Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thank You

... for your interest, it has inspired me to start a new session of working on the module.

Thank you to those who spread the word. The blog reports the main traffic source being the reference from FallynRayne's page. Thank you again.

Now I'm under pressure. :)

Everything I post here is a spoiler, so you shouldn't be reading, but if you wish to...

Part of Thayn's introduction.

I will try for another "week of unpleasant tasks". These tasks are certain quests and plot points that have been planned a long time ago but I've always avoided implementing them. I have a list of two smaller tasks and one huge, separated in two, and I will pick them with a random number generator. When I was doing this kind of thing in September, I was able to finish quite a few important things, but not one task for each day.

1. Finish Blu quest with journal entries and everything (it's a small quest, but it's bothering me).
2. Xaxo's quest until the end, cover all cases (you may be able to finish the quest objective before getting the quest, I will decide that soon).
3. Escape from G5, teleport and the activator, Arana's variables, Xaxo again (some of that is already finished).
4. Alliran chase scene (scripting Sir Brash to act smart or otherwise doing something about it).

Picking a random number for today/tomorrow... I got number 2. I thought the Inferno dungeon would take up a small part of Chapter 1, but it feels like it's taking a half of it, mostly because of the player options. There are different ways Arana can die and I have to keep evidence of them all to give the player correct journal entries and so on. Worst of all, most people will not want Arana dead, so why am I doing this? (Probably to avoid NWN2 situations with companions you hate forcefully joining you. You have the right to dislike any NPC, I won't force them on you unless necessary. A demonspawn is necessary because you'd be like crippled without one, especially so later, as is Sir Brash in the beginning, when you can't do anything about it.) The whole escaping Inferno quest can be written in a day or two of hard work, but we'll see about that.

Here is a screenshot of Inferno/G5 from the toolset. My Illithid Interior reskin, rocks reskin and some others, some placeables by PHoD.


  1. Do not shy away from death scenarios though. Sure, players do not want their character to die, so they will want to keep her alive. But we don't appreciate hand-holding.

    One thing I disliked about ADWR was the forced success. Like you could be in a dialogue conundrum with checks and everything, but in reality, you couldn't possibly fail. Even if you failed the checks, you'd succeed anyway. As an example: When the bandits in the ruined castle captures you, you get locked up in that device. No matter what you do, you'd get it open. In my opinion it would have been better if she had made the event more involved. She could have done was make a spot/search check to notice the device was becoming unhinged, and failing that, thrashing around enough could do the trick anyway. Perhaps have it on a timer, or a dialogue script that lets you have a certain number of 'attempts' to free yourself before the bandits come back. And when they do, bad things happen, and your escape becomes harder or more combat involved rather than a stealthy get-away. Or even make it a straight up game over. Death over certain victory! Sounds kinda backwards, but I enjoy that at least.

    But enough criticizing other people's mods. I'd recommend that you do have dialogues or other scenarios with possible rewards or buffs, or in the case of failure, penalties or even death. Like pressing someone for information when they tell you to back off leads to hurt, or insulting someone holding a blade to your throat makes you shorter, etc. Of course, a dialogue route without checks that guarantees survival is always a good idea.

    As for necessary companions, why not give us the option to refuse help? Make us crawl back to them, begging for their assistance after having realized survival is unlikely without them, or that you cannot progress past an obstacle without someone with certain knowledge and/or powers. Maybe cause an auto-save just before such an option is possible and just kill you within minutes should you chose to be stupid.

    Survival is more rewarding when there's actual risk involved. To take another game as an example again, look at Dark Souls. That game is brutal and refuses to do anything nice to you, ever. It just mauls you at every turn, finding new and inventive ways to make you suffer. All that only makes success feel so much more rewarding. UP YOURS, ORNSTEIN AND SMOUGH!

    *Ahem* Excuse me.
    I appreciate your work, keep it up. I'm a one man cheering squad. Just don't rush it. Take the time you feel you need to make it to your satisfaction.

  2. I saw ADWR differently. My character was incredibly weak, she could not win a fight against an armed and armored man. I tried to fight the two bandits in the castle and died time after time, so I let them rape her. :) I liked that she was so weak. She was a real princess. If you betray the thieves' guild in one conversation, Vico kills you and it's game over. Some people prefer that kind of thing, while others ask what kind of roleplaying it is if you have to choose a certain option because the other one leads to death.

    I'm considering a random permanent penalty for dying in combat. I wanted to ask how annoying that would be on the forums, but I skipped it. There would be a chance for permanent death every time the player character dies (let's say that her brain gets badly damaged). The question is, do I want to please the challenge-loving players and make everyone careful in fights, or make it more friendly for those who only play for the talks. Dying leaves no penalty for now, as it makes it easier to playtest.

