Ripping into Neo Scavenger.

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Ripping into Neo Scavenger.

This Game is pretty much done I think, but maybe this roast thread will keep the same mistakes from happening in his next game.

  1. Random NPCs are as 2 dimensional as remotely possible. No personality what so ever, no point in trying to like these guys. They are line workers. They do their job, and outside of that one job on their assembly line they simply do not exist. You can't develop them, change who they are, or grow to like them (save for maybe the ATN Warriors, but even that's stretching it). Also talking to them is pointless. You can do it to some NPCs but all you get is a few fixed lines on a 1 way street that doesn't even pass for pseudo interaction.

  2. I like the HP System he has. It's much better than the dreadful HP Bars; which, are ok for FPS and card games, but terrible for other games. Unfortunately it's realistic enough to make it's unrealistic flaws pop out. For example, I keep blasting the same arm over and over. Why is the arm still attached? This leads into point 3

  3. Combat. You can stun, make them unable to use weapons, make them bleed (which I swear the enemies never bleed out unless it's overkill), and keep them from being able to sprint (I think).Breaking both arms; however, does not keep a dogman from clawing at you. You cannot stun without causing damage, throw a grenade that hits only a small area - instead it hits all enemies on the battlefield because the game only distinguishes distance from Player.

  4. The battlefield is equally boring, and I'm not talking about tactics or terrain. I'm talking about visuals and the fact that it's not 1980. I really wish the battle field was a top down sorta hexagon chess field(kinda like Heroes of Might and Magic 3, or Civilization 5). You can see in one hex where the Player is and in other hex's where the enemies are and do stuff with that. Visually speaking this wouldn't need to be special. It's just much better than the straight line the text seems to be built around.

  5. Weather and the climate. Honestly you could remove weather after the first 7 days of game-play and you would never know the difference. a) There are no visible seasons. I find that depressing because you have cold days. Why have cold days without seasons? b) Once you get the first bit of clothes you need, cold and hot days make 0 difference to you. Most of the time you don't even need to change your clothes for either occasion.

That's all I can think of for the moment, and these are all things that I'm reminded of every-time I play or mod it. The game is realistic and interactive enough to make these elements stand out. More than they would if the game was less well done in other areas. Which is meant to be a compliment, and this thread is meant to help.

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I remember the first combat style used. It was essentially what you said, only on the overworld map.

Rar! Rar rar rar! Thanks for reading :)

Fair points! I think I'm in agreement with many of them. And you probably won't be surprised to hear me say that time was one of the limiting factors in those design "choices."

I surround "choices" in quotes because in many cases they weren't something I actually set out to do. They just ended up that way through indirection or omission.

Also, this:

Unfortunately it's realistic enough to make it's unrealistic flaws pop out.

That's kind of the problem with this type of game. Realism is a rabbit hole. Once you start trying to emulate reality in a simulation, you have to stop somewhere. And the further down that path you go, the more noticeable the limits become.

To your specific points:

  1. It's true that most NPCs don't grow or form emotional connections. I'd argue that you can have at least a minor relationship arc with The Stoat, Michelle, and especially Hatter, but it isn't an ongoing thing. And making the wandering NPCs have blossoming encounter trees wasn't really in the budget. However, that's sort of why I'm experimenting with AI emotions as a high priority in the new game. I want to see if there's a way to procedurally generate drama between crew so I don't have to hand-write every line of dialogue for a million people/situation combos.
  2. The "crippled" system was sort of a hack to approximate what you're describing here, but I agree it falls short.
  3. Ditto for the dogman claw attack. There's probably a way to make "crippled" prohibit certain attackmodes or battlemoves on creatures, I just never got that far.Stunning without causing damage is debatable. I think it's a Hollywood trope that people can be stunned or knocked-out "safely," and I was chafing a bit against that.
  4. Agreed on the battlefield limitations. As pointed out by Asthepanda2iscool2, it actually used a Civ-like battle system at one point on the main map, but that made attack range awkward (>=1km distances). The 1D combat was a way to open up more options (range control, ranged/melee attack ranges, exiting battle, etc.) without having to build a battle map system. Ideally, though, I'd like NS2 to use a hex map for battle as you describe.
  5. There are seasons, though. Just not hex art for all of them. I didn't have the talent/time to develop hex art and memory-management for multiple hex sheets.As for weather not mattering beyond the first 5 days, I disagree. It matters, you've just got that need covered by your accumulated shelter tools. The game begins in a fairly forgiving season (mid-autumn in a temperate zone), where a wide range of clothes can be worn.But if you waited until January, I think you'd probably be managing temperature more. Ditto for July.I won't argue against the game having flaws in the climate/body temp regulation simulation, but hypothermia doesn't care how long you've been playing. It'll kill an unprepared player just as quickly next month as now :)

