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Author Topic: AoD March update  (Read 15702 times)
Vince
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« on: March 24, 2013, 09:06:02 PM »

Another update.  Let’s make it a long one.

Misc.

We signed distribution agreements with Steam, Gamers Gate, and Good Old Games, so we just might make it after all. Also, we hit 700 pre-orders.  In anything you do, support, approval, and encouragement are the most important things, and we’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received.

Current focus:

As usual, we’re working on many different things at once: Maadoran, the endgame, loading times, the memory leak, R4 system changes, new animations needed for R4, etc.  When you’re buried in work, time flies very, very fast. Yesterday was early January, today is the end of March.

Optimization:

We were loading way too much before. It’s handy to have in a developer’s build, but really drags the performance down for the players. A quick fix reduced Teron’s loading time from 20 to 15 seconds, overall performance increased by 25%.  A more thorough approach reduced/improved it even further.  The Library’s loading times went from 8 seconds to 3 when we removed the unnecessary datablocks.

R4:

I know, I know. Is it really necessary? To be honest, I had doubts myself. We talked about it internally and it sounded pretty good, but it was very tempting to say ‘next game’ and move on. Well, the next game will be different and it is a shame to throw away all these changes, which are the logical evolution of the previous concepts and the next and final design step.

So, when Oscar put it all in a design doc and made some mock up screens, I didn’t even argue. It’s fucking beautiful.  It changes a lot of things – improves the overall design, changes things that didn’t work well or didn’t fit the overall design, brings more clarity, both design-wise and the way info is communicated to the player.

Quick example: The character creation.  It wasn’t very exciting, for lack of a better word. You think about your stats, which define the rest. Then you distribute the extra points, which don’t really change the overall picture, and you’re done.

Now, stats no longer define the starting skill values. Instead, they add SP to two different pools:  Combat and Non-Combat.  Strength, Dexterity and Constitution add to the combat pool, while Perception, Intelligence and Charisma add to the non-combat one.  The formula is (Stat-4)*5.

So, let’s say you want to make a tough, but dumb and ugly bastard. Str 10, Dex 8, Con 8, Per 6, Int 4, Cha 4. You get 70 skill points in the combat pool but only 20 points in the non-combat one. It’s a lot more fun to make characters now, that’s for sure.

Knockdown is no longer a passive trait of hammers, but a special attack available only to hammers, which fixes the main (and probably only) complaint about hammers – having enemies thrown back when you don’t need it.

Expect changes to special and aimed attacks, dodge, block, crafting, counter-attack, inventory access during combat, synergies, skills, info displayed, plus new attacks.

End-game:

Usually, it’s the most boring part of the game that often feels like a chore. All quests are done, all choices are made, character development and gear acquisition completed, let’s get it over with. We’re trying (trying being the key word here) to spice things up a bit at the end. The end-game should not be a place where things stop being interesting, it should be a place where things just got interesting, where you sit and wonder “shit, what the fuck do I do now?”

I see such game design approach as a funnel. You have few options when you start and you have a very limited grasp of the playing field, and you’re a nobody, and nobody cares what you think. Then you slowly grow in power and influence, which increases your options and broaden your horizons as to what’s going on.  By the time you reach the endgame, you should have even more options and viewpoints (which should lead to doubting of what seemed so clear earlier).

In other words, a complex plot with many active participants with different agendas should not have a simple solution or an endgame “kiosk” where you can select an ending of your choice.

The *other* locations:

Well, you’ve seen the towns (Teron in the demo and Maadoran’s most notable city-slickers). What about ruins and exploring, which is another important aspect of the game? Glad you asked.

We have a number of ruins and old places you can visit, but keep in mind that they’ve been there a long time (think the pyramids), so it’s not like going to an abandoned supermarket in Fallout 3 and finding shelves to be well stocked.

Some locations require either specific items to unlock them or certain NPCs to help you. For example, if Esbenus (the raiders leader from the demo) is dead, a certain event won’t take place and you will have to stop half way when exploring a certain location and would have to lie to a certain gentleman. No, we don’t expect you not to kill Esbenus, but if you do, either because that’s how you roll or because you had no other choice, there are consequences.

Anyway, here is another location, called the Library of Saross.



If you tell him to fuck off:





Now, let's accept the invitation and have some coffee that tastes like dirt:











Btw, there is a Streetwise option (not shown) when you first meet the prospector. It will warn you (if you pass the check) that his body language is wrong and give you another option to handle it. If you dabble in Alchemy, you can taste the poison and either drink an antidote (don’t leave home without one) or try to poison the prospector yourself, which creates an interesting situation, and hope that your poison kicks in first.





