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Norman Barrows

Member Since 04 Apr 2012
Online Last Active Today, 10:32 AM

#5312301 Leveling up through mini-quests?

Posted by on Yesterday, 06:43 AM

Servant has a good point.


the first thing you have to do is decide what kinds of experience points you'll have in the game, and what they represent experience in. D&D started with exp representing experience in combat as a certain class of character.


nowadays it seems folks forget its supposed to model something, and just use it in whatever manner, sometimes awarding "experience points" for all kinds of things, from follower kills, to location discovery, to quest completion. whats this supposed to represent? experience in playing the game?


experience points are not a game mechanic like jumping or powerups in a side scroller. they are a way of modeling something in a simulation. an often abused way.

#5312300 Leveling up through mini-quests?

Posted by on Yesterday, 06:28 AM

Then again, this almost entirely removes one of the perennial benefits of levels.  [snip]  


excellent insights there.


when addressing the question "what to do when you're high level", i came to the conclusion that the player needs a goal at all times, either supplied by the game, or one the player has set for themselves. it can be as simple as "lets see whats over the next hill...  hmm... yet another hill."   or as complex as "slay the dark lord while simultaneously balancing the national budget".  traditional ways of gaining experience provide this constant goal (i have a progress bar to fill !). quests would not do this unless they were one long quest line, with each quest automatically assigned upon completion of the previous. similar to the main and faction quest lines in skyrim.

#5312120 Leveling up through mini-quests?

Posted by on 23 September 2016 - 08:53 AM

The problem that I have with these mini-quests is that someone has to generate them


that problem is endemic to all hand generated content. procedurally generated content and user created content seem to be the only answers.


and they will inevitably get boring (there's only so and so many things you can give as quest).


that problem is endemic to all hard coded content, and even procedurally generated content which lacks sufficient variety. procedurally generated content with sufficient variety is one possible solution. another is to design the game so tasks/quests are not repeated often enough to get old. make them one time only, or a limited number of times, or design them so they won't get used too often (IE they are of limited benefit), something like that. or just throw up a message and say "if you want more - buy the DLC or next version!". and then make a bunch of DLC, and a new version. <g>.


at the end of the day, any offline game can only have a fixed amount of content. once its used up, its used up. time for a new game.


unless you can come up with a good script formula for writing quests, it may be too much work to use quests as the primary means of leveling up. they may have to be relegated to a bonus way to level up, with some more traditional / automatic / less developer labor intensive means of leveling as the basis for the game.


right now i've finished 26 quest gens for caveman, and still have another 29 on the todo list. each requires about a screen worth of init_quest code, and 2-5 screens of run_quest code (depending on the number of stages in that quest type).  almost every new quest requires me to write some function to check for some new condition never checked for before in the game. that's typically another screen or two of code. code is also required to display map markers and journal entries based on quest stage. although this could be handles with generic routines and a database. but its just about as fast (maybe faster?) to add the code as it is to add the data as to where to draw markers and what text to display at each stage of the quest. by now i've got it down to about 3 hours to write, test, debug, and finish one quest gen. and it doesn't look like i can do it any faster.

#5312110 After being an indie game developer I begin to doubt myself

Posted by on 23 September 2016 - 08:12 AM

1.  grossing $3K per year per warm body is not exactly making a living. its pretty obvious you guys need to get some sort of jobs to support yourselves while you get the company up and running, and perhaps fund the company as well.  reducing your living expenses will free up funds from the jobs for use by the company. all profits from the company will need to be plowed right back into the company.  not until the company can pay for everything (gear, marketing, telecom expenses, office furniture and supplies, etc) and still have a bunch left over for you two (say at least $20K each per year or whatever you need to live on) - only then should you quit your day jobs.


2. market research: how much do the best selling games of this type make?  maybe just one of this type of game won't get the returns you seek. you may need a dozen titles to get what you want. or maybe these games just don't cut it at all as a way to make a living and you'll need to do some other type of game that sells better.  also, can you match the quality of the best selling games of this type? if you can't, you have no product at all. 2nd place is 1st loser.


3. assuming there's evidence that these games can get you the desired returns, its all about marketing, marketing, marketing. and then some more marketing.

#5311985 13 Y/O That Is Interested In Learning How To Make Video Games

Posted by on 22 September 2016 - 04:21 PM

its a never ending journey. i've been building games for fun since 1981, and building them to sell since 1989.  whether you do it for fun or profit, its one of the coolest things on the planet. enjoy!

#5311771 what makes a quest epic?

Posted by on 21 September 2016 - 07:29 AM

looking over the responses...


a great story:    a quest can be non-epic and still have a great story. so a great story alone isn't enough.


power level: (epic-ness?)  everything is on a grand scale. summoned gods doing battle vs servant with dagger.   this could be a contender.


big / long / hard:   big must mean power level / epic-ness, not length.   these also seem to be contenders.


immersion, story (again), ambiance, music:   games can have all these things and no quests whatsoever - epic or otherwise. so these don't seem to be core components of epic quests, just nice to have.


shine out (uniqueness): it would seem possible to have two similar quests that are both epic, so uniqueness doesn't seem to be a requirement.


high odds. long duration: once again these seem to be common in "epic" quests.


multiple pathways, learning, gaining skills, the unexpected (IE plot twists), an emotional payoff, and a satisfying epilogue are all possible in non-epic quests. so none of those makes a quest "epic". once again they are just "nice to have".


once you strip out the bits that don't necessarily make a quest epic your left with:


grand scale, long time, and high difficulty.


do classic epics pass this test?


are the following epics grand scale, long time, and/or high difficulty?




lord of the rings

the hobbit

the illiad

the oddesy

the golden fleece

the twelve labors of hercules

any other examples?


can anyone name a classic epic that doesn't have at least one of: grand scale, long time, or high difficulty?


can anyone name a non-epic quest that has one or more of these?

#5311423 Automated Space Combat (4X)

Posted by on 19 September 2016 - 09:08 AM

always use the simplest possible simulation model that yields sufficiently correct results.


at the simplest level, each type of unit has one stat: combat strength.

to resolve one turn of combat, you add up the total strength of both sides, add some randomness, and that determines losses for each side, which are then applied at random to different ships.


so you add up the strength of both sides, figure out the odds, roll a die, and consult the combat table, which expresses losses as a percentage of total fleet strength most likely.


so if your fleet has total strength of 100, and 30% losses, you eliminate 30 strength points worth of ships at random.


with correctly balanced values for unit strength, something as simple as this could work.  the unit strength would take into account all capabilities of the ship: weapons, armor, speed, maneuverability, special weapons, crew training, etc.


this would be a combat system similar to those seen in table top wargames games like blitkrieg and thrid reich by avalon hill. 

#5311406 How Do You Go About Your Game Design?

Posted by on 19 September 2016 - 08:15 AM

i start with an idea of something that ,might make a cool game. such as a game where you can:


"make a stone knife and take on a sabertooth"

"be the captain of a starship"

"fly a space fighter"

"be a character in a fantasy RPG world"

"be a pirate"


then i determine what mechanics will be required to model the game world in question.


the design doc is typically a one page list of basic game features. the list of basic features leads to a "todo" list - which then drives the entire project. put it on the "todo" list - do it, move it to the "done" list. then on to the next feature.


i typically shy away from story based games - preferring open world simulation and emergent behavior from combos of basic game mechanics.  forcing the player to follow a storyline places artificial barriers around them in what could otherwise be an open world simulation. but its ok to place a storyline over a open world simulation. if they stray off the storyline they don't hit any artificial barriers, because the whole world is modeled, not just the bits related to the story.

#5311395 what makes a quest epic?

