Friday, January 27, 2012

Progress Update

I haven't posted much in a few months on what progress has been happening with Crimmor.

Wyrin's foraging placeables have been added. I didn't say the full wyrin system because I rewrote his script into a general forage script that checks skills party-wide to allow party cooperation in harvesting. ( Crimmor is getting a modified version of my posted version of the generic forage script. The posted script preserves Wyrin's forage system, but for Crimmor I wanted to alter things.

Wyrin's stuff requires the pc have some survival skills to have a realistic chance, since survival is a skill always checked in his system and the survival DC goes up to about 20 or so. Crimmor is an urban environment, so finding the plant among all the things in the forest (survival) isn't needed. I removed survival checking, as I figured someone skilled in alchemy (the other skill wyrin checks) would be able to recognize the alchemical plants they can work with, even if they didn't have general plant knowledge from the survival skill. So survival checks are out except for the two plants, reeds and the retch plant, where the description of the forage process in the placeable description implies it's pretty much entirely survival skill. Those two still use survival. The craft alchemy check is made much harder (mostly over DC 20) now though to compensate, and make the foraging a reward for those that pursue the craft alchemy skill. Additionally, you must also have base skill points in survival or craft alchemy, it didn't make sense that the untrained person could harvest extracts, or even know that they could.

Several small fetch quests were added to fill out the world and give a purpose to some areas that were entirely for flavor previously. Hopefully people will find these better rationalized than NPC "I need some firewood", Player thinking to themselves: "There's an axe and a woodpile right next to you, you're able bodied and there are no monsters around." I don't like it when there's no rationale for why the npc isn't taking care of the task themselves. In Crimmor these often function as exploration quests, as the npc doesn't generally know where what they are looking for can be found. For example one npc is looking to find a particular kind of wood to have a lute made, as he's a hobbyist lute player in his spare time. He hasn't found anywhere that sells that kind of wood yet.

The scripting of some of the generic commoner things has started, to cover things like people in taverns sitting and drinking, bards playing. I found some useful scripts out there I can use.

A prefab area had all it's trees replaced. Crimmor doesn't have a perpetual windstorm like the Sword Coast, Chult, and Rashemen apparently do. A community member gave me access to redone tree spt files, that eliminates the trunk/branch swaying (the leaves still sway).

A number of placeholder conversations have been filled in. Tip for other builders, putting {placeholder} into a conversation allows you to search for "placeholder" in the toolset and find all these placeholders, but since it's inside the {}, it won't show up in ingame testing. This allows you to write out your conversations quickly if you're stuck on finding the right conversation lines for your characters, so you can add in scripts etc and test things even if you're having a bit of writers block.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Density and the Open World

No, this post isn't just about Skyrim. :-) Path of Evil was an open world on the scale of Faerun, and Crimmor is an open world on the scale of the city.

Open world games have something to keep in mind that more linear games do not, the density of points of interest in the world. Think of the overland maps in SoZ, and imagine if there were only 3-4 places you could go on them. That would create two problems. First, it would be boring, and second, you'd spend lots of time just walking from between place. Now imagine the opposite, several hundred of places you could go jammed into the overland maps. That creates two problems as well. First, there's a logic problem, "You mean there's a dungeon/cave/ruin every 2 meters between here and the next place I need to go?", and second, the player may very well explore all those places on their way to the destination, with the "saving the world waits for me!" problem.

There's a happy median to be found somewhere in there. Open world games need to provide plenty of points of interest on the main land map, but not pack them together so tightly that they run into the problems from that.

In Path of Evil, the points of interest outside the cities weren't always as interesting as they could have been. Most of the quests centered around cities, or areas you could travel to from a city without needing to move to the world map. There were a few quests you could wander into on the world map, but for the most part the world map locations were just random dungeons of no particular interest to the player other than for what loot could be gotten. I think ultimately the campaign suffered some for that. I'm not sure what readers might think of the density of locations on the campaign world map, but I think the density of interesting locations was too low.

Naturally, this perceived weakness is something I'm trying to improve in Crimmor. It's making a lot of work in order to fill out the gameworld with enough to do. Currently things are going relatively slow. I've been playing some other games (sacrilege!) and not been super motivated (this is normal in the middle of winter for me). I havnt posted to the Bioware Social thread for Crimmor because there hasn't been anything worth showing, just some minor sidequests in existing areas, and some frustrating work on my commoner ai project that seemed to go nowhere. I'm considering redoing much of the work on that and getting a cleaner start based on what I know now.