6/19/07 -Tuesday: MORE ON MY ORIGINAL VISION...
So today, I am going to list some things that I never really gave any real serious thought to, implementation wise. That said, these are still things that were a part of my original vision.
Let's get this biggie out of the way first. Plain and simple, there was no concept of point and click in my mind. The plan was for the player to be able to control the party members much like how someone would control Link in the Zelda games. You click the attack button, and the party member swings their weapon. You hold the block button, and they block. Nothing too innovative. I think the main problem is that people always associate a game that plays like that, as a sort of hack and slash type of game, with no substance. Or, they just assume it can't be done.
To be honest, the other inspiration for this was the years of Soul Calibur I played back between 1999 and 2001. Mitsurugi was alwasy the closest to my design on Aramus, essentially because he held his sword with 2 hands. Those of you who played the hell out of that game know how deep the fighting system is, especially the parry system. Now, I will admit that not everything would translate well to a game like Rose of Eternity, and that is okay. The point is, when someone is having a sword fight with a Ministry of Justice guard, I want them to win because of their natural game playing skills, not because of their STR and DEX.
As another example, if you used Auden, now you could go into first person mode, ala Zelda. While his bow skill is low, the focus would jump around, making it difficult to get off a good shot. As it got better, the jumping would decrease, and perhaps when it would be maxed out, he could actually lock onto different parts of an enemy, allowing for maximum damage.
After working with NWN for so long, I thought that perhaps the point and click thing was the best way, but after getting back to my roots, and playing games were you actually have to control your character, I have flip flopped again! To me, it just seems more natural. The trick is (like everything else) to do it in a way that has never been done before.
More on the control tomrorow morning... I'm tired...
6/18/07 -Monday: A NEW CAREER IN TENNIS...
So, in my ongoing quest to achieve perfect health and fitness, I decided to step things up a notch. A few friends and I were at the gym early Saturday morning (i.e. 7:00 am), and we ended up see my Mom and Stepfather. After chatting with them for a while, I learned that they were playing tennis a few times a week, and that it was a good way to do cardio. I immediately told him that I would like to play tennis with him, and we set something up for the next day.
Now, I actually played tennis from about age 9 till 13. This included personal training, as well as 3 years of tennis camp. As a brief aside, my personal trainer was actually my 4th grade teacher. I never knew the reason why, but I just found out yesterday that the reason was because of a small incident that happened in his classroom. He used to bring his dog, named Molly, to the class every so often. I remember what happened like it was yesterday. Jason Tabor was teasing the dog pretty bad, and right afterwards, I went to pet her, and she bit me. Apparantly, the school thought they were going to get sued or something, and eventually, I ended up getting a personal trainer! :)
Anyway, when I reached High School, I was apparantly too cool for tennis, so I gave it up. Once I was out of school however, I began to take an interest again, mostly watching it on TV an whatnot. This past month, I was able to really embrace my love of it, mainly because I could record the French Open on my DVR, allowing me to see all the action, and skip past the stuff I didn't care about. I am even getting a bunch of tickets to the U.S. Open, although it's expensive as all hell... But, I digress...
So, we ended up hitting the ball around yesterday, and it was great! All of my teachings came back immediately, and soon enough, my backhand was back in full force. Afterwards, I realized that I really missed it, so I have decided to keep playing a few times a week, and possibly get another trainer, just to improve some of my skills. Then, I'm going to join the USTA, and hopefully, enter into some local tournaments. Nothing serious mind you, but something, nonetheless.
Now, I am not naive enough to think that I would be able to hold my own with anyone for at least a couple of years, if not more. Lucky for me, I have, and hopefully always will be able to think long term. Look at Rose of Eternity. I knew it would be a long road to be able to get my foot in the door of the game inudstry, way back in 1999. Eight years later (though I didn't get serious until 2004), I am two award winning modules deep, and working with Ossian Studios, the best up and coming developer. Everything is going according to plan <cue maniacal laughter>. I think the key is to not let the thought of failure stop you from doing what you have to do. If I do fail, at least I will be in better shape than if I wasn't playing:) So yeah, that's that...
It's getting late here, so I will talk more about Rose of Eternity, and my original vision next time. Interestingly enough, as I write these things about the game, it motivates me more and more. Oh, if there were only another 8 hours in each day...
