Friday, December 28, 2012

Dark Souls: Taurus Demon Hint/Walk Through

It's a small trick that's clever. Actually they give you the tip just before the Asylum Demon.

The thing is, when you come out of the tower onto the parapet, turn around and look next to the door. Hidden slightly in shadow, you'll see a ladder.

Apart from clearing the crossbow undead from the top, try leading the Taurus demon to the base of the tower, quickly climb the ladder and then - what can you do from the top?

Well, the answer is...*need some spoiler tags on blogger!*

Jump off and press R1/light attack, to do the dive attack the tutorial before the Asylum demon taught you.

You can actually do this multiple times - dive attack, run away, dodge his attack then run past him back to the ladder. Freak out that you're not going to climb it fast enough as you climb it, get to the top and stab him in the head again! And again!

And now you know!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dark Souls: Pretty fly for a white apology

Sorry to the dude out there - I thought the white thing on the ground was loot and just mashed the button. I'd heard of invaders and when your ghostly white self showed up, I went to try and fight you, rather than perhaps the assist on the boss battle you were expecting!

Not that I killed you, or even scraped you - quite the opposite!

But it may have been disconcerting!

I think I saw you again latter in another summoning circle.

I think I'll attempt the tauros demon thingie solo a few time more, in penance, before I consider accepting a summoning circle.

I didn't even know summoning worked that way - I thought you had to start it, not that someone else could make a summons offer itself in someone elses world?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dragon Dogma - from dusk till dawn!

I'm still early in the play of Dragon Dogma, and was trying to finish of the kill ten spiders quest out in this misty area which wont auto map for you. It's an interesting idea to have both the known world, yet also these hazy bits of world where the game doesn't hold your hand. Slightly daring game design, even, for what is an mainstream title.

Anyway, I faff around in it for too long. Even more interestingly the area I'm in is overgrown so the telltale signs of nightfall aren't so clear, so it sneaks up on me. I think this happens in RL to a degree as well!

So whispy ghost shade things jump on my head that I think wouldn't have turned up if I'd just left before - I miss my pawns dire warning about it or observation of what it does, because they slap it off pretty quickly and we defeat them. Then eventually making our way out of the twisting forest and back onto the more regular path - damn, it's just a barrage of wolves! Lucky the lantern lasts a fair old time! These guys gnawed down my pawns quite a few times, which is a funny mechanic.

Given that you can just go pick up the pawn and they get quite a bit of health back, but if you go down they can't save you. So it's like each pawn is kind of like a hitpoint that you can self heal, if you can just get over to them. Which seems fairly straight forward to do (except when they are in a bush and are hard to see!). But given the distance, it could have no wolves, or a bunch of wolves in their 'grab and chew' pose. And supposedly you can lose the pawns permanently if you leave them for long enough. I don't know how long long enough is.

Perhaps it's just the illusion of threat? Given the chance of various forces blocking getting to a pawn (and maybe killing you) are low.

And you can reload anyway.

On the other hand, I have been killed a few times in battle. Once an enemy starts hitting you, you actually suffer flinch animations from the impacts. Which is usually something the main character for some reason gets to ignore while the bad guys all suffer from it. Doom, I'm thinking of you!

Anyway, waves of wolves and slow, slow progress up the hill, so as to go down it again, then right and then the safety of the fort.

Basically, after a semi continious wolf fight, to the top of the hill, then the distance looks funny. I'm wondering if the dark in this game isn't as dark as I thought. Oh wait, that's right, when the dark isn't as dark as you thought, it's this thing called DAWN!

It was really weird to see dawn coming up - and a relief.

I basically bought this game because the night cycle was pimped with fear in the reviewers voice. And this is just an account near the start of the game! Really interesting! Might try and use something like it in table top roleplay!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

D&D 4e/5e Encounters Take Ten Damage - oh yes, we're playing already, btw!

I went to the D&D encounters program the other night. It had this section where you essentially get held and these monsters say a strange rhyme in your head, then...well, they ask you questions, but the start of my problem is that I thought they were still just saying some rhyme. And if you don't answer the question in ten seconds, you take ten damage automatically.

That's part of the problem of these heavily scripted yet not acknowledging it modules for this series - the scripted game just wont let you do certain things. So how about a cue for when were supposed to do something, rather than just go along with the script?

Most of us went down after a few unanswered or incorrectly answered questions. Wait no, we got to the end, we rolled initiative, then actually no, initiative doesn't matter (even a nat twenty +12), they go first. Drops me and some others. I'm not sure if there was a safety net built into that or if it could just TPK everyone.

The other thing is, this is thick with GM fiat. This isn't the game. It's not like it's part of the regular rules that you decided to play. How can you like this as being the game? I mean, if someone wrote an RPG which had this question and damage stuff in the rules, then for that RPG that'd be the game you set out to play. That'd be fine.

Here, it's obviously the author of the module sticking this thing in and...I don't know, I guess I have some scope to accept 'Oh yes, that's what I signed up for' when I didn't explicitly accept something. And this isn't within the scope of what I signed up for. It's clearly this interjection on the authors part. But I get the feeling I'm supposed to evaluate it as being part of D&D (as in the game - as in rules and such. Not the fluff). Well no, not the D&D I signed up for, anyway.

It's almost like they try and train you what D&D IS is various things that you didn't sign up for when you decided to join D&D. Yes, get your head around that! If this is 5e's direction - it's just back to the head hurting murky non game play of yesteryear. Gameplay who's tension was more about nobody knowing what the hell to do next at a basic procedural level.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EVE online and transhumanist confusions?

I raised an issue I have with Eve online in a forum recently, in that when your guy dies, the clone replacement is not him. He's dead.

I wouldn't mind if the fiction was like Anarchy online, with some dualist mumbo jumbo where the soul herp derps over to the new clone. Or some gruesome fiction where a brain canister decapitates the person before death and flies the brain through space to the empty skulled clone, for implantation.

But as is, no, it's just the same guy, for Eve and apparently it's players.

I don't know if you're shouting at the screen right now how much it's still the same person. Let's look at the replies from the forum and if you can find yourself amongst them...

It's not really that difficult a concept; the idea of someone grabbing a mind recording and broadcasting it wirelessly isn't exactly a cutting edge sci-fi concept. Hell, the idea of forking a backup that you keep updated every so often is right in Eclipse Phase.
 There's some esoteric issues with this - exactly why does a recording of you constitute you? As I said in the thread, if someone uploaded your clone early and it stood over you, you could see it, as you felt your life drifting away - how does that constitute being you?

Not. That. Difficult. A Concept?

My gosh. It's not rocket science, after all. Just brain surgery. I like how it sort of talks down the granny glasses - unless I'm wrong somehow (funny how the responce makes me think that), it's really not the position to take.

This is a much less cut and dried situation than you're making it.
What are the terms of death? And I'm the one who decides them?

 Not to mention the 'army of me' - just upload 'yourself' to multiple clones. And the responce - I dunno, a strange theory of mind...

As far as an army of me goes: One, it's illegal. Two, some people do it to an extent, but fully cognizant duplicates of yourself don't like being sent on suicide missions, and you don't have any capacity to force them to do whatever you want, so it's a limited tactic. You could make a hundred of yourself to mine, but they'd still want a cut of the profit and if they get bored, they can just hare off. Also, they have all your intel, with all the risks that implies. Better to just work with non-duplicate individuals.
I get the idea that one might not cooperate perfectly with duplicates of oneself. But if they get bored, they'll just hare off? Am I right that this is a failure of theory of mind, or he knows his own mind and he would hare off from himself, bored with himself? Hell, people often make friends with people who are like them. What about someone who essentially IS you? I'm currently betting on a theory of mind failure as part of a 'make the situation fit the conclusion' rationalisation. If that's not too many 'ions' in a row!

Okay, so damn - it's hard to know there's such a need for philosphy or neuroscience education or whatever, until these amazing potholes show themselves!

Still, writing it as Eve fanfiction might bring traffic to it, which is a handy upside. Only prob is, I don't play Eve (I did a trial and as said, the death thing put me off worse than a corpse run). Still, people often write stories about things they haven't done! This would just be...writing about something I have done, which is something where people play a game about stuff they aren't doing! Not. That. Complicated!

Anyway, speaking of simple things, like the phantom of the opera's mask, Scott Bakker has a new web page to keep the world a front, as he plays a pipe organ deep in the underground of France. I think. With Canadians, who knows, eh?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

See what you want to so easy to see. And yet so hard.


A classic image to show the 'see what you want to see' principle, as well as showing how you can change what you want to see.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Looking at the '4e' store encounters program and it's 5e direction

If the new D&D encounters are representative of play, then it seems to be going backwards. Back to where dice are thrown in a desultory manner and you start thinking (or at least I start thinking), I'd really just prefer to hear the GM give an oral reading of his short story (which is fine - I could sit for 10 to 15 minutes just hearing someone read their story, it's not a crazy concept), because that's how 'play' ends up in this state, where the make believe part is that the players are playing.

