Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

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Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Fri May 13, 2011 2:32 am

This thread is for discussion of work that needs to be done for our map exploration code (MapMode) for the prologue release. There are also some bugs/issues I feel we need to address both with the present code and some of the art, but I'll elaborate more on that in a couple days. For now, I want to start putting together a change/feature list of what needs to be done.


I'm still trying to get a feel for the state of the map code right now (its been a while since I worked on it). But creating the cave map has given me a good start on what we need. Here's what I've got so far:

- Scene Lighting
The majority of the prologue takes place at night. We need to make sure that we can script our maps to use this lighting. I don't think there's much that needs to be done here, so long as the lighting feature in the video engine still works (we used it in our first demo wayyyy back when).

- Improved flexibility in dialogues
Dialogues are somewhat annoying right now because sprites always face the player when speaking (sometimes we would like the player to "overhear" someone talking instead of talking to them directly). There's also no easy ability to have a "narrator", or even just text with no speaker specified.

- Battle Encounters
When we bump into an enemy right now, the battle begins instantly. We need to improve this transition by adding an encounter sound and doing a (short) screen effect.

- Environmental sounds
I'd like for us to make more use of sounds this release, as we've been pretty inadequate about our use of them. I'd like to hear the sound of fire or running water grow as I get closer to them (ie distance attenuation). I think support in the audio engine is there already and it just has to be utilized by map mode, but I'm not too sure.
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby rujasu » Fri May 13, 2011 6:02 pm

Roots wrote:- Scene Lighting
The majority of the prologue takes place at night. We need to make sure that we can script our maps to use this lighting. I don't think there's much that needs to be done here, so long as the lighting feature in the video engine still works (we used it in our first demo wayyyy back when).


We just have to be careful with this -- it might cause problems on the Windows end. Doesn't mean we shouldn't use it, of course, but we'll have to go in and test on Windows whenever this is used. Actually, the bigger problem is that I think OpenGL support isn't working right on Windows, at least for me. In my case it may have to do with the horrible Intel graphics in my laptop. :shrug:

- Battle Encounters
When we bump into an enemy right now, the battle begins instantly. We need to improve this transition by adding an encounter sound and doing a (short) screen effect.


Sure, but one thing is that the sound effect should be fairly neutral, if that makes sense. I recall that there were SFX for random battle encounters way back in 0.1.0, and I don't think they worked well. They were "too much" if that makes sense. It should be a transition sound that doesn't stand out too much.

- Environmental sounds
I'd like for us to make more use of sounds this release, as we've been pretty inadequate about our use of them. I'd like to hear the sound of fire or running water grow as I get closer to them (ie distance attenuation). I think support in the audio engine is there already and it just has to be utilized by map mode, but I'm not too sure.


I remember distance attenuation being a significant issue for some reason, might have been shelved. It's one that I was never too concerned with, as there have always been more pressing issues. This is one that we can always put in later, or refine to get the distance attenuation working better. However, we do have the SFX to work with here:

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2087

You noted in that thread that these SFX have been put into SVN, but we aren't really using them. That's a situation we should be able to rectify. Particularly, the mak howl should be used in the prologue. (Too bad we don't have the sprite for one :shrug: )
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Fri May 13, 2011 6:40 pm

rujasu wrote:We just have to be careful with this -- it might cause problems on the Windows end.


Yeah you're right about that. Hopefully we will have a "true" Windows developer active on the team before we're ready to release that can give the game a thorough testing. I am also concerned in general about graphics not being consistent across systems.


rujasu wrote:Sure, but one thing is that the sound effect should be fairly neutral, if that makes sense. I recall that there were SFX for random battle encounters way back in 0.1.0, and I don't think they worked well. They were "too much" if that makes sense. It should be a transition sound that doesn't stand out too much.


Completely agree and yes, I still remember those sounds. They were too long as well. I'm thinking the sound should last around one second (ideally the same amount of time as the visual effect).

I remember distance attenuation being a significant issue for some reason, might have been shelved.


Hmm, I don't really recall ever implementing this in the game in the first place because as you say, it was never a priority issue. Maybe it wasn't working during audio engine testing. You're right though, we can always do it later if its a big hassle and its not something that is absolutely critical to have in this release either (we'll still need sounds on the map, but they don't need to be attenuated).


rujasu wrote:viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2087

You noted in that thread that these SFX have been put into SVN, but we aren't really using them. That's a situation we should be able to rectify.


Totally agree. I've actually spent some time going over the music and sound effects that we have in SVN, those that are stored on the FTP but not in SVN, and also free sounds available over on opengameart.org. I've been actively making lists of things we have and things we need in my head, and I'll write up a thread about prologue audio contents sometime, but I'm trying to keep myself focused on one area at a time (which is very hard to do :eyespin: ).
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Sat May 14, 2011 12:48 am

A few more features I recalled today:


- New dialogue icon
Currently we only have one dialogue icon that indicates when a NPC has unread dialogue. i want an additional icon that is displayed when the NPC has dialogue but it has already all been read. This allows the player to distinguish between three types of NPCs: those with new dialogue, those with dialogue that has already been read, and those with no dialogue at all.

- Save points
I know we had a discussion on save states sometime ago but couldn't find it today. I remember I was not entertaining the idea of "traditional" save points, but whatever we do we need to implement some sort of save system for the release. For now the current save system should work alright for the unstable releases I think.