If you have no choice but to fight, you’ll lose 20 hp, so the disadvantage is significant.

Now, here is a kicker. Thinking that you’re as good as dead, the prospector tells you that he found a hidden chamber. It’s a valuable piece of in-game knowledge, as well as the story he tells you. Attack the prospector right away, using the meta knowledge, and your character will have no idea that something is hidden there.  He might just look around, find nothing, and leave, thinking that the site has been looted clean years ago. The in-game knowledge will lower Perception checks significantly.

Well, that’s about it. As usual, if you have any questions, just ask.
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Dogkiller
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2013, 09:31:18 PM »

All sounds great, Vince.

Keep up the good work. Will be pre-ordering soon for sure.  Wink
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Dickie
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2013, 09:37:28 PM »

I just skip over the spoilery screens, but I'm excited to see how the new mechanics work out. As for getting on Steam, GamersGate, and GoG, have you all started picking out yachts yet?
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SniperHF
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2013, 10:42:59 PM »

Quote
Knockdown is no longer a passive trait of hammers, but a special attack available only to hammers, which fixes the main (and probably only) complaint about hammers – having enemies thrown back when you don’t need it.

Love this, this caused some serious problems a few times for my Hammer build  lol
But hey what's a few more reloads right  Wallbang


Quote

So, let’s say you want to make a tough, but dumb and ugly bastard. Str 10, Dex 8, Con 8, Per 6, Int 4, Cha 4. You get 70 skill points in the combat pool but only 20 points in the non-combat one. It’s a lot more fun to make characters now, that’s for sure.

Any word on how this is affecting combat balance in testing?  If at all?
Looking forward to trying it.

Quote
brings more clarity, both design-wise and the way info is communicated to the player.

Good job Oscar then  Salute   Anything that helps communicate need to know information about the systems to the player is a good thing.  Might help some of those random bloggers reviewing your game on occasion.




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Vahhabyte
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2013, 10:54:57 PM »

Wow, every update is a pleasant surprise.
BTW, does the SP pool separation into combat/non-combat only concern char creation, or it's now the basis for char development?
Also, how about the new system of skill checks in TAs, which was mentioned elsewhere? How does it work? One that is supposed to decrease metagaming.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 05:02:41 AM by Vahhabyte » Logged

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WorstUsernameEver
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2013, 03:56:15 AM »

I'll be honest: changing character creation dramatically at this stage is exactly the thing I was hoping the team wouldn't do.
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Vahhabyte
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2013, 04:20:54 AM »

You know, I used to be rather critical about changes, e.g. about the change in how CS worked, or one about the interface, or one about revision of crafting, but then I realized that ITS really know what they are doing, every change turned out to be necessary & favorable.
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Niektory
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2013, 04:57:40 AM »

I can't wait to see what you've cooked up in R4! And the full game of course, but that still feels like but a distant dream. Tongue
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Vince
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2013, 06:25:49 AM »

I'll be honest: changing character creation dramatically at this stage is exactly the thing I was hoping the team wouldn't do.
But we are not changing it dramatically. In fact, we aren't changing anything dramatically, we're evolving the existing system.

The core of the character creation system is there. It's not how the starting skill values are determined, but the stats, skills, and derived stats. Distributing stat point was interesting because every point counts, distributing skill points was a mechanical process. That's what we fixed.

BTW, does the SP pool separation into combat/non-combat only concern char creation, or it's now the basis for char development?
Only for the chargen.

Quote
Also, how about the new system of skill checks in TAs, which was mentioned elsewhere? How does it work? One that is supposed to decrease metagaming.
This one we'd rather show you first.
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MidnightSun
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2013, 06:30:31 AM »

I shall discuss the screenshots. Spoilery tags commence!

(click to show/hide)

Also I wonder if ancient Romans ever had coffee and what the equivalent of that was.
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John Yossarian
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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2013, 06:37:05 AM »

The new chargen should help with early game difficulty since you can dump all your sp into one or two skills at the beginning, and later invest in others.
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Vince
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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2013, 06:47:18 AM »

(click to show/hide)

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MidnightSun
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2013, 06:53:16 AM »

http://www.therthdimension.org/AncientRome/RomanFoodDrink/romanfooddrink.htm

Well this is rather interesting. Perhaps the prospector could offer posca instead.  Wink
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GhanBuriGhan
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2013, 07:00:45 AM »

Cool about the distribution contracts. Good news about the performance improvements. Regarding R4, while the changes sound good, I just hope that it doesn't require tooo  much additional testing. although looking at the list, I would assume it does...
 
Hammers - do they have a new passive effect now, or just don't have one anymore?
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Vince
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2013, 07:29:35 AM »

Yes, all weapon classes have passive effects.
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