Well, in the first session of the new encounters campaign, there were various choices in terms of where do you go in the world. But while 4E, on the battle grid the rules mechanics gave you various choices. While here, going down this path, or figuring a riddle an imp gives or fighting it, these choices are either created and presented by the GM, or they don't exist (unlike the battle grid choices, which remain in the rules).

Now I don't want to aggrandize the 4e encounter program either - some battles felt as if you could just do basic attacks and still win. Much like this thread '[4e] The day I tried to die'.

Others in the 4e encounters seemed to hinge on pre play choices. Ie, we got whipped by a krackens tentacles, because we had no wizard. Though at least that absence of a class hinges on player choice somewhat.

Never mind that even if you got TPK'ed, the next week the next encounter just happened anyway. It was that linear. When we got whipped, the after battle text didn't even have an option for losing and the GM actually took the piss by inserting the facts into the fluff text 'Oh, heroes, please help us with the next threat, as you were so awful at dealing with the Kraken!'. But it wasn't taking the piss, because it was just true.

BUT, having said all that, I've seen interesting things on the battle grid take place. As one fellow put it 'we make our story during the battle'. And indeed I'd agree it sometimes does happen.

But not in this new, 5e style campaign. If 4e occasionally made a 'battle story' happen, but with some lame on the side, 5e makes sure only the lame comes through - unless you have a GM making up all these paths to go down, all these imps riddles to figure.

And some GM's get off on that. Being so absolutely in charge of the fun. I get that. Trying to define roleplaying as fundamentally requiring being so in charge, not so much.

But hey, if you find players who want you to be utterly in charge of the fun, okay. Perhaps D&D is trying to get back to you, then.

But really the second encounter session reminds me of why one grows tired of this - how it slumps into a linear track, with desultory fights you can neither really win nor really lose - combat becomes it's own kind of fluff text, fluff lent to the GM's linear story. I'll just note that the encounters program comes from WOTC - they send it down, the local GM doesn't make it up.

But it's a slide backward to me, back to something which flatters GM's ego's that they are so great (what else is being 100% in charge of fun, but such a claim?), balms them when players attempt to riot from the linear, with a much assured forum culture that it's the players fault, they are being douches, find a new group, no play is better than...etc. All hinging on the bastardisation of the word 'game', whereas actors know they are to follow a script because their playwright uses words which mean that information, to tell them that information, not words which mean something else entirely, but then still expect them to be happy with a script.

Back to the murky, like wading through molasses 'play'.


I just hope a distinction survives in gamer culture, between at least some kind of rule set that occasionally empowers player choices so much you get a battlefield story deriving from the players actual play, Vs one where the GM is in charge of the fun (and really player choices get in the way of his solemn duty).

So when we talk, we can refer to one or the other as what were pursuing and want, instead of all discussion seeming to point at the latter, given it's dominance in gamer culture over the last thirty years.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Boyfriend" mode

I was watching a review by Dave Callan (ah, what a great surname!) of some dance games on Good Game. A review with back up dancers!

Anyway, he refered to one as having a "Boyfriend" mode, especially if the boyfriend has a mullet and likes wrestling. As it was the theme with the figures on the screen.

This reminds me of the outrage of "Girlfriend" mode idea in Borderlands 2.

So how does one end up outrageous, whilst the former probably doesn't bare mentioning.

Why the distinction?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Safe but Interesting?

I was reading people talking about 'what makes a dungeon interesting' today.

And it struck me as incredibly pompous. Like a rich man picking over incredibly expensive food - bored with the lot, had it all before, looking for something interesting amongst it all.

I'm tempted to preach the virtues of characters who can die, instead of the usual 'Oh, I want to develop my special character!'.

Things taste better - they taste more interesting, when you may not taste them for much longer.

But then again that's the thing - alot of people think their character is the only interesting thing in the world and they focus on that, before a world even exists.

How can anything else in the game world compare?

Anyway, there's kind of two layers of interesting - one is where you are desperate for something, or something you are desperate for hinges upon something.

The other is where you're like a couch potato, channel surfing, wanting entertainment.

In the latter case, it's the position that undermines the interest, basically. Like playing poker for nothing, rather than for some money.

Safety undermines.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Is alot of roleplay based on hypocritical practices?

I was thinking, the way players might expect some amount of creative control over a game - is that hypocritical?

Let's assume the game was good for them somehow - and because it was good, THEN they want creative control.

They only want in once the bread has been baked. As if they deserve creative control in a roleplay game they did nothing in building up from scratch.

Certainly if the game is somehow (in their subjective judgement) not good, then they (99% of the time) don't want to try and put in effort to build it up. They just abandon it.

Yet if it's good, then they want creative control. In particular this begs the situation where their creative input simply wrecks what's there - but again, why not, as they didn't put in any effort.

It's quite a dilemma. Roleplaying generally involves players having some creative control. But if it keeps getting handed out to people as if they deserve something they don't respect?

Possibly this is why leveling systems (like in D&D) took off - at the start the GM necessarily put in a great deal of effort. Here's some giant rats to kill. Done. In other words, no ones put any creative effort in as yet. So if all participants help nurture the game, it continues - the higher levels requiring greater amounts of creativitity as you start to deal with organisation of enemies, or even pantheons.

Perhaps RPG's could do with some system that ensures everyone either contributes to nurture the game from scratch?

Monday, October 22, 2012

'Of Orcs and Men' sounds interesting!

Can't tell if it's single player only or has a capacity for co-op? Kinda like an orcish army of two?

After so many games where for some reason there are masses of guys who are perfectly evil and perfectly in abundance for you to level (but apparently NOT so perfectly in abundance they don't just zerg yo' ass), some other side treatment seems in order.
Just that in Australian stores it's around the $70 price mark for the playstation (didn't shop around for that price, there might be lower ones). Support a different idea/perspective by buying it early, or wait for a bit of a discount?

The goblins background sounds interesting, how he says yeah, the other goblins are stupid - but he's a survivor. Old enough to be the orcs grandfather.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Army of Two: 40th day - shoot the cutscene in the back!

Man, a boss you can't figure out (we've turned him around and emptied all bullets available to a small nation into his back) right after an unskipable cut scene? It's like one of those cut scenes which is actually cool and bad ass and...that leeches right out.

That's quite a way in - otherwise it's ludicrous two player anarchy fun prior. Those mad strategies you formalise on the go between the two players.

Apparently you shoot him in the back, I read and watch a video where - the AI team mate shoots him in the back for ages, then the player pops out and shotguns something off his back. I dunno - I'd have thought all those bullets we shot would have done that by chance, atleast!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dishonoured dis culled?

I watched an developer interview recently that said in the game Dishonoured you can get through the whole game without killing anyone.

It's curious these games that have options like these - yet what is the advertising? Shiv to the neck! Shiv to the neck! Shiv to the neck!

I'd assumed (call me assuming) that it was another murder porn game that secondarily has some strategy element. Now I'm not sure what design philosophy the developers have.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Unholy Consult Excerpt

There's a teaser chapter up for the latest in the Prince of Nothing series, for the new book 'The Unholy Consult'. Over at the second apocalypse forum. Gives some insights into trapping souls...and dreadful places!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You lose = Monster escape?

Let's face it, you're gunna reload. You don't die in the game. There's all these causal paths where something blew you up - but...not really, that got pruned at the press of a quick load key.

So what if the losing condition was that the monsters manage to escape? You can't die - get your health knocked down to a certain level and the monsters freak out and leave through various unfollowable escape hatches.

"But that's frustrating - I hate letting any monsters get away!"

Exactly. That's why this isn't going to sell on you, but to have some kind of literary merit in a game, it has to screw with what you prefer to some degree.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hidden Growing Difficulty - Undercuts satisfaction?

I recently got a PS3 and Batman: Arkham City (BTW: Mark Hamil...think about it...).

And I really can't tell if the thugs on the street are getting tougher, or I'm getting crapper somehow.

I'm guessing they are getting tougher. In Arkham Asylum you had a semi linear tunnel, so you could tell that the further you go, the tougher it gets. Here - it feels like - I dunno, did that guy club me in the back of the head because I screwed up, or actually he's been set to a higher difficulty.

It's an odd flaw - ambiguity of difficulty. It'd be better to show the difficulty of the goons somehow.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The 'Evil' option in games

What exactly is 'evil' supposed to be in a video game?

There's like this notion that it can just be a seperate 'evil' option that somehow differs from the other options.

But what does it come down to - inefficient actions?

Unless were talking about stupid 'evil', then it isn't inefficient.

In fact 'evil' could be running a research facility that finds cures for various cancers.

What would show up as 'evil' is when the individual shuts down the research, even though it was on the edge of a breakthrough, because even with the breakthrough it wasn't going to make the bottom line.

Except in games made today, the way they are made will mean if it fails the bottom line for the player character, then it fails the bottom line for the player. To not shut down the facility is playing the game stupidly.

