Monthly Archives: July 2013

Witchwood Grove event card

For whatever reason I’ve been having trouble doing the more complex cards in Golrung’s Cave. Every dungeon has a number of really simple cards – you get attacked by some creature and must fight or flee, basically. But then there are the more convoluted ones. I’ve hammered out a lot of the ‘run into monsters and fight them’ cards for the Cave, and I’ve sketched out what cards I’m going to need (I’ve got about 13 cards left to do for Golrung’s Cave, which means it’ll have 22 cards total), but the complex ones have taken me way too long. Its tempting to just do all the easy ones first but then its going to really be a slog when I only have the hard cards left to do. I guess I’m just a bit off my pace after being away last week. Or maybe its just that Shadowrun is nagging me to play it.

Sometimes a card is complex just because of the geometry of the situation – if there’s a pit trap, for example, there has to be a card for what you do if you’ve fallen in. Do you climb out the near side, the far side, what? Do you use a grapnel or rope? Once you climb out, might you want to cross back over the pit again (and so the previously used rope might be relevant, or you might build a bridge over it, or whatever).

Other times it’s complex because of external implications. I recently introduced an item that changes how the player can interact with fires, so then I have to go back and change every other card that involves fire, for example.

Finally there are cards that are just logically tricky, where what happens in the card depends on a lot of different factors – what you’ve encountered elsewhere, what you’ve done elsewhere in the dungeon, etc.

The screenshot is from Witchwood Grove, by the way, and is a much simpler event than the ones I’ve been kvetching over.

Total cards done: 85 (plus about 12 incoming from the other authors)

Endings

This week I think the focus is going to be on getting the content in place to let characters actually win the game. For the Scout this means tracking everywhere the player has been and making it easily visible on the map so they can know what they have left. For the Merchant this is just checking how much money they have. For the Warrior though it means doing Golrung’s Cave, one of the bigger dungeons. I’ve decided to make each part of Golrung’s Cave have some particular aspect to it that will need to be dealt with to proceed further in safety, whether its foul air or freezing temperatures. Some of the solutions will be simple (like just getting some Cold Weather Gear) and others will encourage the player to go other places on a quest to find the solution. Hopefully this means that its a place one can come back to at different stages of the game, while slowly making progress and getting further and further into the dungeon.

The other part however is exactly what the player will see when they’ve completed the game, which will probably be a distinct full-screen picture for each class and probably a shared piece of music for all three endings. There’s been the idea of doing a ballad with lyrics for this, which may be challenging since I don’t exactly have a high quality recording setup here, but I’ll at least look into the possibility. I’m also debating what to do with language here – personally I find lyrics I can understand to be pretty distracting from the musicality of the piece, whereas lyrics in another language can act like a complex instrument. My personal preference therefore would be to write the song itself in a language I don’t understand but which is vaguely appropriate to the setting. Given that, Italian, German, or even something like Norwegian might be appropriate, but I’m certain to massacre any attempt at writing lyrics in those languages. I could also go with a completely fabricated language, but thats kind of excessive for a single song. Or I could just go with English, since my own personal preference here is admittedly a bit weird.

Since I’m talking about music, here’s a bit of a preview in the form of the opening theme:

Travelogue Opening Theme

In further news, all of the events that happen while traveling the various roads now have associated journal entries, even if they’re quite simple at times. The journal is split into Quests, Events, and Itinerary, to keep them from cluttering up key information that the player may need to reference. Each journal entry also stores a location, so it should be possible to create a post-game map of everywhere you went and what happened to you in each place, which might be something that could be animated like the post-game recaps from Civilization.

Since I’ll be gone all this week, I figured its a good time to survey what’s left to do and be thinking about rough storyboards and plans to get it done.

Game Content

We have 3-4 dungeons left to do (dungeon #2, Spiral Tor, is done at this point). Its about a week per dungeon for me, so thats already accounting for a good chunk of August. One of the dungeons, Roc’s Nest, has been claimed by my co-authors at this point, so I should be looking at doing Golrung’s Cave, Scarhold, and the Green Pit.

There is also some matter of creating a timeline of ambient events in the world to give the game a sort of progression. Roughly speaking this means one sort of global event for each 3-month period of the game. Currently the game is planned to start in late fall, and winter has its own stuff associated with it (though thats highly regional right now). The last 3 months of the game will probably be a mad rush to completion for anyone who isn’t there yet, so that event should be pretty light. That leaves a spring and summer event to code up, and those events should be pretty sweeping, adding things that the player will encounter and have to deal with when the event is in play.