    Anyway, your comment makes me think. I'll get back to it later to check what more can be done in the module without having to change everything after. I love having different choices, but it can be difficult to connect everything back and not have to branch the module into 16 different stories. Unless the choices simply lead to certain death, I guess.

  3. Oh yes, I also loved the fact you were vulnerable in ADWR. I also loved how you needed to use stealth instead of combat, and how you could use your 'charms' to get out of situations that would almost certainly have resulted in your death. I won't pretend I didn't also appreciate the situations your 'charms' could get you into either. I just didn't appreciate how certain dialogues funneled you to forgone conclusions. I do appreciate the illusion of choice that multiple dialogue options leading to the same path gives. I just wish there were some/more that would actually lead to failure. This is just my personal experience though, and I don't know how many people actually agree with me.

    As for death penalties, I think it's a good idea to punish failure, but also that it's important to not go overboard. I think a permanent penalty will cause a lot of quicksaving and reloading. A semi-permanent debuff would likely be a good idea. You could have death cause physical ability score debuffs that last idefinitely. Like -2 str, dex, and con, every time you die. You could have them removed with restoration items, like potions or scrolls. You could tune it through the rarity and cost of said items, perhaps even make it a risk carrying them around through making them illegal and/or highly sought after. Having them in your inventory might trigger ambushes, or you could use them as bribes in dialogues that may or may not backfire. Or maybe have companions able to remove the debuffs through certain means instead. One may enable you to sacrifice some of your health to cleanse yourself, and someone else might have ways that could be considered socially unacceptable.

    Man, I've been typing a lot today.

  4. I could also imagine penalties that you could remedy by eating other Demonhearts. Perhaps once you know what that "strange meat" is, you get squeamish. But maybe you do it not to increase your personal power ( a la Highlander) but rather for survival--to get to some semblance of normal. It sounds like that would add a good degree of moral ambiguity.

  5. Well, when the other demonhearts start hunting you, you'll have to fight back for survival, regardless of whether you love power or not.

    I already have annoying debuffs from hunger and I'm thinking of ways to force the player to rest in a bed in order to get some dreams (more penalties?) Then again, maybe players will realize that important things can happen when the main character is asleep. Maybe I should point it out in a journal entry. Journal entries are good...

    Scars that potentially reduce charisma are something demonhearts naturally acquire through fights, but that's probably not enough to make people care about dying.

    Anyway, you should have more business with creatures that can and want to kill you for good as you progress through the modules. The fights in the beginning are problematic and shouldn't have serious consequences because you have a level 1 PC and a level 5 henchman, Sir Brash. Any suggestions how to make the fights more fun, being that Sir Brash usually kills everything and PC easily dies?

  6. Make the fights harder!
    No, really. Make them too hard for you and your henchmen to handle up front. To counter this, provide items, such as traps and tanglefoot bags. Perhaps objects in the environment that you can interact with to lure enemies into ambushes and traps. In lieu of stealth, which is notoriously unpredictable at very low levels given the low skill values, you could add triggers that will do a listen check that can warn you of enemies ahead. Perhaps trigger a dialogue with some options as to how to proceed.

    Basically, ways to manipulate the battlefield so you have influence beyond that of your combat abilities.

    This is just me, but I enjoy three difficult but well made encounters more than ten generic monster slaughters.

  7. uhh! I like that, in most games, I mostly ignore sleep and food as it has no impact on your character, but the idé that you get debuffs if you don't eat or sleep is great, you could even add it so that if you ignore the first debuff you in increases.
    Getting scars if you die or get badly wounded would be nice, I am one of the players likes that you get punished if you fail or die, and if there are fights involved it's nice if they are a little hard and not to easy.

    Am curious about one thing, with the quest's are there options, in dialog that will let you find different way's of getting out of trouble or maybe getting information, like bluffs, charisma, intimidate or even fights?
    Having to take advantage of listen and spot check's in quest would be nice as well.

    hmm, if you are lvl 1 and Sir Brash is lvl 5, will the mobs be lvl 1 or 5, or maybe in between, like 3?

  8. Giving the PC permanent debuffs if she dies can make players care, but it also gives the illusion that it's meant to be played that way. They may realize too late that their character is too weak to continue. There isn't much magic that could remove the crippling wounds, although some witches' potions do exist... Maybe I can make them cure crippled limbs. It would be a rare type of potion with custom scripting. These stat penalties would also need to be applied together with the hunger and sleep penalties. If my to-do lists don't get out of hand, I'll do that. I only have hunger working for now and the penalty increases with time, but slower for each new point loss.