The exact parralel between player character and player means 'evil' isn't, as doing anything else is playing the game stupidly.

Which essentially means the game designers would condone it - and they avoid that like the plague, so the games have you only on the up and up.

Then someone wants an 'evil option', so they put in kicking puppies. Because the designers don't want to incriminate themselves (incriminate in the sense of condoning bad things to any degree - I'm not getting legal).

Ala what was often discussed at the now closed forge, it could all do with less exact parralel between player character position and player position. So the player could be winning/gaining points by getting his character into a position where the cancer research is becoming unprofitable.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dice and Table Top Wargaming - The False Strategic?

I was watching some people play the table top war game 'Warmachine' the other day.

It made me wonder, do dice rolls simply have to be part of such a game? What exactly do they do?

Say instead you had randomly set up start conditions of some kind (but exposed - not like a shuffled deck, all the start conditions are clear from the, err, start). Then everything else simply has rules which are chess like (and tie into the random starting conditions).

One of the elements of this is that the scenarios are repeatable. You could play it all again, using the same start up as previously, and try different methods of approach.

Where as with dice - sure, people try some tactics. But are they interested in trying different methods of approach in how to try to win the scenario? Particularly when they can't  with a dice system (you just can't repeat the scenario at an intellectual level). Or do they just wanna get lucky with dice and win - classic gambler approach?

I'm not against a gambler approach, but generally only when its clear that's what your doing. Rather than it appearing to be some strategic game, but in the end you'll give up and just hope for high rolls (yet keep calling it a strategic game).

I mean really, you could have the most half assed strategy in the world, but if you kept rolling really well, you'd win. What does that say in regards as to whether strategy or gambling comes first? Not that I could see much strategy in the game I watched - they moved towards each other, shooting at first, then hitting when the got close.

Basically strategy is deprioritised - ostensibly strategy has first position in what is important in the game. But really it's in second or perhaps even third place.

I'm trying to think of a tag for that - what do you call it, in just a word or two, when a product is supposed to be about X first and foremost, but actually X comes second or third?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fight Cycle Design Diary: How to do loot distribution

Fight Cycle

Right now - well, I've never really designed a gear system/loot distribution system before so I'm figuring one. (note: I first posted this over at Fight Cycles indie-resource discussion thread)

I'm thinking I'll have some lists of item hand made (as in their data is hand typed!) by me, at a common, green, blue, purple sort of distribution. Each comes from a tier, which determines the level of skill required to wield the weapon/wear the armour. Basically in units of 100 - so you maybe need 0 skill, 100 skill, 200 skill, etc, to use a particular weapon or armour.

I'm thinking you have a loot roll that has a certain percentage for common, green, blue, purple (that latter ones having a lower chance) from your own tier. So if you are skill 255, then that loot roll is for tier 200 skill items.

You also have before tha an overall roll before that, where you have a small chance of getting lower tier items and an even smaller chance of getting an item from one tier above you.

That's my idea, anyway. I was stuck before because I thought that if it was a straight roll within your tier, then if I put in alot of common items, you'd have more chance of getting a common item - which seems a sucky result and not at all why I would be putting in more common items (I'd be doing it for variety, not to incrementally make you have to have common items more often).

Not sure if anyone is tracking this (perhaps X, who plays in Driftwurld as well, might be checking out this discussion thread), since I'm not ultra fast at implementing stuff (particularly stuff that I have no feel for whether its anything that thrills people), but I thought it'd be good to give an update.

I'm really hoping to overall finish this game. I might keep adding new touches/items as they come to me, for years to come. But for the overall structure, I'm really hoping to just finish this - it's proving harder than I thought, and that's when I chose what I thought was a more conservative design!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Serious Sam 3 - Quick Thoughts

Playing Serious Sam 3 recently and apart from technical issues trying to get it to run, it's an engaging game. I'm actually dying on a regular basis (after having gotten into the last half of the campaign). Which of course just takes you back to the nearest quick save - making it a puzzle shooter essentially. It's not really about massively good aiming skills with the mouse (like Quake live is). It's about figuring the right corner to hide in, the right weapon, or even right sequence of weapons to use. And about knowing when to run away!

Good to play a game which actually fights back against you/is cunning enough to kill you a few times.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

SS3: "Executable Signature Verification Failed" - Seriously?

Ah, it's like taking a time machine back to the late eighties. Furiously trying to figure some way to make a game work.

So far my investigations are this far:

In particular, number 3. In particular particular, #2 inside of 3. Certificates.

Use search to find sam3.exe, then right click on it and go to properties, then go to digital signature tab.

Yes, it appears certificates are the prob, as #2 even gives a link describing such.

And that link is so step by step and wonderfully simple, giving a link to download a certificate package

...and then...
Once downloaded install the certificate and install/import it to Trusted Root Certification Authorities store.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Songs you will never be

I recently was refered a link to

But most of all I started looking at this page.

But most of all I started looking specifically at this page.

I guess the terror of nihilism is that you realise you will never be this song.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Game design: Gear

Who makes all that gear that you just magically find laying about?

It's something that peeves me, like a world that does not fall bacause it's on the back of an elephant, how whole game economies rest on just 'fortuitously' finding all that gear out there (underneath the corpses of pesky monsters).

So what supports that elephant? Another elephant?

On the other hand, I get that this is the heroin of the game - you OSTENSIBLY put in no effort, and ooooh, have this chance of getting something for nothing.

All caps 'ostensibly', because it's not true. But that's another topic, given it's complexity.

So, I'm wondering how to circumnavigate my pet peeve, yet still delive 'OMG, I just found...'?

Never mind what gear system to use. I'm thinking some kind of rock, paper, scissors system where some gear cancels part of another gears bonuses. So for particular opponents you might want to change your gear configuration around.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

3, 2, 1, Death Contact!

I'm at that stage in game development where I just haven't put in damage to the player.

It just gets in the way of play testing. It's fairly rudimentry to add.

But - it's like your just imagining how it'd be like if you could actually take damage/die/lose in game. It's this hazy notion of what'd be like to play the game - which will indeed have nothing to really do with the game. It's kind of like drawing a big wafty cloud, but in the end play with be a hard square somewhere inside of it.

Actually, 'Death Contact' would be a good name for a game.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bugz: My spawn or your spawn?

Jeez, spent the longest time trying to figure a bug in Unity where 'spawnpoint' wasn't defined. Didn't quite figure out it was a transform value I'd set up in the thing I was trying to instantiate - I kept thinking I hadn't set up the instantiate properly and was going through all sorts of hoops and variations trying to figure what I did wrong!

Eventually clicked and had to figure a way to plug the player value into the instantiated object.

Now I can have the ghosts spawn after a certain position is passed, for a bit of a 'Argh!' effect - which the characters dialog is set up to give as well!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Unity: Counting substrings inside a string

Tying into the previous post, it seems unity has no actual command for counting the number of instances of a substring in a larger string. I've been hunting around for ages and having found no actual command, I've decided to show some code that does it. The code is about as tight as you can get it without it actually being a command!

As with the last post, I'm using /n instead of \n. This is because when the interpretor looks at \n it decides to ignore the n part, making the search only one character in length. The previous post lists the way you can easily convert /n to \n. I know, it sounds annoying - if I were reading this, I'd think it was annoying. But given that unity gets uppity if you try to enter strings into the inspector (ie, it just wont do line breaks if you do so), you're probably gunna have to end up switching /n to \n anyway. It's just a simple replace command anyway (okay, fine - if you don't want to look at the other post replace is as simple as: guimessage = guimessage.Replace("/n", "\n"); )

But I make excuses like a man! Now, onto the search code!
    var stringtosearch = "this is the test string /n with several /n line breaks in it";
    var searchingfor = "/n";
    var substringspresent=0;
    var searchextent=stringtosearch.Length-searchingfor.Length; // makes sure we don't search past the end of the string!
    for (i=0;i<=searchextent;i++)
    var sectionscanned=stringtosearch.Substring(i,searchingfor.Length);
    if (sectionscanned==searchingfor) substringspresent++;
    print (substringspresent);

Unity: Getting new line in inspector entered strings to work

It's weird - in a script I had some text defined with \n to create a new line and that worked out.

But when I defined an array of strings and filled them in in the inspector, it'd just show the \n instead of creating a new line!

So here's a solution:
guimessage = guimessage.Replace("/n", "\n");
 In your strings, have /n instead of \n. It'll replace them and for some reason, they then start working! It puts the special magic back in!

Gimp Layer Transparency Tip

It's something I get hooked on occasionally. If you want to make a layer overall have some transparency, in the layers dialog box itself there is a slider near the top for opacity. Once again I was hunting through menus trying to find that option!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reward Systems: One vote, one party

There's something that bothers me about the reward structure for a summer class, described over at play this thing.

