Currently, I'm now working on the state machine driving creature AIs. AI is nothing complicated; it's a Diablo-ish/Nethack-ish hack-n-slash. It doesn't need to be fancy. I've foregone the use of my typical state-machine spaghetti code, and have gone with the function-pointer based state machine stuff from GPG3, which makes things a lot nicer to fiddle with.
I've also drawn up a quick wishlist of desired level types, and assets I'll want for each level type, so I can start modelling and rendering some of the props and constructing the terrain tiles a little bit at a time.
Still haven't put a great deal of thought into the combat system; I'll probably resurrect some parts of the system from Golem 1, but strip it down to a lot fewer stats. That sucker was getting out of hand with the stats. Don't believe me? Check out the stat screen it had:
Too complicated. Thoreau would've kicked my ass for such lack of simplicity. [grin] This new system will be much simpler, trust me.
A lot of the elemental stuff may still be in there, but I at least want to hide the actual numbers from the player. The attribute "of Fire Resistance" on an object (assuming I even use such an over-used attribute descriptor) should be enough to clue the player in to the fact that he can take on fire-users without much fear, and experience should give him the rest of the information he needs to make the judgement.
I am wanting to tone down the count of monsters per level as well. In Golem 1, there were often large swarms of monsters lurking around corners, waiting to decapitate, violate or otherwise abuse the player. Much like the hordes in D2. I'd like to go with drastically fewer, yet more difficult-to-kill monsters. A more Nethack/Dungeon Crawl -ish scheme, where a single unlucky encounter can prove your character's undoing. Not only is this the style of gameplay I desire, it'll also be a lot easier on the graphics card, considering the processing involved in the skeletally animated component system. Hundreds of monsters onscreen at once could bring mid-range cards to their knees. [grin]
I've also discarded my alternate execution path for cards that are detected to not have vertex program support. It was just too messy, trying to build two branches, and especially trying to get the non-vp path to perform well. The skeletal code brought this fork to it's knees, on top of the copious buffer copying that went into rendering the blended terrain without vp's. I suppose it's not unreasonable to require vertex program support for this sort of game.
I've tentatively decided to set the game during what were called the Years of Desolation, the period of several decades immediately following the end of the war in which humans were almost totally exterminated. A lot of interesting things happened during these years, including the release of six Maugrim Lords and their darkling servants from the sealed underground city of Ture. Darklings are beings of shadow that have a peculiar effect on magic used in their vicinity, increasing the effect of chaos and unpredictability. They seek out and feed upon outcroppings of the magical crystal upon which the powers of magic are founded, making the finding of such an outcropping either a great blessing for a magic-using golem, or a terrible curse if the crystal happens to be home to a darkling. I used these creatures to great effect in Golem 1; darkling-haunted crystal mana stores became veritable magical minefields that golems navigated at their peril.