Posted by on 19 September 2016 - 07:25 AM

what makes a quest epic?


in my mind, high challenge makes it epic.  and that basically translates to epic combat. say at best somewhere around 50-50 odds of winning. long time or long distances involved seem to also make it more epic, but don't seem to be sufficient in and of themselves to make things epic.


so what in your mind makes for an epic quest?



#5311288 should i have both epic AND mundane quests?

Posted by on 18 September 2016 - 06:35 AM

Waterlimon has brought up a good point.


what do you consider to be an epic quest?


it seems different folks have different opinions on just what makes a quest epic.


perhaps with a sample of various people's definition of an epic quest we can find elements that are common to most/all people.


to me, extremely challenging combat seems essential. or perhaps extremely challenging theft in lieu of combat.  long time and long distance also seem to have weight, but don't seem to be sufficient by themselves.

#5311286 should i have both epic AND mundane quests?

Posted by on 18 September 2016 - 06:24 AM

Epicness is relative to the expectations of the player. If all your quests are epic, none are.   As mentioned, the focus needs to be on quality of quests. How epic they feel, is just a knob to increase the perceived quality of experience without actually changing the complexity of the content (youre just using bigger numbers and words and so on).


you know, we've never really defined what we mean by epic.


to me big words and numbers aren't epic. to me, in a game, high difficulty = epic. IE tough boss battles.  IE  epic battles.  other things can contribute to a quest being epic: long time to complete, long distance to travel. at least these are the things that seem to make me think "epic".


quest battles are designed so you have at best maybe a 50% chance of winning, and at worst, perhaps a low as 40% chance to win - regardless of party strength. so they will always be tough battles - epic battles (by my definition).


what do others consider "epic"?


one man's "epic" may be another man's "mundane".  to me it all seems to hinge on the challenge presented. IE how hard is it to succeed.


so even "collect 10 skeever tails" can be a challenge, if you're 1st level, and you must collect them from a cave where you encounter 30-50 at once. while this may be trivial for a hercules type, it would be epic for your average citizen / 1st level noob.


Consider the storytellers of rimworld.


In caveman you can also adjust both difficulty (difficulty in RImworld) and encounter chances (storyteller AI in Rimworld). so i think i've got that covered. this allows the player to make the world both as difficult, and as busy as they want.

#5310662 should i have both epic AND mundane quests?

Posted by on 13 September 2016 - 07:17 PM

If possible you should have the non-epic quests earlier in the game and the epic quests later in the game.  I think it's good to have both though.





there really is no "earlier" vs "later" in the game, unless you measure it by number of days alive, or total skill exp, etc. there's no over-arching storyline where mundane tasks might appear early on (like tote shields for the companions in skyrim) with more epic undertakings later on in the story.


both quest and random encounters are scaled to party strength, the difference being that quests range from a single 1st level opponent on up, while random encounters have a minimum of one and a max of num_appearing for that animal type. but you might still encounter a single 10th level animal while at 1st level (so to speak).  so random encounters may be imbalanced with a weak party vs a single strong animal (sabertooth! time to run!), or they may be imbalanced between a strong party and a small/weak herd (rhim gazelle! time to hunt!). quest encounters are carefully scaled to always provide as close as possible to, and no better than, 50-50 odds in favor of the player's party.


almost all quests are "random encounters" that can occur at the shelters of friendly bands: "the cavemen here tell you of a great treasure... go for the treasure? yes, no.", that kind of thing.


i was thinking that mundane tasks/jobs might make sense from both gameplay and immersion standpoints. its more stuff you can do that might have occurred in the real world. and given the random encounter driven design of the game, from bushwhackers to sabertooths to catching a cold to montezuma's revenge from drinking dirty water, even a mundane fedex or escort mission might turn into quite the little adventure.


it could potentially almost double the number of quest types possible, such as escort quests with and without a special quest encounter. tasks/jobs for those who want them, and epic challenges for those who seek that. between the quest and random wilderness encounter scaling for party strength, both jobs and quests would be appropriately challenging. about the only challenge in implementing it would be determining the proper reduced reward for jobs vs quests. maybe start at 1/2 quest treasure levels and adjust as necessary.