I'm not quite sure what it is. I'm thinking that it's the complete lack of choice - that point systems can act like voting - and you vote/collect points for what you want. But a 'set' system - it's like a one party system, but the more you vote for them the better off you are.

Not sure I like game systems that promote monomaniacle behaviour. It really is all or nothing. You can't sway the sysem - your either a devote, or you leave it entirely.

Not commenting there, so as to reserve the cynicism a bit.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Piracy: The great narcissistic and selfish superstition of our times?

I've said this before and I wonder:

If people were forced somehow to either A: Buy the product or B: Do without it, how many of them would actually do A?

I think alot of 'concern' around piracy is simply narcissistic self flattery that all them scumbags would buy the damn product, if you could force them.

But really, how many would?

If it were somehow tested and a large percentage would, okay, there's some validity in it.

But I rather suspect alot of people simply wouldn't buy the product.

Which means to continue with the idea of piracy would be the worst kind of petty selfishness - that even if it costs you nothing, other people just can't have X, just because.

It makes me wonder if the idea of piracy is one of the great superstitions of our age, powered long by our own bulbous egos?

Guess what, at the very least they wouldn't all have bought your product. Stop fooling yourself.

Indeed you probably sell more than you otherwise would, from indirect advertising (some people try before they buy).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Unity3D : Making a Health Bar

Jeez, I was around when game magazines made jokes about the idea of a 'Health Bar' being some kind of spa in Europe or something. It was all new fangled back then...

Anyway, I had a heck of a time recently looking up a way of making a health bar in unity. I have found a way - not quite perfect, as the bar doesn't shrink perfectly when at low health. But looks nice enough and if the characters that low, they probably will die before they notice the problem. Maybe at some point in future I'll suddenly discover a better way to code it. Anyway, so this is the basic code:

var playerHealth : float = 100.00; // use your health var here
var playerHealthMAX : float = 100.00; // use your MAXIMUM health var here (to calculate a percentage from)
private var playerHealthBar : float; // just a var that holds playerHealth as a percentage
var customGUISkin: GUISkin;

function OnGUI ()
    playerHealthBar = playerHealth / playerHealthMAX;   // playerHealth as a percentage
    if (playerHealth > 0)
       GUI.Box(Rect(10, 10, 200, 20),""); = customGUISkin;
       GUI.Box(Rect(10, 10, (200 * (playerHealth / playerHealthMAX)), 20),""); // health bar is 200 wide at maximum health = null; // put the back to default
 You also need to make a, which you can do by going to your project overview, clicking create and at the bottom there should be the option for

Go into it and open up the box options. Near the top you'll find 'normal'. Open that up and you'll find a background option. It's here you can drag a graphic in - in this case, probably something 200 pixels wide, 20 tall.

Then make sure you add this script to an object (like your main camera), then in the inspector make sure to drag the you made into the slot for custom GUISkin.

Any problems, leave a comment! :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Massively Forgot what I was doing...

Every time Lord of the Rings Online patches, I kind of stop playing. I try and hedge it to the end of the month, so as to not use up my data limit.

But then...I've lost track of what that next thing I wanted to do was. Never mind the auction house mails that have expired in the mean time (I could just shrug at their loss - but then, that's kind of shrugging at the game in general).

Maybe I'll just bring up my lotro and enter the lottery they have - and if I win, hey, maybe I'll log in to see what I got!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Some good Unity 3D tutorials

I was refered to some great unity 3D tutorials recently. I've done the point and click tutorial and am currently on the space shooter tute. Very much a step at a time stuff, though you have to squint at the code in the video. You'd pay $$$ to get this from a course.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fight Cycle: Update

Quite a few additions since last time - A gym, a yard where you can grow food to eat or sell the excess, and a moves system you can optionally use (by default it's on). I really like the yard system because each click on the fight, main or gym pages is recorded and each day more food grows in the yard, relative to it - then any extra that builds up is sold to an NPC store, which sets up how much game money will be distributed at the end of a fight cycle. I really like how the economy rises from actual people and their actions!

Originally I posted this over here, should have done it here first otherwise google might think I'm just cutting and pasting others content! When it's my own, but I always seem to type it up somewhere else first! Bad habit!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Level up! Player gets +1 to gets +1 armour...

Came away from another blog where the statement " And because they care about combat, my players want new powers, which come with new levels"

Now do you think powers just obfuscate the hamster wheel effect, so it doesn't seem like you gain powers only for it to be countered by new monster powers? Or do power granting systems really give you +1.2 or +1.5 when they also give the monsters +1 armour, so to speak?

And say they don't and leveling up just equalises itself - how do you have a conversation with someone who can't see that and see's it as just the players gaining new powers? Do you end up just seeming to talk some moon language to them?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fight Cycle: Persistant Browser Battle Game

I wrote this in a non contiguous 7 days or so. Though really how long did it take to learn everything up to it? A lifetime? Anyway, I wrote it so as to write something I could just finish, instead of another started and aborted beginning of a grand project never completed. And even as it's relatively simple it still pushed at my abilities, in order to finish it. That was another reason to write a simpler one - man's gotta know his (current) limitations.

It's a cute little battler - I like that you can win it and get your name on the front page during the next 14 day cycle, as well as recorded in it's history (really aught to add some code to pull names from the history and show them on the front page as well, at some point).

Yeah, I was working on a scalper game (and still am), but was moved to finish something real quick, before taking on another big project.

Anyway, give in to your urge to lord over others and leave long lasting wounds on their PC's! That's how I wrote it and I play it too (user name: Blake)!

PS: Yet again I post this on another forum and then think shouldn't that have gone to my blog first!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rifts: Post game musings

I think I completely forgot to use psychic blasts in the last game of Rifts I ran. And it's kind of important for scares and danger! Mostly, I think, because they happen on a 18-20 natural roll of the dice, so they kind of slip off the radar. I was playing Serious Sam 2 recently and I often forget I have grenades, or serious bombs. Or a cannon.

So I'm going to have it that groups who have the psychic blast ability, one of them has it prepped to fire on their first attack, no matter the roll. The rest continue to fire them on 18-20. As before, they can only fire one each.

Also, as is expected, bio-manipulation: paralysis will be nerfed. I'm thinking one target only and to use it on another target you have to remove it from the first target (as a free action on your attack. You can do something else with the attack, like shoot, for example), if that target is still alive.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Searching nooks and crannies for loot

If you've ever played fallout 3, you've probably done alot of nosing around, searching various spots and places for loot. Really this originates in table top play - so how do we return it to there without writing up every little thing?

Well, here's a couple of charts. The first gives a general idea of where to look. You might actually want to roll on it a few times to produce some dead ends that have no loot, then combine all that's there into one description (which makes it harder to search than if you read out each spot to search in an itemised fashion).
1. Large, Thick Trunked Tree
2. Steeply Sloping Ground
3. Thorns
4. Shady Trees
5. Trickling Creek
6. Black Stump
7. Strata (this is strata!)
8. Boulders

The next step is determining the sub locations one could search. You need atleast two rolls, or even more (the more there are, the harder it gets). Then from one of the results, decide that is where some loot is hidden/some loot was lost there/some loot was left behind there after a battle. The players challenge is to figure out which option is the most likely to be hiding something of worth. And here's the thing that breaks this into gamist rather than simulationist gaming - if there's some loot in the tall grass, but they look under the pile of branches, well that's it, they've missed their chance. Even if they then say they look in the tall grass, they've missed the loot (feel free to tell them the stakes and that they got one try and missed the mark - indeed, you may need to!)

1. Tall grass
2. Pile of branches
3. Hollow in a tree/log
4. Old rabbit hole
5. Leaf litter
6. Old log
7. Rusted out car body
8. Rocks

And that should fill the locations of your world with places to poke and pry for a little bit of something good!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thoughts for game designers: Thrilling combat - what is your game about?

What is combat about, in your game?

Is it just aiming to be a simulation of combat in real life? Well in real life it's kind of a hack fest until one drops - the reason that's exciting, or even just plain frightening, is perma death.

If combat in your game is about 'wanting to win' more than it's about simulation, then what do you win from combat? Basically it's an easy formula - the more you stand to win, the bigger the excitement.

The formula continues that the longer it takes to get there (ie, were waiting for hit points to go down), the more the excitement is reduced. I'd really recommend having a chance on each attack of one shotting the other warrior. Because instead of going "oh, I did 5 damage...and he's got 95 to go...well, what's the point of watching in the next few seconds to a minute? Nothings going to happen" they watch in anticipation because at any point one guy could be dropped instantly.

But again, the excitement is a multiplier of the potential reward.

Which is generally an issue to online game designers, because they want to spread out rewards over a long period of time. Sadly, even in big name mmorpg, the designers seem to have gone 'Oh, just in case someone grinds for eight hours each day, we'll make all the rewards really, really damn small'. Which sucks and is lame design. At the very least you could simply have someone have X number of chances per day of a big reward, thus the grinder does not break the reward spread AND you don't have to make the rewards pathetic - they can be substantial.

