Item Work, Combat Ranges, and Bug Fixes
Today was an interesting day, mainly because it involved a wide range of work. Some pretty significant changes, too.
However, the first order of business was to tackle a few bugs players recently found. Namely, there were some problems in the recipes for the cryo light and HVAC systems. As it turned out, these problems were bigger than just those two situations, so a few fixes were in order. Quick recipes, in particular, had some issues that I didn't notice before.
I also made some changes to items such that identifiable items each have two prices now. Before, anything unidentified would always be $0.25 at the store. Now, each item has it's own value, which should be more appropriate. Also, the junk store should always be stocked with identified items.
Next, I started working on adding a new item to the game: the large branch. Up until now, we've had twigs and medium branches. However, I wanted to add a travois to the game (man-sized for now, not dog/horse-sized), and that meant having something a bit larger. It also meant a few recipe changes to allow for the new large branch, including the tarp shelter, and roasted meat on a stick.
The large branch also gives me the opportunity to explore something else I've been meaning to do: rework weapon/battle ranges. Up until now, most melee items had a range of 0, and the rifle had a range of 4-5. Tackle had a range of 1, and most battles started with combatants about 2-4 spaces apart.
However, I wanted to try adding a few different melee ranges, to differentiate things like a pocket knife from a crowbar. If you've ever been threatened by an animal while out walking, you'll appreciate the difference an extra 2-3 feet of weapon reach makes. Holding a pocket knife is a helluva lot less comforting than a sturdy branch or crowbar.
So I started prototyping a new set of ranges that looks something like this:
In this new system, range 0 represents grappling or co-location. There aren't really any moves that take advantage there yet (except the enfield horror's trample), but that's where sitting on one's opponent would be.
Range 1 is a short melee range, like swinging a fist or a pocket knife. Cleavers and wrenches would be here, too. They're longer than a fist, but not appreciably. And kicks fit in here as well.
Range 2 is for longer tools, like the crowbar or a branch. Swords, baseball bats, and other melee weapons would also fall here. They're the kinds of weapons you'd feel better about keeping a wild boar at bay with.
Range 3 is for polearms and the like. The large branch fits here, as would things like spears, or a shovel. Tackle will also work from this range.
Range 4 is just out of all melee weapon range, and is the maximum range for things like luring, and throwing debris/obstacles.
From there, we have a pretty big jump up to pistol and thrown object range (rocks, grenades, throwing knives). And then a huge jump up to rifles and such. The idea here is that combatants might quickly get out of pistol or thrown range in a few rounds of flat-out running, but for practical purposes, there's no getting out of rifle range. For rifles, if they can see you, they can shoot you, and nothing short of leaving the hex, hiding, or cover will help.
Escape will still work like before, with chances getting better as range increases (among other things, like visibility, movement rates, and other conditions). However, I'm expecting that "retreat" and "desperate retreat" will start to become more distinct now. The former is only available when out of enemy weapon range. It's deliberate, and controlled, and should work more often. The "desperate" retreat should usually be available, even in weapon range, but the chances are lower. It's more wild, and luck-based, but it also carries a small chance of increasing range simultaneously with the escape attempt.
The other piece of the puzzle is the new hex ranges. Each hex will now have a different minimum and maximum engagement range. When encountering an enemy, the battle will start somewhere between these ranges, instead of always 2-4 hexes apart. For ruins and forests, this might be in the 3-6 range. Suburbs and cities might be more like 3-15. And open plains are 20-30.
I'm hoping that this makes each hex type more distinct as a battleground. For example, open plains are now extremely dangerous when creatures have rifles. Targets are pretty much at their mercy without clever cover use, hiding, or lucky escapes. Open plains make for easy travel, but getting caught by a bandit with a gun is going to hurt more.
Conversely, forests and other "close" hex types are harder for travel, but it's easier to lose one's pursuer if need be.
This is all in theory, of course. I just finished rewriting the data and systems to match the above. I have yet to test it. I'm hoping that I can keep a lot of what's fun about the current system, while adding a bit more distinction in range bands. Plus, this might also open up the opportunity for hiding to become more useful. I might add the ability to re-enter hiding/sneak mode from time-to-time, making another alternative to flat-out escape.
These changes should also pave the way for more weapon types, which are a perennial favorite among player requests. And if I'm really ambitious, maybe this will be a good time to look into things like "aimed shot," "surrender," and looting unconscious enemies.
So yeah, as I said, an interesting day. A lot of intertwined systems came to the fore when I started looking into the large branch. Stuff I've been putting off until it was time to work on new items. And now that time has come!
Have a good weekend, all. And see you Monday!