flexibility in group size would add options... and DL was all about being freelance, and keeping lots of options available.

Offline Hellequin

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Re: Content queries & Suggestions
« Reply #59 on: February 23, 2007, 10:53:27 AM »
It's so interesting to see people discuss their "builds" for a team in Darklands.  For instance, I didn't find artificer/sneaker particularly vital or useful, so my 'typical' build replaced that slot with "thug/woodsman" instead.  I've also gone through it for a while with two priests and no alchemist, and it worked remarkably well.

Fisheye, what would you think of replacing the "Exactly 4" with a variable number close to the same range?  Maybe even "you, your sibling, and one more, +1 per 10pts of Charisma" or something?  (I'd probably not use quite that math, since I'd also like the NPCs' Charisma to work into it as well, but something along those lines.)