The Island Project

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The Island Project

Postby Pongo » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:50 am

I don't have a final name for this module yet. It will end up being called something a bit more interesting than the Island I expect!

I'm aiming for a really basic, retro style to the graphics, as you'll be able to tell from the screenshots below. This won't be to everyone's tastes, but I'm finding the flexibility to update them quickly invaluable and personally I really quite like the simplicity! They are an Oryx Studio tileset that I've added some colour to.

The idea I had for this was originally "what if Dark Souls had been made in 1982 as a party-based RPG?". I intended to just make a simple exploration and combat game with minimal story, with the basic concept that the PCs are shipwrecked on a mysterious island where nothing is as it originally appears. However, as it has come along, I've inevitably reneged on that vision a bit. One of the concepts I'm particularly happy with is a "base" section, although whether I can actually pull it off remains to be seen! But early on in the game, you should find a "safe" area which you can send NPCs to live and then use their skills. This means that you only open up "shops", blacksmiths etc in the base through finding the right NPCs and resources whilst exploring.

The main element of Dark Souls I want to try and capture (and I appreciate this will be difficult!) is the awesome interconnected map design. I want to module to be completely open-world from the outset, with areas only inaccessible due to difficulty. I'm also keen that the maps are widely interconnected to provide multiple routes through the island and areas that aren't "secret" as such but just easy to miss.

Most of the experience in the module will be gained from finding new areas, completing quests, and killing "bosses" (thematically linked to the areas they reside in). Generally, combat won't provide tonnes of experience. This means that avoiding combat is often a good thing, as combat eats up resources and resting is limited by rations. Some combat is unavoidable, but I'm setting up wandering monsters that can "chase" the party or otherwise just be a pain when you're exploring an area. Sometimes these will far outclass the PC, especially if they've strayed into a high-level area, but perhaps there are rewards to be had early if the PC can run into the area, dodge the combat, grab an item, and run....? Again, with the Dark Souls link, I loved this set up in the main campfire - it starts you next to one of the most difficult areas in the game which most people ignore, but you can get a great sword if you charge in and grab it and get back out again. Well, eventually - you're likely to get killed a lot!

A couple of screenshots to show the style I'm aiming for:

I'll do a separate update on classes and character building etc soon, but this is the character selection screen:
selection.png
selection.png (72.87 KiB) Viewed 1208 times



It looks basic, but what you don't get from the screenshot is the animation. The crabs are running around the beach waving their pincers; the sea is washing back and forwards; and the flotsam (jetsam?) is bobbing up and down in the waves.
beach.png
beach.png (122.31 KiB) Viewed 1208 times



More to follow! :)
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Re: The Island Project

Postby slowdive » Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:25 pm

That looks and sounds awesome Pongo! Very cohesive look to all the elements and ui. Look forward to testing it out when it is ready. I have a new laptop and with win10 game mode I should be able to record Let's Play videos with built in windows program. No more fighting with third party apps that crash all the time :lol:
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Re: The Island Project

Postby Dorateen » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:07 pm

Looks very cool, Pongo. I like the idea of open world design and look forward to running through the island.
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Re: The Island Project

Postby youngneil1 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:38 pm

So fresh and inspring, awesome! I love the world design idea (open, limited by difficulty only, complexly interconnected). Also it is with great joy I see you adding many new optional systems and features into the mix (from animated props to moving enemies to a totally customized ui and graphic style) .

Keep more information coming please, most appreciated :D ...
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Re: The Island Project

Postby Pongo » Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:44 pm

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Karl, the new moving props are great and they are completely intrinsic to the design of the module. Here is an image from the village of Haven, which you arrive at very early on (it is the area that, if cleared of monsters, can then become the PC's base). The village is a crumbling ruin when the PC finds it, with skeletons roaming about. slight spoiler :) is that you don't need to fight them all - there is a Necromancer hidden on the map, and if you manage to kill him then the roaming skeletons are all removed. In the image below, the PC party is trying to make their way between buildings through a particularly ruined section of the area. There are three roaming props here - one bird, which is just so the map looks less static (sadly I didn't manage to get it in the screenshot!); and two groups of skeletons that chase the PC if they get too close and trigger encounters if they land on the same square. You can use the tooltip to check how many creatures each token represents, although it doesn't give you a challenge rating (eg, if you hold it over the image of the skeleton with the sword and shield it just says "three skeletons." (although the sword and shield might give you a clue that this is a more challenging encounter than the unarmed token...)

The encounters don't provide much experience so are worth avoiding as you're likely to use up arrows and potions etc. On the other hand, you might find some equipment if you take them on. I want to get this kind of "risk/reward" thinking into the module so that the player is somewhat discouraged from just trying to kill everything that moves. The moving props and chase function and the random and patrol functions are essential to this - if the creatures didn't move it wouldn't work.

I haven't got round to working out how weather works, but that's one of my next little tasks. :)

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Re: The Island Project

Postby youngneil1 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:39 pm

I dig this concept of "avoid encounters or only tackle them after thorough assessment". Using the tooltip/floaty for some kind of encounter rating is an elegant and clever way of informing the player (and spare him some trial and error). Using ambient movers, like the bird, enrichens the immersion. This all comes together very nicely in The Island Project :).

You're quite pioneering the chase, random move and patrol routines once you set them up on bigger maps, with many actors. Keep us closely in the loop when bugs start to creep up in order to save you unneccessary troubles. For starters I think avoid placing mover start points (location) on the outer rim of squares of a map (iirc). Another level of complexity comes in the form of the time driven actors who snychronize their moves with world clock - but it's good to concentrate on the "normal" movers first. The time driven ones will likely be harder to debug (they work cross maps though, ie in the whole campaign, which is quite powerful).

