Planet Roguelike-Dev

February 22, 2017

The Ground Gives Way

Speed

The Speed Attribute

There are currently 20(!) different speeds in TGGW (i.e., the speed attribute can range between 1-20 for you and monsters). speed determines how many turns you have to wait before acting. Turns are divided into 20-turn segments, and within a 20-turn segment a character may act speed times evenly distributed over the interval. A character with speed 1 may act only once during this interval whereas a character at speed 20 may act all 20 turns.

Having 20 different speeds is really not necessary. Having one character act 20 times more often then another is a ridiculous extreme case that could theoretically happen (you could have been repeatedly slowed and meet a wasp which you hit with a speed-coated sword). I originally envisioned having all attributes ranging between 1-20 for clarity but this is something that I’m moving away from now.

What really matters is if you are faster or slower than a monster (can you run from it/chase it or not?). How much faster or slower rarely makes much of a difference unless the difference is really huge or really small. In addition, items that alter speed are very rare and your speed attribute is rarely changing more than by 1-2 points during a game anyway. In other words: having 20 different speeds does really not contribute to the game.

Scaling Down

I have reduced the number of possible speeds from 20 to 5. A segment is now instead 5-turns. In all other respects, speed works just like before. Five speeds is much more reasonable and still allows for great variety. A speed 5 character may act 5 times as often as a speed 1 character which is an amazing advantage without being too crazy.

Normal speed was previously 5 (1/4 of max 20).  Normal speed will now instead be 3 (3/5 of max 5). You and most monsters start with a speed of 3.

Speed as a Status Effect

With only five speeds, speed is no longer justified as an attribute. Instead it is now a status effect, and the five speeds can be categorized as follows:

You have been slowed and it shows

You have been slowed and it shows

  • Very slow (speed 1)
  • slow (speed 2)
  • normal (speed 3)
  • fast (speed 4)
  • very fast (speed 5)

You will start with normal speed (3) and so will most monsters. Normal speed does not count as a status effect but part of your normal baseline character. A character’s or monster’s speed is only announced if it differs from baseline speed of 3.

The rationale for removing the speed attribute and replacing it with a status effect is the following:

  • It makes room for other attributes.
  • Speed rarely changes and rarely by much.
  • Having only 5 values makes it less important as an attribute.
  • Status effects alerts you more, and highlights its importance instead of showing it as a number that you just glance over.
  • The speed mechanic is somewhat hard to understand and explain (turn segments etc). However, the exact mechanic is not important to understand, which means that the number benefits of being abstracted into a descriptive name.
  • It reduces information overflow a bit since it is not displayed under normal circumstances.

Balancing

Monsters and items had to be rebalanced for this change. One consequence is that speed items are now even rarer. This is because an increase in speed is now even more valuable than before. Being two categories faster than the original means being at least as fast as any monster in the game. You can no longer train speed and several items got their bonus speed removed. I hope this makes speed more fun to find.

Dogs are fast

Dogs are fast

Another interesting consequence is that you will have fewer inactive turns. Walking on water/lava will not trigger it four times at normal speed, but only once or twice. Poison and disease effects as well as confusion stumbling will also trigger more rarely (because you spend less turns in general). .

Speed Algebra

There is one negative consequence that I’m not fond of for this change that is the result of removing speed as a number. This results in kind of a “speed algebra”. For example if a monster is “fast” and is temporary slowed, it will have “prm fast” och “tmp slow”. It is then implied that fast + slow = normal speed. If you have equipped a speed item and quaff a speed potion you will be “eqp fast” and “tmp fast” and it is then understood that fast + fast = very fast. However, it is not a huge problem and I think most will understand this intuitively.

 

Disclaimer:

With the simplification in combat and abstraction and reduction of speed some may think that I’m going in a reductionist kind of direction in development where I am simplifying or dumbing down. It is quite the opposite: I aim to make TGGW a more complex, rich and deep game in every way by adding more features and interaction between mechanics. Simplifying and clarifying the core mechanics makes room for this. My goal is to make the game complex and deep while still being very easy to understand and get into, and I actually don’t think those two necessarily are in direct conflict.