Overall, I don't think you're wrong in any of the above. I'd like to address many of these shortcomings in future games, too. It's just a question of time/budget and priorities.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

There are seasons, though. Just not hex art for all of them. I didn't have the talent/time to develop hex art and memory-management for multiple hex sheets.As for weather not mattering beyond the first 5 days, I disagree. It matters, you've just got that need covered by your accumulated shelter tools. The game begins in a fairly forgiving season (mid-autumn in a temperate zone), where a wide range of clothes can be worn.But if you waited until January, I think you'd probably be managing temperature more. Ditto for July.I won't argue against the game having flaws in the climate/body temp regulation simulation, but hypothermia doesn't care how long you've been playing. It'll kill an unprepared player just as quickly next month as now

No point in having seasons anyway, if the game has content for roughly 2-3 weeks of play, tops. Plus, its not really true anyways - even a slightly competent set of clothes is enough to make player's character near-totally cold-proof:

2x t-shirt (min temp -3.5, insulation -0.5)
long shirt (min temp -12, ins -1.5)
pants (mt -3.5, ins -0.5)
2x glove (mt -1, ins -0.05)
2x shoe (mt -1, ins -0.05)
coat (mt -42, ins -2.5)

That moves the cold barrier by extra 68 degrees Fahrenheit and grants total immunity to weather (insulation 5.7, where 4.0 is max). And you can still put a balaclava and armor vest on top of that and switch 2 t-shirts for the long ones for even more warmth.

Now, if the game had such states as wet clothing, changing wind, or situations really destructive to clothes worn, there could easily be a potential for interesting situations here. Right now, I am not even sure if nights are any colder than days... So now, as layarion says, warm clothing is just a "fill it up and forget" kinda deal.


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Combat does have that literally linear feel to it, but I'm thinking that that description is more reflective of our imaginations. The first time I got into combat I noted how much more complex it is than most video games I can think of.

The PC is always going to be either running away or charging towards the enemy, the rest you have to fill in. Lateral thinking n that, innit.

Weather: maybe it's akin to starvation. On it's own it's not a worrying factor, but when it's working with all the other worrying factors in the game (surrounded by baddies, maybe injured) it's suddenly formidable.
I know theres truth to the complaints that you just slap on your clothes and forget about them, so there definitely could be more ways to have your warmth-insulation-means compromised (wetness as a factor, I like that), but otherwise it does the job. Going back to the point made in the beginning of this paragraph, when you're sick ingame (certain illnesses I spose) Philip needs more warmth to sustain him (moight be wrong but) than when he's healthy.

When you get knocked out, and looted (and spared); or when you surrender... aren't these examples of what's actually dangerous about things like starvation and the environment? A person could rug up nicely, in the flesh (on the flesh?), and have no worries about the cold... but what about if he, while strolling through the bush, trips on a landmine, say, and starts needing to worry about more things than one.

Maybe it just means that if you don't need to worry about the weather, then you're not needing to worry about all those injuries and illnesses you've avoided: as in, you're a real proff! Too good at the game! Dcfedor is right: it's not perfect but it'll get an unprepared player no worries. So that's most of us.

Also it does get colder in the nights.

But actually, I'm just playing the devils advocate, and it mostly is a fill up and forget sorta deal. Unless you get mugged. Maybe we need more muggings?

Might be right about the 2-3 weeks worth of content making seasons a little less necessary, and the thing about the rabbit hole is true; however, talking about it is the only thing i can do about it. I considered Hatter to be more of a cut-scene than a NPC. When i referred to NPC's i pretty much referred to anyone you can see on the map moving around.

"The 1D combat was a way to open up more options"

One thing about the above, i'm not really asking for an interactive combat map, but just a visual indicator of whats going on.

Like keep the text, but that 1 icon you see at the top in the middle of your screen while fighting? would be cool if i could see Philip in the middle, and some enemy icons giving me a visual of where they are, and then have the icon represent the kind of cover you have around and so on.