Balancing the move speeds (double move or zero move chance) is also a challenge I guess. Later on, there might be something like party movement speed which reduces the double move chance of enemies/increases their zero move chances. This might be based on the chosen leader (generally it would be awesome if it would make a dffirence who the leader is, so switching to the right leader in the right situation would become a gameplay element, for e.g. speed, detection chances for various things, push obstacle, be sneakey, jump gap, see in dark, etc. - not the most realistic for many of the the differences, but potentially interesting for the player as choosing a leader would always be a trade off of switching benefits).

Weather should - theoretically, never know with bugs - be as easy as typing down the weather name in area properties (see tooltip there for allowed words/weather types). The weather graphcis are not where I want them in the end though (clouds and their shadows could be placed better for a stronger hover over the map effect, also rain is not visible enough I think).
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Re: The Island Project

Postby Pongo » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:44 am

Thanks Karl, that all sounds great. I'm only using fairly simple random or patrol movement patterns at present. In the example in Haven, there is plenty of room to get around the monsters if you want to - when I've been trying to avoid them they've caught me very infrequently. This will be much more difficult of course if you're trying to avoid an encounter in a much more enclosed space!

youngneil1 wrote: Weather should - theoretically, never know with bugs - be as easy as typing down the weather name in area properties (see tooltip there for allowed words/weather types). The weather graphcis are not where I want them in the end though (clouds and their shadows could be placed better for a stronger hover over the map effect, also rain is not visible enough I think).


I'll have a go at this later. Ideally I'd like certain areas to be linked to certain weather types (the old "stormy graveyard" thing :)). Is it possible to change the graphic effects of the weather? I'd like to keep everything in the very basic pixel style of the maps and tokens if possible for consistency's sake.
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Re: The Island Project

Postby youngneil1 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:57 am

Yes, changing weather graphics will work indeed. I must look up which assets are referenced, but once I got the list for you you can simply exchange these (different cloud graphics, different graphics for rain drops, etc.). As you can assign weather per area, you e.g. can give your graveyard some autum weather (often foggy). Or build your own weather (there are editors for taht, too - but it's been a loooong time since I verified what worrks there and waht not iirc the weather editor itself works, but the weather effect editor is not used anymore).
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Re: The Island Project

Postby Pongo » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:24 am

great, thanks!
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Re: The Island Project

Postby youngneil1 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:50 pm

1. Changing the graphics of weather types: clouds, fog, sandstorm and lightning (full screen images overlaying each other, yet moves as sprites)
The files below can be found in your module's graphic folder - just keep their name and size and exchange them with a fitting graphic matching your module's style:
(Note: I think lightning has a bug, must investigate later)

lightCloudLayerA.png
lightCloudLayerB.png
lightCloudLayerC.png
cloudLayerA.png
cloudLayerB.png
cloudLayerC.png
heavyCloudLayerA.png
heavyCloudLayerB.png
heavyCloudLayerC.png


lightFogLayerA.png
lightFogLayerB.png
fogLayerA.png
fogLayerB.png
heavyFogLayerA.png
heavyFogLayerB.png


lightSandstormLayerA.png
lightSandstormLayerB.png
sandstormLayerA.png
sandstormLayerB.png
heavySandstormLayerA.png
heavySandstormLayerB.png


lightningLayerB1.png
lightningLayerB2.png
lightningLayerB3.png
lightningLayerB4.png
lightningLayerB5.png
lightningLayerB6.png
lightningLayerB7.png
lightningLayerB8.png


2. Changing the graphics of weather types: rain and snow (single little sprites drawn many, many times by an algorithm varying position and speed)
Thes files below can be found under Default/NewModule/graphics - just place a .png (matching your module's style) with the same name and size in your module's graphic folder:

rainDrop.png
snowFlake.png

3. Weather Editor
Note: The weather effect editor is not supported anymore - it was very powerful for finetunig, but also based on an older weather approach without sprites (which was too slow).

The weather editor is still working though:

It has three sections, like layers of an onion:
Weathers, WeatherTpyeLists and WeatherTpyeListItems.

a. Weathers
Weathers can be defined per each area via the area property areaWeatherName (just enter the name of the weather). You will find seven premade weathers:
spring: Fast changes of rainy and sunny, occassional ligthning storms. No snow or fog.
summer: Mostly sunny and light clouds, but can go all the way down to rainy thunderstorms. Light fog rarely. No snow.
autumn; Very foggy, often rain. Sometimes snow fall.
winter: Often snow, sometimes hard rain. Thick clouds and stormy, but sometimes clear or lightly clouded intervals, too.
desert: Just clear, light clouds and various degrees of sandstroms. No snow, rain or fog.
swamp: Foggy almost all the time, very rainy. No snow. Can also be used for e.g. jungles.
iceland: Extreme Version of winter, dire weather conditions with raging storms and snow very often.

The premade weathers can be directly used or serve as examples and starting points for the custom creation of further weathers.

b. WeatherTpyeLists
WeatherTpyeLists are the different states a weather like e.g. "spring" can go through over time. Like "lightCloudsA" (few clouds favouring cloudswith the lightCloudLayerA.png) or lightRainWithCloudsAShowers (medium cloud thickness favouring clouds with the cloudLayerA.png and medium amount of rainDrop.png). When a weather is entered the first time it always begins with the special WeatherTpyeList entry. This one branches to other states, who in turn branch into each other, creating a continous flow of weather states.

c. WeatherTpyeListItems
The WeatherTpyeListItems of a WeatherTpyeList are the exit options of a weather state. They contain a chance to be rolled (always addign up to 100% within a weather state), a duration defining how long the rolled new weather state will last and an effect to play for this rolled weather state (from drop down list).
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