The post Speed appeared first on The Ground Gives Way.

by BtS at February 22, 2017 01:31 PM

February 20, 2017

ULTIMA RATIO REGUM

Paper, Laws, Political Parties, List Questions

This week (well, fortnight) we have some laws, some new list questions, some political parties, overall a reasonably large entry to make up for silence last week, and a paper, so let’s get to it:

Semiotics of Roguelikes

Firstly and briefly, the paper I wrote a couple of years ago now on the semiotics of various ASCII roguelike games has moved from being published online to being published with in actual edition/volume of Games and Culture. To mark this momentous event, I’ve uploaded a pre-submission version of the paper onto my academia.edu account, so if you’re interested in reading the paper – the abstract is below here – then click here and give it a read, and do let me know what you think.

This article explores the semiotics of the “roguelike” genre. Most roguelikes reject contemporary advances in graphical technology and instead present their worlds, items, and creatures as American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) characters. This article first considers why this unusual graphical style has endured over time and argues that it is an aesthetic construction of nostalgia that positions roguelikes within a clear history of gameplay philosophies that challenge the prevailing contemporary assumptions of role-playing games. It second notes that the semantic code for understanding the ASCII characters in each and every roguelike is different and explores the construction of these codes, how players decode them, and the potential difficulties in such decodings. The article then combines these to explore how such visuals represent potential new ground in the study of game semiotics.

Violence Laws

The game now generates a full set of laws for violence in each nation. These are not done in quite the same way as the other two sets of laws. Whereas “religion” and “trade” have a set number of values and each value always create a law in every nation, not all nations will even have some of the violence laws. It depends on the ideologies of the nation in question, and what they consider to be a meaningful violent event, and how severe they think it is. The game selects a set of laws, ranks them, and then distributes punishments according to the ranking of the crime, not the crime itself. Here is the sequence by which the game selects laws for violent acts, where the ones that a nation cares about the most come first, and the less important ones come later. As a result, you’ll see some very different values at play here, and what counts as a severe punishment in one nation will be far less severe in another, because it will be much further down the crime list, as a result of the nation being more concerned by other things:

If I’ve calculated this correctly, this means the shortest set of violence laws is five, and the longest possible set is thirteen, with most nations naturally falling somewhere in the middle. In each case the top crimes merit a “Punishment 5”, which is the highest level of punishment – such as three arena battles to the death, or a lengthy imprisonment, or a severely damaging physical ordeal – and the bottom will merit a “Punishment 1”, and the others in the middle will be distributed appropriately. I’m confident this will again generate an interesting and unique set of consequences for your actions in each nation, and when coupled with the wide variation in punishments, and the kinds of punishments that your character might or might not be able to withstand depending on your build, items, etc… I think some very interested decisions will emerge from this process.

More List Questions

Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Children

NPCs are now able to talk about their parents, siblings, grandparents and children, in a pretty wide range of ways. For instance, if you ask about parents, they might simply answer that their parents are nobody important (if they feel you’re disinterested, or of a much higher social status), or might name only one, or both; alternatively, if their parents are consequential people recorded by the game, or they are important, then they’ll probably have some more info they’ll (proudly) be willing to give out. For the longer lists, the game also takes account of the sex of the people being mentioned, so they might say “My two brothers are X and Y and my sister is Z”, or “My maternal grandparents are X and Y, my paternal grandparents are A and B”, which will also vary based on any particular bias towards either sex present in that nation; for extremely long lists, lastly, such as children or siblings, they can now reel off a full list that is always grammatically correct. These lists also include titles, too, so you might get “My mother was Queen X the 1st, Keeper of the Brass Casket, and my father was Prince Y, Consort to Her Majesty” – or whatever.

Trade, Violence, Religion Laws

We covered these briefly in a previous entry, but NPCs are now able to tell the player about everything in these categories. Some of these require different lines of code, as in the case of trade and religion laws there is a finite set of “things” that each nation will have laws on, whereas for violence, some potential violent acts simply won’t be recognised or won’t be relevant to particular nations, and therefore won’t be there. Either way, people now give you a nicely detailed list of these laws; and as with everything, how much people tell you will be modified by mood, and their knowledge of their own nation…

Nearby Things

I’ve started to implement the code for NPCs replying to questions of the sort “are there any X nearby”, where X might be cities, towns, nomads, tribal nations, mountains, coastline… you get the idea. There’s a pretty wide number, and some of them have to request information from different parts of the game’s databases, but this code is now being put into place. There are also now appropriate sentence structures here for people to word things appropriately; for instance, if there are individual things, such as towns, you’ll just get a list. By contrast, mountains do not take up individual map tiles but stretch across mountain ranges, so someone might say “There are mountains far and very far to the northwest, far to the north, and somewhat far to the northeast”, which should give the player a decent impression of what the mountain range looks like. (The same then applies to deserts and coasts and so on).