A few more regional things would be good in general, just to give a feel for those areas, but I’m hoping my coauthors turn out a good quantity of that kind of thing since they’ve claimed 30 or so event card slots for ‘ambient’ sorts of things they’re working on. So I won’t worry too much about that for my own schedule.

Questlines: Two of the merchant houses don’t have questlines, there’s a partially initiated questline in the Gatelands, and there’s a big questline associated with the Jade Tower area that needs to be done. Oddly I’ve found these to be pretty quick as far as what they add to the game compared to the one-off ambient cards, so maybe this is something that can be taken care of with a few days here or there. There’s also a dangling quest-line involving an alchemist and another involving some materials found in Spiral Tor. Thankfully my coauthors are working on two big quests in the Gatelands that should help round out that area.

Journal: This one is a pain but its my fault. I didn’t implement the journal mechanics until pretty late, so now I have to go back and have all the various events we’ve already done add a journal entry saying ‘at such and such a place, this happened’. The game is called Travelogue, so it’d be neat if you could just export a webpage that tells the story of your character when you’re done, and I do want to try to preserve that idea.

Art/Sound stuff:

Sound. I need to make a combat theme that doesn’t give people a headache, and probably a dungeon, game over, and victory theme. I also need to go through and associate sound effects with all the various controls, actions, etc.

Art. I need to make at least one more male and female portrait, a sprite of a sailing ship (or replace the character sprite entirely with something like a sigil or crest), and redo the title screen.

Portrait of a character in travelogue

Special effects. I’d love to make more things for the combat engine to look interesting, since right now there’s a single screen flash effect and a sort of ‘swipe’ attack.

Engine stuff:

Mobile adaptation. This is the one that gives me a headache. This game was not well conceived for mobile platforms even though that was the point of using HTML5. The problem is that it has a ton of text, lots of menu choices, things like that. We also used tooltips for a lot of in-game documentation which doesn’t work so well on a touch interface where you can’t ‘hover’ a cursor.

Testing/Bug fixes: Fortunately I’ve had a couple people actively testing the game as I add new content. As much as we can get of this would be good of course, but its also something that can be going on while I work on other aspects.

 

As the webmaster I am proud to announce that this works! We still have ground to cover of course. We intend to implement additional pages covering data about ourselves, as well as our games. I have sketched our logo and am currently working it up as a vector graphic – hoping to add that soon too!

 

I would like to thank the Hermit for all hist help in learning how to work with a Linux VPS server. Its still a work in progress but I’m proud of what I’ve learned.

Dungeons

Currently I’m working on dungeons. We have a lot of sort of ambient event cards – stuff that happens to you as you travel and the like – but not very many questy things. There are three different ‘main quests’ in the game, associated with your initial skill set that you choose at character creation. You can be a Merchant, a Mercenary, or a Scout. The Merchant quest is ‘make enough money by a certain date’ and the Scout is just ‘visit every location by a certain time’, so both of those are quite playable as is, but the Mercenary really has to get in there and do quests to make progress in their main quest.

All told, the dungeony stuff is going to be about the same volume of content as the ambient events. Before I started on dungeons we had about 50 event cards, and it looks like its going to be about 10-15 event cards per dungeon with 6 dungeons total, giving us somewhere between 70 and 90 dungeon cards (we may cut one of the dungeons depending on timing, since we want to try for a release in September). Thankfully, the dungeon cards seem to be about twice as fast to code as the ambient stuff, since they’re peppered with a lot of very simple events of the ‘you encounter a monster: attack or flee’ kind.

Coming up with interesting loot is a bigger problem right now. The way the battle system works is that equipped items give you extra actions that you can use 1/fight. For armor and weapons though, you can only go with one such item in each slot, so it becomes problematic to design items that aren’t obviously ranked as far as one being better than another (thus resulting in an incentive to do the dungeons ‘in order’ since the loot from ‘earlier’ dungeons will just be strictly weaker). I’m getting a lot of mileage out of items that give you a card just for being in your inventory, as well as consumable items, but I’m still only on the second dungeon.

Anyhow, current event card total: 72