Anyway, for a long time I concentrated on how to make combat options that were exciting. But after a long time I came to the conclusion it was like flogging a dead horse. All the combat options in the world doesn't make combat exciting if the reward is pathetic.


I originally posted this over at indie resource in reply to another poster. But it warrants it's own post here, as well.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why just one weapon for each hand?

It strikes me that in games where you collect gear, it seems fitting to have multiple weapon slots. What happens is sometimes the main weapon gets disabled in combat and it's damaged reduced - or, if you have a secondary, that gets used. The secondary would actually have a max level somewhere below yours, so you'd actually use some of the lower level stuff. You might even have a third weapon, and perhaps it needs to be a dagger or such like. Upgrading all of these ensures you are more powerful in combat.

Or maybe I'm just a hanger on to the old Doom days, where your dude carried about ten weapons around with him...I like switching weapons... :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rifts RPG (the pen and paper game, not 'Rift'!): Pondering the SDC/MDC schism

Once again I consider the gordian knot that is the Rifts ruleset. Particularly how to make BOTH SDC and MDC combat occur, not just one or the other. Of course the author (Kevin Sembieda) just forces players out of their armour (cause you can't wear it all the time) then has a bear turn up, coincidentally, just at that time. There, done and dusted in his opinion. Either you probably think what I think about that, or you think that works just dandy and I wont shower you with my dismissals.

Anyway, for the former camp, this is the method I'm thinking of to blend MDC and SDC threats. For one, alot of SDC monsters, together with their SDC attacks also have a psychic slam or psychic blast attack. This attack does 1 Mega Damage (or 2 Mega Damage on a crit) on a hit. During their melee attacks, a natural 18-20 on the dice rolls means instead of doing a normal attack, they do a psychic slam melee attack. Once they have done it, they can't do another such slam or psychic blast for an hour. Psychic blasts take awhile to charge up, generally done on the monsters last attack of the melee and similarly, once used the monster cannot do another psychic slam or blast for an hour.

Second is that the chest/torso plate of body armour can be removed and replaced with a homespun, salvaged armour (made of shards from old bits of armour and/or old pre rifts building fragments) that has 200 SDC and an armour rating from 12 to 15 (generally 15).

The thing is psychic slams and blasts are slow enough that the wearer can see them coming and opt for the armour to take the blow, making it automatically hit the armour even if the attack is above the AR or even if it's a critical hit! So it soaks the hit. But if it's hit even by just 1 point of Mega Damage, all of it is destroyed. If hit by a crit and it's already taken damage, the PC takes the remainding damage.

Eg, if it had been reduced to 190 SDC and a psychic slam hits it with a crit for 2 Mega Damage (200 Standard Damage!), the armour is gone and the PC takes the remaining 10 damage (200-190 = 10 Standard damage taken)

So, if you get the set up, this basically works if you have a low cash campaign - you don't want to wear your normal armour all the time, because even one point of damage costs alot to repair (assuming you can even find a repair place). So instead you want to wear this armour and attack with SDC attacks, soaking the psychic slam/blasts with the homespun armour (which simply costs time and effort to make, rather than money).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

LOTRO: XP for greys? But spread over time?

Yes, XP for killing aliens in Lord of the Rings online...wait, no!

I mean if you happen to be slaying grey monsters for whatever reason. What if you still got 'appreciation' points for it (ie, appreciation from the local peoples), which you can turn in. But you can only turn in so much at a time and there's a long cooldown between turn ins, so you could only gain XP at, say, 5% or 10% the speed you could if you were actually fighting level appropriate monsters?

So you can still gain some XP, but it's preferable to fight things that are your own level.

Friday, June 1, 2012

LOTRO: What if there was a skirmish campaign?

So I patched up Lord of the Rings Online recently and did a few skirmishes. Still enjoyable. goes nowhere. You've accomplished nothing but a progression on your XP bar.

I think what would be cool is if it randomised up a campaign structure, where you do skirmishes in order to advance down the campaign, maybe with some big bonus at the end of the campaign. So it feels like your working at something that you can complete only via skirmishes. Kind of makes skirmishes their own little world, that way, instead of just one way you could get XP.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dungeons & Death: 4E encounters death mod (and another AD&D death idea)

It's interesting. In the local gaming store they run a D&D 4e encounters session each week, for people to drop into and try out the game. Encounters typically run from level 1 to level 3 and shortly after end. They are there to whet the appetite (and they do)

Previously what exactly happened when a PC died was kind of ... not talked about!

This time around though, actually there is a rule and...if you die, next session your down four healing surges. And that's it!

It's interesting to see an actual engagement of the scenario (a scenario one presumes is possible) and what they'd actually do with it (rather than just speculating what they'd do).

It kind of shows exactly how much death there is, rather than leaving an ambiguous mystery about the whole thing and leaving people to think their assumptions (like, maybe, that you just die and the characters gone) are true. When they aren't. But how can you prove that when you can only speculate what WOTC would do? So yeah, interesting to actually know.


I was thinking about the last post on risk of death in AD&D. And it just didn't quite satisfy me, on reflection. The reduction in max HP just wasn't an impact. So I thought about it more and have this idea, which both combines random risk and player choice.

Survival Potions
Some monsters attacks are more vicious than others. If they reduce you to negative hitpoints, you have a 1% chance of instantly dying from the extensive wounds delivered by the attack! This is a Survival Roll! But in town you can buy Survival Potions for 500 gold. Indeed, if you have some reputation as having done good deeds, the towns folk will even let you return unused potions and receive the 500 gold back (so it's like a deposit!). If a Survival Potion is fed to a character reduced to negatives, they do not have to make the Survival Roll.

So, make your choice - lose gold! Or take a risk!

Further, for each Survival Potion used or Survival Roll made, the GM secretly rolls percentile. There is a 10% chance that the character, unbeknown to the player, gains a survival point (the GM keeps a record of this). If they have a survival point and make a survival roll and fail, the survival point is used up and they instead pass! However, the chance of failure is increased from 1% to 10% (the GM does not tell the player this unless the roll is within that range)! A character can only have one survival point at a time.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

No Challenge or low Risk?

I got a couple of long posts from Strain of Thought, in regards to "The honest 'No challenge' gamer".

I really can't 'profile' it - at one point it's team fortress with no consequence for failure along with not liking being squeezed out in civilisation. But the next it's a promotion of Hydorah, an incredibly tough shoot 'em up!

I can't really see any pattern! Except that Hydorah uses a checkpoint system (you do not have to play the whole game through fromt the start, you can start from a latter point), while in a game of civilisation, if you get beaten a certain way in - that's it! The whole thing is lost - you can't pick up from a little way back and keep plugging at it.

For that reason I'm imagining nethack would frustrate Strain of thought (you die, then you start over from the start), but Spelunky (another kinda rogue like) which has a checkpoint system (ie you die, you start again but can start in latter worlds you've unlocked), would suit.

Strain of thought may be more of a low risk gamer - he/she doesn't want to bank up a lot of progress then risk it all on play. Instead after a certain time, you can 'bank' your progress and start off from the banked amount.

But that's jumping to a conclusion and there's alot in the comments that I'm not sure what pattern the descriptions would fit into. We'll see if Strain returns with further comments! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

AD&D idea: Long term damage.

I look at combat in AD&D now, at the level ~5 range and...I run into the problem I've talked about before. You cannot include a statistical chance of death, without instigating a certain death sentence. But without a chance of death, the thrill that you get at level one ("OMG am I gunna die!!?!?!") is absent.

I'm considering this idea now were at higher levels: Saying that various monsters attacks are so vicious that for some of them, if they drop you to the negatives you suffer a long term loss in the maximum number of hit points you have. When you go down, you make a system shock save. If you pass, you lose 5 hitpoints off your max, for this session and one future game session. If you fail, it's for this session and two future game sessions. You can gain this penalty twice and the HP penalty stacks, but no more than that.

The reason I say game sessions instead of just weeks is because if at the start of the session the players just go 'oh, we sit around in the tavern for two weeks - there, effects gone! Then we adventure!' it sucks. It's the most weak ass way of avoiding consequences - it's just a free get out of jail card. That sort of stuff is for pure simulationists who don't care if the game is challenging for players (they only care about playing out a world, no matter how easy or hard that makes gameplay).

So the idea is that it will definately affect future sessions. It may even bring about your demise! But since it doesn't kill you in itself, it gives some wiggle room for the players to avoid death (so it's not just a statistical implementation of a death chance).

Possibly at levels 10 to 15 it might become a 10 hit point penalty. 16 to 20, a 20 hitpoint penalty.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

MMORPG's Gone Wild!

Once again I leave a comment at someone elses blog and realise, hey, that'd make a moderately okay blog post!

The problem: I can't permanently kill NPCs in a MMO, much less depopulate entire towns because the gatekeeper gives me lip, as it will bork quests for other players.  I can't create spells or magic items that are stupidly overpowered  since they would throw off balance.