Political Parties

Returned to political parties and developed names for the parties, which will soon be matched up delegates, and we should be able to get some kind of political system actually working. The game first selects a number of parties for each nation, which is semi-random and partly influenced by several ideological factors (outside of their commitment to a democratic form of government), and then (as we discussed before) ranks the various overall trends in the nation, such as individualism or collectivism, nationalism or globalism, and so forth. It then creates parties for the dominant trends, and sometimes with a secondary ideology from lower down in that chart, and now it finally creates names. As such, we can now find NPCs who might be willing to tell you about parties such as:

The Liberal Sovereignty Party
The Party of Enlightenment
The Conservative National Party
The Devout Singular League
The One Reformist Party
The Association of Independent Selfhood

And so on and so forth. As with most things in URR, you should be able to extrapolate some reasonable guesses about the commitments of these parties from their names. In a later version I’ll connect these to delegates, and get the political system in democratic nations working properly.

Next Week

As you’ll have noticed, we’ve slipped back to a fortnightly update this time – although I’m generally back to a post every weekend, this last week has again just been absolutely jam-packed, and I had to push things back. However, hopefully, updates will resume the weekend model from next weekend moving forwards, and I promise lots of screenshots next week. I must apologise for this, but leaping back into the weekly blog posting has been quite a bit new pressure on my time, and although I thought I could go from sparse blog posts to every week: it hasn’t been quite that easy. Things are ramping back up, but maybe just a little more unevenly than I’d hoped. I am also working on finishing my first book at the moment, which is of course taking up a lot of my time, as well as planning how best to get around the world and take up three visiting positions in three countries in the coming months, so there’s a lot of admin in my brain at the moment. I’m desperately hoping to get 0.8 before April, as otherwise that’ll be a ridiculous two years between release… and that’s just too damned long, however much detail I’m putting in to this major version. Nevertheless, normality should resume again next week, with hopefully an even more significant URRpdate. See you all then!

by Ultima Ratio Regum at February 20, 2017 11:07 PM

February 16, 2017

Grid Sage Games

Adjustable Difficulty

Roguelikes are notoriously difficult. In this way they’re really no different from games of old, across numerous genres, which many players were far from guaranteed of completing. It’s only today that roguelikes have become more uniquely associated with difficulty because the market around them has changed so much!

There will always be an additional layer of inherent challenge to a game with content that changes from play to play, but while traditional roguelikes and their players continue to embrace that challenge, the wider games market has shifted along with player expectations. In short, as gaming has exploded to include a much larger group of consumers, consumers with different needs and capabilities, developers have sought to take those circumstances into account. (There is even a portion of players that believe they deserve access to every part of a game, as content they paid for!) Therefore these days it’s common practice for games to include multiple difficulty levels, with pressure to embrace such options as just another form of accessibility. This is especially true with respect to commercial games, which are reliant on sales to survive--more accessible games simply means more sales!

Being free, and niche, roguelikes have always been somewhat insulated from this trend--very few offer difficulty settings, not to mention the nature of their design and common mechanics (e.g. permadeath) make following that trend somewhat less meaningful. In some ways the point of a roguelike is to offer as many challenges as possible, and as long as it is theoretically possible to overcome those challenges then no one’s to complain, right?

That said, it’s probably not a coincidence that two widely popular roguelikes also offer multiple difficulties.

Tales of Maj’Eyal has five separate difficulty settings, one below normal and three above. From the creator, DarkGod:

“Difficulties were first added like six years ago or so. As for why, well first because I can! I made the engine robust enough that I can do them very easily. And most importantly because not all players have the same skill. I for once barely manage to win on normal with my preferred class while others find normal to be braindead. My goal has always been to give fun to as many people as possible and that follows along. Also to note that my difficulty levels are not simple number bumps (there are those too obviously), each level introduces new harder mechanics (like random bosses, being constantly hunted, …). To be fair I do not understand why devs do NOT put difficulty levels in their games heh ;)”

DoomRL also has five separate settings, distributed in the same way. From the creator, Kornel Kisielewicz:

“It raises the replayability of the game, allowing you to go more difficult once you feel that the game is getting to easy. Initially it was added just as a tribute to Doom, but it turned out to be a great feature, so I gave it a lot more thought later on.”