P.S. Been flirting with the idea of picking up a Nintendo DS, so I can play through a bunch of the Final Fantasy remakes they have put out. If I'm not mistaken, they have covered FF1-6 between the DS & Gameboy Advance (whose games can be played on the DS). I never did play through FF2, FF3, or FF5, so it should be fun. Maybe I will even be inspired by the simplicity.
Now that I think of it, FF2 will no doubt inspire me, because that game uses the "More you use it, the better it is" paradigm of skill development...
P.P.S. For all you Secret of Mana fans, who can still hum the opening theme, checkout this interview with Hiroki Kikuta, the famed composer of the game.
6/17/07 -Sunday: BACK TO ROSE OF ETERNITY SPELLS...
Right... So, last time I was talking about ROE, I was mentioning how I originally envisioned the spell system to be, before even knowing about NWN, and DnD, for that matter. The gist of it was, like the weapon skill system, the more you use a spell, the better in gets. Furthermore, the enhancements can be controlled by the player.
Continuing this discussion on the spell system, I would like to talk about the generic spell upgrades. Turns out, these would actually be accessed through a revamped version of the Distinctive Development System. Essentially, whenever you leveled up, you would gain a specific amount of DD points, which could be used to upgrade various properties, such as:
- Decrease % of mana need to cast spells (i.e. mana to cast Rejuvinate 20 mana -> 15 mana)
- Increase % of total mana (i.e. Clopon's mana 80 -> 100)
- Increase % of mana recovery
- Ability to cast spells while walking/running (especially good for those spells that take a long time to cast
- Ability to cast multiple spells at one time
Again, nothing too innovative... However, it will be the way it is implemented, and integrated into the game, that will make it special... At least, that was the dream!
Couple this with the individual spell upgrades, and I think the magic cusotmization factor would be so high, that I could imagine just sitting in some lush forest, with excellent, relaxing music playing, while spending tons of time deciding how I would want my party members to turn out. I have fond memories of doing that in my favorite games of old, so I hope I can re-create that experience for others:)
<Random player thinking to themselves> "Okay, so do I want Challseus to be able to cast 2 spells right now, or be able to run while casting? Well, let's see... Everytime he casts Antipode, it takes like 20 seconds to cast, and he barely ever gets it off, because enemies automatically target him. If I take "run while casting" upgrade, that should alleviate that problem...
On the other hand, it takes 2 shots of "Inferno" to kill most enemies, and if I could cast it 2 times at once...
Man oh man, decisions, decision...
6/10/07 -Sunday: DAMMIT!!!
So, as some of you may or may not know, I upgraded my digital cable box so that I could have DVR, which is basically Tivo. Since then, my life has changed dramatically. I actually put it on par with the other 2 great purchases of the last 3 years: My iPod and laptop.
Because of the DVR, this is the first year I was able to watch all coverage of the French Open. It would be on for like 5-8 hours a day, either on NBC, or ESPN2, and when I got home, I was free to watch what I wanted, when I wanted. The only issue was, making sure to not find out the result of some matches, before I had a chance to watch them. That was the plan, at any rate...
IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE RESULTS OF THE FRENCH OPEN, DON'T READ ON!!!
So, on the women's side, the most anticipated match was a potential quarterfinal with Serena Williams (8) and Justine Henin (1). The day finally arrived, and as planned, it was recording throughout the day. Then, I decided to go to msn.com, and lo and behold, I see on the front page, "Williams, the last American in the tournament, sent packing!". So, I learned my lesson:) Don't go to that website until after matches are over.
Then, on Friday, I was taping the semifinals between Roger Federer (1) vs. David Davydinko (4) <-- I know I didn't spell this right, and Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Someone:) Then, at the end of the day, right before one of my co-workers left for good (it was his last day), he sends me an IM, saying something along the lines of "So, looks like it is Federer vs. Nadal in the finals on Sunday". DAMN...
Okay, Sunday rolls around, I was in the process of taping the final match, and decided to watch like 4 games. It was intense as all hell. It was what the entire tennis world was waiting for, and I was glued to the TV. Then, I left to go to the gym, figuring I would just pick things up a few hours later. Before that, however, I had to stop off at my Mom's house to pick something. She has her own Etiquette school, and because of her rising fame, she was given the honor of having a column in a prestigious magazine. Anyway, I was going to get one of the copies, and while there, my stepfather runs in the room, screaming, "Nadal beat Federer!".
I just can't win...