I thought about this awhile ago - basically I think it's doable, you simply have a 'balance' server and a 'gone wild' server. You can even migrate your character from one to the other (though when migrating from the gone wild server to balance, you will suffer huge nerfs no doubt).

In the gone wild server, you can kill NPC's and make wild weapons. This server might be reset ever three or six months.

In the balance server, it's pretty much the same deal as a regular MMO - can't kill NPC's, monsters respawn, balanced weapons, etc.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

(Evil and Quick!) Random Encounter set ups

The main goal of these random encounters is that they launch an attack, but combat does not continue for however long the dice decide to miss for! Also the monsters want to get away, rather than fight to the death! Basically it makes time matter in the dungeon, but since room encounters are (atleast in my case) the more carefully crafted ones, it makes sure that random encounters don't take too much time away from the crafted encounters.

The set up is that upon gaining line of sight, the intelligent monsters throw down oil and a torch to light it (1D6 damage to pass through) in the area in front of them, as well as setting down portable barricades of sharpened stakes, set in a spear vs charge arrangement (this isn't perfectly book legal - it essentially gives them a ranged attack AND a spear attack - it's up to you if you actually have a second squad of monsters manning the stake barricardes). They then launch ranged attacks. Typically on an NPC party the ranged attacks would probably kill one or several, so generally the monsters are horrified when it merely aggrivates the party! So the monsters run, counting on the flaming oil and barricade to to hold off the group from pursuit.

The ranged weapons vary, being mostly the cheapest kind. Generally Gnolls have darts or javalins - while the lesser intelligent monsters might only have javalins or only slings (with this influence in mind, choose as you see fit). Generally on the round after the darts or javalins are used up, the monsters will run. Otherwise they resort to using slings (but this is a rare case as these are supposed to be quick encounters).

1. Sling (1D4 damage, range: 5/10/20)
2. Javalins (1D6 damage, range, 2/4/6, ammo: 1 per ranged attack monster)
3. Darts (Three attacks per monster, 1D3 damage, range, 1.5/3/4.5, ammo: 3 per ranged attack monster)

Monsters (in numbers equal to the number of players, maximum: 5 (as this fills a ten foot corridor))
1. Giant Rats (magically controlled by some hidden monster who does not show themselves)
2. Stirges (if their attack hits, they will attach but only draw 1D4 the next round, then fly off. If they miss, they fly off)
3. Kobold
4. Brigand
5. Goblin
6. Beserker (they don't bother with the oil, barricades or ranged weapons! They just run in screaming!)
7. Orc
8. Gnoll

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

AD&D random map gen: Putting a focus on treasure

Currently I've been using a certain chart to outlay the basic contents of a dungeon (then I go and modify the overall result slightly, to fit how I see the creatures having gotten there and living there). The chart also determines treasure.

1-2 = Monster, 3 in 6 chance of treasure
3 = Trap, 2 in 6 chance of treasure
4 = Trick, 2 in 6 chance of treasure
5-6 = Empty, 1 in 6 chance of treasure

But I want to get the most out of each session in the time given. Granted, sometimes the players see a room with monsters in it, but no treasure - but rush them anyway! But really, I'm not quite interested in these sorts of rooms and the RL time it takes to run them.

So what if we assumed we skipped all the rooms that had no treasure in them?

Looking at the chart, you could take the odds of treasure and make a new chart - monsters having a 3 in 6 chance of treasure and there being a 1-2 chance of monsters, lets say 'monster with treasure' has a 2*3=6 point chance of occuring. Do that to the rest of the chart, then make it work on an appropriate die and you get...

1-6 = Monster with Treasure
7-8 = Trap with Treasure
9-10 = Trick with Treasure
11-12 = Empty with (hidden) Treasure

So roll 1D12 on that chart!

PS: Of course empty rooms aren't just empty - if something comes to mind for what could be in it (ie, maybe it stores food, or is a prayer room) then that's what's in it.

Edit: On reflection I would change the trap and trick to continue to be 2 in 6 chance of having treasure. Because while you might be able to see a room has a monster but no treasure, you can't exactly tell if a room with treasure is trapped or not, so you couldn't skip those. With the empty rooms, they continue to have hidden treasure, which isn't obvious because often trapped/tricked rooms without treasure look like empty rooms as well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

AD&D: Difficulty selection

So, the dungeon level/depth is 4. What do I roll for the difficulty on a D10? 3!

It kind of feels a bit like a non choice - would you like to go to the marginally less dangerous dungeon?

Also since their are some party member objectives in there, I I realise I kind of have to hurumph that the objectives are in either dungeon. Also, what if they want to go to the other one? I guess I have to say it's a meta game choice - harder or easier is a player choice, not a character choice.

I guess one level of difference can make a difference. In rolling the level three stuff, if it was more powerful than the level four creature already there, I switched the two around. Also I only made the first leg of the dungeon have a different set of monsters for each.

On a side note, I have a series of treasure rooms in this one which are time sensitive (so is the end objective, but in more of a made up as I go way, not a written down time). Each has a marking near them that the players are told at the start of the dungeon. To see if they can remember when they come across the marking (not as easy as you might think). There are also four rooms where there is a way of getting the treasure without fighting. It's also possible to get to them without fighting.

Also have a bunch of other ideas I'm trying out in the dungeon, as I tend to do - looking to work out some special combination of effects!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

RPG/AD&D design: Naturalistic Difficulty

The first point in my last post might have seemed unsurprising: Adjustable difficulty.

But I'm actually excited about it. Because it combines a sort of Gygaxian naturalism...wait, let me define that a bit. The ol' Gyg. Nat. is whatever turns up is whatever turns up - if there's a goblin around the corner, then there is. If there's an ancient red dragon around the corner, then there is - what's around the corner isn't constrained to being withing -/+ one level of the partys average level.

The combination here is that you have that constraint, but you also ROLL a second option for how tough a dungeon they can run. Right now I'm thinking a D10, because the party is around level 4. Perhaps when they are around level 10, then I'd roll a D20, which makes the second option go right up to the top.

The thing I like about this is that I think it sucks that if you level and gain +1 to hit, the monsters you encounter will be forced to have +1 improved armour class anyway. What I like about rolling is maybe the roll brings up a level one dungeon - a level four party will tromp through it! And guess what, they've earned it!

BUT! What if they want a dungeon about their own level, for more XP and loot and general thrill of being harder? Well, now you've a choice between two option - go with the natural roll, or go with the dungeon that matches party level!

BUT, I hear you say, what if the natural roll comes up a 6 or 9 or something above the average party level of 4? Well, you can still take that option! Maybe you think you can hack it?

Or if you think its just impossible, well then here is Gygaxian Naturalism and tough! You're stuck with one option only of the dungeon at your level. But the more you level, the more of a chance you get of a dungeon below yours - ie, a cakewalk dungeon!

Only snag? Writing up two dungeons? Or use one and roll differing monsters for each room that has monsters (and since I tend to write the monsters on the sheet, there wont be much room for that). So I'll have to work out something for this.

But I really like the idea of a dungeon that is just WHATEVER! Just crazy comes as it will, instead of always being a tight, predictable power band (that essentially undermines the idea of leveling).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

AD&D: What I'm looking to include next time!

GM'ed a dungeon (the one shown in previous posts) the other night! Ended up granting each player over 5K of experience! It was a level 3 dungeon.