Interestingly, both developers emphasize settings as a way to increase the challenge level, an approach also reflected by the available options, wherein the default is towards the lower end of the scale.

ADOM also added more gameplay settings in recent years, some of which have an effect on difficulty.

Whether or not to implement difficulty levels, and the best approach to take, comes down to a question of who we’re balancing the game for, and what do we hope those players can experience? As a hardcore fan of roguelikes, I’ve always enjoyed that winning is not inevitable for everyone, even given years of play and practice. The thrill and excitement at each new degree of personal achievement has always felt like an integral part of the roguelike experience, and if “content” is attainable without a high level of skill then that experience is watered down.

Outside the roguelike realm I’ve noticed a trend of games stating up front that they are very challenging and aimed at the hardcore audience, which at least puts players in the right mindset from the beginning, asking themselves “hm, it’s meant to be hard--can I take this challenge?” before even starting. This trend became most apparent following the success of Dark Souls, interesting because the same mindset used to be simply assumed back when gaming was more niche: If you weren’t good enough, you may very well not see the whole game. That is certainly one option, to just make it clear that “the game is tough, good luck!” I would argue that if areas of the game most players can generally reach are still fun (and they should be!) and fully satisfying (that one’s a bit harder…) that’s the most important part, but times have changed. And expectations with them.

I’ve softened my own position on the matter as well, especially in the 21 months since releasing the first Cogmind alpha and listening to feedback from the community. I can now more clearly see the benefits of adding difficulty settings to a roguelike. But first, a little look at the drawbacks!

Drawbacks?

If there weren’t any negatives to allowing adjustable difficulty, lots more roguelikes would have them, right? :)

For brevity’s sake I’ll use a list:

  • Trivializing some aspects of the game by using an easier setting potentially results in a less rewarding long-term experience (mentioned before). While it’s possible to take on higher settings later, the player has already lost half of the reward: the initial discovery aspects associated with that achievement (e.g. what comes after).
  • Using easier difficulty modes may teach bad habits, or at least not teach good ones. Players using easier settings as a crutch are less frequently forced to improvise effective solutions to challenges. This is fine for those players who don’t want to improve, but might hinder others looking to learn the skills necessary to tackle at least the default mode.
  • Even though roguelikes are single-player games, multiple difficulty modes somewhat fragment the community. “You reached where?!” and “You did what?!” etc. no longer have quite the same meaning once there are easier difficulties at which the same content is available. Essentially not everyone is playing the same game anymore, and progress is no longer quite so instantly comparable. To me this is one of the bigger drawbacks, though it can at least be mitigated with a sufficiently large community in which there are plenty of players at each tier.

I don’t believe that any of these are conscious reasons behind the relative lack of difficulty settings in roguelikes, though. When it comes to development effort, game design and balance are delicate things, and making changes to systems to accommodate difficulty levels can have negative consequences for the overall experience. It’s not just about difficulty, as the whole “feel” can change as a result. Adjusting certain aspects of a mechanic could have a cascade of unbalancing effects on others, especially in roguelike worlds featuring grand scope and numerous interconnected systems. Not that this can’t be overcome, it just takes longer to get right. And dev time spent accommodating different player needs is unfortunately very much not in the roguelike tradition. (Further compounding the issue is the fact that roguelikes often continue to evolve and are never quite complete--changes and new features have to take into account the potential effects across multiple difficulty settings, and creating a roguelike already requires so much work to begin with! If anything, at least the fuzziness of the RNG can help soften some of the impact of working across multiple difficulties.)

Anyway, while I didn’t go into details there are pretty strong arguments against most of what I’ve written above with regard to drawbacks, so… yeah :)

But Benefits!

The benefits of difficulty settings are more straightforward:

  • It’s nice to be able to cater to different types of players (especially as a single-player game where we don’t have to concern ourselves with multiplayer balance issues). We do it with UI options, so why not with difficulty?
  • Some players learn better in a low-pressure environment, at least when it comes to basics.