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Re: weather, it's supposed to get colder at night. So if it doesn't, that's a bug :)

Also, there is a wetness fudge factor at play. It isn't as sophisticated as you describe, but the comfortable temp range for creatures (82-110F) shifts upward (15+x)F when it's raining, where "x" is the combined clothing stat for fWetTempAdjustMod.

But I agree it'd be more interesting and flexible if items could have conditions such as "wet" or "worn-out" to affect their stats. If that were the case, they could chain/cascade in interesting ways that better simulate reality.

I'm sort of trying this in the new space prototype by using conditions for all item stats. We'll see soon enough if it crushes even the most powerful CPUs :)

As for combat, I think we're all on the same page. The ideal (in my mind) would be a tactical map to visualize combatant positions, but otherwise, pretty much what we have now. So the text log remains, the complex health system and move choices, etc., but it's just easier to tell who is where and what they're doing.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

I gotta say, most of these are good in my opinion, except for one. I cannot in good conscience agree with number 4. I like, or rather would prefer, the battle system as it is right now. The top down angle doesn't have nearly enough perspective for good detail, and the Civ-like style of combat would make for really monotonous and boring fights. Even with the variety of moves, the animations would inevitably get old, and you'd eventually become really aware that you're playing a game. In fights right now, I enjoy visualizing the carnage actually playing out between the moves,all dependent on the minute differences between each encounter, and that's not something you can have on a hex map, where you'll be so much more cognizant of the fact that it's all just a game. Not to mention animating all the minute things like crippling and bleeding in certain areas, and the large amount of weapons, would be a big hassle.

I'd say that if Dan really wanted to improve the battle system in Neo Scavenger 2 (the direct sequel, not the upcoming space one), then increasing the descriptiveness of the actions in combat would be a good and safe change to make.

well as Dan mentioned in the above post it's just for better representation. it doesn't have to have many animations. Maybe a few to show a character as cradling an arm, limping, kneeling, prone, and so on. Doesn't have to show shots fired and so on.

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I think there's a way to still get the best of both worlds.

For example, the map could literally just show relative positions of combatants, lines of sight, and cover, but otherwise still work as it does now. No animations. Such a case would be almost identical to a tabletop game, where each player had an unchanging figurine on a map, and the action was still described verbally. (Excepting movement, which would reposition figurines.)

That said, I think it'd be worth experimenting in such a case with at-a-glance status info for each "figurine." Things like not displaying a combatant that is beyond line of sight. Or maybe a "ghost" figure where it was last seen or heard. Similarly, prone vs. standing would also be useful, but that means more sprite work (which I'm against due to the complexity of the paper dolls).

Anyway, I don't want to give up one of the most lauded features of NEO Scavenger :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

That's a great compromise (and that's why you're the developer, I suppose). Although a problem to consider would be fitting it on one hex. There would need to be an automatic zoom in so that only the hex with relevant combat takes up the screen. Even then, with the way the hexes and UI are now, they might be incompatible with one another, so it would be hard to space out these things visually, all while maintaining some degree of visual detail and, of course, making sure the UI doesn't obstruct it. Then again, we're talking about Neo Scavenger 2 here, which is quite a ways down the road, so the minute things such as this are perhaps not as important.

During this combat-hex conversation I got a little mind-wandery. I started to think about what if instead of having a bunch of preset combat hex maps, you had randomly generated hex maps for individual hexes. They would load in for the first time when you specifically tell the game you want to enter it, or for combat. I thought of it kind of as a RNG X-Com map. Probably insanely hard to do, but at least it would kill repetition.

Rar! Rar rar rar! Thanks for reading :)

I was thinking that the animations would serve as the limiting reagent for having consistently fresh and interesting-looking combat, not really the environment. I think just a more detailed environment would suffice, and that something of that nature is just overkill (but hey, we can dream :).

Soupy Delicious
> I know theres truth to the complaints that you just slap on your clothes and forget about them

I've had a number of times where gear fell to pieces at the worst possible moment. Sandals are perfect example of this in so far as they tend to fall off,
and text indicating gear is getting close to falling apart would be an interesting reminder.

I'm sure also, people have suggested being able to repair items, or replace parts, which is true to some extent already.

In terms of NPCs you can get a lot by faking it. In fact the general rule is the smarter you attempt to make the AI the dumber its mistakes will be. If you wanted to go in the direction of more related NPCs you could do something to the effect of valence/arousal for deciding how they 'feel' (treat or act towards) you. Give them things and do things for them? They like you. Otherwise, you are just another stranger to them.
Give them something like a character diamond, a technique used by writers. Four simple traits. Main trait, support, flaw, and shadow. You want details look it up.

