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Tiavals
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Well, frankly, I didn't like the first game too much. It was far too hard and tedious to me. I couldn't even get past the graveyard part of the game, no matter how many times I tried, yet I could easily play TSE2 on Hard. The dialogue was pretty poor in the first one as well.

As for the second game, the only things I didn't find excellent were the combat and the linearity of the game(including the problems that arise from it, such as the dialogue being more or less identical most of the game even with different characters).

So, making the combat more interesting would be the most important thing assuming you won't lose your excellent writing skills(both for the story and the dialogue). Less meaningless, non-plot related battles would be nice(I would use "random encounter" but they were fixed encounters, so...).

Really, what needs to be definately kept is the idea of multiple characters that can be chosen in the beginning, that affect the story. What I would like is that they would have more impact on the main story as well, and not just their own dialogues and personal stories. But seeing as how that would be a huge amount of work, I'm content with just them affecting dialogue(though it would be better if it were affected more than it is in TSE2).
But seeing that you wouldn't want to make such a game again makes me very sad, since TSE2 is one of the very, very few games to do this excellent form of storytelling and such a loss is a great one.

Stepping away from the base characters classes sounds fine, but an item based system sounds pretty poor to me. I would think that if each character had their own personal class, that would be for the best. And then, it shouldn't be that the characters are modeled after one purpose(buffer, blaster, tank, etc) because that is just irritating. Each character should pretty much have a means to do all of these roles, though they should be very varied between the characters.

And a non-story based way of playing? Seems like a really bad idea, at least from my point of view. The main draw of TSE2 was by far the story and the dialogue, and if you take those things away, what remains?
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Jimbob
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I think the combat system was its other major draw Tiavals to be honest, there is not another system quite like it, and it felt very fresh to me for that exact reason. It wasn't perfect, but the array of tactics it allowed you to use was far more involved than other RPG games of this ilk. A simple refinement I could suggest (that irks me in every single game in this genre) would be on levelling up on just skills and not hit points, just having enemies require different tactics and have hit points relate to armour and general physical ability.

I definitely agree on the story argument though. There is still a lot to be said for the linear plotline, and there is still a lot to be done with it.

One thing I can possibly think of is staying with a party, but having character development that relates to the path that you choose or certain simple decisions you take (i.e. you actually CHOOSE whether to open the briefcase or not, and the consequence makes Ionae/Kaltos sulk and less interested in the team, yet there is less urgency, allowing to possibly explore other areas of Underpass. Yet the overall plot is not changed). Admittedly the task of creating these paths manually is an absurd chore, so perhaps something more procedural is required. Although I'm sure getting a procedural generator to work as you like would require just as much head scratching and brain racking...

An item based skill system also kinda worries me, but I do like the Fallout system of having innate abilities, but being able to use (almost) anything. Only you end up being rubbish if you're shooting a rocket launcher and you've spent all your life picking pockets...

I dunno, a bit of an unaimed ramble there, maybe some things to think about.
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Mark Pay
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Those are some great posts, thanks. I'm pretty happy with the way the narrative worked in TSE-2, but between editing the dialogues and implementing the cutscenes, it accounted for a large amount of development time. Perhaps over 40%? I don't want the next game to take 5 years in development. Although I can make up time with improved experience and increased workflow, I think something has to be sacrificed. Scaling back the narrative will help tremendously and give me time to experiment with other gameplay elements. And as I said, I don't want to remake the game I spent the last 5 years on with a new story! I can always return to the traditional format for later titles if this does not work out.

I am still undecided on the exact form of the narrative though. I may be able to delay any firm decisions until much later in development.