Straight from Cogmind’s new manual section on Difficulty:

“By default Cogmind has been carefully balanced to provide a fun yet challenging roguelike experience that can be reliably overcome given sufficient experience and skill. That said, some players simply don’t have the time or inclination to strive for mastery, thus alternative modes are available that tweak multiple aspects of the game to make survival somewhat easier.”

video_game_difficulty_trevor_noah

About that difficulty…

Hence the number on reason difficulty settings are important: People have less time in general these days as the pace of life has picked up, and there are so many more games than there used to be. On average, players used to acquire new games less frequently, and play the same ones longer, which also meant it was more likely to reach those difficult areas as skill improved over time. (The average gamer was also a lot younger with more free time :P)

The Baseline

Notice that most of what I’ve discussed so far is in terms of easier difficulties. This is due to how I’m approaching the whole idea of these settings.

I believe that the default mode itself should be quite challenging, even for experienced players. In that sense Cogmind is different from other roguelikes such as DCSS or ADOM, where once players are familiar enough with the mechanics, content, and strategies, beyond the early game a new run is often just a case of going through the motions to win. Instead, difficulty should ramp up towards the end, not down. (This in itself is a topic I want to cover in more detail in a future article.)

And regarding the distribution of player skill--or rather visualized as which sections of the game different players are likely capable of reaching, I feel a bell curve is appropriate:

cogmind_player_skill_distribution_curve

Cogmind player skill distribution: This is an idealized curve, though the actual curve based on reported score data actually looks more or less like this.

Thus assuming the normal difficulty, probably half of players will likely struggle to best the mid-game. While that’s the end result, the true target of (most) well-designed roguelikes should be focused on being winnable nearly 100% of the time by an experienced and skilled player. Remember this does not equate with everyone actually being able to win--some people have gone decades playing, and enjoying, the same roguelike without ever actually winning!

Still, I’ve decided that we need these settings so let’s get into the details of what that actually means.

“Easier Modes”

Cogmind has three difficulty settings: the default, an easier mode, and an even easier mode. I prefer to call them “easier” modes as opposed to “easy” because they are purely relative to the default difficulty, and may very well still be difficult for certain players! (I admit this is somewhat pedantic given everyone’s clear understanding of video game difficulties :P)

cogmind_easier_mode_option

Setting Cogmind’s difficulty in the options menu.

The mode can be changed via the options menu, and does not take effect until the next run. I.e. switching to another difficulty mid-run is not allowed. This is for score sheet consistency, so it’s possible to clearly define a run as belonging to one mode or another. Because obviously we’ll want to keep runs separate on the new leaderboards:

cogmind_difficulty_modes_leaderboard

Leaderboards 2.0 testing, divided by difficulty setting.

Players appear only on the board of the mode for which they most recently submitted a run (older runs are of course remembered for those who switch back and forth). It will be pretty interesting to see what kind of distribution we end up with starting with the next release!

As for the meaning of these modes, adjustments go beyond simple changes in number values, because numbers alone wouldn’t be enough to make the game easier while retaining some semblance of balance and fun.

Easier Mode: The purpose of this mode is to retain most of the challenge and content of the default, still requiring a fair amount of experience and persistence to win, though not quite as demanding as the default mode. It is more for those who would still want to improve and hope to tackle the default mode later.

  • 20% base resistance to all damage types
  • +5% base accuracy (both ranged and melee)
  • Effect of allies on alert level halved
  • Disabling machines has less of an impact on alert level
  • Traveling to a new area/map lowers alert level more than usual

As you can see, much of this is aimed at reducing the influence of alert level, which presents one of the larger long-term dangers to players who are frequently in combat. And the free damage reduction will somewhat slow the rate of item attrition, the other major factor contributing to Cogmind’s downfall.

Easiest Mode: This mode is quite easy, generally too easy, though yes it’s still possible to lose, and especially certain areas of the world are going to be pretty dangerous! That said, it will be easier to avoid them with minimal experience since the destination of every exit is automatically known in advance. It basically suits those looking for pure entertainment or those without much free time.