Be unfashionable. Take risks.

The tactical map I was picturing would be procedurally generated based on the current hex. Probably a new hex map composed of some relevant hex types. E.g. if you're in a forest, it proc-gens a hex map of trees, rocks, ravines, and open terrain. Ruins would have streets, car husks, walls, etc.

It might sound hard to build, but I'm thinking it shouldn't be too bad. Probably the hard part is creating the actual hex art variety. That, and if it had things like roads, rivers, or buildings, that might make it harder, too, since the proc-gen needs rules to make sensible layouts.

Animations could make things better, but also risk making things worse (e.g. looks too cartoony or silly or just plain bad). And either way, it means either hand-drawing a billion clothing sprite animations, or creating a skeletal animation system which might as well be 3D :)

Incidentally, the space prototype is attempting the skeletal thing right from the start to hopefully make multiple poses/actions easier to build and maintain. Since the engine is Unity, it's basically 3D already.

Bodies are assembled from rectangular sprites that act as "bones" in a skeletal animation system. (e.g. upper arm, lower arm, upper leg, lower leg, torso, head, foot, hand, etc.) This way, modders can still mod character art by changing the bone sprites in their favorite image editor, and don't have to mess with the animation/rigging.

Once that is done, I guess we'll have two working examples (one from each game), and we see which system wins :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

All I really got from this was "3D Neo Scavenger"
I actually don't want to see Neo Scavenger in 3D. I've preferred the way the game works for a while, and I don't think I'd be able to handle having to fight in a 3D environment. Also, every once and a while, I'd probably jump out of my skin because some looter hit my character over the head from behind.

Rar! Rar rar rar! Thanks for reading :)

I suggest just having "table top" figurines that only face one direction. The camera angle and position never change, and the figurines never rotate either. It doesn't have to zoom in too much either. This should keep the art requirements low.

Then just have different states animated like prone, kneeling, standing, leaning on a leg for hurt leg, missing legs or arms, and if you need to you can even ignore drawing things like clothes, armor, and weapons.

In-fact do ignore it, but allow the player to mouse over the figurine to get a 2d frontal shot of them as if i was looking at my own NS character. Have it hide or obscure details that we haven't spotted yet.

Keep the art form small, no close up is needed. This is just to make the battlefield and relative positions more than just a line of text.

If their behind cover put a wall next to the figurine, if it's poor cover maybe make it half a wall or something.

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Layarion much like the current map?
It would be much more congruent with the current layout of things for sure.

You could do silhouettes from a side view. Characters and active entities in black against the horizon.
Makes animations simpler and gives a good clean design that stands out.

Be unfashionable. Take risks.

Yes much like the current map, and silhouettes could work.

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No no no. No 3D NEO Scavenger :)

I just meant that the new space game uses a 3D engine, and will give me some idea how a skeletal animation system feels in practice. NEO Scavenger "2" will almost certainly be the same 2D engine as before. (Well, the Haxe version that mobile is using, instead of Flash. But still a sprite-based engine with isometric/paper doll view.)

In fact, even the 3D space prototype is still visually more like 2D than 3D. It's top-down and almost everything in it just has a sprite on the top side for the benefit of the camera. (This is how Unity fakes 2D. It just films with a special orthogonal camera.)

As for the figurines and map, I was literally picturing just the same hex map and creature sprites we have now. The only difference is that instead of one hex representing 1km radius, it'd be more like 1m radius.

In such a case, each sprite still shows the clothes and equipment on that creature. I think this is beneficial because it makes keeping track of multiple combatants easier.

The tricky part is combining that multi-layer sprite with some posture and/or status info. Each new position (e.g. prone) would require all new sprites for everything, and that gets crazy fast. But there are things one can do to cheat, like having status icons, color-tinting, etc.

We'll have to see how things look. But I think a literal copy+paste of NS1 hex map and sprites is going to be the fastest step towards a 2D combat experience. Maybe replace the encounter system of choosing moves with a context menu one can raise when clicking on a target or hex. (E.g. advance to this hex, flee to that hex, take a shot at this target, tackle that target, etc.)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

There's something about having a simple list of moves to choose from that plunges me into the intensity of combat really nicely.
It's probably because there isn't even the slightest suggestion of how I should be picturing this battle playing out, so I can picture it playing out on the go, in my head. Like reading a classic Dickens book, when they put pictures in (basically fan-art, right? hah) the effect is that you've now been given a very limited visualization of what the author is trying to express with his art.

