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 The quest system
Jotaf
Posted: Jun 28 2006, 06:10 PM


New Captain


Group: Captains
Posts: 3
Member No.: 104
Joined: 28-June 06



Hi there!

I'll try to keep this long story short. I'm a programmer, and when I downloaded the SAIS source-code I had all these nifty ideas to add to the game. The thing is... after seeing WW, the enthusyasm has worn out tongue.gif SAIS is lots of fun, but now it kinda feels like any development is going to waste, surpassed by WW. I'd much rather see these ideas in WW.

I decided I'd post them here so there's at least a chance they'll get in. If they don't, would you please release the WW source-code as you did with SAIS? tongue.gif

The main thing is that, from most reviews I got that there "isn't much to do on the planets". This is a bit true, and the new quest system allows you to add much more variety. Still... it could be a bit better. Before I downloaded WW, I had already thought of a "mission" system that would enhance this aspect of the game. I wanted to call it "SAIS: Ground Missions" tongue.gif Or something like that. There were 2 main features:

1) When exploring a system, you could navigate through a series of "pages" using a few option buttons, like the "yes/no" command you have, but with more flexibility. The idea was to make it easy to define quests that had you make decisions over a small story/situation, with an average of 3 or 4 pages of text.
Quests like crash-landing and being stranded on a planet (finding a way to get out), sneaking into the base of an hostile race (stealing useful items), or dealing with a strange situation like the ones in Star Trek episodes; as the captain you would make a few meaningful decisions as these situations unfolded. I also put a lot of emphasys on making it a no-brainer to set up a quest, so mod makers would easily create dozens of them (I have some experience with this and I'm happy with the system I came up with).

2) (This one I'm not too sure about, but here it is anyway.) The player would start with a number of crew members. Some events like radiation flares or lost landing parties could make you lose some of them, and obviously if you had 0 it was game over. So you'd have another thing to watch out; making the wrong decisions in these quests could mean another step towards your doom.
Some useful commands for the modders would include decreasing the chance of losing crew members if you had specific items (personel cloaking technology for stealth missions, for example), or simulating a simplistic battle (calculating number of losses) based on some parameters: the size of your crew, their weapons (if in your cargo bay you had tazer guns - level 1 - or maser rifles - level 5), and of course based on the same parameters for the opponents (defined in the quest command).

I guess that's it smile.gif With a few quests here and there, it wouldn't shift the player's focus a lot from the other central aspects of the game, while at the same time providing a deeper experience when exploring new planets.
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Fingers
Posted: Jun 29 2006, 06:31 AM


Skilled Captain


Group: Captains
Posts: 199
Member No.: 18
Joined: 3-November 05



What's funny is that this stuff is all in the first SAIS "design documents" and I even wrote an "adventure engine" prototype... But ultimately all things unnecessarily complex were cut out in order to make the game flow better and to reduce the amount of text. SAIS and WW as they are have a ton of text, more than some people can put up with. If you quadrupled the amount you'd have to either lose the quality or take much more time, and eventually when the player has read all the mini-quests they'll just be annoyed at having to click four times just to get the silly item.

Anyway, you can implement some of this in WW quite easily, at least in terms of popping up quest windows with yes/no questions, using item checks (crew members as items) and so on. But doing an RPG-like system with personal weapons, no... The quest system doesn't have arithmetic commands (yet smile.gif)
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Jotaf
Posted: Jun 30 2006, 04:14 PM


New Captain


Group: Captains
Posts: 3
Member No.: 104
Joined: 28-June 06



Cool smile.gif I thought these were kinda obvious features for a game in this setting, but you hadn't put them in because the peogrammer's time is valuable and you always have to establish priorities. So ... I guess I was right tongue.gif

I didn't think about some people not wanting to read through 3 cards of text though. But in that case theese quests could be disabled as an option when starting a new game ("verbose quests OFF").
The cool thing about them (I thought) was that, since there were some decisions involved, it wouldn't be like "oh, there's that alien base again *click* back to starmap"; players would probably try a different combination of decisions to see what the outcome was this time.

No arithmetic operations "yet"? So you're planning on adding new big features in upcoming versions of WW? Most people wouldn't even consider that smile.gif

Just a couple more questions... why the "list of conditions" at the beggining of each quest file? Wouldn't it be easier to define the conditions in each card (or whatever you call them, can't remember right now)? And the sequential numbers at the end of each condition statement. I'm not saying it's bad, of course it would be a bit more obvious (more like other scripting languages) if this was missing, but I'm curious as to why you made these decisions.
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Fingers
Posted: Jun 30 2006, 08:24 PM


Skilled Captain


Group: Captains
Posts: 199
Member No.: 18
Joined: 3-November 05



The condition block does seem a bit clumsy in hindsight. I did it mostly to avoid having to put a lot of data on a single line if the conditions got very complex (which they ultimately didn't). Sharing conditions was another bonus although it would've been better with a name rather than a number.

Oh, the "yet" is just another one of those "yeah maybe some day if I really feel like it".

Btw, one of the biggest influences on SAIS and WW was a game called Starflight, which had among other things as bridge crew with RPG-like stats... It was one of those huge epic big games. If you can find it and run it (maybe with a DOS emulator like Dosbox?), definitely check it out.

Also there's a great old "Star Trek" boardgame with the crew and their special skills coming to play in just the kind of 3-4 paragraph mini-adventures that you're thinking about. One player has the Enterprise, the other player plays the Klingons. Needless to say, the "same" adventure goes vastly different way depending on which side encounters it...
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Jotaf
Posted: Jul 2 2006, 12:45 AM


New Captain


Group: Captains
Posts: 3
Member No.: 104
Joined: 28-June 06



I know what you mean about the conditions block. Those kinds of decisions are all guess-work and in the long run they can come back to haunt you, it s*cks tongue.gif Heh, but it didn't turn out that bad. It just requires more typing to do the same thing.

Thanks for the references! I'm not much of a fan of board games really (although I study their rules as a game design exercise) but I definitely love the classic games and dos-box never left my HD ever since I installed it smile.gif I'll have to check that out.

Best of luck with your next project!
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