  • 35% base resistance to all damage types
  • +5% base accuracy (both ranged and melee)
  • Effect of allies on alert level cut to one-third
  • Disabling machines has a much lower impact on alert level
  • Traveling to a new area/map lowers alert level much more than usual
  • Lower chance of random hostile encounters (most notably in mines/caves)
  • Hostile branch encounters (e.g. in caves/mines) cannot appear directly in spawn area
  • -1 to all patrol squad sizes (stacks with garrison effect)
  • -1 to number of garrisons per floor (cannot reduce to 0, however)
  • Exit destinations automatically revealed on sight
  • Evolve 1 extra slot on exiting scrapyard
  • Scrapyard contains random useful utilities
  • Items nearby your spawn in main complex maps replaced by random items more likely to be useful given your current state

All effects are subject to change, but as is there are too many variables and I’m not the target for these features (unlike the default mode!), so to determine how effective they are I’ll have to rely on outside feedback from those who actually need and/or want these modes.

I’ve added a tutorial message that shows after the player’s 5th death (if they are still using the default mode), to let them know there are easier modes if that’s their thing.

For those already using other modes, I’ve added a number of indicators to help both themselves and other players distinguish the setting. First of all, score sheets are now clearly topped with a different header for each mode:

cogmind_difficulty_mode_score_sheet_headers

Score sheet headers by difficulty.

And to help players posting and looking at screenshots discern which mode is being used (it would get really annoying to have to say/ask every time!), the two primary views we’ll see images of now also have highlight color changes to reflect the mode.

cogmind_difficulty_modes_color_gameover

Game over screen, now in three variations.

 

cogmind_difficulty_modes_color_HUD_parts_dividers

HUD parts list, with a very subtle divider color change (to avoid having a significant impact on the aesthetics).

Hard Mode?

Interestingly, often times when I’ve brought up the idea of difficulty levels someone will ask if there will be harder modes. The fact that this is asked with regularity, despite many players barely being able to survive through the first half of the game, again reflects how valuable varying difficulty levels can be!

For the reason mentioned before--default roguelike mode should be hard--I don’t currently plan to add an explicitly across-the-board harder mode. Instead I’ve taken other approaches to the idea of even more challenging options for experts.

Structurally speaking, the world already has more difficult optional routes and challenges built into it. Some of these are not even known to non-expert players, but are possibilities gradually discovered over time while uncovering more of the lore and NPC encounters. Some involve plot events, and others involve visiting certain areas in a certain order, taking advantage of the non-linear structure of the world to create a multitude of options. Even close to the surface, there are “extended end game” options for the brave or well-equipped.

On another level, strategy-wise winning with different builds also provides its own challenges (akin to winning other roguelikes with a different race or class), some of which are much more difficult than others.

Also falling under the “hard mode” end of the difficulty spectrum, as of the next release Cogmind includes a new framework for “Challenge Modes.” In a sense, these are essentially what are called “conducts” in roguelike tradition, playing the base game albeit while applying some additional rule or rules. Here, however, they are formalized rather than player-enforced.

These rules are more interesting than outright making the game more difficult by changing numbers around, because all the latter suggests is that the player is aiming for highly efficient/optimized play (plus maybe some luck), whereas challenge modes actually fundamentally change the way the game is played! Much more interesting :)

So far I’ve implemented two such modes, mainly as a test, with many more to come, I’m sure. The first is named “Unstable Evolution,” where you no longer have control over which slots you evolve--they are selected at random.

cogmind_challenge_unstable_log_msg_slots

Random slots chosen due to UNSTABLE status shown in the log.

 

cogmind_challenge_unstable_sample_evolution

Examples of random slot evolution from beginning to end.

The first there actually looks to be a fairly normal composition, although of course the order could be odd--not evolving what you need when you need it, forcing you to adapt; the second is kinda crazy due to that large number of power slots! This mode should lead to some interesting runs, and enable more types of replayability. (Note that selection is weighted towards what players most often want--e.g. not a ton of power slots, so it’s not necessarily that terrible, but you could get unlucky and have to deal with it… Adapt or die, such is evolution!)

The other new mode is named “Scavenger,” wherein there are no part stockpiles and any solo randomly available items are damaged--everything else must be taken from other robots, or stolen from haulers! (Fabrication would be another option, but that has its own limits.)

cogmind_challenge_scavenger_example_map

A sample of the kind of junk one would find lying around the Factory in Scavenger mode.

You earn points for each challenge applied, and can pick more than one (unless one or more are for some reason incompatible with each other).

cogmind_challenge_list_score_sheet

Active Challenge Modes listed in a section of the final score sheet.

