I spent quite a bit of time today playtesting. Part of the testing was to verify that some of the new content was working, including encounters, condition progression, and crafting recipes.
A larger portion of the testing was a long session, in which I tried to trigger the endless turn bug. One player ran into it a few times in rapid succession, and reported that manual clicking to end turn was part of it. Also, it was frequently preceded by creatures entering then leaving the hex.
I managed to get quite a bit done today, especially towards the end.
Early in the day, I spent some more time writing for a new encounter location. Fleshing out some items to explore was enjoyable, and I'm glad I left it unfinished yesterday. That task provided a good place to resume work, providing a much-needed initial momentum.
Hope everyone had a good weekend! It's getting chilly here, so we took this chance to do some last-minute outdoor chores, like changing the car's oil, and mowing the lawn. It might not snow for several weeks yet, but it's only getting colder!
I spent a good chunk of this morning working on a new set of concept art specs, and got those sent off. This one's going to be a bit of a doozy, so it'll be interesting to see how it comes back!
The rest of the day was spent on more development of the antagonist. I had a pretty clear idea of the origin story for this character, but I never really pictured them talking before. What would they sound like? Would they have an accent? Would they even speak English?
For the longest time, I wasn't even sure they would speak to Philip. Even if given the chance.
Yesterday's brainstorming and planning work involved a lot of scene planning, and trying to decide where Philip should go, whom he should meet, and why.
One particular problem I was struggling with was how to control the flow of information to the player as they unravel the mystery they're saddled with at the game's beginning. What actually happened, and how do I communicate that to the player in a satisfying and enticing way?
As some of you probably noticed, the website experienced some downtime yesterday.
Starting at about 10am Pacific Time, my webhost began experiencing outages which affected bluebottlegames.com. For several hours, the site was either unreachable, or the service it ran on was not running, resulting in a default error message. As the day wore on, these outages slowly diminished, until later in the evening when the site was available again (albeit slow to load for a while).
Today was largely about patching plot holes. I've been through a couple rough plot drafts so far, and each iteration seems to be slightly better. But there are still these nagging plot holes that need patching.
To try and plug these holes, or even to remove them, I decided to make a list of the things which annoy me the most. What are questions the current plot has, which I'm not sure how to answer?
Today was a mix of narrative work, art direction, and item creation.
I was thinking about the Merga Wraith the other day, and how some players have reported their ability to defeat it in combat. Originally, this was going to be made impossible, so the wraith must always be avoided. (There's a certain mythology behind it preventing a mundane defeat.)
Work continues on the range of new items, encounters, and rules I've been making. Today, I finished up some testing and polish on what happens when players try to sell human meat at the junk market. Here's a hint: you get one warning :)
Today I continued work on the recipe/crafting changes I've been talking about. Rovlad made a good suggestion in yesterday's post, which involved ways of masking crafting yields when items are being identified. Namely, when the player is using a tool to identify something (like toxic water), they shouldn't be seeing the results before expending the tool.
Rovlad's suggestion was to make the recipe show a proxy or stand-in item until the crafting was executed, then swap in the real deal. This wasn't too hard to setup, and seems to be working pretty well!
I went ahead with the recipe changes I mentioned yesterday, as I think I have quick fixes for all the issues I was listing. It didn't take long to hook them up, and there are just a few more items I need to add to be able to test them.
One of the last remaining barriers I needed to figure out was how to avoid players cheating if they used some sort of item to identify water potability. E.g. if they use litmus paper on water in crafting, they'll see the results before clicking "Craft," effectively getting infinite use out of the litmus paper.
As mentioned last week, I'm developing an area of the map called the Great Black Swamp. It's a region that spans the state border from the southern tip of Lake Michigan to the western shore of Lake Erie. It presents a man-made barrier to ground travel, in the form of a toxic wasteland.
Work continued on the small encounter I mentioned yesterday. In fact, most of it centered around a new creature involved with it. This creature had some unique behaviors I needed to setup, and it needed to trigger encounters when the player ran into it, etc. So there was a lot of wiring to be done. Plus, the creature doesn't have a traditional attack behavior. It's more non-lethal, but still debilitating. So that'll require some more work. It's getting there, and it already has a fun, creepy sprite done :)
There are a few smaller encounters I've been meaning to add, so I decided to do that today. The next big one I have in mind still has a few details to figure out, so I figured I could tackle the more well-defined, smaller ones as I thought about it.
I finished testing some additional encounter paths this morning, and found a few more areas that needed fixing. Some of it involved tweaking old encounters to react to choices in this new one, and a few chains of events that needed to make more sense.
After that, it was time to decide on which encounter comes next. I have a few urban/DMC encounters in mind, as well as some Michigan wilderness ones, so there's several to choose from. I'd also like to try and make some of them sources of either back story or non-combat NPC interactions, since those are popular requests.
Today, I finished plugging the holes in the encounter I've been working on.
A conversation that I had started needed to be finalized, and I decided to add one additional branch on the tree, for variety (and a bit of fun). Then, I verified everything had the hook-ups it needed. Encounter nodes needed their items for choosing options, condition flags for tracking choices, etc.
Today was a pretty good day for encounter work. The duo of related encounters I've been working on are finally pretty-well established, and I've been filling in the details of the structure, and writing final text for the nodes. I've also been filling in required items, conditions, and branching probabilities, and it's almost ready for me to start testing.
Here's what it looks like right now in the editor: