IRC notes 2009-02-15

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These are Zenbitz' comments on the IRC chat log of 2/14-2/15 (2009). Others feel free to chime in. The purpose is mostly to make sure that I have voiced an opinion on the topics discussed.

These topics are in the order they were brought up in the chat, nothing more.

Contents

Hexes, Squares, or "no grid"?

I think we can tweak mechanics to work with any. An AP system where, in a single "turn" a character mixes move/shoot/move actions (with no interruption) seems to favor a simple hex grid (1AP = move 1 hex). Graphical sections are almost certainly "square" (or at least 4 sided "isomorphs") ... so adding hexes is just a complication. A possible way around the "AP" system with non hexes is to "highlight" where player can move in a transparent "mask", maybe with a bullseye to give increasing AP costs. This also lets you add extra movement cost for difficult terrain (like up hill - if you were so inclined... ha ha)

Will there be vaults?

As in - big old complicated fallout shelters that are total fantasies? I would say strongly no. Some scattered fallout shelters - sure. Underground maps? Absolutely. One way to think about it? Did they have them in 1988 in the real world? No?? Then not in game, unless you have them caused by fall. That swedish underground naval base is AWESOME! I think the soviets might have nuked it, though? Maybe it got hit by a dud... As for missile silos.. cool BUT, they are A-number-one priority critical targets. So, in my mind, you have to come up with a good reason why it's not blasted. "Hit by a dud" (ok, but lets try not to overuse!). The links I posted in the forums yesterday mention a soviet missile base in Lithuania.

Eshelon II screen shot

This wasn't discussed, but I like the concept for "difficulty". I always play games on "hard" but not ironman.

Braching tree dialog

This is already s.i.s, but I guess, why not? There is no competing technology, right?

  • Branching tree dialog was featured in Fallout, Arcanum and all the Infinity Engine powered games and it worked pretty well in them. It's a great way to implement choice and consequence in dialog and the only alternatives I know are markup based dialog (wiki-like) and single path dialog to click through. --MvBarracuda

Does your dude's graphic match his equipment?

I would rather have the graphic be a approximation of what the game mechanics say, than to limit options on the mechanical level. That is to say - if we only have the reasources to do 2 helmets + 3 body armors... I would still rather have more options at the inventory level. I think a fallout style "1 pistol, 1 rifle, 1 smg, etc." is pretty reasonable for a first attempt. We can always add more animations/models later.

Inventory

Yup, need it. I would really prefer size/bulk restrictions - I think many games have "slots" to put stuff. You could obv. have a backpack to chuck stuff in. I would like to make the distinction between having bullets in clips (ready to load) and loose in your pocket (have to stick in the clip or gun 1 by 1). And no, I don't suggest a click-and-drag for 20 bullets to put in a clip!

How to keep up with the flow of ideas

I actually think we are doing a decent job - we need to have some agreement on big-picture items ("snow", "dialog trees"), but we need to explore the ideas free-form so people can get an idea of what we mean. As things get a little nailed down, it becomes easier to write "big" proposals (like the start of the combat system). But me sitting and writing out 15 pages of game mechanics is going to be no fun if it turns out fundamental assumptions I made were wrong ("What do you mean, the game can't have hit points? - a joke, but the idea is real)

  • Completely agree. The IRC sessions are pretty nice for brainstorming and once we agreed on some basics that get added to the draft of the specific development department, contributors can start working on more fleshed out proposals without the huge risk of throwing their ideas away later because the team does not like the basic concept in general. --MvBarracuda

Music

Crazy idea: I wanted to see real commerical rock music in a game - like a movie soundtrack. But of course, licensing fees! What if we had, as an option - a iTunes (or whaterver) playlist of the songs we wanted in our game. Then, file menu in the game to drag the files where they can be "hooked" by the game engine to play as developers wanted...

  • I personally prefer to offer unique and free (as in free speech and free beer) content. Gamedev.net and other game developent forums are filled with composers who don't mind working for free so compared to finding competent writers, graphics artists and programmers, getting music for PARPG should be rather easy. --MvBarracuda

Factions in rivalry

Yes, please. We have an OBVIOUS mechanism too - Finns, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, even Germans, Poles, Lithuanains, Latvians, ex-NATO soldiers, ex-USSR soliders. A wild idea I had about this was actually make foreign languages important. Different dialog if you have to talk in English! Also TRANSLATORS who might accidentally or on-purpose muck up the translation!

APs or not

I think we can go with or without. I think there are actually 3-4 options which would all have varying amounts of complexity, strengths, weaknesses. I will write the up seperately.

Mutants

My son wants us to put in "Bingo Boys" which are mutated walruses with 3 tusks, 4 ears, 5 eyes, and 3 mouths. He's 4 and a half. I would rather put those in than supermutants. It's funny, because it's such a cliche for the genre. To me, it's just not realistic. We are talking 1-2 generations of humans. There is not enough time for something seriously strange to happen. Mutant animals - I am a little better with, especially short generation time. Swedish mosquitos are already legendary. I think I would be OK with cold-adapted stuff, event thought it's probably more like a few hundred years off. I might be persuaded to put in "ghoul" or "zombie" types. These days, zombies are all generated by virus anyhow. It might be really cool to have all these kind of monsters, mutants and zombies in the game _but_ as stories and legends only! Because player will EXPECT this stuff... it could really work. If you've ever seen "Scooby Doo" you will know what I am getting at.

  • Hmm I really dig the idea of having tales about all kinds of mutated creatures but you could actually kind of that they're just legends used source of power. --MvBarracuda

Politcal scales

Well this is driven by time after war. At 20 years... I don't see anything resembling a nation. City-states, with agricultural areas (maybe greenhouses) is about as big as I would like it.

  • That's fine with me as well. If we would like to have fully developed cities we wouldn't need to create a PA game for the purpose. --MvBarracuda

Party system

1 PC + recruitable I like best. Whole party from the start... what if you want to play a lone wolf? I do think that NPC party should be a big part of the game - help you get past quests for which you are lacking skills. It's easy to hook in communication/charisma skills to this - balances out vs. pure fighter types. I am also strongly against micromanaging them. "Like fallout but with better AI" is what I would shoot for. "Don't do anything" is probably the most useful NPC command ever thought of! As for suicide orders... well, most likely this would be starting a fight with terrible odds. I would guess the NPCs would just bug out if you did this.

  • Fleeing NPCs sounds good to me. What kind of micromanagement would you like to avoid? Just trying to think of exampels but can't find any right now. --MvBarracuda
    • Micromanagement = instead of playing a PC with friends, you are playing 4 PCs, and you have full control over them. Zenbitz

Karma/Morals

I think my ideal is that the PC doesn't choose an alignment - you "alignment" is the result of your actions. NPCs have "alignments" that may align or not with you - the better they align, the more they like you. I guess FO1/2/3 all do this pretty much. It might be interesting to explore a multidimensional karma - so "stealing", "murdering", "enslaving" perhaps even "drug use" or "sexual activity" if there are any prissy survivors of the war. (In _scandanvia_... I am thinking no) would have different ratings. I guess the hard part about his is you have to designate the "karmic" effect of all actions in the game. Is picking a lock bad karma? FO had seperate "karma" and "reputation" - and I think that might have been a mistake. What if we just dropped the morals and used a pure reputation. If your rep is a theif, people will watch their stuff around you, etc.

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