Despite the lack of posts, I have not been idle…
After a lot of testing, I’m satisfied with my battlemap generator. I’ve populated the data table with some entries that are undefined (graphics sets in later parts of the game) but all the core graphic work is done. I still have other portions of the encounter engine to test, but I can do that in live running rather than in a test program.
The next step? Running the full game and getting into a fight. Then putting a breakpoint in the debugger to try and figure out where it crashed and why. Repeat repeat repeat… 🙂
Playing World of Warcraft, while a bit of a time-consumer, is also useful for thinking about game mechanics. A bit of a side bar on that…
Since I haven’t played since the Pandaria expansion, I’m enjoying a lot of the new ideas they’ve introduced, like garrison campaigns. The stat/level squishing that occurred shortly after Pandaria and more recently before Battle for Azeroth also helped to make the game stats less crazy; before your hit points were up in the 500k range! They actually ran into integer overflow problems with raid bosses; because the base code was still using 32-bit integers and the raid bosses hit points were set high enough to exceed the max positive. I’m noticing though in Azeroth that item levels and stat bonuses are getting out of control again…
I was worried about the level scaling at first, but it works pretty well. You can now do either Northrend or the Outlands from 60-80, and Pandaria or Cataclysm areas from 80-90. I’m certain they’ll be doing something similar for Draenor and Legion soon so you can play either area from 90-110, there’s more than enough content to do it and stick to one. Funny how Draenor suffers the same issues that Burning Crusade did; it’s a bit of a “side trek” to visit and players get bored and resentful having to play through the content with their alts. Legion content is VERY desirable to play through, as it’s the only way to unlock the new races to play.
However, I do NOT like the dungeons, and I haven’t for awhile. The original classic game tried to introduce some interesting story points and offered very non-linear designs. Modern dungeons (pretty much since the first expansion) are extremely linear and dull. Contrast the original Blackrock Depths instance, with a colorful and huge dwarven city, to the dull linear design of Grim Batol and you can see the difference. My favorite thing is to out-level the dungeons so I can go in and just solo them if I need to. Otherwise, I have to just run the dungeons with a bunch of strangers using the finder who are ONLY interested in clearing it as quick as possible and getting gear.
Anyway, back to my CRPG…
I originally had my experience levels going up exponentially; I decided to relax that a bit and try and make it less step at the higher levels. Time and play-testing will also help adjust these values.
The most important often-overlooked aspect of CRPG design is pacing. You want to make sure your world is not just large but also rich in content. You want to avoid the following:
- Having a big map that has only one town and a bunch of monsters, nothing interesting to explore in various corners
- Your characters have the most powerful weapons in the game before the halfway mark
- You’ve reached maximum level long before the endgame
- Towns that are simply repeats of other towns offering basic services
- Completing quests changes nothing other than your party; the game world seems unaffected, peasants still complain about the evil thing you defeated, etc.
I’ve no doubt that my present material for the game will go through some serious revisions as I go along. I’ve already noticed places where I’ve repeated myself a bit, and I want to make sure I make everything fresh and interesting.