The item-based system I was considering would allow you to create your own classes between fights. e.g. Load a character up with a pistol, medical kit and two defensive spellbooks for a support character, or load them up with a rifle, grenades, a sabre and armour for an offensive character. Innate traits would be used for character development, as in Jimbob's Fallout example.
Unfortunately ( or perhaps not ) this would make skill chains problematic, since you couldn' t guarantee that a character would have any particular item-based skill during a fight.
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ROD
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Iīll have to do small but frequent posts:

combat system:
I was more than happy with that in both games. I love those tactical fights.
especially timing (smokescreen, alternating enemy stats)or parts like Arachnid lane: not neccessarily the fact that itīs timed but forcing the player to a new challenge (somwhere in world two when the battles start getting boring because you think you have an omnipotent strategy)

I never used those skill chains....

I liked not having to buy or find healing potions and ammunition

I liked both: characters differ in being able to perform certain skills (TSE1 - I was disapointed there were none in TSE2) and the story-dependent character stats ("eager effect", being poisoned etc)
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ROD
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Maybe an important point:
The universe you created is kind of crazy like...having knights along with "cowboy women" and vampires and aliens and medieval battlefields (or was it early 20th century?). This goes for both titles.
Sounding weird it seems to work out very well. The way youīre "painting" it, Iīm believing it:D
Anyway Iīd love to visit it again in a third place.
(I recently read a novel by Jasper Fforde for the first time, and it reminded me a little of TSE - itīs a strange, mad, impossible kind of world but yet so easy to believe in and enjoyable to follow a story in, everything could happen next...)

the stories:

Great plots, both!
I liked TSE 1 even better. That story is flawless to me ("deus ex machina" - was that an inspiration for the name "spirit ENGINE"...)
Some things I disliked in TSE2 concerning story:
Too much killing of children and and too much warfare sceneries.
I understand that the plot required both, and itīs still good, but well,that was a slight drawback for me.(maybe having kids makes one a bit delicate..)
Though I have no problem with the Poe/Stoker/Lovecraft kind of things...or the killing of a third of a cities population - thatīs okay (that was awesome...)
well, writing difficult things in english is hard being tired...Iīll return I guess...
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Cereal Toucher
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Whoa. So, you're already thinking of making a 3rd one? Just to make sure, from what little bits of info on what I heard about the end part of TS2, there's suppose to be a bunch of loose ends and a sorta grim if not really grim ending, unlike in the first one where everyone lives happily ever after.

Also, does TS2 have something to do with the first one, or is it a completely different world? What was the plot of the first one? Also, what's TS2 about?
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Mark Pay
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Cereal Toucher - TSE-1, TSE-2 and ( hopefully ) TSE-3 will have enitrely unconnected plots.

ROD - Thanks for the feedback. There's some great stuff in there to give me cause for thought.
- I agree that mixing up sources to create a world is fun and effective ( if it works ). I will definately keep this in mind.
- Yes, the name of the first game was a reference to that.
- I'm very interested in your statement about the killing of children. Not being a parent myself, my own instinctive response is not as strong. Of course it is meant to be a terrible thing in the story, but if some players are finding any elements too unpleasant I will have to consider their inclusion.
- It's reassuring to hear that you never used Skill chains. Smile
- No plans for stock management at this point.

I want to delve into Lovecraftian themes for the third game. I love him so much as an author. Right now I'm basically thinking of a 19th century version of Ghostbusters, with monster-hunting and research the driving goal. But I'm going to focus on the engine first, and give myself more time to think about the plot and setting.
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ROD
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Mark Pay wrote:

I want to delve into Lovecraftian themes for the third game. I love him so much as an author. Right now I'm basically thinking of a 19th century version of Ghostbusters, with monster-hunting and research the driving goal.