- Character attack actions
This feature I doubt we'll have time to implement for this release, but it would be cool to have. Basically, allowing the player to use their sword as they walk around the map and swat at enemies to stun them, or interact with the map environment (such as cutting down brush that impedes your path). I consider this a "low priority" feature for the release because we don't really require it, but if we have nothing else to do this would be good to add in. (And if not, it can always be added in a later release).

- "Sparkle" treasures
If you ever played Chrono Trigger, in addition to chests they had some treasures which were "sparkles" on the ground. They were sort of hard to spot so you had to keep your eye open for them, but they were usually very awesome/rare treasures. I wouldn't mind making use of this in the release and it shouldn't be too difficult to do at all, but its not a high priority.
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Sat May 14, 2011 8:26 am

One feature I'm permanently removing is the ability to "backtrack" through a dialogue by using the cancel button to view previous lines of text. This feature has actually been disabled for a while, but I see no reason to keep it in. The (very little) convenience it may have for the player is not worth the amount of effort it would take to fully implement this feature, since dialogues have options and events and sometimes we won't want to even allow the player to go back during certain scripted scenes. Its just a huge headache for something that is probably going to be rarely used. I doubt anyone is going to fight me on this decision. :uhoh:
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Sat May 14, 2011 5:36 pm

Another thing I'd like to add is the ability for a map to continue to play its music while its in battle. This is sort of a map/battle combined feature, where the same music from the map keeps playing when you go into battle and come back. There's no victory music when the battle is won. I thought this would be cool to use for when the town is under attack, because when the situation is dire and intense, changing the music can really interrupt the atmosphere. This isn't a critical feature though. Its just another one of those "if we have time for it" things I'd like to add.
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby marcavis » Sat May 14, 2011 5:42 pm

Roots wrote:One feature I'm permanently removing is the ability to "backtrack" through a dialogue by using the cancel button to view previous lines of text.

If anything, you could provide chat logs in the game menu - somewhat like IRC logs, I guess? Perhaps highlighting selected choices and quest triggers.
Yeah, this would probably mean the player ends up with a big chunk of the script in the savefile by the ending, but hey, it's an idea.
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Sat May 14, 2011 6:05 pm

Yeah that's not a bad idea. It may actually be useful if we stored the last 20 or so conversations so that if the player forgot exactly what NPC x told him to do, he can go back to the dialogue log instead of having to walk all the way back and find that sprite to ask again.


Of course such a feature would be super low priority since its quite a bit of work and the game is still perfectly playable and enjoyable without it.
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Sun May 15, 2011 8:50 pm

Got a few more:

- Grant player temporary encounter invulnerability after a battle
Once a player defeats an enemy, they shouldn't be forced right back into a battle because another enemy happens to be very close by. We should allow a small window (1-2 seconds?) to allow the player to get their bearings and escape any immediate threat. This feature I'm kind of "iffy" about though, since if the player got themselves surrounded by multiple enemies I almost feel that they should have to pay the price for that. But if they can't even get to menu mode to heal up and do whatever they need before the next encounter happens, that kind of sucks.

- Allow optional spawn zone for enemy zones
Currently enemy zones are defined as both the area where enemies may roam (as long as the zone isn't declared "roam-free") and also where they may spawn. I'm currently in the process of adding the ability to define a separate spawn zone if it is desired. This is a necessary feature IMO, because we may have features on the map like a small cave or something where we want enemies to spawn from, but we want to allow them to roam in a wider area than just outside that cave.

- Allow scripts to disable accessing menu mode
This is for when we have map scenes and "rapid succession battles" where the player has to fight off waves of enemies without being allowed a chance to heal up inbetween battles. I plan to make use of this in the first dungeon.

- Allow intro graphic/text to be disabled
I can see us switching maps where we don't want to provide this. For example, after the battle ends in Harrvah, we transition to a different map that is still Harrvah (the destruction one) and we wouldn't want the intro graphics/text to be displayed for that change.
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Mon May 16, 2011 2:03 am

One more minor change.

- Stamina bar should not be visible in towns or other "infinite stamina" places
Right now when we're in a town, we draw the stamina bar with an infinity sign over it and it just sits there. Why? It doesn't give the player any information and its just an eyesore really. When there is no stamina bar to consume, we shouldn't show one.
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby rujasu » Mon May 16, 2011 6:38 am

Ehh. I'm okay with keeping that one there; there's one when you're in a dungeon, so it seems kind of confusing to have nothing when you're in a town -- nothing indicates that you have infinite stamina. I mean, maybe it could appear and fade away whenever it's infinite or completely filled, but either way it's not something I think matters all that much. Either way, it's a mechanic that will need to be explained early in the game or in some sort of documentation.
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Re: Prologue Release -- Map Changes and Features

Postby Roots » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:03 am

There's one change I think we need to make with enemy sprite movement. Right now enemies are pretty much always moving, unless they are trying to move in the direction of a wall or other obstruction. The algorithm for this movement is basically this: 1) pick random direction, 2) move sprite in that direction for a random amount of time, 3) repeat. Not only does it not look very nice, its not very realistic either to always see creatures on the move.


The change I'm proposing we make shouldn't be too difficult to implement and will make enemies feel more natural I feel. I'm thinking the new algorithm could go something like this:

1) Pick a random location a certain distance away from the current location
2) Move sprite to that location
3) After arriving at destination, stop sprite for a certain amount of time and possibly have it change its facing direction a couple times.
4) Repeat.

Of course like the current algorithm, anytime the player gets within the aggression distance of the enemy, the enemy will stop whatever its doing and hunt down the player until it goes outside the aggression radius again. So do you guys 1) agree that this change is something we should do and need for this release? and 2) anyone willing to do all the work? :angel:
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