Inch by Inch

Well we are officially into the last third of the year, four months left in 2020 to keep my New Year’s resolution to release the game in 2020…

This post coincides with the release of beta 33. (If you’re asking what happened with 32, it was an internal release that followed 31 hastily due to a game-breaking set of bugs, and wasn’t announced.) One of the testers has successfully won the game, albeit with me providing several fixes ahead of them. So I’m feeling very confident that we are close to completion!

The changelist for 33 is huge, I made a lot of updates and fixes based upon tester feedback. Besides fixing obvious bugs or issues, a lot of it is also polishing the design. I ended up changing one spell (Terror) so it impacted all enemy units instead of just one because the spell was almost useless otherwise. In a lot of classic CRPG’s the spells tend to be more for show than actual practical use, and I want to avoid that.

Another change in 33 was a total revamp of the monster’s AI. I originally intended to keep it simple. But I found that many of the stronger “boss” creatures or opponents with spells were just so random and stupid with their use of them that battles were easy to win and kind of dull.

Some of the changes made:

  • I added a new monster trait, pounce, which allows a monster to jump right next to an opponent

  • I updated targeting to be based upon distance to unit and a “threat” level. So the character who hangs back throwing fireballs is eventually going to get targeted.

  • Some monsters are smart, and also consider how wounded characters are as part of the threat assessment.

  • For buff and healing spells, monsters consider if they or any allies need them before casting them.

  • For debuff spells, monsters consider if the target already has it. I was getting tired of the plains dragon constantly hitting the same target with its sleep breath over and over.

  • For any spells that affected locations, the monster now determines how many enemy and ally units are impacted. That way they pick the best direction or location for maximum impact and minimal friendly-fire.

I’m hopeful this will make combat a bit more interesting, since you spend a lot of time in any CRPG engaged in it. 🙂

So let’s hope 33 proves to be a success and from here on out it’s just spit and polish to the first release candidate. I am still doing some balance checks with the economy. The early game seems good but the latter game there was way too much much money and not enough things to spend it on.

That NPC looks like a switch?

That army looks like a staircase?

Terror spell works pretty well…

This entry was posted in Beta, CRPG, Design, Screenshots, TI-99/4a, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Inch by Inch

  1. Brian says:

    It is playing well! Sorry that I’ve been slow to get cranking!

    Just an awesome effort…

  2. Alex Johnson says:

    I’ve finally caught up and let me say your game is very impressive! It’s no wonder it has taken you 15 years since this is more advanced and longer (in code and in content) than any CRPG created first on 8b systems and you never took the time to learn what such a project takes by making intermediate CRPGs before delving into the Olympic medalist level project.

    From your samples uploaded to YouTube I can say you have hit the perfect mix of sounds. The early samples had music playing and in short order I had to mute my computer to enjoy the demo. The sound effects are just the right amount and quite good given the simple nature of the TI sound system.

    The demos also had extra fast messages. Most CRPGs let the user adjust the speed of messages and after I’m expert at the game I play the speed you had set up, but initially that is too fast. I wanted to look at the lovely combat graphics and kept missing the details. I heard you are slowing it down. I hope you went with a user-adjustable speed or by the end of the game really experienced players may be yawning at how slow the combats seem to go.

    Your graphics are really top notch. They blow the competition from TI-99/4 game shelf OFF the shelf with ease, look better than a lot (most?) of MSX games, and are competitive with my beloved C64 (which is my bias, but also programmers got so good at exploiting the hardware, something the architecture of the TI graphics chip doesn’t permit I think). I think the reason your games are better could be a combination of the extra memory you have to spare on graphics and that you spent so much time perfecting the game compared to the typical hobbyist development. TI and C64 have different restrictions to the use of color and the screen resolution. For example, I was shocked when you started shading your text! I’m used to one color per character cell but it looks like TI allows you to use a different color on every row of a character (and no other games at game shelf exploit this).

    One more thing. A lot of other people have posted here that they are working on their own CRPGs, or you have mentioned them at some time. I knew about Realms of Quest before I found you because I was curious about what games were made for VIC-20. But I have no idea about the others. It would be cool if you could have a bit of cross-advertising and post at least links to the blog, forum, or page where the other projects are taking place (ideally listing the platform, a screenshot, and couple sentences what it emulates or focuses on). I’m interested in the development process and the capabilities of the different systems. Encourage the other developers to do the same to spread the word about ROA. I’m sure a lot of people are interested in the development if not also the game, and haven’t found your page and blog yet.

    • adamantyr says:

      Thank you! Part of the long time is because a hobby project has a bad tendency to get shelved, picked up, shelved again, etc. 😀 I think honestly it wouldn’t have taken that long otherwise.

      Yeah, I only have music on the title screen. The TI sound chip is “okay” but not SID-chip worthy, and trying to do music in gameplay would be problematic and, as you observe, annoying.

      Message speed is something I’ve considered. I got mostly hard-coded values everywhere, so I’m not certain if having it variable based on user settings is a good idea or not. Recent changes have made the combat mode in particular be more graphic with notifications on the battlemap, which I think will help mitigate part of the problem.

      The TI and the MSX-1 actually share the same video chip, the TMS9918A! (Or 28A, outside the states, that’s the PAL version) And yeah, the TI is capable of displaying all 16 colors in bitmap mode, and 2 colors for every row of 8 pixels. It still uses a cell architecture, it just uses three 256 character tables to render the screen. My CRPG uses a hybrid mode that only uses a single character set, which saves room in video memory. The extra CPU memory helps mainly to provide a quick means to swap character sets out; I originally would load them from disk.

      I do try and spread the word on other games. One of my beta testers is actually developing a CRPG for the C64, in fact! I believe at the moment his page on the project is inactive, but I know the work is still ongoing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *