More Looter Conversations

I continued work on the looter conversations today. They're moving along about as fast as normal encounter production. That is to say, it can be slow to write and hook them up. Even when trying to keep the conversations limited, it can take some time to make them sound natural, entertaining, offer at least minimal choice, and fit the style of the game. I think I managed to get 3-4 done today.

Looking at the bigger picture, I was hoping to have 6-12 per NPC faction, with more factions added (e.g. Bad Muthas, Blue Frogs, etc.). At this rate, though, I might settle for looters and another faction or two at first. See how those pan out, and decide if it's worth adding more to those, to new factions, or focus elsewhere.

As part of this update, I'm thinking this might be a good stage to add the DMC guards/SkyCorps faction. A big reason for the changes I'm making is to alleviate some of the endless fighting out there, and having an allied (or nearly allied) faction would go a long way toward that goal.

Doing this means it might be time to add a few new items. Namely, DMC armory equipment, which is guaranteed to be a target for acquisition in future games, methinks :)

Also, after playing around with random creature spawns a bit, I think it'll be worth tossing a few new clothing types into circulation. Displaying clothes on the sprites has really exposed how limited appearances can be. Everyone starts to look the same, and it can be hard to tell if that "stranger" in the tan shirt is the same one you just left, or a new one.

I'm thinking it should be pretty easy to at least knock out a few more color variations, if not a new piece or two. And that way, the wandering NPCs will differentiate a bit better.

Finally, I'm starting to think that maybe I should aim to release the next update after the above changes, rather than waiting until another major encounter is done. The amount of time it'll likely take to add basic conversations is comparable to a major encounter, so delaying even more weeks is undesirable. I'll give that some thought.

However, things are coming along. Tomorrow, I'll probably work on a few more pleasant looter exchanges (so far, they've been impolite). The better-mannered looters might be a good source of lore and setting info, since they'll have more patience for chatting.

Hope everyone has a good night!

Comments

Scavenger's picture
Scavenger

It's good to see the game develop. Personally, I'd like it as big as possible, with every area and feature maximally expanded but I understand that develop can only work so much before every person interested will have the game and there will be need to create something new to pay the bills.

One thing about DMC equipment - please make sure that it will be a challenge - though not necessarily through fighting, but the way the character interacts with the world, talks with factions etc. I remember augmentations were meant to be late-game goal too, but the one so far added, the set of eyes, is just a 'gameplay checklist' item most players get sooner or later without a problem if they only feel like doing so.

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

Yeah, I want it maximally expanded too. I'm a perfectionist at heart, so it's tempting to noodle with development for far too long. I have to keep telling myself not to "get into the weeds" on tasks.

Would you mind elaborating a bit on the challenge you're referring to? Do you mean that DMC equipment should be difficult to obtain, or to live with? And are the eye augs too easy to obtain or live with?

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Scavenger's picture
Scavenger

By challenge, I meant difficulty in obtaining the equipment. Having it hard to live with I am very unsure about, as too often, adding to hardships because player obtained some item (talking about games in general) risks being simply bothersome rather than enjoyable/challenging. I can understand, or even enjoy, stuff like limited durability - especially if there's a way to repair an item, but I surely would rather invest difficulty into item acquisition.

As for eye augmentations, it seems to be rather common opinion around the forums that they're quite easy to get - the only challenges being getting into DMC proper (which, arguably, is not hard for most somewhat-experienced players) and getting enough money (which, again, is a sum many gather rather easily, if after some time - given that right now many things provide income, as they should, but at some point, well equipped character with a stash of supplies has few goods he'd care enough to spend on).

In regards to that, I don't necessarily mean that player should go on a long and difficult quest to get proper military-grade armor (though obviously, it would be very reasonable if one should have to do some more than find a location where it is and pick it up/kill something for it/buy it), but I would appreciate it if getting rare, but very useful stuff would be long-term goal, and depending on stuff in question - a thing that not every character would be able to acquire (depending on previous actions, standing with factions, decisions in events) without some sacrifice or price more varied than just cash (items, permanent changes in how character is seen - both good and bad etc).

Kaaven's picture
Kaaven

I must say that I agree with Scavenger on general assessment, but not necessary on the details (as usual :D).

I think, that the eye augmentation does feel like it's on the "gameplay checklist", like Scavenger said. I do feel, however, that it is not because of how easy it can be acquired (it can be time consuming to get to it, and as a reward for good game-play, it is OK), but more directly - because it is/should be on each player "to-do" list. And that's the whole problem - it is optimal/best way of playing the game. There is literary nothing against taking the augmentation, refusing to use it is an act of uncalled-for self-handicapping, committed on purpose by the player. And existence of such "best ways of playing" is somewhat damaging to the feeling of freedom coming form "choose your own adventure/open world" setting.