I wondered to myself about this idea, and tried to apply the same rule to the having of pictures showcasing the important bits of some encounters (the glow, seeing DMC the first time, every other big encounter etc)... It's not the exception that disproves the rule: it only serves to provide but a delicious morsel for the occasion, before leaving the rest for you to fill in. Heard of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead? It's an ASCII game, but come defaulted with a tileset. A lot of people opt out of using the alternate tilesets and roll with the barebones ASCII graphics (where chairs, say, would be respresented with a ], and zombies with a Z, and no more) ... and I think it's for this reason I tried to explain.

Dark silhouettes to save on art resources and mousing over for a 2d frontal picture of their gear would work for me. If you're just looking for the least amount of new artwork needed possible.

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I was imagining something more along the lines of a chess board (only using hexagons, not squares). It would use aspects of the current system (something like cards symbolizing actions you can take) and a new system that would work like the hex map. If you were prone, or fallen, it would have a fallen symbol next to the player (or enemy). In fact, you may not even need to have a player analog on the map (or enemies, for that matter), you could use a "quick glance" picture of the enemy (or player) that showed what they are wearing, and their relative injuries if you switched view modes.
However, you would need to have a way for these to pop up so that there wouldn't be too much clutter (maybe you could just have them pop up when the cursor goes over them?).

Whatever the case, I'm done rambling. :)

Rar! Rar rar rar! Thanks for reading :)

How about this?

You go into combat, and you zoom in on the hex, which turns into a 20x20 (or larger, up to, say, 50x50) space of smaller hexes. The battlefield is only as large as the distance between the two most distant combatants, plus 3 for room for retreating/taking cover. This allows room for more dynamic cover and ranged combat.

Each fighter is represented by the same paper doll as on the overmap, plus an arrow to show which way they're facing and icons underneath indicating item durability for friendlies and prone/standing for enemies.

Have a ranged weapon equipped? If you have the Ranged skill, you click on an enemy and get to-hit estimates-if not, you just fire whatever it is (and probably miss.) Have the Melee skill? Get an estimate likewise, plus the likelihood of wound type.

If you haven't been noticed yet? Your attack likelihood goes up, and you can Spy on them to get an idea of how durable their stuff is, how hungry/tired they are, et cetera.

Each hex in this case is a meter, allowing room for pretty much any kind of terrain feature-walls, trees, thick undergrowth, rubble (sometimes in piles), loose rocks, large rocks, et cetera. Different kinds of terrain give different bonuses/maluses-loose rocks, undergrowth, or rubble slow you down and make you more likely to trip; solid concrete or road give you a bonus to movement, trees and rocks or concrete walls provide solid cover against bullets, stuff like that.

I'm mostly dreaming out loud, here.

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I prepared Explosive Runes this morning!

Well the way i think it's going to happen is: It'll mostly be just a visual like system. To help us understand the battle, and not really to be part of the battlerfield or interaction. Since NS a very linear battlefield we will likely see Philip on the left side of the map, and some figures to the right side with a straight line of hexes representing the distance in-btween them.

I really like the

"Have a ranged weapon equipped? If you have the Ranged skill, you click on an enemy and get to-hit estimates-if not, you just fire whatever it is (and probably miss.) Have the Melee skill? Get an estimate likewise, plus the likelihood of wound type."

part. I think that would be great to have implemented in the game when possible.

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I have been playing neo scavenger on mobile non stop and I made it to the top of the leaderboards within one - three days on one character who survived longer then any video or post I have even seen I survived 41 days I could go for 50 or 60 but got shot once by a guess rifle which made no sense because before I got shot 2 times with a guess rifle and was fine just but in alcohol used one of the nanorobot medkits I think they are called bandaged it up and killed the drone it made no sense the combat is a hit or miss a bullet is fine you can handle it but there is like a bonus damage with some dialogue I mean like the most powerful ones I've seen are shredded and demolished but it makes no sense I can survive two bullets to the chest but if I get a shredded dialogue to the chest I die instantly on full health with good armor no knockout or anything just dead that is one thing you need to work on too the combat I don't have an issue with the current combat I like it it is very unique but fix this you can keep it but just make it do like 25% more damage not 200% more damage it makes sense for realistic sake if you can take two bullets to the chest you can take one bad bullet it makes no sense

Guy on the top