Pescua [title work in progress!]

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Pongo
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Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:39 am

Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by Pongo »

Thanks Dorateen! Yeah I'm aiming to make the mod as open as possible. There are challenges here given the big jumps in power between low character levels. It's currently possible for a player to experience some very tough fights as their first combat experience of the mod if they explore areas off the critical path (although there are also lower level opportunities as well, so the game encourages you to do it). I figure the kind of people who are likely to play Iceblink mods are going to be ok with that and understand to come back later if they find something too tough for the party rather than getting frustrated and quitting, but it's going to be a challenge getting that balance right.

Thanks Slowdive, yes that's the plan! I don't have a timescale for getting the opening chapters out there - I was aiming at Christmas, but experience tells me that there will be loads of stuff I'm underestimating. The old adage that the last 10% of a project requires 90% of the time is usually very true. So I'd hope to have chapters 1 and 2 ready for "early next year sometime".

I'd really enjoy watching you stream it. :) Always enjoy your vids.
Pongo
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:39 am

Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by Pongo »

I realised one of the reasons I wanted to move straight onto chapter 2 was because I was enjoying making new content. On reflection, I'm going to spend August and September playtesting and addressing bugs and gaps in the Chapter 1 content before I move on. There is plenty of stuff I've been putting off, which I should just get on with really.

So I've been spending time:

Adding missing NPC portraits and environmental graphics, moving the conversations over to party chat, and adding in additional race/class convo options and uses for traits. At some point I'm going to have to go over this again and either remove or change traits that are just getting totally underused - I have one on "streetwise" that hasn't seen the light of day yet, for example, although I've got some ideas for how it can be used in the town areas so it might come good in the end. Anyway, here's Sergeant Vrai (who isn't really new), who gives you your quests and rewards...
Vrai.png
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Sorting out character portraits. Clearly you can add your own and you don't need to use them, but I've put together these black and white portraits from Epic Character Generator that would provide consistency if you wanted to use them. I just need a better dwarf or two! This is the first page of portraits, not the full list:
Portraits.png
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Adding missing flavour side-content and NPCs etc
where the world was feeling a bit empty. So the starting level of the castle now has an additional paladin and trainer hanging around to talk to, and the journey to the lighthouse has some optional stuff to find. I need to do this for the other two main chapter one quests as well, which will take a bit longer given they take place in a) a town and b) a tavern!
castlestart.png
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Completing spells up to level 3 caster level: This picture shows the wizard spells. There are five for each level, with an additional low SP cantrip as a fall back. I've got Blood Mage spells to level 2 but haven't progressed Cleric yet, so quite a lot to do. Each spell is tested and works (although I need to add the exemptions - eg, Frighten shouldn't work on undead). Some of them have their own animated effects (slow, haste, frighten, veil of darkness etc), which are pretty basic but gives a nice feel of variety.
magic.png
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Working out BAB and saving throws the the classes, how I'm dividing experience, costing items etc. Its not very exciting, but I've basically set up a mammoth spreadsheet so I compare what I'm doing for all the classes, and how things like the cost of items compare. Its really helpful to be able to see everything in one place and compare across rows. For example, this is the fortitude table (its in blue after level 9 because its a projection, I haven't added the stats yet).
stats.png
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Getting the journal working All existing quests (main and side) now have 3 - 5 journal entries that you can use as a reminder for what to do. I haven't decided if I'm using the faction options yet, but they look pretty nice and I'm tempted.
journal.png
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And just generally finding bugs and typos... of which there are a lot.


Its actually a lot of fun getting down into the nuts and bolts of the design and checking that stuff is working ok. I kinda wish I'd done it earlier! The plan is to get this all completed by the end of September so there isn't a caveat on saying "Chapter one is done", and then move onto Chapter 2.
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slowdive
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Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by slowdive »

Everything looks to be coming together so nicely! The portraits, tokens, tiles, spell icons, background, and UI elements are very cohesive and well polished. I understand the working on the fun stuff and avoiding other aspects. I don't enjoy tracking down and fixing bugs as much as working on cool new features, but I have to do it if I want a good final experience (bugs make the experience frustrating and unenjoyable). I too have been using Excel a lot recently for IBbasic when working on spells, traits, classes, races, default creatures, summons, etc. It really helps to see everything in one place and next to each other. I'm looking forward to the end of September or whenever something is ready for testing!
Pongo
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:39 am

Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by Pongo »

Thanks Slowdive. Yeah I'm finding bugs all over the place, my own errors usually. My most common one is getting the "action" and "conditions" the wrong way round in the convo editor, which is at least a quick fix!