So while I agree that access to new (and supposedly better, if they're not then there is no problem) items should not be too easy, I do feel that possession of such items should be somehow of a burden/problem for the player, to make sure that playing without using them is as valid way as gearing up and playing the policeman :D


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Rovlad's picture
Rovlad

Communications should be one-liners, just for the sake of it.
"Heard about that thing they call Dead Lake? Neither did I. Go explore, faggot."
"Hey, have you seen my left boot? It's universal size, mine had 52% durability."
"I saw a dogman the other day. Filthy creatures."

Scavenger's picture
Scavenger

Nice examples, with exception of the shoe thing. Aside from asking stranger whether he saw the missing, single shoe being unlikely, the percentage thing is a for player's information, not part of the fluff.

Rovlad's picture
Rovlad

...that was a joke comment. 3rd line is a straight quote from Oblivion, except for "dogman" instead of "mudcrab".
Feel free to burst out laughing.

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

@Scavenger, I think I get what you mean. Eye augs are currently sort of a mid-game goal, since they're not challenging to get once you figure some strategies out. In a similar way, reaching the DMC is an early-game goal, and a bracelet somewhere between.

And in all those cases, they're not really "special" in the sense that obtaining them is a mark of pride. You're saying that it would be cool if there were certain choices and consequences in the game which made certain items or abilities available, but maybe at the expense of others. And a smaller percentage of players would obtain that reward per-game.

I think there are a few items like that in the game. E.g. the signal detector, the orange transponder, the dog-be-gone device, strangler's hood, and the mechanical doll. Though I'll admit, only one of them is really worth the effort at this stage. Once more encounters are in, the others should start having more uses.

But I think this is what you mean, right?

@Kaaven, yeah. The thing you're describing is "dominant strategy." And you're right, that's definitely something to watch out for in game design. Eye augs probably fall into that category, as there's no real side-effect. Normally, I like adding trade-offs to items, but I haven't thought of one for such augs, yet.

Though, now that I think about it...yes, maybe I do have an idea :)

@Rovlad, I was worried the one-liners would be disappointing. But your suggestions are making me reconsider. #2 especially :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Scavenger's picture
Scavenger

Yeah, to a degree, it is about rare, useful items not being equally easily available for everybody. With the bit that I'd differ in taste in comparison with Kaaven - I don't really think every item should have pros balanced by cons. For me that would either lead to situation where there's no real drive to get anything but bare essentials, as everything would be about equally bothersome, making people try to 'cheat the system' with some special builds or encourage coring shuffling through carts of stuff to have sets of items for different situations.

In other words, if side effects of something make me land in square one from the standpoint of overall character's ability, then there's no point in getting the item in the first place, at least for anyone who's not keen on making highly-specialized characters created for one, single purpose and failing at everything else.

Kaaven's picture
Kaaven

Item having pros and cons doesn't have to make it useless, it still can be better than the lower tier stuff. But it should not be outright "best". Let's look at two items already in game: quite neatly balanced Nanorobot Kit and not so neatly balanced Dogman Fur.

Fur is simply a best clothing in game, period. There is no reason not to have it, no other item to choose in it's place as an alternative. Obtaining it is an example of the "dominant strategy" that Dan mentioned.

Nano Kit, on the other hand, is extremely useful, best healing item in the game. But it has it's drawbacks - it's heavy, bulky and has limited uses. Starting players, trying to set themselves up, will most likely sell it off, in exchange for more intimidate things, like ammo and full set of clothes. Veterans are more likely to carry it with them, as they don't need that much weight/space for loot and already have equipment they need, for the most part. So the Kit is a top tier item, that is always a nice option, but I never saw it listed as an optimal gear. It's something that player needs to decide himself if he really needs it. And, unlike Dogman Fur, obtaining one at the beginning won't suddenly make the game half as hard than it was before.


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Scavenger's picture
Scavenger

Going that way I am more able to agree with the idea - earlier I was under the impression that you'd prefer for every bonus or advantage provided by the item - some disadvantage of equal severity. If it's a matter of just preventing ultimate builds and item sets, I have nothing against it, though aside from items having pros and cons I also would like just simple, practical stuff with no big drawbacks but with alternatives which are as good, if slightly different.