Tapping the Mind
Been slow going today. After finishing testing of the encounter implementation, I started looking at what to work on next. There's still a lot to choose from, including mid-plot encounters, random encounters, implementing the finale, and coming up with appropriate encounters for within the DMC walls.
At first, I thought I'd take a break from larger encounters and try to knock-off a few short, random ones. I have a few ideas in mind, but as I looked into them more, I was having a hard time getting inspired. The future state of the combat system doesn't help things either.
As a change of pace, I switched over to DMC brainstorming. This was a lot more enticing, giving me an excuse to dig out Bladerunner soundtrack and other inspirational background noise. I managed to get a few interesting ideas onto paper, but still have a few creative roadblocks to overcome.
One thing I'm struggling with is providing the right balance of freedom and limitation in the DMC. The city is a huge place, and it seems like players should be able to do an almost limitless number of things there. On the other hand, my timeline and budget are not limitless, so I can only provide so much. What's more, this is a game about survival in the post apocalyptic wilderness. Many of the game mechanics sort of fall apart in an urban setting.
This is where a lot of my afternoon was spent. Trying to come up with reasonable ways to limit what the player does, but also interesting things to do within those limits. I have a few things in mind, but before I start on them, I want to give them a night or two to percolate. Usually ideas are better in subsequent revisions, so no sense jumping the gun.
Fortunately, the early part of the day was more productive. There were a few outstanding bugs in the encounter system that I discovered over the past couple days, so I could spend more time working and less time questioning.
I managed to fix a couple bugs that were causing items to be miscounted when they were inside a container and used as an encounter response. The new code is much more robust here, allowing me to accept filled containers (e.g. lighters with fluid, bottles with liquid, or medkits with charges) as player choices during encounters.
I also fixed a small bug in the item animations that caused them to appear when loading a saved game, or landing on a hex with items that also triggers an encounter. Nothing critical, of course, but fixing it probably reduces confusion in some cases.
Finally, I'll share a screenshot of the latest encounter rigged up in the editor.
This is the encounter I mentioned that has probabilities controlling some branches. When the player chooses a response, the system can choose from one of several outcomes, each with different probabilities.
One cool aspect of this system is that a player choice doesn't have to branch immediately. A choice several nodes back in the chain can have an effect. Cameron and I are still learning how to take advantage of this, but I think we'll likely use it more over time. Hopefully, this type of randomized outcome keeps these encounters fresh longer. Each playthrough should feel a bit different, even if the same character build is used. Or so the theory goes :)
With that, I think it's time for pizza and beer. It's a Friday tradition!
Have a good weekend all!