    The first mobs are level 2-3 to avoid giving too much XP, but they are mostly overpowered for their level. I'm testing the fights and I just gave up and returned to the toolset after a series of deaths of my character and Sir Brash. Rising with 1 hit point with enemies on your head is bad. :) Since Brash has to go with you, he's only "unconscious" instead of dying, it's an exception so the beginning of the game is playable. I can make it the player's choice how much you want to regenerate (and wait) before rising. You don't wait for resurrection if you don't have any living companions.

    I like tanglefoot bags. I'm adding some extra consumables to the enemies' inventories (and also to pickpocketable allies). If they don't use them on you, you can loot them.

    I thought there was a screenshot here of Brash warning you about an ambush. You can tell him to go first until the enemies reveal themselves. You're expected to take a ranged weapon and run away from the melee enemies when you can, but there are ranged enemies, too.

    Persuade/bluff/intimidate is needed in a few situations where you can't get a certain outcome unless you pass a check of your choice. I'll have to mention that in the readme. Trying to fight certain characters is plainly stupid and I'm not sure if I'm going to make them kill you once and forgive you, or game over. But if I spice it up with too many listen or spot checks, I'm afraid people will miss out on the hard-written content. I remember now that there is a spot check that makes one riddle easier (the twice-cursed binary riddle, cursed by my two friends who despise math and don't know binary numbers). It takes me a while to remember what there is in the module. :)

  9. Have also wandered in here to your super secret blog. Hope my security clearance is high enough to continue reading. :)

    First of all, I think this is a darned impressive looking module project. Especially too considering English isn't your native language. Am most impressed with everything I've seen/read so far!

    Just a semi-quick aside, I also played my princess to be extremely weak in my first few runs though with ADWR. I patterned her after a female coworker of mine, as well as I just pictured myself as a naive young royal who was sheltered away from all that nastiness of the real world. So I felt many times she would have no idea what it would be like to be out there alone on the mean streets of a hostile occupied city. I would let her get taken advantage of quite a bit. If anything, I wish there were *more* chances of her to be taken advantage of during the course of her wandering around in the city. As well as further possible rapes in the bandit castle.

    Enough of that for now.

    Just a comment or two about *your* fine upcoming mod:

    I don't care either way about permadeath or not. I am one of those paranoid types who quicksave a lot anyway. So either a permanent death or a respawn somewhere in a location way back in the module somewhere won't affect me one way or the other. Unless of course you somehow take a way my quicksave ability. :P

    Requiring food is a bit of a pain for me though. I am a packrat by nature with mod's. Never know what might be important in a module down the line, so I pretty much take anything that isn't nailed down. ;) So I guess it would be nice if you do require food, that you provide magic bags/boxes/bags of holding for us so we can carry some of the excess food in our inventory.

    But of course this is YOUR module. Do as you see fit with it. Just passing along some my likes/dislikes as a player. As I said, I am REALLY looking forward to the release of this. And as others have said, release it when you feel you yourself truly feel it's ready for play.

    Thanks again for all the updates!

  10. A friend who is a professor of English (though not a native speaker, but he's a genius :P) will check everything. If he misses something, I hope players will point it out.

    I used to have a quest related to food that I later cut due to a story change. There are more reasons to require sleep than food now. Nothing is definite, I'll see what makes sense later. I feel nice when NPCs give me strawberries and sandwiches because they care for me, but hunger annoys me quite a bit when testing (not the stat penalties, but the messages and red icons).

  11. Is he one of those that correct every mistake you make? Because I have one of those types of friends. He's got a masters in some sort of linguistics, and he's allergic to the brutalization of language. Add to that that I'm mostly self-taught in the Engrishes and often mix up British and American spellings. Drives him insane.

  12. I think he's too afraid of me to actively correct me or show annoyance, but he can find mistakes. The better he says my English is, the less I trust him.

    When I make him play some part of the module, he finds a wrongly used word and then frowns at it for five minutes... Only 69.999 words to go. :) I trust him, but he could skip something. He can't write a blog post in his own language without accidentally omitting words if you beat him. But he's translated fantasy books from English professionally, so I guess he can write. If someone reads it after.

    I hope the huge branching dialogs don't drive him insane. It will be difficult to find all objects in the toolset where I've added a custom name or description for checking, unless someone knows a convenient way to do it, since I don't have these objects in palettes. There are also strings to be spoken in scripts, I have an idea how to find those.