 

cogmind_challenge_easy_mode_score_history

Score History with a new column for difficulty and any active Challenge Modes appended to the end.

With only two modes, for now they are activated directly in the config file, but a new submenu will be added to the in-game options menu once there are enough of them to establish how that submenu will function. There is a forum thread where anyone can drop Challenge Mode suggestions/ideas that I can draw from later.

“Achievements” (as in Steam achievements, but I would want to implement them for non-Steam players as well) will also be a thing, and are similar in nature to difficulty modes, providing alternative goals that might be challenging or just fun. There’s a forum thread to drop those, too :D

This post Adjustable Difficulty originates from Grid Sage Games.

by Kyzrati at February 16, 2017 12:32 AM

February 15, 2017

The Ground Gives Way

Combat Rework part II – Ranged

You may want to read part I before reading this. Ranged combat are seeing even more changes than melee. Let’s first look at how it looks now (v2.1.3):

Your chance to hit in ranged combat is determined by your Missile attribute and the distance to the target. The exact formula is 50% + 10*(Missile - distance)%. There’s no defence against missile attacks (other than staying away).

Reworked Ranged Combat

The ranged combat is seeing the same kind of simplification that melee combat did. The chance to hit is now expressed as a plain percentage. Another simplification is that this percentage does not change with distance! No longer will you have to close in to a monster so you’re almost adjacent to have a decent chance to hit.

Reintroducing: Range

In release #5 I removed the Range attribute. Range was a hard limit on how far your missile attacks could reach. However, the practical limitation on your range was actually your Missile attribute since your chance to hit quickly diminished with distance. When I introduced the Light/Vision attribute instead of being able to see unlimited distances, Range almost stopped having a function at all.

But now when your chance to hit does not decrease with distance, a maximum range suddenly becomes important again. Sure, your Vision is still a practical limit for how far you can fire in most cases, but having infravision or seeing monsters in light can make you target monsters many squares away.

However, range is not an attribute as it used to be. Instead, range is a property of ammunition and launchers. Your total range is the sum of these and are displayed on the player character screen as seen below:

Your current range is displayed

Your current range is displayed

The reason it is not an attribute is that it simply isn’t important enough to be an attribute. The target cursor will turn blue when you can fire a missile at a monster just like before. It will also be displayed in the “distances” portion of the target window.

Launchers now display their range in the description and comparison windows.

Launchers now display their range in the description and comparison windows.

The Missile attribute will in most cases be lower than your Melee attribute, usually in the 40%-60% range (compare to Melee that will typically be 60%-80%). The logical explanation of this is that it is harder to hit a target at a distance with a missile. The gameplay justification is that ranged combat has less risk than melee combat. However, if you equip and train your character specifically for ranged combat, you can of course reach high values or the Missile attribute, just like before.

Blocking

Your Block attribute has never helped in ranged combat. However, in v2.2 Block will also block missile attacks (but still not magic attacks) with the same plain percent as melee combat. This is more intuitive (some players have been surprised to learn that Block didn’t help). As with melee, there’s a message and a visual cue indicating whether the attack was a miss or if it was blocked.

It did feel a bit weird earlier that there was no defence against missiles. The reason was that the distance penalty was so hard that there weren’t room for more penalties. In addition it would have made the chance to hit formula too complicated. Now, there’s a defence attribute for missile attacks and the combat formula is even simpler!

Summary

The new system can be summarized as follows:

  • Missile is a plain percentage to hit instead of an abstract number.
  • Your chance to hit does not decrease with distance.
  • Missile attacks have a limited range determined by launcher and ammo.
  • Block now block missiles as well as melee attacks.

This has a series of advantages:

  • Missile combat is more intuitive and easy to understand.
  • More differentiation between ranged options (rocks are short distance and high damage whereas bows are low damage and long distance).
  • More interface clutter has been removed (e.g. displaying chance to hit in “actions” window, or beside monster attack descriptions).
  • No more running semi-adjacent to a monster to get a higher chance to hit. While that may have been realistic, it is a bit weird to use ranged combat in that way.
  • Missile combat is a bit more reliable in general because abysmal to-hit chances (lower than 30%) are rarely seen anymore.

 

The post Combat Rework part II – Ranged appeared first on The Ground Gives Way.

by BtS at February 15, 2017 05:53 PM