The Heroes of Greentangle is the current result of all my messing around with C#. The game is a tower-defense role-playing game for the Xbox Live Indie Community, and although it is not yet totally finished the framework is nearly done. Here is a picture of the first tutorial screen (using substituted art elements). The game will have a fantasy-sketch style that should make it look like a story-book.
“What,” you may ask, “makes this an RPG tower defense game?” It’s true that there are a lot of fantasy-themed defense games that say ‘rpg’ styled on them, but Heroes of Greentangle will feature multiple dungeons on an overmap that you can navigate, persistent ‘heroes’ that serve as your towers and can level up, and gold/experience that can make both you and your men-at-arms more powerful.
I am as partial to graphics in my video games as the next guy, although the ability to draw escapes me. I have mentioned before that I was considering (still am) commissioning some good, high-quality art for the UI, menus, etc. for Space Mercs. Earlier, I was planning on using ASCII art (as seen in previous screens) as the main means of displaying the game, however.
After spending today goofing around in GIMP, I have started serious thinking about drawing some very retro art, instead. I don’t have the skills to produce really high-quality stuff, but what do you think about this? It might be a little bit more fun, right?
Space Mercs now has more complex, DnD-like melee combat. The prototype game has been featuring a simple, no-hit roll melee system that simply did damage between 1 and whatever your character’s strength happened to be. Now, characters make a d20 roll whenever a character attempts to melee attack. The d20 roll is modified by your character’s BattleLevel, which is a facet of the game’s unique character-level system.
Here is the code for melee:
An entity calls this method whenever it tries to move into a square occupied by an entity of another team (the teams are currently only Players and Mobs). Initially I was going to have multiple enemy factions that would battle with each other, but I found that monsters would end up killing each other if the PCs waited long enough. Believable, but not fun. Unless I can figure out a way around that, it’s out for now.
Because of the real-time nature of combat in Space Mercs, I had to make sure that missing in melee is implemented in the game, although I was originally planning on having no-miss combat. Without it, the game runs simply too dangerously.
Interplay‘s Wasteland has been mentioned on this blog before as a reference that I use when considering which game concepts will be brought forward into the large RPG project I am planning to tackle after the Space Mercs roguelike has been completed. This post will be a brief overview of the things that I like about the game and want to bring forward.
The idea of an overland, go-anywhere map seems to have really hit its stride with Wasteland. Like in its spiritual successor, Fallout, the player is not artificially limited to a small section of the country at the beginning of the game. The only thing stopping you from testing the very boundaries of the irradiated, post-WWIII southwest is an infinite army of grump, leather-clad muties.
This sensation of freedom was also present in the Elder Scrolls games, at least until Oblivion was released. With the fourth addition to the series, the developers went a little insane and decided to level the opponents to your character, essentially committing the gravest crime of good, fair game design–you would never meet a challenge too tough, and would never outgrow a challenge, either. A wolf at level one is challenging, but not deadly. That same wolf is just as challenging when you are level 5. It is the most grievous example of DM-ly handholding visible in most modern RPGs, and it will not be repeated in my RPG.
Shopping and NPC interaction in Wasteland is simple and fairly dense. It is difficult to figure out how to speak with an NPC, how to trade items between your party members, and how to manipulate your own equipment. The game features an admirable level of depth and sophistication, but it is hidden behind an overly complicated control scheme and a lack of clearly laid out buttons.
Simplicity of input aids depth of interaction, which is a concept that I am already exploring in the inventory and tactical combative aspects of Space Mercs.
Finally, combat. Wasteland featured a text- and menu-driven combat scheme that evokes other games from the developer, such as Bard’s Tale. When looking at it from a game designer’s perspective, it is excellent–it features distance, multiple enemies, and dangerous combat that makes a player really consider his next move, lest he die. I want to bring all of these things into both Space Mercs and my RPG project. I will, however, be doing so in a manner more fitting with modern, spatial conceptions of gaming.
I would love to make a really classic-style RPG one day, but I think that my time right now is better spent learning from the ideas of games like Wasteland and then figuring out what made those games great, so I can bring them into the modern era.
Games like these were made by teams of 2 or 3 men (sometimes more, but nothing like the scores-strong development teams of today). That they could do so with nothing more than the primitive programming languages of the past and veritable oodles of chutzpah gives me hope that my own projects will stand a chance, if I am willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears that a project like one of these would require.
Keep checking back!
I have been playing the classic CRPG Wasteland recently, and it has been a great inspiration for me when it comes to game development. The game is ~23 years old (and developed by the minds behind the pen and paper RPG Tunnels and Trolls) and yet still contains a lot of great ideas.
The game engine I am developing for Space Mercs is serving double purpose for the roguelike and as practice/thesis for a full-blown RPG engine to be used sometime over summer or later this year. I am studying the things that Wasteland does right–and the things it does wrong–with a critical eye.
Today’s work has left me with a working inventory system! Space Mercs is going to have an–as far as I can tell–entirely unique system of inventory management that will be integrated with the strategic nature of the game’s real-time combat. None of that is in yet. What we do have, however, is limited inventory slots, a system that checks to see whether the character has room to pick up an item before doing so, and one that rejects the Get behavior if the character is overburdened.
Things are coming along! I want to add item functionality tomorrow (although I have already started to integrate it into the Item class by linking it with a separate class called GameEffects that will manage healing, monster attacks, etc.
Here’s a pic of the @ picking up a key. There is one little bug where picking up an item works correctly, only updating the first status line. When you fail to pick up an item, however, it turns EVERY status line into a “You don’t have room for this” message. If anyone could give me some tips about how or why this is going on, I’d appreciate it.
If anyone knows C# and is willing to help out, here’s the code. The UpdateStatus(string) method turns the first status line into the referred string, then bumps each remaining string down one (if you’re curious and think it would help). Click to embiggen.
I just picked up a copy of Blendo Games’s Atom Zombie Smasher for the PC for $15. If you are interested in strategy gaming AT ALL, you need to pick this up.
It’s real time, procedurally generated zombie-smashing in a stylized RPG. Check out the link above if you’re curious.