Spears, and Charged Items
Early in the day, I decided to work on a few spears, before moving on to new items. I added the large branch item a few days ago, but never got around to making sharpened versions of it for the range = 3 band of melee weapons. So I mocked up a few variations on a long spear. They include a simple sharpened pole, a fire-hardened spear, and a broad spear (non-wood tip, such as glass). For each, I setup melee and thrown attack modes.
Once those were drawn and hooked up, I started doing some thinking about items that require charges. Even with the recent mechanic-based vehicle recipes, the electrician, hacking, and mechanic skills are still somewhat underutilized. So I wanted to see if there are some more gadget-y items I could add.
One issue I've run into with such items, however, is their power source. Almost anything an electrician, hacker, or mechanic would fix or build needs something to power it, whether it be a battery, gasoline, or more exotic fuel.
There's a system already there to handle charge usage, but it's a bit dusty from disuse. And it could use a bit of strengthening if I'm going to add any amount of new charged items to the game. So I wrestled with design ideas for charges over a few hours. At one point, I became stumped, and decided to write the problem and potential solutions in a text file. And as usual, that seemed to spur things along.
After a bit of paper-prototyping and conjuring example items, here's what I came up with:
Items which require power sources or charges can specify one or more IDs for their "charge profile." A charge profile is just a collection of stats that specifies:
- The ID of the item that is used as a charge.
- The number of said charges exhausted per item use. (e.g. a nanorobotic medkit)
- The number of said charges exhausted per hour. (e.g. a lantern)
- The number of said charges exhausted per hour while item is equipped. (e.g. night vision goggles when worn)
- The number of said charges exhausted per hex moved. (e.g. a car)
It might require tweaking as more items are added, but this should cover most of the things I'm expecting to add to the game. For example, I can change the nanorobotic medkit to have 2 charge profiles, so it requires both a battery charge and refill charge to operate. Or, I can make the night vision goggles discharge each turn while worn. And the hex discharging means I can add non-primitive vehicles, like gas or electric-powered vehicles.
There are a couple shortcomings so far, though. First of all, this will probably mean that electricity is a tangible item, like water in a bottle. I can prevent it from being stored in a backpack, but I can't prevent it from being moved around without special equipment. It'd be cool if one needed the electrician skill and wires to transfer charge from one item to another, but that's probably beyond the scope for now.
Another problem is that items with more than one charge requirement will need to share storage space for each charge type. So a nanorobotic medkit might have both a battery and refills inside it to work, and players can stack extra batteries at the expense of space for refills. It's unrealistic, but again, probably not worth building really detailed systems to avoid.
And some items might have several operational "modes." I'm thinking this is going to be a big deal for the iSlab (or any other programmable object). The number of functions available to an iSlab is pretty formidable, and it'd be nice if the iSlab could be used for more than one of those functions. E.g. a flashlight, camera, file reader, etc.
I might have to add little software items to the game that can be stored inside an iSlab, and crafting the iSlab with one of those apps switches it's mode. It's not a bad approximation of reality, but the down side is that I'd need to create a separate item for each mode, and that could get prohibitive. At least I wouldn't need to write a new system, though, as it just uses the existing crafting system.
Anyway, I'm pretty optimistic about this approach. It sounds like it could open up some cool opportunities which I've been avoiding since I didn't know how (e.g. fueled vehicles, electronic tools). I've started laying the data foundation this evening, and tomorrow, I can try hooking a few things up.
Of course, I could have a paralyzing realization overnight that prevents moving forward, too. But hopefully, this is a relatively small amount of tweaking that opens up some much overdue item options.
Have a good night, all!