That sounds great!
Imho the parts of TSE1+2 connected with these themes were the strongest and most convincing including the music.
speaking of that, I guess (hope!) Josh will stay with you..?
and another little remark:
I loved the parts were the music was used very sparingly, contributing all the more to the athmosphere, for example in world 8 (the ship). So sometimes I experimented and turned the music down in the option menu for some battles during the Tameless Traverse level - it was kind of cool, fighting in the deep jungle, no music, only battlesounds. It has a big effect, this sudden gap if you are used to having a lot of music (and vice versa), so this might be something to consider...
just in case: donīt get me wrong - I absolutely agree with all the enthusiastic voices concerning TSE - music. EVERY other indie game (and several commercial ones) sooner or later I played without music (often even sound when not separated), and Joshīs tunes are the great exceptions. Thatīs important. In good games, you get stuck from time to time - good music helps to prevent frustration (it did). Great composing, great arrangements (if I hear some of these again for a third time I wonīt mind at all, on the contrary ! Smile)

Speaking of getting stuck: Iīm also still not tired of watching the underground "landscapes". I mean the bottom area of the screen. Kind of TSE-trademark, isnīt it?

concerning the "children affair":
Itīs the opening scene, just formed your party and youīre out at night in a forest to find and save two lost children pursued by a bunch of mystic killers.
Having saved the first one I didnīt expect to witness the murdering of her brother. That was pretty hard. Maybe it would have been less so the other way round (first the murder then the saving) but I do think I would have liked the story more if the ones killed by the Keepers were grown-ups.Itīs like you wrote: the "instinctive reponse" changes with being parent (though I donīt know how many parents are playing this game...)

offtopic
Could you give me a suggestion for a Lovecraft novel?
I know only one (where the protagonist searches his dreams for the "unknown Kadath" - donīt know the English title) but read it several times and liked it a lot - what next?
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Mark Pay
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'll definately be keeping the underground landscapes! I don't like the common practise in many indie platformers of fading to black. I did a quick mockup of an angled-down view with no underground, but I think that'll be too much work to implement. That space is needed to overlay the GUI onto anyway.
I'm really hoping that Josh will be interested in working on the soundtrack if the game gets that far. We've talked a bit about coding issues. All of this may be some time into the future anyway. It could never be the same without him!

The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath is fantastic. It's a little different to the fiction Lovecraft is best known for, but very special.

I believe that Lovecraft's work is now in the public domain. Whilst it's nice to have the collections in book format, his short fiction is also available online here: http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/

My personal favourites are:

Dreams in the Witch-House
The Colour Out of Space
The Dunwich Horror
The Haunter Of The Dark

Also commonly popular/ considered classics are:

At the Mountains of Madness
The Call of Cthulhu
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
Pickman's Model
The Rats in the Walls
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Whisperer in Darkness

I also find enjoyable:
The Shunned House ( mainly for the uncharacteristically awesome array of equipment the protagonist uses )
Herbert West: Reanimator ( good fun )
The Cats of Ulthar ( as a cat-lover Wink )

There's something worth reading in all of his fiction. I can't speak for his poetry or correspondance though.
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Tiavals
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Oh, I must comment on something I forgot that I liked a lot: The variance of the battlefield.

It was the best part of the combat engine that many of the battlefields(mostly in the jungle) had unique terrain that affected the choice of attacks and such you might want to use(the mist that affected ranged attacks, mud that slowed you down, the hungering earth effect, some places being inside so you can't use Swordfaith and such). A most splendid way to give more meaning and fun to a battle, making it bearable to fight meaningless encounters(which I generally despise greatly). Frankly, especially the jungle had far too many encounters.

It would probably be a bit too much work, but I would like to see this extended to virtually every battle in the game. A plot-based fight in an inn? The chairs and tables have an effect on movement and defense. A battle on a ship's deck? The swaying of the boat makes it hard for balance and the warriors may fall down. Such things affect the battle somewhat, but not terribly so, and as I already mentioned, makes them much more exciting and interesting, which is a very important thing.
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Mark Pay
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm definately looking to include a terrain system including cover and fights on hills. A retreat option too, to let you fall back to better ground. And area effects like weather and hopefully some wierder stuff.
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ROD
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you a lot for the Lovecraft compilation and the link (of course I prefer having the books, but itīs great being able to browse a little...)!