In other unrelated news, things seems quite good with my weight training. It really snuck up on me, but I am hella stronger now. The last few times I was at the gym with my trainer, his brother came along. It was so funny to see myself in him, especially the crazy expressions on his face when our trainer asked him to do something, that at the time, seems impossible. For myself, there were a lot of exercises that I just hated, but now, I can do them with ease. One in particular, is when we are doing chest. Essentially, after doing a set of benches, we would immediately do 10 pushups. We call this a superset, and I know it works, because I can see the results in the people that do them. Anyway, when we first started doing this, my arms would literally give out, and I would fall on my stomach. After hours of working out, my muscles would just be too damned fatigued for it. Now, I can do the 10 pushups no problem. For me, that was a big win, as it was the thing I loathed the most.
I can even ride my bike around the neighborhood without stopping now, though my legs still hurt the entire time, if I try to go too fast. In fact, since I went hard on legs on Saturday, I will barely be able to walk on Monday:) I have also started thinking about getting up 30 minutes earlier every morning, to ride my bike. They say that if you do cardio in the morning right after waking up, when your body is looking to burn something, it will go straight to your fat, instead of something you ate (if you did the cardio later in the day).
I also plan to be very tight with what I eat this week. I slipped a bit the past few weeks, mainly because I wasn't feeling so good. But, now that I am back in the swing of things, I have to keep the focus again.
6/8/07 -Friday: SPELLS IN ROSE OF ETERNITY...
So in my last update, I was rambling on and on about some of the skill systems I had original wanted Rose of Eternity to have, before choosing the Aurora Engine. Rambling really is in understatement, as I was very tired:) Today is no different, so if you dare, read on!
The last thing I was briefly talking about what the upgrading of spells, so I just want to elaborate on that a bit. So, like the weapon/item skill system, the more you use certain spells, the more effective they become. The less you use a spell... well... you get the picture.
Now, one thing I need to make clear (I skimmed over the topic last time) was the general set of spells throughout the game. As I mentioned before, I don't just want to give out spells just for the sake of giving out spells. No fire 1 - fire 19 in my games! Because, when you think about it, it's just another damage dealing ability. Nothing special about it, except the fact that it does more damage to ice monsters... Been there, done that...
I envision a game where a spell you get in the beginning of the game, depending on how you use it, is effective in the end game. Let's take a look at the normal heal spell every RPG has. Normally, it just replenishes an amount of HP's. As the game goes on, you get higher levels of this spell, blah blah blah. Now, before I go on, remember, every ability system I come up with is really based around the fact that I want combat to be very strategic.
Anyway, let's say that Clopon's learns her first heal spell early on in the game, perhaps an hour or so. Before this, the only way she would have been able to heal Aramus would be with potions and/or herbs, or something of the like. Another thing to remember is that I follow the "Quality over quantity" paradigm. Or, "Less is more", if you will. That said, I always want it to be a monumental event when players receive certain abilities. Before this point in the game, things would have been very difficult, and keeping Aramus alive would be tough. By the time Clopon learned Rejuvinate (that is what I will call Heal from now on), it would be, as I want it to be, a monumental event! But, Rejuvinate would have it's own properties to deal with. Let's take a look at the starting stats. Bear in mind that all of this stuff is not final, but you will get the general idea:
When Clopon casts this spell on an ally, they will begin to have a certain amount of their HP's replenished over an amount of time. For instance, if Aramus has 6/20 HP's when the spell is first cast on him, in 12 seconds, he would be at 14/20 HP's.
In addition, Clopon will have to be a certain distance from the target, and at a low level, this distance is extremely close (i.e. 1 meter). Also, while the spell is replenishing the target's HP's, Clopon will not be able to move at all, making her vulnerable to any attacks. However, at later levels, she will be able to cancel the spell, which will let her get away from incoming attacks, but will make it so her target will not get as many HP's back. Finally, there is a cooldown factor that has to be taken into effect, making it impossible to spam the spell (at low levels, that is).
So, obviously, the benefit of this spell is to be able to heal party members in battle, raising the chance of survival. The cons are quite simple. While the spell is in effect, Clopon is left wide open to any and all attacks. This will force the player to strategically place her before casting the spell, such as on a cliff, or behind some protectors (i.e. Aramus).
As with all spells in the game, the more you use it, the more points you gain. This spell will have its own set of skill points that will increment when successfully used. Simply using it is not enough, however. Depending on the amount of HP's that are healed, a different amount of skill points will be given out. So, if you cancel the spell, you may not get any skill points for the spell. However, when you do get enough, you will be able to upgrade the following properties (obviously, this isn't set in stone).