I think I'm still going to wait to complete Chapter 2 before putting the beta out. The areas for both chapters intertwine a lot, whereas chapter 3 can be more easily gated. Level 3 caster spells etc will get me to the end of Chapter 2 though (I'm aiming for the pc to be about level 5 at that point), so after this I should just be able to focus on content generation. Christmas is my optimistic estimate, but more likely Jan or Feb I think.
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Dorateen
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Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by Dorateen »

Sounds good! That's an outstanding attention to detail for the underlying systems. Look forward to playing this module.
Pongo
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:39 am

Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by Pongo »

Progress update

I've added in traps and spent a bit of time learning how they work. In this clip, the party approach a trap and try to disarm it (space bar) with a character without the correct skill; and then change to the party's thief, who successfully passes a disable device check and removes two of the three traps. Both lose 1SP for using search. At the end of the clip, just for the hell of it, the party trigger the last remaining trap anyway. :)
1traps.gif
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It works great. I'm going to readjust the traps so the difficulty goes up in increments of 1 rather than 5 (which I think is more intuitive with the corresponding trait, which will improve in increments of 1 also), but I'm really happy with the extra challenge traps add.


I've also been having fun with mobile encounters. I've added them into maps as moving/chasing props. It works well. The game world is fairly open, so it gives the player an opportunity to visit a map that is technically too high level if they think they can dodge the mobile encounters. It gets very tricky on some maps though - here is one with imps, traps, and very limited manoeuvrability (most maps aren't as nasty as this one!).
3imps.gif
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For portraits, I've often been using the NPC's token - I find this works quite well at minimal hassle, and means I can progress building in other areas more quickly:
4aRanger.png
4aRanger.png (468.86 KiB) Viewed 79 times
Some deserve more detail though, so I'm building them unique portraits using EPIC Character Generator. I'm happy with how these are coming along. Here's Xil, who you meet cleaning the castle:
4Xil.png
4Xil.png (719.86 KiB) Viewed 79 times
And Anwyll the mage, who is off the critical path but not hard to find:
5Anwyll.png
5Anwyll.png (710.99 KiB) Viewed 79 times

These are the kinds of things I wanted to come back to, so its nice to be finally adding them in. I reckon I've slipped a bit on polishing Chapter 1 (inevitably :)), but it should be done by mid-October - and then I reckon maybe four months to do Chapter 2 (which uses lots of the same locations and NPCs so a lot of the building blocks are already there). So end-February 2022 for the release of Chapters 1 and 2 is still feeling about right I think.


A few low priority thoughts occurred to me whilst building this month:
- it would be nice to be able to add an animation when you set off a trap (like an explosion or something). I don't think that happens currently.
- I'm going to add a new optional tutorial section at the start so players know to use space bar to search / disarm traps etc. I hadn't realised it was a function myself until I looked into how traps work - but I love it now!
- Might it be possible to add an "autosave" function? There'll be a few maps where a low level player might go very wrong and get into an unescapable death loop. I could add soft gates or something to those areas to deter low level players , but a subtle automatic save point creation before the dangerous area might be a nice alternative.
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Dorateen
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Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by Dorateen »

Great detail, Pongo. The living world project that youngneil1 put together gives a lot of interesting options for a dynamic map, nice to see it in action. I love the way you do the walls to give it that psuedo-3d look. And the purple skull flashing arch is very cool.
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slowdive
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Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by slowdive »

Looking great! The tile animation, the trap system, and the wondering imps are a nice touch. I like the suggested features of traps triggering an explosion animation or other ending Fx. I think there is a way to trigger audio using a script trigger [gaPlaySound.cs(parm1)]. I think there used to be an autosave feature that could be called from a trigger script, but it may have been disabled awhile back due to some threading challenges. I'll make a note to look at it again.
Pongo
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:39 am

Re: Pescua [title work in progress!]

Post by Pongo »

Thanks Dorateen - yes, youngneil's living world stuff is brilliant. I feel I'm only really scratching the surface, there's a ton of stuff he's added over the years that I haven't figured out yet, but I'm really happy with what I have. The purple flashing skull portal, like 90% of my tiles, is from the Dungeon Soup guys - they have some really nice animated props.

I'll add the audio trigger, that'll be a nice touch - thanks Slowdive! I haven't added any new audio yet at all, either music or effects, which is a bit of a gap. There seems to be a load of stuff available for free online so I'm planning to pull it together late on in the build. Nothing bespoke this time though (despite feeling a bit inspired after listening to Zach's awesome Malkin soundtrack on Spotify!)
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