I will get the Cats of Ulthar (they play a role in Dream Quest too) and start browsing this site a little more...

thanks again
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Rogue
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I would suggest adding verticality to areas. Climbing up ladders, jagged rocks, and stairs in the background (like those in Castlevania) would really add depth to areas. You could also make doors in the background that you can enter that lead to other areas. Adding branching paths to areas would add an element of exploration to the mix. More out of combat interaction might flesh out the game a little as well. There should still be plenty of linear areas where you do nothing but walk across, fight monsters and pick up treasure though. Just make sure the combat is fun.

Not everyone may use skill chains, but I do and I would miss them if they were gone. I pretty much set all the skill chains to be one attack in the first Spirit Engine, but I found them quite useful in the second Spirit Engine, particularly the party chains. My main enemy killing strategy pretty much involved changing everyones attack every turn, which is pretty awkward and tedious without the use of skill chains. I also like being able to click one button when I want my entire party to heal up and use defensive skills. You could consider just having party chains. About half way through the game I pretty much always have my knight charge before an attack, so I use skill chains for him. But that could be handled with party chains as well.

I don't think it would be too much of a problem to implement skill chains in a way that would work with what you're planning. You could make it so that if a character can't use a skill because they don't have an item equipped, the slots in a chain that are set to use that skill become free slots, which get set to whatever skill you select from the radial menu when that slot comes up in battle. I also think it might be cool if you could record your party's actions into a chain in battle, so you can make chains during a battle without the need to break up the action with a menu. I don't think that you should encourage people to be changing their parties drastically too often anyways.

I must say that I'm really fond of games where you select your classes at the beginning and play through the rest of the game using those classes. It's one of the things I loved about the previous Spirit Engines, particularly the second one. It's a very fun way of varying the gameplay across different playthroughs. In an all knights playthrough, I would enjoy using different swords, shields and armor that I wouldn't have bothered with in a regular playthrough, and I get to sell light armor, guns, staffs, etc without wondering if they might be useful later. It's also a good challenge coping with the limitations of a single class party and it's cool when you get to enjoy their strengths on occasion. It's fun specializing different team members for different purposes within the boundaries of their class's abilities as well. Although under your current planned setup I could decide not to use certain items for a challenge, limiting myself over the course of the game doesn't sound as fun for me as setting the limitations at the beginning of the game.

I do however encourage experimentation as I don't want this to be "The Spirit Engine 2.1" either. Perhaps you could have items determine what skills they can use, but have class restrictions on what items can be equipped?

I also don't want to wait 5 years for it to be finished. You could stand to have less dialogue in general. If you keep the same graphical style as the previous game you could reuse some of the graphics, and maybe put some of those unused graphics to use.
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A-Red



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I may be a crazy feminist, but the class/gender barriers irk me a little. Assuming you will still have nine characters and one woman for every two men, I'd like to suggest that you mix them into each class instead of making them all mages in every game. It isn't as though there's anything in your metaphysics that requires magic to be cast by women--I'm thinking of Felran and The Grandfather.


A few other minor things--I've only played TSE1, so I hope this isn't all moot by now.

-I hated paying to save my game. I nearly had to give up on the game in the final dungeon stretch because I needed to level up to progress, and I was losing gold faster than I was gaining experience.
-I found it frustrating that the same enemies gave less gold and experience as I leveled up.
-I hope that area spells like Rock Rain no longer depend on position, and no longer inexplicably miss from time to time.

As for what I liked...well, everything else. Please don't change the combat system too much--I love how much I had to think about how to approach different battles.
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Mark Pay
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Again, thanks for the thoughts folks. They're all very useful. The engine is in an early stage and I'm very easy to influence right now, so please keep them coming. Wink

Quote:
I would suggest adding verticality to areas. Climbing up ladders, jagged rocks, and stairs in the background (like those in Castlevania) would really add depth to areas. You could also make doors in the background that you can enter that lead to other areas. Adding branching paths to areas would add an element of exploration to the mix. More out of combat interaction might flesh out the game a little as well. There should still be plenty of linear areas where you do nothing but walk across, fight monsters and pick up treasure though. Just make sure the combat is fun.


