Midweek Bonus Update: Balance!

MembranesI’ve been doing some balance testing with the team and some folks that I trust from previous projects. The original balance was pretty awful, all things considered, but so far everyone is really liking the balance changes I’ve been working on.

If you’re coming into this from Prototype 2, here’s a rough idea of what’s different:

  1. There’s a lot more enemies.
  2. Enemies are generally weaker.
  3. Mei and Florentina get a lot more from level-ups.
  4. Mei and Florentina level up a lot faster.
  5. There are more mechanics added (Powerful Blows, new abilities, loot drops, upgrades) that add a lot of variety to the battles.
  6. There are more enemy types available. There are also higher tiers of enemies (Cultists of Rank 2 now exist).
  7. There are three bosses in the game now. Each one requires a particular strategy to beat: You probably won’t be able to brute-force the fight!
  8. There are more support items to use to heal yourself and buff yourself during combat.
  9. Combat flows a lot faster and smoother (animation timers were reduced, health-bar animations are paced better, etc).
  10. Most of the display bugs from combat are gone.
  11. Enemy positions were shuffled around so you likely won’t run into super-tough enemies unless you’re really not paying attention.

Hoo-wee, that’s a lot isn’t it?

I also have been tracking roughly how long it takes various players to get to various stages. Urimas, who likes to kill things but doesn’t read most of the flavor text, says it took him 2 hours to reach the Quantir Mansion (following the game’s advertised path), while Scarrfish, who tends to read more flavor text and explore more, had just met up with Florentina at the 2 hour mark.

If you’re just playing the main storyline, you’ll probably take about 3 hours to finish Chapter 1.

If you’re looking to see all the content, I’d estimate it’s 6-8 hours to finish everything, depending on how good you are at combat and avoiding enemies (and how fast you can read).

Pretty darn good for an indie game, right?

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Design With a Grain of Salt: Maps!

The Nonsense Resumes!

ChinUp

 

Comrades! This is the second in our periodic series on game design. Today we focus on maps and how they can help make your game better. We’ll also be talking about the design pitfalls indie developers fall into once they realize they have a game but no good mappers.

If you want to see the first part in this series, on Dialogue Design, just click on this strangely coloured text.

Continue reading “Design With a Grain of Salt: Maps!”

Development Update: August 7th, 2017

The Art Front

Slime Promotional

Urimas has gotten me some sprites of Aquillia which I hope to put in the game soon. Chicken believes she will finish Mei’s Werecat dialogue portraits this week, and Hund will finish up coloring and shading the Mei Slime dialogue portraits. Rune has also gotten us a ghostly maid. Spooky!

 

 

 

The Code Front

Here’s the major additions for this week:

Werecat Transformation Scene

Finally, Mei can turn into a werecat! There’s an extended scene with a guest appearance by Nadia and an optional minor H-Scene. By the light of the moon!

Quantir Mansion Completed

The baseline event sequence for the Quantir Mansion is now complete, including an optional boss battle (that hasn’t been balanced yet…). The layout is done, all I need to do is make sure the enemy positioning and patrols work, and add a couple of missing triggers for the doors. I also need to make sure that the mansion doesn’t cause any bugs because it’s possible to approach it from two directions.

Mei and Florentina can now finally find what they need to end the chapter!

Sister Claudia Implemented

Sister Claudia now appears in the game! Find her journal, find her research notes, find what’s left of her convent…

Nix Nedar under development

The home of the Rilmani, Nix Nedar is the last major area I need to create before the chapter is complete. I do intend to add a bit of bonus content if I have time. I need to get some furniture sprites from Urimas before I can truly complete the area, though.

Map Redesign

I’ve redesigned the maps to use patrols and enemy grouping more than before, and added enemies to the northern section of the map which didn’t have them in Prototype 2.

Whether or not this is balanced, I am less sure of. I’ve added another save point to the forest and made more 1-enemy groupings in the early areas. Later on, the game is balanced around having Florentina in the party and Mei upgrading her equipment, but the only way to test the balancing is to… test it. That will take a while.

Item Redesign

I’m most of the way through adding extra loot for you to find. Special equipment such as the Fencer’s Raiment, which provides little defense but boosts Mei’s attack power, will come in handy during some of the boss battles. Code needs to be added for weapons like the Serrated Katana, which increases bleed damage but deals less overall than the Rusty Katana. It’ll be quite useful during a certain boss encounter, as well.

Design Theorizing

Expect a post later this week on map design, once I have some spare time. Been extra busy this week because I have to cover for other people at work, all the time, damn it.

Prototype 3 Status

The target for Prototype 3 is End of August. Here’s the checklist:

  • The Quantir Mansion completed (Check!)
  • Nix Nedar completed (In progress!)
  • The Dimensional Trap basement mini-dungeon completed (CHECK!)
  • The Dimensional Trap upper floor mini-dungeon completed
  • The Dimensional Trap main-floor redesign completed (CHECK!)
  • Werecat TF and event sequence completed (Check!)
  • Ghost Maid TF and event sequence completed
  • Breanne’s flower subquest completed
  • Florentina’s past subquest completed
  • Old map enemy redesign completed (CHECK!)
  • Probably something else that will come up and be too good to ignore.
  • All the attendant bugs…

Boring Changelog

Here’s all the things different since last week:

  • Added Werecat TF. Yay!
  • Abortive slumber party during Werecat TF! Yay!
  • Nadia/Mei H-scene during Werecat TF! Yay!
  • Fixed the maps to use their correct positions on the world map where applicable.
  • Added the Quantir Estate event chain.
  • Added the Claudia Rescue event chain.
  • Fixed a bug when upgrading equipment that isn’t equipped on a character.
  • Removed debug code for upgrading equipment. It now actually costs ingredients to upgrade stuff.
  • Fixed a bug where poison and bleed would not reset between combats in some cases.
  • Added patrolling werecat enemies.
  • Added enemies to the path between Breanne’s and the Quantir Mansion.
  • Added werecat scavenger to Quantir area.

