November Update

Spankers, Spankees and Switches of All Ages (18 and above),

Sorry the November update is so damned late. The past few weeks have been keeping me very busy.

Anyway, October was a fairly middling month as far as productivity goes. I took a couple of weeks off from the game after my latest release like I always do, and I’ve only been working on it sporadically since (had a bit of a creative slump).

That being said, I’ve still managed to write just shy of 3000 lines so far. Basically, there are going to be two components to the third day, a Preamble, and the Main Event. In the preamble, you’ll be offered a choice that will send you down two very different paths, before converging again for the Main Event. Each choice will shed a bit of light on different aspects of the game world, and both will give you the opportunity to make the Main Event easier, though in very different ways. The Preamble is pretty much written.

As far as the Main Event, that hasn’t been written yet, so it’s in too much flux for me to be comfortable talking about here (don’t want to get people’s hopes up). With Christmas and Thanksgiving approaching, I should have more time to write than I usually do though, so I’m thinking that we’ll probably be able to get the next day out sometime in January, maybe in December if I’m productive.

Furthermore, for the past year or so, when I haven’t felt like writing I’ve been working on a yet another engine in Lua, using the Love framework. It started as an excuse to learn Lua, but I’ve kept at it because Lua is a gorgeous little language. Seriously, it amazes me just how *simple* the language’s mental model is. Furthermore, Lua itself is tiny, has very few dependencies, and encourages you to keep your programs the same way. This is important when you’re working on a relatively simple program (i.e. my game) that you want to distribute to a variety of other computers without too many headaches (i.e. my game). Furthermore, it looks like Love makes it _super_ easy to build platform-specific executables without actually owning one of those platforms. So I may actually be able to provide a Mac app in addition to Windows and Linux executables. The game will also be _much_ smaller, and hopefully much easier for people to run.

At this point, I’ve got the bulk of the framework implemented. There is one small rework of the combat engine (mostly how to display it) that I want to do, and then I’ll be whipping up a toy “game” that I can use to do some very preliminary testing. I’m on track to release a beta with the new engine sometime in the spring, probably April or May.

Accompanying the new engine will be a streamlining of the combat engine (of course!). The idea was to craft an engine that provides enough flexibility to make things interesting for the player, but enough rigidity to make halfway decent AI easy to write. The engine is heavily inspired by the various deck games out there (Smash Up, Sentinels of the Multiverse) where you build up your character/team over time, and each round you’re able to perform multiple things.

The two biggest changes are the following:

1. Elimination of “positioning.” I don’t think the positions (armslength, distant, grapple) really contribute much to combat, but they do make combat significantly more complicated, especially the AI. While positioning can be used to craft simple, yet deep combat systems (see: Battle for Wesnoth, Blackguards), you really need to craft your entire combat system around it. I have no interest in that. Instead, I want to base my combat system completely around interesting powers.

2. Every character will have two base actions: “attack,” and “power” *both* of which you’ll be able to use every round, in any order. So you could use the Scarlet Armor power to increase your strength, followed by an attack, allowing you to do extra damage, all in one turn. Or you could attack first, and then use Scarlet Boots to increase your speed, perhaps providing a defense boost, all in one turn. Most characters will only be do each 1 once per turn, but some characters might be able to do one of them more (or less).

Furthermore, a lot of powers will revolve around giving you additional options. For example, Scarlet Beam will actually be a buff. It’ll give you a new action “shoot” that you’ll be able to perform *in addition to* your attack and power actions, though it would also increase your attrition by 2.

The idea behind this is to make combat more dynamic as it progresses. As the tension rises, combat will get more intense, with characters growing stronger and more dynamic with every round. I also want Scarlet Moon to be a self-buff based hero. However, in the current engine buffing is so slow. You have to spend an entire round buffing yourself, while your enemies whale on you, and attrition eats away at you. By allowing you to perform other actions as well, we can keep combat moving swiftly without making a purely self-buffing character obnoxious.

Naturally, we can have powers that take away actions as well. For example, a power “Scarlet Force” that makes it so that for one round, all attacks or shoots reduce the target’s attack down to 0 (i.e. your enemy can’t attack, though they can still use any other actions at their disposal).

Note: Spanking in combat won’t go away. It’ll be unlocked by various powers (like say, Scarlet Paddle). My current thoughts around spanking is that they’ll reduce the damage of the target’s next attack by 1, and provide a “marker” status that could affect other powers. For example, some of Succubus’ powers could only target (or be more effective against) targets who have been spanked recently. By the same token, she might be able to use one less power per turn if she is humiliated, or something.

The AI will also be very different. First, they will be much more deterministic (though not completely so). The dumb AI won’t actually use powers, it’ll just attack (so Buzzsaw might still be a bit of a *little* bit of a threat, but Succubus not so much). The average AI will attack the same way as the dumb AI, but will also use a random power each turn. Finally, the smart AI will have its own strategy for every supervillain, allowing them to take full advantage of their gimmicks in a way the current AI really can’t.

So the dumb AI will be for those of you who just want to get off, and are sick of watching me masturbate over combat systems. The average AI is for those of you who want combat to be fun, but not too challenging, and smart will be for those of you who really want to dig into the combat system and learn how to use it effectively.

Thoughts? While this combat system is very different from what you’re used to seeing in RPGs, I do think it’ll be simpler than my current system, while also much more interesting.

4 thoughts on “November Update

  1. How exciting! The changes to battle sound like they’ll streamline, speed up and balance things more, which is exactly what it needs. While I haven’t played Smash Up or Sentinels of the Multiverse, it looks like their battle pacing is quick and appropriate for a any superhero endeavor.

  2. There is a lot to be said for streamlining a system. Just because you’ve simplified something doesn’t mean it’ll be less fun.

    1. Personally, I think the important thing, and something that a lot of “deep” RPG’s get wrong, is that you don’t want complexity, you want emergent complexity.

      For example, Divinity: Original Sin is a complex game. It has a ton of equipment, a ton of skills, a ton of mechanics, a ton of ailments (most of which are basically duplicates) and a large story. Even the skills are rather complex. A fireball does a different thing when you fire it at a puddle of water vs. an oil puddle vs. a monster vs. a poison puddle. And frankly, I don’t think it’s a very fun game. It collapses under the weight of its own complexity.

      Meanwhile, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legend of the Titan is a lot simpler. It has far fewer mechanics, far simpler combat rules, fewer ailments (each of which differs from the others in a way other than resistance) and a much simpler story. There’s really one complex mechanic that player’s have to navigate: skill use and selection. Even class selection basically boils down to which skills you want to have available. However, those skills are interesting and diverse enough that they provide a very fertile ground for play. Furthermore, the skills themselves are individually very simple. When you use Chase Samba, the same thing happens *every time*: Whenever one of your other characters attacks, your Dancer attacks too. But it chains beautifully with some other skills, like the Landsknecht’s Elemental Link skills.

      That is really what I’m trying to do here. I’m trying to making everything dirt simple except one: the power system. I’m going to try to make the power system out of a bunch of dirt simple powers that interact in interesting ways.

      1. Divinity: OS isn’t fun to me at all! I definitely want to try the Etrian Odysseys, though, if only to follow your recommendation and better understand your Let’s Spanks.

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