Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Devblog: Engalia: The Wager Changelog

I recently released a game called Engalia: The Wager as an entrant into a one-week game development contest. The gamepage can be found here, although I recently took down the download so that I could make some changes to the game based on the comments I received at the end of the contest.

The most prevalent comment I read was that the game is too difficult. I'm not surprised that this was the case given the limited amount of time I had to beta test the game after finishing its development, and a lot of the changes I've been making have been aimed at making the game more balanced in terms of difficulty. At the same time, I'm also adding new content that I didn't have time to finish during the one-week development time allowed by the contest, so there's plenty to do before releasing a "polished" version of the game. 

In any case - just to give a sense of the scale of the changes I'm making to the game - here is the current changelog. I'll release an updated changelog alongside the eventual "polished" download, and I estimate that will happen sometime next week!

  • All weapons now have the correct damage type set. This fixes a bug were normal attacks were dealing significantly more damage than they were supposed to deal.
  • Heroes with a "one star" rating in attack now have their attack stat set-up properly. This should fix problems with physical attacks being utterly useless with these characters. Note that this only really affects the "Monk" and the "Thief", as other "one star" attack heroes don't generally use physical attacks (eg. mage-type characters) 
  • Status affects should now work with the advertised accuracy. They were previously far too inaccurate, both for heroes and enemies. 
  • "Stun" has been removed from the final boss's ultimate attack, basically because a "Stun"-all attack is pretty cheap. 
  • Healing spells used by the "Cleric" now have a reduced MP cost. 
  • All heroes have been given 1.5x more MP. 
  • Enemies will no longer be able to engage the hero party with "pincer" and "back-attack" type encounters. 
  • Increased the duration of all status effects so that they actually last longer than a turn. The definition of "turn" in RM2K3 is so confusing. Status effects should be a lot more useful now, especially buffs and debuffs. 
  • The first boss, Frost Wyrm, has had his attack-list tweaked so that he is less punishing vs. parties that don't contain dedicated, single-target fire damage. It was nigh on impossible to beat him without his previously. 
  • Chests now give more potions, ethers, phoenix downs and status-effect removing items, and have a better chance of giving out items as a result. This should make the game slightly easier.
  • "Mimic chests" have been added, meaning that enemy Mimics will attack you from every 1 in 3 chests. In addition to these chests giving you a randomly generated selection of items (which is what "normal chests" do), "Mimic chests" will give you a Ring or Amulet that can be used to favourably boost your hero's abilities.
  • All enemies have had their skills renamed to add flavour. For example, the normal attack used by Goblins is now named "Goblin Hammer". This doesn't effect balance or playability, but does make the game slightly more interesting IMO. 
  • Many enemies have had their skill sets reworked so that status ailments are more prevalent. They were previously only used by a small selection of enemies, which I thought to be quite boring. 
  • Enemy damage has been reduced across the board. Enemy skills were simply set up to deal too much damage, and that has now been fixed. 
  • Normal attacks used by heroes are now properly balanced, and their listed damage falls in line with the damage skills are supposed to deal in relation to normal attacks. 
  • Intelligence and Defence-based status ailments have been changed to affect the proper stat. Previously they were mixed around, and this was due to a bug in the RM2K3 engine that lists them improperly. 
  • Status buffs (Speed Up, Attack Up etc.) no longer result in heroes being displayed with a negative animation.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Devblog: The Chaotic Design of Level Four

I've been saying for a very long time that level 4, which will essentially be the final level of the game, is planned out and ready to go. This is more or less true, I have most of the stage designs down on paper and I have more than 3/4 of the backgrounds sprited. The problem is that I've gone about working on this level in a completely different way to how I've worked on the other levels, and it's really throwing me through a loop.

When I was working on levels 1-3, I would do everything for a given stage at the same time. I would draw out the stage, get the stage into the maker, add all the events needed for that particular stage, test that it was working as desired, and then move onto the next stage. Doing it this way, it would only take approx. two nights of free-time to complete one stage, and the procedural nature of the work made it easy to do without thinking too hard about what I was doing. It also meant that I was constantly working on different things (different image-types, different events, different minigame systems), which helped me stay familiar with everything I needed to get a given stage finished.

However, after taking a break from developing this game to work on my PhD thesis, I found it really hard to get back into the swing of things and start work on level 4. Because of this, I decided that I should make progress by working on the easiest thing to work on. I found that the easiest thing for me to work on was the spriting, as that didn't require me to open RPGMaker and look at event coding that I was no longer familiar with. After doing that, I started to get overlays working for each stage, started to link stages together using the required teleport events, and then added the "search" events to each level (the search events are by far the easiest of the minigames to understand in terms of event coding). At this moment in time, I'm adding things like enemies and other minigames to each level, so things are definitely getting closer to being done.

The problem with doing it this way is that things are no longer procedural; I am no longer working in a way that allows me to work on auto-pilot and that is a big problem for me given how draining my job sometimes is. I'm coming across minigame systems etc. that I haven't worked with for a long time and, despite the fact that I've annotated my event code pretty well, I find it difficult to work on the game for long periods of time. I guess this should serve as a cautionary tale; my punishment for taking the path of least resistance when I came back to working on the game is really backfiring now!

Anyway, have a screenshot :3