- Amount of HP's that are healed per second
- Amount of time that the HP's will be healed
- The proximity between you and your target needed to cast spell
- Cooldown duration
- Casting duration
- Diameter for Aura healing range (used for healing multiple people at the same time)
- Ability to cancel
- Ability to walk around while spell is in effect
Now, some of these abilities are contingent on others, so you may have to go deep down the ability tree with one ability in order to upgrade another. The goal is to make it so that everyone who plays the game doesn't have Rejuvinate acting the same way at the end of the game. One person may be able to heal 100 HP's in 4 seconds by the end of the game, while another may be able to heal allies with a diameter of 10 meters. It's all up to you, and how you upgrade it. But first, you have to use the damn spell to get the skill points!
Now, as I have been saying before, these systems aren't exactly innovative. It's all about how they will be implemented, which will make all the difference...
Till sometime in the near future...
6/6/07 -Wednesday: GAH??!!
2 updates in a little over 1 week? What the hell! I must be bored:) Actually, I just haven't passed out on the train yet, so I thought I would chat about something. So, let's see, what to chat about... Okay, I'll talk about my original vision of Rose of Eternity, before compromising with the NWN engine.
So today, I will talk about character skill development. First and foremost, the original design called for a no class system. What this means is, no one character or party member would be constrained to only use abilities/skills/items of a certain class. If Challseus wanted to use a sword, he could. If Aramus wanted to learn how to cast spells, he could. Now, this isn't exactly innovative at all. I don't actually play NWN, but my understanding is that you can multi class, so that you could have a Fighter/Wizard, or something of the sort. My system would be different, however.
My system would be like the system Grandia used, or the Elder Scroll games (if I understand them correctly). Long story short, the more you do something, the more efficient you get at it. Let's take Aramus for instance. He would already have default skills points associated with some sort of skill, let's call it the Sword Skill. Now, this sword skill would determine the % of a chance he has to land a hit, possibly how hard it hits, etc. Now, the more he actually landed hits on an enemy, the more points he would gain in this skill. So, let's say he would get 1 point per landed hit, and after gaining 500 points, his sword skill would go up. There would also be different ways to gain points in this skill. For instance, if he was the one who landed the death blow on an enemy with his sword, then he would get 2 points perhaps, or more, depending on how hard the hit was. Another way to get more points would be to successfully perform a Unison Ability on an enemy, an ability that used his sword in some way.
Now, let's say that all of a sudden, Aramus wanted to use a bow. His default bow skill would be hideously low. Which makes sense, because he doesn't really use one. So, he would obviously miss a lot with it in the beginning, but as he kept using it, the chance of him hitting an enemy would go up. Why would Aramus use a bow, you ask? Simple: Because perhaps someone else would like to play him like that. It's always nice to have the option there, even if not everyone uses it.
Again, this isn't anything innovative. Many types of games, even non-RPGs, have used systems like this. Even still, there is just something so elegant about the simplicity of it. The hardest part would be the balance...
For instance, let's say Challseus wants to hone his skills as a sword master. Obviously, his sword skill would be low, if not 0. Now, even if he used it a lot, and even killed enemies with it, he wouldn't get the same skill points as say Aramus, or even Auden. I don't know what I will call it yet, but there will be other variables that go into the equation of how many skill points to hand out. Whatever it is, it will encourage people to perhaps spend their time using other skills, that they can increase more effectively, in Challseus' case, that would be spell based skills. Speaking of spells...
Just like Aramus' sword skill, which would go up in level the more he used it, the more Challseus casts a spell, the more powerful it becomes. I have to tell you, I have never been a fan of just giving out spells just for the sake of it. For example, in a lot of console games, you just get spells every 3-4 levels, which only amount to dealing out more damage. In this respect, the spell, in my opinion, loses it's identity. It's just another damage dealing attack. I would rather have say, 20 spells, that are all different, and can all be used in different situations, then 200 generic spells (i.e. Fire 1, Fire 2, Fire 3). And all of these 20 different spells would increase in effectiveness, and perhaps do other things, as they are upgraded in level, as they are used over and over again.
Anyway, that's just stuff off the top of the head of someone who is getting sleepy:) I hope to continue this in the coming days. There is so much stuff I need to get off my mind, and it also helps me flesh things out, as I write about them.
Till sometime in the near future...