Hi, sorry for the long quiet!
As we all know, 2022 didn’t turn out to be much better than the prior two years… I’ve also been mostly occupied with patching and maintaining Realms of Antiquity in hobby time.
But at last, the end of the line is in sight. I feel like the game is “done enough” and at most another bug patch may be needed if someone finds something. But otherwise, it’s time to move on to the next project!
And what is the next one? Well, still assembly. Still on the TI-99/4a. And something the system never got in the heyday. A rougelike. 🙂
I posted about it before (Processing Progressions), but now it’s got my full attention. A roguelike for the TI-99/4a. I actually got a lot of the prototyping done already, so now it’s full speed ahead on development.
The #1 thing I want to do is make it my own. I have no interest in re-creating the original Rogue or even Nethack on the TI. I want my own game with my own unique twist on things. As part of this, I’m utilizing a resource I chose not to use with RoA: other people’s feedback. As I have a Discord with many players of my game, it makes perfect sense to leverage their opinions to make sure I make the best game that I can.
Because, if there is one thing I learned from RoA, it’s that you can work and make a game that you’d like, but it benefits you to hear from others as to how to make it better.
I don’t have a timeline or expected date on this project as yet; probably no earlier than 2023 at the best. But rest assured I’ll keep everyone apprised of the status.
> “and at most another bug patch may be needed if someone finds something.”
I purchased RoA a few months ago and enjoyed it at first, but it has a major issue that caused me to stop playing before getting very far. It’s not a bug, but rather a major design flaw: the control scheme is an inconsistent mess. As a result I can’t commit the controls to muscle memory and constantly have to double-check to make sure I’m about to hit the right key. Not a big deal in any single instance, but wrestling with that throughout a game that might last for dozens of hours is just not tolerable.
To give examples:
In a shop you press Q to examine an item, but in your inventory you press 1 instead. Same function, different keys.
Pressing Q in a shop examines the highlighted item, but when casting a spell it cancels out instead. Same key, different functions.
Pressing space while casting selects the spell, but cancels out in a shop or in inventory. Same key, practically OPPOSITE functions!
Even using a shop’s basic menu is awkward and error-prone, as which key lets you leave depends on whether that particular shop lets you sell or not. In one that doesn’t I’ll sometimes hit 3 to leave and have nothing happen. But in a shop that does I’ll sometimes hit 2 to leave and end up trying to sell something instead (which forces me to double-check which key will back me out of that menu).
Before you move on from RoA I’d appreciate it if you did an overhaul on this. I suggest you pick certain keys to each do a set of similar actions and build around that. For example:
Pick one key (like space or enter) to be the confirm/select key. This will select the spell to cast, buy and sell items in shops and so on.
Pick another to be the universal cancel/back out button. This will be what lets you leave shops and conversations or back out of taking actions like casting a spell.
Pick a third to be the universal “examine for more information” button. And so on.
For the shops, the cancel button should cause you to leave the shop and the B and S keys should be used to select “buy” or “sell”. If that’s not feasable for some reason, then at least change the order of the options “leave, buy, sell” so that the first two are always on the same keys (assuming you have no shops that ONLY allow you to sell).
If you fix the controls I’ll be happy to give the game another try.
One more thing – I do have an actual bug report, although it’s somewhat minor. The descriptions for food items in shops wildly exaggerate how many units of food you’ll get when you buy them.
Finally, a question: is there any gameplay advantage in buying the more expensive types of food? As far as I can tell it just means you’re paying more per unit for no benefit.
Thanks for your time.
Hey, thank you for the feedback!
The differing keys for various areas is a result of organic growth/patching over time. I actually only added the ability to examine items in shops, because the old-school “Buy it, examine it, then reload the game” was a bit too rustic for a lot of modern players.
I can take a look at the overall key usage, but there may be cases were I simply can’t make things consistent. You mention using the “S” key for sell, on the classic TI keyboard the ESDX keys are also the default arrow keys, as it has no actual arrow keys.
Regarding food, the idea is some food has more “calories” if you will than others. Prices vary from town to town just to make things a bit more interesting; if you’re really looking to save money you may wait to buy in a particular town rather than pay another’s marked up rates.
> “You mention using the “S” key for sell, on the classic TI keyboard the ESDX keys are also the default arrow keys, as it has no actual arrow keys.”
Fair enough, but what about my other suggestion? Just changing the order of options from “buy, sell, leave” to “leave, buy, sell” would at least ensure each option is always on the same button.
> “Regarding food, the idea is some food has more “calories” if you will than others.”
Sure, but my point is that you’re getting LESS “calories” per gold piece as the food gets more expensive. And it’s not just from town to town – items in the same shop scale like that.
It’s not a big deal and doesn’t really need changing, though. I was just wondering if there was any benefit to the more expensive food (and I’m guessing there isn’t).
One other thing, while you’re considering changes: is there a reason it’s necessary to force players to spend all their attribute points when making characters? Some players might like the added challenge of using weaker characters, and I found it very frustrating when I was trying to experiment with the character creation system.
I had a similar request at one point for leave, that it should be a consistent key instead of a number. The transaction option build doesn’t recognize options as requiring special keys, this is because the scripting can sometimes have multiple “Leave” options based on current state.
That said… I’m really reluctant to alter keys at this point. Remapping keys will throw off people who already know them. (I get a lot of re-players; in the Discord we have guys who speed-run with solo parties. Every class I think has been done at least one by itself.)
It also makes me realize the REAL solution would be to make it so it’s possible for the user to re-map the keys. This would be a major infrastructure change that I can’t justify for this game. But it’s made me realize that HAS to be a feature in future games. That way a PC user could map stuff without having to be concerned with the original TI keyboard limitations, or even map it to a controller.
As far as food goes, I tried to make obvious things (like potatoes) to be a better deal, since carbs are the energy and all that. Food types are mainly there for verisimilitude. They used to be bought in much smaller amounts for less coin but I upped the cost and amount of “food units” for each so it was a less tedious process to stock up.
As for not using all attribute points, that’s a fun request! I’ve not heard that one before. Mind you, if I did that I’d want it to pop up a warning screen if you hadn’t spent all attribute points, just in case. The usual way to make the game “harder” is to play with smaller parties or solo, that would be an entirely new dimension. I’ll give that some thought.
> “I’m really reluctant to alter keys at this point. Remapping keys will throw off people who already know them.”
I was afraid that would end up being your answer. I admit it’s a valid reason to say no.
I have one more idea, but I don’t know how much trouble it would be. What about having a separate patch that the player could apply to the base game to alter the controls? Or a slightly different version of the program altogether?
> “It also makes me realize the REAL solution would be to make it so it’s possible for the user to re-map the keys.”
It’s not even that; it’s that the keys are used inconsistently. If space was always the select button and I wanted to use the enter key instead, I could probably fix that myself with an external remapping program. But I can’t do anything about the fact that space selects in one context and cancels in another.
The real solution is to make the controls consistent in the first place. If a key is poorly chosen but used consistently, remapping it should be relatively simple.
> “Food types are mainly there for verisimilitude. They used to be bought in much smaller amounts for less coin but I upped the cost and amount of “food units” for each so it was a less tedious process to stock up.”
You could both have verisimilitude AND make it easier to stock up if all food at a given shop had the same cost per unit but differed in how many units were purchased at once.
> “Mind you, if I did that I’d want it to pop up a warning screen if you hadn’t spent all attribute points, just in case.”
Sure, asking for confirmation is completely reasonable. I just want to have the choice.