Encounters Built, Testing

I finished rigging up the encounters I've been working on, and was able to start testing them this afternoon. I sort of went off on a tangent with one of the "return to ___" encounters, adding a whole branch that I never planned to do. However, I didn't want to not add it if I had the idea. More content is good, so I ran with it.

It gave me an opportunity to look up the toxic effects of beryllium fluoride, heh heh :)

One side-effect of this recent encounter batch is a harsh reminder that NEO Scavenger's item code is tedious to work with. Right now, every possible item needs to be manually added as an option or the game ignores it. So if the encounter includes an opportunity to use binoculars, I have to manually add one case for each of the following:

  • binoculars
  • rifle scope
  • rifle scope on rifle
  • rifle scope on rifle with strap
  • telescopically augmented eyes
  • etc.

It's a real buzz-kill when I think, "I'll add the ability to scout out this location!" and then remember that I'll have to scour the items list to make sure I include each applicable item.

Also, long-time players will recognize this as the same issue preventing easy addition of new crafting recipes. Building an item with ingredients that can be substituted means I have to write a recipe for each possible permutation.

So I'm thinking the time has come for me to deal with this problem. Or at least try. Once I wrap up these new encounters, and upload them, I'm going to start looking into a new way of handling items for encounter choices and recipes. It should line up with the highly-voted-for features of more crafting recipes, weapons, and adding other items to the game.

So far, I think the most promising approach is to see if I can make items property-based. So each item has certain properties assigned to it when I create it. A pair binoculars, for example, would have a "telescopic sight" property. So would the rifle scope, and all the rifles with the scope added.

That way, if there were an encounter that supported telescopic scouting, I could just say "any object with the telescopic property" instead of listing each one.

Similarly, I could forgo creating recipes for lighting a torch with every possible permutation of fire (tiny campfire, big campfire, lit crude torch, lit quality torch, lighter, etc.) and just say item with "fire source" property plus item with "crude torch" property produces a lit, crude torch.

It'll require that the list of properties be a good one, though, and easy to work with. I may also need some unique properties, such as "item is the urn from Seven Gables Road," for quest purposes.

That's the theory, anyway.

However, I still have to get these encounters wrapped up. So I won't jump ahead of myself :)

Night, all!


Kuranes's picture

With the crafting, one way of doing it comes to mind. The game Underrail (currently in development) has a pretty intresting crafting system, since it asks for components (but not specific ones) and some of them are optional too.

For instance crafting a knife in the game, it has the following ingame recipe:

A Knife Handle (there is only one here)
A Mold (can be various molds, such as to create curved or serrated blades)
A Metal (can also be various metals, which would effect weight and penetration)

Thusly this a rough template for how knifes are designed, and it can obviously produce various items, all in the knife category.

I have done a somewhat similar writeup when writing down the games recipes. For instance for the small campfire:

Tiny Campfire
- Leafs
- Lighter / Tiny Campfire
(By adding Branches you can make it large)

If you followed the Underrail formula this recipe would be:
A source of ignition
Optional additional fuel

Another prime example would be the torches, lighting a torch in game basically only requires an unlit torch and source of ignition. But there are a ton of possible recipes because both crude and quality torches exist, and because you can light them using either small or large campfires, crude or quality torches or a lighter. With 2 torch types and 5 sources of ignition that is 10 seperate recipes for just how to light it!

Scavenger's picture

I suspect that property-based items used for crafting would be better, Kuranes. What you've suggested seems more like just different slots and item types used when crafting. I'd rather have attributes of the items such as 'sharp edge', 'liquid', 'wooden' etc, like Dan already thought of. This way crafting will be more 'flowing' - different items with qualities of 'sharp edge' and 'small' can be used as a blade for a knife and in case of fire, instead of leaves, 'tinder' - a property which could be used for said leaves, some paper, wooden shavings, small twigs etc.

Another problem with your suggestion is that it actually doesn't, in some cases, uses items we already have but calls for rewrite of ingredients and addition of whole new item categories - molds, metal bars etc.

Other than that, thanks for update, Dcfedor. Take your time with the events - I am sure many beside me would have properly developed adventures with many possible alternatives befitting different playstyles and attitudes rather than just generic 'kill, bring, sweep the floor' many developers usually settle for. Though yes, with things as they are it seems that item rewrite will have to take priority - no point in working around it taking double the time if it will have to be rewritten at some point anyway to make development and gameplay as smooth as planned.

dcfedor's picture

It sounds like Kuranes's second example is pretty close to what I have in mind. A campfire would be tinder (rather than leaves) plus a source of ignition and fuel.

I don't know if I'd use "mold" as a component of a knife recipe, though. That seems to imply the player is pouring melted metal into the mold, which means the recipe requires more than just the metal, handle, and mold. Something would be necessary to heat the metal to its melting point (different for each metal), and there would have to be other tools for handling it while hot.

Plus, cooling, working, and sharpening steps would be required for blades. The poured metal would still be pretty rough without any further treatment after pouring.

Given that the current crafting system in NEO Scavenger requires fine details like "small parts x2" and "multitool" to attach a rifle scope, players would probably expect a similar level of detail in knife-forging.

On the other hand, combining a "sharp edge" with "rags" could be a recipe for a crude shiv. Or "sharp point" with a "shaft" and "string" for an arrow. (I couldn't think of a better property name for "string," which would cover such things as sewing thread, floss, twine, etc.)

One other complication I can see is that some objects may have similar properties, but are not compatible. "Sharp edge" might apply to a glass shard as well as a lawnmower blade, but they are still very different from each other. A glass shard would make a crude knife, but a lawnmower blade would be too large for that.

I could instead use "small sharp edge" and "large sharp edge" to differentiate them. But then, for recipes requiring any "sharp edge" (such as cutting meat from a corpse), I'd have to write a recipe for each type of "sharp edge" (e.g. small and large), and I would end up back in the situation where I need to write multiple recipes for each object.

I may have to consider combinations of properties when crafting. E.g. the ingredient with "sharp edge" must also be "small" to make a knife. In that case, a glass shard might have "sharp edge" and "small," while the lawnmower blade would have "sharp edge" and "large" properties, and would not qualify.

Both would then satisfy a recipe requiring only "sharp edge" (as in cutting meat from a corpse), however.

It's definitely a problem with some intricacies, so it'll be interesting to try and solve!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Kuranes's picture

The knife mold thing were just an example of how Underrail did the crafting. Obviously NEO Scavenger would be more complex in its approach, but I believe it proved my point about having a broad crafting recipe, which yielded differnt results based opun the used items.

I think your property system sounds very good! It should also make crafting more easily understandable for newcomers. Experimenting with unknown recipes would also be more easy, since items have these logical properties.

dcfedor's picture

I think you're right about newcomers having an easier time with a property-based system. In theory, there's a better chance that their crafting idea will work, since it doesn't rely on me thinking of it and adding it to the game explicitly.

Also, I'm hoping that it makes the crafting system a bit more emergent, meaning unintended outcomes can produce interesting and exciting results.

The down side is that we might end up seeing some illogical crafting recipes. For example, if I'm not careful, it might end up being possible to substitute binoculars for a scope when crafting a scoped rifle. That might seem cool, until you try to disassemble it again later, and get a rifle and a scope back, instead of the binoculars that went into it :)

Maybe some clever organization of properties can prevent that, though.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Kuranes's picture

Yeah, clearly you've got your work cut out for you! ;)

But if that is something you're gonna go with, I expect it will make making recipes easier in the future. Currently there just is the daunting matter of having to redo the current recipes.

orbitneo's picture

Great update!

Property based items is the way to go, as you said. It should make it much easier to hook items to encounters.

It will also be nice to get more weapons! I can't wait for that.