Now I'd like to touch on areas I don't think I quite got to with it. Some ideas are
  1.  A difficulty option.
  2.  Rolling attacks outside the DM screen. Physically this is difficult - I still want to have a screen. Maybe I can cover the map, lift the screen and roll? That might work. Oh, that reminds me - in advance declare that I will make up, based on judging the situation, who goes first (or if it's simultanious) on tied iniative.
  3.  Work out some way of distributing attacks on PC's neatly. I've been using colour coded (to each player) dice. Kind of handy, but if I'm rolling outside I need some distribution method for attacks? Perhaps I could just roll on everyone, then roll another die (equal to group size) to determine which attack did or didn't happen?
  4. I'd like to try out making carrying weight matter! I guess this'll most likely tie in with #5. Maybe add some exhaustion modifiers to combat, if they just try for 'oh, we just do alot of draggin of sacks of gold'. I guess in the end really it's just a question of whether they leave any loot unguarded and if some monsters come across it.
  5. I'd like to make time passing matter, instead of a dungeon that just sits and waits for the PC's. I'm thinking perhaps monsters who have attack animals (giant centipedes in a cage?) that they release at the PC's. Or a group of archers who do a hit and run attack. I don't want these to be a full scale combat engagement - they wont have treasure and it'll just take time away from the detailing I've put into the dungeon. How can I have some archers attack, but without the PC's manically chasing them down and having to dispatch them all utterly? Perhaps a spell that creates etherial archers? Or a portable dart firing mechanism - the patrol detects the PC's, sets the dart gun near a corner, then they scuttle away and activate it remotely (or it's on a short timer - yeah, I'll go with that). The dart guns mechanism makes it roll around the corner, then fire a bunch of darts. I guess the problem is the rogue will then grab this thing and try and use it against monsters? Maybe just make it less accurate when those who didn't make it (ie, the PC's) try and use it, and thus it'll have some use, but not a substitute for combat.
  6. I'd like to really figure out how to handle fleeing players, instead of simply erring on the side of the players because I had nothing made up. Movement speeds will be crucial to this, perhaps even the decider. As is, if you have somewhere to run to, then it seems to be a matter of calculating how many times the monster catches up to you (if you happen to be faster, then no sweat). If you have nowhere to run to (no door to get behind and bar, for example), then you are doomed - the monster would just keep hen pecking at you till you die. This feels odd though - it feels like you should play it out with dice, but it's also a foregone conclusion that you'll die, so why bother?
  7. Finally I'd like rogue backstab or sneak opps to be more prevalent. I'm thinking of designating some as being special, where the rogue can use flash powder (cost: 25 gold) if he fails a sneak roll to perform a backstab in order to pass (but there's a negative to damage equal to his backstab multiplier, just to make it that a passing roll is still the best thing). This is because it just gets a little lame when the rogue flubs his chance 60% of the time (it's fine for fighters to miss over and over because they get lots of chances to hit. A rogue gets one chance at backstab and if they fail 60% of the time, then 60% of the time their backstab is irrelavent). I'm also thinking of having spots where the rogue can drink a 'skill potion' (ie, just cross off 25 gold from his sheet) to make a failing hide in shadows or move silent into a passing one.
Okay, so that's enough for now. I'm kind of realising how much expectations I pile onto myself!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rules that provide a surprise for the GM!

As GM, would you like a surprise every so often "My players already surprise me all the time!". I mean the game world surprising you, just much like it surprises the players?

The idea for the rules is pretty simple, it's simply a matter of adding a bit more treasure (or gear, whatever you use in your RPG of choice). The treasure, for whatever reason (magical or mundane), after being picked up, has to be used that day and only works for one encounter. The treasure is a kind of weapon, always giving better bonuses than usual stuff - your rolling on a chart (say a D20), so if you roll high (say a nat 20) its pretty damn awesome gear (but remember, only works for one day or one encounter, whichever comes first - this isn't permanent weaponry). Make everything else on the list a bit varied, not just meleee weapons, some more powerful ranged ammo or such as well.

The thing is, the players secretly roll on the chart. Ideally you as GM go to the toilet or something when they do this, so they can discuss it. Because the idea is they are not to mention the item within your hearing. That way you don't know if they got the super kick ass item or whatever.

That way when/if it comes out (ie, perhaps just when the players are getting wooped by a monster), its a surprise for you as well! Suddenly out of the blue an awesome weapon appears!

Maybe that doesn't seem like a feature if you want to be able to see all game world events coming in advance...

If you want to be caught by surprise a little bit, though, that's one method of doing it!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spine of a Dungeon, Part 4 (part 3.5?)

Two close up versions at the bottom of the post, below the fold...

Well, the last step kinda happens during the third step - as your filling rooms with monsters, you might start to see how the monsters live and move around in their environment. Or as you work out a trap, you might see how it creates evidence that gives a clue to look for a trap and why someone set it.

Basically in this step, it's hard to describe because your thinking of how the dungeon lives!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spine of a Dungeon, Part 3

Next is a simple chart (a sort of simplification of the random dungeon generation charts). Roll a D6!
1-2: Monster. Treasure: 3 in 6
3: Trap. Treasure: 2 in 6
4: Trick. Treasure: 2 in 6
5-6: Empty. Treasure: 1 in 6 (treasure is either hidden or is itself trapped)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spine of a Dungeon, Part 2

Now in laying out the dungeon, I like my dungeons DENSE! I see no real joy in 60 foot corridors of emptiness over and over - never mind that I'm sure the diggers who made it really wouldn't want to dig a lot for no real reason. But maybe you do and you want to staple graph paper together to accommodate it - fair enough.

Anyway, here we roll on the chart...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spine of a Dungeon, Part 1

I upped the contrast on this a bit to make the path clear for ye, adventurer...
Doing AD&D recently, I've kind of struggeled with room layout. Fact is, as a human you can't really just 'randomly' assign rooms. To make the next room you always rely on some line of reasoning/thinking/vibe/theme, whatever. When really what I want for now is to be entertained - currenly I don't have a big urge to develop a big line of thinking/vibe/theme of dungeon design. Which makes it a bit hard to be entertained when the only generator is you.

Well actually the DM manual has a dungeon generator, but - it appears to produce things I wouldn't find entertaining (oh, another 60 foot corridor? Bliss!). Maybe I'm wrong on that and should give it a try one day to see atleast one result of it.

So what I ended up doing was to narrow it down to the basic structures...

More after the fold...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More reward for higher difficulty is...rubbish?

Might be wrong, but I think that's been pushed in game design (particularly around the mmorpg area) that more difficulty of play aught to equal more reward.

The thing is more reward for more 'difficulty' (where that difficulty is just higher enemy stats) can even be easier than before. Say instead the monster that would normally inflict on average 10 damage over a  fight to your 30 hit points and give 100 gold, inflicts 20 points on average and gives 200 gold. You can then go and heal. Well this is easier! What's the difference between healing off the damage? None and you got more gold? It's just easier than before! The only thing that could change that is a spike in damage (and dice pools tend to average out).

If reward actually tracked to higher difficulty perfectly, then unless there is spiking damage, there is no point, it would always be effectively the exact same difficulty as before, but with higher numbers (though it would cut down on grind, granted!).

Difficulty has to always be incommensurate to reward otherwise difficulty has not been raised. The only reward higher difficulty can really impart and still be higher difficulty, is the knowledge you did it on a harder difficulty.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The plausible escape: Are reloads jarring?

What'd be nice is if more games didn't rely on the reload button for death.

Far cry 2 (despite its flaws) did this really neatly where you had a buddy and if you went down, you had these great black out scenes of him carrying you and shooting enemies. It'd black in and out, making you want to see how bad things were each time (and also skipping some time in between to save you waiting as long, I suspect). After they saved you, they then had to get away themselves (they could get shot doing this) and to 'recharge' their save you had to go meet them in a safehouse.

This is just so much better than hitting reload!

To a small degree lord of the rings online does this as well, in that once an hour you can recover from being downed, so you never leave (ie, jarringly teleport to a recovery circle) where you got hurt.

A way of being beaten in the game, but without the completely story flow jarring effect of a reload.

Or; that's a question - are reloads and their effect on continuity potentially making games less fun for you?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roleplay: Choosin' your battles

A post on 'story' in roleplaying, combat and the choosing of what combat you do and what combat you avoid. As usual I find I write more in reply to someone on their blog than I can just think of to just spontaneously say on my own blog. So I repeat my comment here:

It really depends on whether you're using the old 'you're strolling along and then monsters leap out in ambush' (which I myself have used far too many times). This cuts off any clue finding on the monster type and strength to a great degree. But even then as they wander you could describe the trails of giant rats or whatever the encounter is as they walk in, then they could pull back and consider another route IF there is another way to continue with 'the story' (ie, if they have to follow a story). If you don't use the ambush thing, you can open up opportunities to scout (wow, the ranger could actually...range!) and gather data on enemy numbers and apparent strength. Or even fighting just one monster in a too easy encounter, so the players get an idea of it's strength when they come in proper force.

The problem with story is it often starts to be put ahead of player choices, ie "What if they choose the wrong route, TPK and ruin the story!? Gah, screw giving them a chance to screw up the story, I'll just make sure every encounter is doable and intervene if that goes wrong!"

Story tends to push an agenda of reducing player choices/the effects of choices to zilch, because like no plan survives contact with the enemy, no pre written story survives contact with the players. Not entirely, anyway.

I mean really this isn't something any edition of D&D covers at a mechanical level - ie players using limited information gained on enemy forces to decide which battle they will head into and which they will avoid. So when it's not mechanically covered...there's kind of the inclination to ignore it. Which leads to needing doable fights, etc.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The whole experience of 1 to 20.

Really this applies to any level based RPG, so whatever level range it has (ie, 1 to 30, whatever is the top level).

I was reading a post of a play account and it struck me how the very short term here and now appears to be a game in its entirety. And heck, I'm talking a possitive play account here, not someone who hated a game from playing only one session of it, but is talking about liking it.

What'd be interesting is like those iron chef or 24 hour game design things people run, have something like a level 20 in 20 sessions (or less) thing, with any system that uses levels. A whole bunch of people just design each adventure to really push as much potential XP as possible while trying to still use the XP system without hacks. Like one of my previous posts, but amped up even more!!!1!one!

I think the accounts of play would be cool! Though it might spoil the 'we played for three years and only got to fifth level!' type play for people who previous dug that.