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Development Update: July 31st, 2017

Holy Cow, Artistry

This week, the art team really went wild. Urimas completed several full sprite sheets. The only two characters remaining to be sprited for Chapter 1 are Aquillia and Claudia.

Chickenwhite decided to go berserk and complete Blythe, Nadia, and Claudia’s dialogue portraits (1 each, since they’re minor characters) and then stun me by completing Mei’s dialogue portraits for Alraune, Bee, and Slime. That’s a whopping 30 dialogue portraits in 7 days! Way to go, Chicken!

Stinkehund has been inking steadily and should be getting the coloring done for all those images within a week or two.

Rune has resumed work and will probably be finishing Mei’s Werecat shading and the Ghost enemy. He’s also going to be doing some color study work to improve his craft.

Holy Goat, Coding

Because I’m a loser, I decided I’d keep pace with Chicken on the coding front.

Major Map Overhaul: Dimensional Trap

I redid all of the maps for the Dimensional Trap’s main floor. Instead of being one map with a bunch of barely-navigable hallways, it’s now five maps with wider hallways, smarter enemy placement, and treasure. There’s also an odd building on the western edge with a locked door. If only a certain someone could pick it…

New Major Section: Dimensional Trap Dungeon

If you figure out how to get into the western building, a dungeon awaits you, complete with a boss battle against… something not of this world (or of Pandemonium, either). There’s also a puzzle:

DialogueShot02As well as some new cutscenes, loot, and character interactions.

New Scenes: Alraune’s Well That Ends Well

Under the right circumstances, Mei can now voluntarily become an Alraune. Just ask around at Breanne’s Pit Stop!
In fact, she’s so happy that she might even transform a human she meets, with Rochea’s guidance of course.

Improved Boss Battle: Beehive Corruption Events

I redid the balance for the boss at the end of the Beehive mini-dungeon. It now presents a real challenge and encourages you to use the new stun mechanics (Mei learns Pommel Bash at level 3, and you will need it!).

A bunch of bugfixes

Because a coder’s work is never done.

Boring Changelog

Here’s the changelog differences from last week.

  • Redesigned the Dimensional Trap main floor. It’s now multiple rooms with new examinables, enemy patrols, and stuff to do.
  • Modified a lot of the old maps to use enemy pathing. Dodge patrols!
  • Put a special present in the Salt Flats for Aaaac and Mugen Kagemaru.
  • Finished up the Dimensional Trap Dungeon scenes.
  • Added Real Fake Chests. Hey are you tired of real chests cluttering up your dungeon, where you open them and they actually contain something? Fill a whole room up with real fake chests! Check this out! Mm, won’t open. Mm, won’t open!
  • Fixed up a lot of backend code in older dialogues, specifically with Rochea.
  • Rewrote the text parser to use an autoresolver. Please be on the lookout for &&BUGS&&.
  • Did a bunch of text housekeeping. Be on the lookout for ^^BUGS^^.
  • Inventory UI will now work correctly when the player has more than 13 items.
  • Some NPCs will now spawn at the Pit Stop. Some even have some interesting things to say…
  • Added a way to get transformed into an Alraune voluntarily.
  • Under the right circumstances, Mei can even turn someone else into an Alraune…
  • Hey everybody. Just did some other stuff, updated the patch notes. Still here, still sellin fake chests! We have fake chests like you wouldn’t believe, what are you worried about? Come get fake chests! Don’t even hesitate, don’t even worry.
  • Added modern lineart for Blythe, Nadia, and Claudia.
  • Added modern lineart for Mei’s Alraune form.
  • Added modern lineart for Mei’s Slime form.
  • Added modern lineart for Mei’s Bee form.
  • Enhanced the bee hive dungeon layout a bit.
  • You can no longer retreat from plot-important battles.
  • Enemies will no longer target downed party members with splash attacks.
  • Party members should animate correctly when felled by a DoT.
  • Enemies can now reinforce from scripts, making for some interesting miniboss mechanics! HINT FREAKIN’ HINT.
  • Fixed a bug where items would sometimes consume a turn even though they really shouldn’t.
  • Fixed some dialogue bugs.

Design Theorizing

In case you missed it, I wrote a post on dialogue design theory. It’s worth a read if you consider yourself a budding game designer. It’s not worth a read if you think literacy causes polio.

Prototype 3 Checklist

Prototype 3’s objective is End of August.

Here’s a list of things I want to make it into Prototype 3.

  • The Quantir Mansion completed
  • Nix Nedar completed
  • The Dimensional Trap basement mini-dungeon completed (CHECK!)
  • The Dimensional Trap upper floor mini-dungeon completed
  • The Dimensional Trap main-floor redesign completed (CHECK!)
  • Werecat TF and event sequence completed
  • Ghost Maid TF and event sequence completed
  • Breanne’s flower subquest completed
  • Florentina’s past subquest completed
  • Old map enemy redesign completed (CHECK!)
  • Probably something else that will come up and be too good to ignore.
  • All the attendant bugs…

 

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Design With a Grain of Salt: Dialogue

What is this nonsense?

So in this periodic series, we’ll be discussing the nature of game design in a freeform fashion. There are no rules! Taff the po-lice!

I’ll be doing these posts periodically to let the public know what goes through my head when I’m designing things. A lot of you are budding designers, or want to get into the field. Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe I’ll learn something. Maybe we’ll all just stay dumb. Let’s find out together!

Continue reading “Design With a Grain of Salt: Dialogue”