Jumping and ladders were originally in TSE-1, but they didn't work very well, so I took them out. I'm strongly considering the doors / multiple paths idea.

Quote:
Not everyone may use skill chains, but I do and I would miss them if they were gone. I pretty much set all the skill chains to be one attack in the first Spirit Engine, but I found them quite useful in the second Spirit Engine, particularly the party chains. My main enemy killing strategy pretty much involved changing everyones attack every turn, which is pretty awkward and tedious without the use of skill chains. I also like being able to click one button when I want my entire party to heal up and use defensive skills. You could consider just having party chains. About half way through the game I pretty much always have my knight charge before an attack, so I use skill chains for him. But that could be handled with party chains as well.
I don't think it would be too much of a problem to implement skill chains in a way that would work with what you're planning. You could make it so that if a character can't use a skill because they don't have an item equipped, the slots in a chain that are set to use that skill become free slots, which get set to whatever skill you select from the radial menu when that slot comes up in battle. I also think it might be cool if you could record your party's actions into a chain in battle, so you can make chains during a battle without the need to break up the action with a menu. I don't think that you should encourage people to be changing their parties drastically too often anyways.


Hey, some very interesting ideas here, thanks!
Party-chains-only seems like the best way to go, simplifying the original split between individual and party. You could already use the party chains in TSE-2 for 1, 2 and 3 character chains.

Quote:

I must say that I'm really fond of games where you select your classes at the beginning and play through the rest of the game using those classes. It's one of the things I loved about the previous Spirit Engines, particularly the second one. It's a very fun way of varying the gameplay across different playthroughs. In an all knights playthrough, I would enjoy using different swords, shields and armor that I wouldn't have bothered with in a regular playthrough, and I get to sell light armor, guns, staffs, etc without wondering if they might be useful later. It's also a good challenge coping with the limitations of a single class party and it's cool when you get to enjoy their strengths on occasion. It's fun specializing different team members for different purposes within the boundaries of their class's abilities as well. Although under your current planned setup I could decide not to use certain items for a challenge, limiting myself over the course of the game doesn't sound as fun for me as setting the limitations at the beginning of the game.
I do however encourage experimentation as I don't want this to be "The Spirit Engine 2.1" either. Perhaps you could have items determine what skills they can use, but have class restrictions on what items can be equipped?


I'm leaning heavily towards completely free item choice. I'll have to see how it all works out. Given that I'm aiming to get some randomisation on monster abilities, I don't want a situation where the player becomes stuck if they are restricted from using a necessary item.

Quote:

I may be a crazy feminist, but the class/gender barriers irk me a little. Assuming you will still have nine characters and one woman for every two men, I'd like to suggest that you mix them into each class instead of making them all mages in every game. It isn't as though there's anything in your metaphysics that requires magic to be cast by women--I'm thinking of Felran and The Grandfather.


The class barriers in the first game were only there to reduce the work required on the character sprites. Each class has one body type with some minor colour differences. In the second game I didn't realise the convention was unecessary until it was too late and I had done the character designs. There should be no need to have gender divisions in the future.

Quote:
-I hated paying to save my game. I nearly had to give up on the game in the final dungeon stretch because I needed to level up to progress, and I was losing gold faster than I was gaining experience.


Gone in TSE-2, never to return. Very Happy

Quote:
-I found it frustrating that the same enemies gave less gold and experience as I leveled up.


This is the same in TSE-2. I really want to find a way to discourage heavy 'power-levelling' as a solution to difficult game situations. Hopefully the difficulty levels in the second game help with this.

Quote:
-I hope that area spells like Rock Rain no longer depend on position, and no longer inexplicably miss from time to time.


The code ought to be as much improved as it was between the first and second games. That is to say - a lot!
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