The main point is, instead of talking about the game using one single session as an example, you would talk about the game from an entire 1-20 stand point!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

'I am alive' - faux climbing tension?

I was watching the above demo of 'I am alive' (it's in the first four minutes) and here's a thing: Although it was a demo, it has you climbing and using up your stamina bar.

But really all those climbs are set pieces - the designers and playtesters have played through that and know the exact amount of stamina that will be lost.

It's not like in, say, nethack, where a particular area of dungeon is randomised and you know part of the random elements and so can strategize, in such a case the randomisation might very well mean its not survivable. Or it is, but maybe your strategy wont be good enough?

Here, if I'm understanding it, its a fixed, predecided climb with no strategic element (you just push in the right direction). Well, apart from hitting the extra effort button furiously.

Though I guess you have to see the right direction coming in time. Maybe when you play, especially for the first time, it's hard to know those right directions to climb and that's the uncertainty point that gives game?

Or the raw illusion of doing it all then badum, badum your stamina meter is down and OMG quick bash that button and...

Except it isn't a tension moment where things are going wrong. The designer set it to be that way.

Well, it was the tutorial level and also maybe the combats the real dealio, eh?

'I am alive' intrigues me!

Whoa! What a fart, man!

Heard a review of 'I am alive' the other night. It sounds basically like puzzle combat - who to beat in what order and by what means, as well as stealth and even pure bluff (hold up a gun with no bullets, get a fear reaction anyway!). Sounds like it's been in development for a long time but finally came through, though people are whinging about the graphics. But as one youtube poster said, "Playing games for their graphics is like watching porn for its plot." Or at least for hard games - for casuals and/or people who just want to be flattered after an unflattering day at work, maybe its graphics rather than engaging game play (through difficulty) that you want.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Save or Lie

Reading here about D&D 5th edition

On the other hand, the save or die mechanic can be incredibly boring. With a few dice rolls, the evening could screech to a halt as the vagaries of luck wipe out the party. A save or die situation can also cause a cascade effect. Once the fighter drops, the rest of the party's inferior AC and saving throws can lead to a TPK.
Seems to tie back to my post 'How did death become boring?'

Never mind that you could actually set up a fund for your next character from the prior storing some loot somewhere.

But this 'it's boring'? It just seems to be a code, a way to get around saying 'I don't like losing'. Wait, more than that "I don't like losing, but I do like the flattery of seemingly coming up against a save vs lets have a save vs deathhhhhhhhbutonlyifyouhavexamountofhitpoints! Yeah, I'm totally up against a save vs death, all right! Badass!"

It's not the reduction in risk/difficulty (big woop if someone wants to play an easy game), it's the apparent denial of such reduction that I'm shooting at. You can see the references to a 'good GM' throughout the post. The code is, a good GM works the apparent threat factor of a save vs death, but then never applies it (unless, using the old humbug 'the players do something really stupid'). It's all working on the illusion of death, but never delivering an actual capacity for it to occur. Classic illusionism.

Just drop the concept of save vs death. Or use it. There is no die.

Friday, March 2, 2012

First Person Shooters: Shooting while walking backwards?

In every first person shooter I've played, walking backwards (and maybe side straffing as well whilst walking backwards) has ALWAYS been a useful tactic?

I just wonder how effective it is in real life? I mean, the world/the battlefield isn't exactly smooth, polished plastic like most floors in video games are (no matter what skin is placed over the plastic).

Wouldn't you stumble? Or aim poorly while considering walking backwards blind or even if you worry about stumbling right in the midst of bloody combat?

It's a bit like a double jump: Silly, yet pivotal to certain tactics.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Waves of giant centipedes, with murder in their (many) eyes!

Ohh, he looks frisky! Image taken from here

Recently I've wanted to ensure that when I craft a dungeon, it actually, definitely contributes to the overall advancement to the next level/the overall advancement to level 20 (ie, a full session of D&D/a full campaign).

So I invented an encounter - actually a few but I'll describe the first for now - for a roughly third level party. Basically it's a tunnel down which pours waves of giant centipedes, their fangs dripping with fatal venom! I like to think some goblin shamans actually know spells to charm and heard the centipedes, so they become the goblins private army. The shamans like to send them out, even at long range, to potentially kill things so as to take their stuff and the killed things meat (to eat!). If things go wrong, the shamans run away down escape holes and grumbling, start rearing their next swarm of giant centipedes! Yes, the encounter respawns over time!

Actually, I'll just post a one paragraph rant on that - perhaps a respawing encounter seems screwy somehow? What seems more screwy to me is where the PC's utterly destroy say a group of monsters, but at the same time there is always another source of XP points/another group of monsters. Isn't it a little contrived? How did the first group of monsters come about? What made it? And what made the second group come about? Or the third? They just come out of thin air - which is respawning, but worse, without any nod of fictional causality and renewing process at all. I really prefer there being some boss type who set up the encounter, who sneaks away like a coward to set up another one latter. To me this is better than 'There are more monsters to slay for XP because...because shut up! There just are!'

Anyway, back to the subject. The goblin shamans send the centipedes out to kill. The centipedes get into melee on the third round, being at 160 feet, then close at 10 feet, then melee (they move fast!). Really the shamans would be better off waiting for the prey to get closer, but they kind of expect they wont and will get away, so they jump the gun. Also they think no one could hit at 160 foot range!

They come in waves, the first is a single wave. 1 giant centipede per party member.

After that the players have the option to back off and go somewhere else, or to try and press on, which will trigger...

Five waves,  one every two rounds (ie, one on the first round, one on the third round, one on the fifth round, etc). Again it's 1 giant centipede per party member.

Again the PC's could fall back, or press on to get another five waves as above.

After that, the goblin shamans forces are spent and they are sent scurrying for their lives down escape shafts too thin for them to take all their treasure with them (if they have any - flip a coin!).

The big deal is that this is 16 giant centipedes per player, at 31 XP each. 496 XP in the end, which is about 5% of what's needed for a third level fighter to get to fourth level.

And the thing is, if I were crafting rooms (like putting actual creative effort into making each room), it might take about eight rooms to have the same effect. That's putting effort in but not really getting anywhere in terms of advancement/finishing an overall campaign of this darn game I've never finished a 1-20 campaign of before. I'd like to finish one campaign at least before I die, and without pouring my heart out into a ka-billion little rooms which don't add up to much.

So that's why I invented the wave rooms! Good solid XP injection and then I don't have to worry as much that my crafted rooms aren't really advancing anything much.

But, what if the players don't attempt the wave rooms! Good question, and that's an answer for another post!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Internet Argument Approaches

I thought I might make a post (edited over time) to address some nuances of online debate, from the position of a certain paradigm of rational thinking (and said paradigm does not have to be followed by anyone else - nothing forces it).

Here's the first entry...

"What you said doesn't make sense! Try again!"
The start of this one indicates the other person is utterly stuck in thinking that they always, with god like omniscience, know when something doesn't make sense. It's not like it's something that does make sense but they don't get it - it's just anything that doesn't make sense to them doesn't make sense.

Ambiguity: Sometimes you could have failed to make sense to the other person and they would say the same thing. This legitimate situation is what the 'always right about what doesn't make sense' guy uses to make his approach seem legitimate.

How to prise the two apart and distinguish which is which? Well, if that were easy to do then this wouldn't be such a great technique for the other guy to use!

Approach: How long have you read this other guys comments from? Technically even if it's their very first post they possibly could be using the 'I always know when something doesn't make sense' card. But don't fall into temptation to just think that -  you may have not communicated well. Really if you estimate (and hey, you may be wrong in your estimate, but we've all got to place our bets) they simply are the boy who cries wolf/cries 'doesn't make sense', all you can do is say that for anyone else reading it. Either everyone else can understand that you might think it's possible, or they operate from some other paradigm of reasoning entirely and really what can you do about that.

Reintegration: Reintegration is basically a way of this paradigm not just being an ostrification - this is a way it allows someone to re-enter. Basically a statement along the lines of 'Well it doesn't make sense to me right now, but maybe I'm not getting it somehow' means the other person admits a subjective evaluation of what does or doesn't make sense. To complete the other side of the job, you aught to admit that perhaps somehow you've not communicated well (though you can say you think you have). This admittances of mutual potential for failure will likely lubricate further discussion or at least leave the subject at a mutual head scratching stage.

"I am completely open to constructive criticism *further down the paragraph* You're attacking me!"
This is great because the other person has decided they always know what is or isn't constructive criticism, in some objective sense. The best way to be closed minded is to only ever believe you are open minded.

A genuinely open minded person will atleast mull over the idea they are being closed minded on a matter. A closed minded person will become offended at any suggestion they are being closed minded (because to them it's so impossible a suggestion it could only be trolling for someone to say it).

Attempted approach: "Can you give me an example of constructive criticism someone gave so I can learn to write more like them?".
Result: No reply at the time of writing.