Getting a few more of the bits and pieces ported over to the new system. Above are shots of the spell targeting preview and movement preview system in the new GC.
Coming up real soon is the part I'm going to hate: the UI stuff. Man, I hate working on UI stuff. I always have. Nothing more be-damned boring, if you ask me. But it's gotta be done.
During the course of this little side project, I've been doing a lot of thinking about where I want to go with GC in the long run. In a way, this detour might even be my way of delaying those decisions that have to be made. At some point when you are making a game you have to take all those airy, vague and wonderful ideas that are floating around in your brain and turn them into a game that is solid, concrete, sometimes awkward and ungainly, but real. Some ideas have to be discarded, however painful. Other ideas have to be devised to bridge over the gaps. Most of all you have to confront the reality that it's probably not going to be quite as overpoweringly awesome as it is in your head. Nothing really can be, in a creative endeavour; the human imagination is great at endowing ideas with a sheen of brilliance that won't really transfer over to real life. What you create might be cool in it's own right, but it's just never going to be exactly as you picture it.
Lately, two things about my current design have been eating at me. 1) The game being modal (ie, gameplay split between Travel Mode and Combat/Explore Mode) and 2) The game being single player only
In the current design, you have GC wandering around on an overmap, in a manner very heavily influenced by the old console JRPGs I used to play on the NES and SNES. ie, Dragon Warrior, Breath of Fire, Final Fantasy, etc... Movement here is real-time and free; WASD movement (click to move in the old style), etc... Encounters occur, be they monster ambushes or entering a sub-region, and you are taken to a combat/exploration mode that represents a small piece of the larger world map. Here, movement is constrained to hexes and actions are done in turns: player unit moves, enemy unit moves, and so on.
However, the dual modality has always bugged me. Even in those old games that serve as my inspiration, modality has bugged me. Essentially, you have two sets of rules: the rules for overmap travel (what spells can you cast? how do they affect things? How does movement relate to things such as damage-over-time and healing-over-time effects, status effects, etc.?) and the rules for combat mode. There is overlap between the two; if a unit is poisoned in combat mode, the poison should carry over and still be in effect in travel mode; but how do you make that work? I've never really seen any system that handles this modality very elegantly.
Secondly, on the subject of multiplayer: many journal entries ago, Servant of the Lord asked if I would ever consider making a hotseat gameplay mode. That suggestion has actually been weighing on me, and I've been devising in my head different ways that could work. At this point, I wouldn't consider networked multiplayer; there are relatively few games that I play networked multi-player (even supposedly multi-player games such as Path of Exile or World of Warcraft I play very predominantly alone) but there is something about the idea of a hotseat multiplayer experience here that appeals to me.
So part of my thinking has been to come up with ideas for GC that might allow me to resolve these questions in my mind. The initial conception of GC was of an apprentice goblin wizard cast adrift in a lost and mysterious chain of islands, forced to survive and explore and increase his powers until he achieves the rank of Master Wizard to win the game. This would involve exploring many different islands, engaging in many different combats, etc. in a single-player campaign. I wanted the dual modality because I didn't like the idea of forcing the player to be in turn-based mode for the entire game; this, I thought, would be extremely limiting in the case of number of enemies. Nobody wants to wait while seventy enemies take their turn.
An idea I had last night was to reduce the scope of the game a bit. (This would be a good thing regardless of my questions.) Rather than a campaign covering many different islands, how about a campaign on a single island? I found myself coming up with scenarios for small mission-based campaigns dealing with the exploration of one island to achieve some goal: capturing a tower/treasure, eliminating a rival, etc... Each island would be a relatively compact scenario adhering to a certain set of goals. Some scenarios could be hot-seat multiplayer: free-for-all, co-op assault, team assault, etc...
As an example, say you have an island. At the center is a tower holding a magical treasure. Obtain the treasure to win the scenario. You and five of your friends can play in a free-for-all match, or you could set it up to be a single player against any number of bots, or any mix of players and bots. Each apprentice starts at a randomly determined location. The treasure would be guarded: heavy walls, turrets, etc... additionally, your rivals would be gunning for you and trying to thwart you. Your goal would be to explore, obtain resources from the map to learn and craft your magic, and assault the tower. Each player could be allowed to construct a small number of additional units, some controllable and some automatic, to assist in the assault or in defending their home base or both.
This would preclude having to construct a big, huge progression curve as the player levels through a bunch of islands; it would also drastically reduce the amount of artwork and assets I would have to make. Each game would be a self-contained whole; when the tower is taken, or when all rivals are eliminated or whatever, then the game ends.
I think it could be fun. Or at least, I think it might be worth exploring further. It definitely wouldn't be a fast-paced game, but then that is kind of the idea. A nice, long, meaty turn-based death-match on a randomly generated island, one involving resource management, crafting and exploration.