#5310523 Included library calls function from main.cpp

Posted by on 12 September 2016 - 07:55 PM

you seem to have you filenames backwards.

#5310522 should i kill paarthurnax?

Posted by on 12 September 2016 - 07:46 PM

should i kill paarthurnax?


i'm at that point with one of my charcters in skyrim. maybe the fourth or fifth time now. maybe sixth.


for some reason, this is the only real moral dilemma that really hits me in the game. 


which leads to a number of questions:


does it affect you that way? or do you just min-max it? from gameplay point of view its basically "the ability change what word you mediate on" vs "followers with blades armor" and "esbern's dragon slaying prayer buff" as far as i'm aware.  


a quick google returns a number of hits related to the "paarthurnax dilemma" - as its apparently referred to (i have yet to peruse them all).


what about it is so vexing for some (like me) ?   based on the in-game evidence presented, pretty much every fiber of my being says its wrong to kill paarthurnax. i've probably let him live 4 out of 5 times so far. but the quest line seems to be written such that you're supposed to kill him to complete the "Blades faction" quest line (and become head of the blades faction).


assuming many people find it as challenging question as i do, what about it make its a challenging question? and can we reproduce that in other games somehow?  for some reason the moral dilemma presented is somehow setup just right to touch me on an emotional level. most games don't mess with me like this! <g>.  is it that you have to choose between friends? and even worse - kill one to keep the other?


aside from discussion of this interesting design topic, i'd also like to do a bit of an informal poll as to whether this particular character of mine should do the deed or not.


her name is Electia Atrillius. she's a fine daughter of Cyrodiil, grand daughter of the legendary Imperial General Atrillius (made up backstory). she was my playtest character for the imperial faction quest line when i was evaluating skyrim (my game Caveman is inspired by The Elder Scrolls and The SIMs). She's an Imperial Legate (retired), having completed the Imperials quest line. She's 35th level, Fighter stone, dual wield sword and dagger, heavy armor. both xbow and bow. legendary 1x on enchantment. one handed and heavy armor skills in the 80's. law and order type. loyal imperial subject, but also worshiper of talos (hey - he founded the empire!). one the one hand, she could be the leader of the blades. on the other hand, she could gain a number of dragon allies, such as paarthurnax, the dragon you can call with a shout, and the dragon from dawnguard. what would the the in-character role playing move for her to make? do the deed or not? she can always buy / find / enchant / smith gear better than blades gear. I use UFO and follower mods, so she could create her own blades type faction if she wanted. but she's more of a loner type. no follower, one horse, no house, maybe 20K gold. but the girl rips though stuff like i've never seen. she went though the Alduin end quest alone without using healing potions!  that dual flurry standing power attack is unbelievable!. granted, she did get pinned down by a couple drauger death lords and a dragon priest just before entering soverngard, but i only died a few times. in the end the xbow (double enchanted of course!) got her out.

so - would she do the deed? i'll not kill him for a while to see what folks think. being an imperial and all, i'm thinking maybe so. its just one dragon, and she'd be leader of the blades, a natural place for the dragon born grand daughter of a famous Imperial General, and a Legate of the Empire, the one who declined the honor of taking Ulfric's head (she let Tullius do that deed). what do you think?

#5309167 the dreaded "escort" quest

Posted by on 02 September 2016 - 07:55 AM

The most important questionis : do you really need escort missions?


only storyline based quests / quest lines need them - and only when the story includes escorting someone.


i'm just trying to get "requisite variety" in the types of quest generators in the game.  and "escort" is a plausible type of quest / mission. all quests are voluntary and optional on the part of the player, and can be abandoned at any time for any reason by the player.


a number of other quests (such as rescue pet) include "escort" stages (such as escort pet back to owner).