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Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 2:10 pm
by David Whyld
It certainly feels like a good decision. More actual writing of the game than adding in stuff most people will probably never look at or try to interact with. I think I'll do this in future games as well. It's a lot easier to add extra locations when you know you won't need to include loads of tasks just in case the player decides to interact with lots of random stuff.

And why on earth is cr(a)p censored? It's hardly a Really Bad Swear Word and makes discussing the new look of Int.fiction quite a challenge. Not to mention that it's really, really easy to get around it anyway.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2019 1:44 am
by Lumin
c r a p

I'm sure I'm scandalizing an 80 year old nun somewhere.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2019 7:33 am
by P/o Prune
I'm often facing the same problem.
I write a room description and fill it with details (objects) in order to create an atmosphere. Then I have to make object descriptions for all the things because someone is bound to >x this, that and the other thing.
and if there isn't a description they'll bonk you over the head with the "If it's mentioned in the location descr. the player should be able to examine it.
One solution could be to change the "You can't see the …" to this is only scenery" or some thing to that effect.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2019 9:10 am
by David Whyld
I've mainly been trying to rewrite my room descriptions to cut out mention of objects that aren't necessary to save me the hassle of having to include interactions with them all. The office I mentioned before originally was:

The office of Dr Pangborn is largely the same as the last time you were here: the gorgeous oak desk with his ancient computer atop, a monstrous filing cabinet lurking in the corner and a large bay window showing the good doctor’s garden. There are a number of files piled high on his desk, some of them having been there long enough to gather dust, not to mention numerous tea-cup stains and random scribblings. Of the good doctor there is no sign.

Lots of stuff to examine, but only the computer is relevant. The rest is just scenery. So lots of tasks and objects to include for one simple location, including what you can see of the garden out of the window. Most of it is unnecessary and only there because I felt I needed to include it. The new room description, however, cuts a lot of that out:

The office of Dr Pangborn is largely the same as the last time you were here, visiting him for one perceived illness or another. Things here change very rarely, including his computer which looks to have been state of the art when your parents were young. Using it was generally a case of the good doctor punching the keys repeatedly, swearing, muttering, then slamming his fist into it a few times before declaring it was broken and giving you some pills instead. Of the good doctor himself there is no sign.

All the unnecessary stuff is now gone and I think the room is much better for it. There's a lot less I have to cover and the players will probably appreciate it, too, because now they won’t be wasting time examining lots of pointless scenery in case it happens to be important. As a general rule, scenery in this game is mainly just scenery. It doesn't serve a purpose. It’s just there to flesh out a location. So it’s a lot of time and (wasted) effort to include every little thing the player might conceivably be able to see when I could instead be concentrating on the stuff that is relevant.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2019 9:35 am
by David Whyld
I've been meaning to post a few screenshots for a while now, but I kept getting hung up on how I wanted the game to look. Too much messing around with font styles and sizes can make the game look a mess, too few and it just looks bland. As a general rule, text adventures are never very eye-catching, but I think a few text effects can make all the difference.

The lounge:

1.jpg (282.83 KiB) Viewed 2807 times

Fighting a villain (not a supervillain, but not a nice guy either):

2.jpg (243.29 KiB) Viewed 2807 times

Part of the superhero Midnight's base (minus the graphics window so more of the map is visible):
3.jpg (376.93 KiB) Viewed 2807 times

And... those screenshots are huge but at least they give an idea of the general look and feel of the game. I'm not sure yet whether I want to have a little picture in the graphics window or just hide it altogether. It doesn't really do much as a picture other than look nice, and I'm sure most people will hide it anyway to have more of the map on display.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2019 11:36 am
by DazaKiwi
Good job so far. I like the big centered titles for location names and also in your combat system. I think having them big like that makes the game stand out more in a good way, gives it a style without being flashy, along with having the stats just below it which is more obvious than using the default status bar. Your pretty much right about the graphics window, unless a game states at the start there is a lot of graphics and suggesting to set up the window. A title image for the game at the start could just display in the main text body anyway which will look better as the graphic window never seems to keep your aspect ratio.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2019 9:56 am
by David Whyld
I'm still making pretty good progress with the game. It’s gone up roughly 20kb in the last week and a bit, averaging 2-3kb a day which is the best average I've done in a long time with my game writing. Still pretty trivial compared to the speed I used to write at 15 or so years ago when I’d set myself a minimum target of 5kb a day and try to hit 50kb a week. Quite how I managed to write so fast I don't know, but it’s definitely not something I could do now.

Most of what I've done in the last week has been fleshing out some locations and editing existing ones to remove the thousand and one pointless objects I was including. The flow of the game seems to be a lot better as a result. I'm able to spend a lot more time concentrating on the important stuff and less on the stuff no one will ever bother with.

I've got a rough idea of how far I am into the game – about a quarter, so the finished result will be about 400kb in v4 and 560kb when converted to v5 – but that will probably change a fair amount before I'm done. I tend to underestimate things a lot and always end up adding extra things I didn't anticipate. No doubt I’ll end up changing that estimate a few times before I'm done, but at the moment, as things stand, it’s about a quarter of the way there.

Stats as of today:

Size: 93kb (137kb in v5)
Rooms: 125
Objects: 113
Tasks: 566
Events: 10
Characters: 19

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:27 am
by David Whyld
Well, I hit the 100kb milestone today, making this the biggest game I've written since A Date with Death in 2008. Which seems like a ridiculous amount of time but it also feels good to be writing big games again. Or writing games full stop. Of course, it remains to be seen whether it gets to the finishing line or falls before then, but it’s still progressing fairly well.

I've not really done a whole lot since the last update. Most of the time has been spent fleshing out some of the existing locations, a good deal of which were nothing more than a name and a set of directions. Now you can wander around the old quarry to your heart’s content and actually examine stuff and move it around and exciting things like that instead of seeing:

The Old Quarry
Exits: east, up

I'm hoping to get this first part of the game done within the next couple of weeks so I can start working on the next part, although admittedly a lot of the earlier locations still have very little to do in them at the moment. I have ideas for epic battles and the like to take place in those locations later, but I think I need to have more functionality in them right now, otherwise they're just empty spaces.

Stats as of today:

Size: 100kb (147kb in v5)
Rooms: 133
Objects: 134
Tasks: 609
Events: 11
Characters: 20

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:17 am
by David Whyld
It’s been a couple of weeks since the last update. Originally I planned to post an update every week but there's not been a whole lot to say. The game is progressing quite well – 122kb and counting (174kb in v5) – but most of that has been fleshing out the first part of the game. Most of the locations now have full descriptions, objects and the like. There's still not a whole lot to do in some of them, but that's intentional as they'll have stuff added later on. For now, they're just scenery.

I'm still in two minds about the combat system. On one hand, I think it adds a nice random element to the game and there's enough depth to it to keep it interesting; on the other, I'm not entirely sold on whether the game needs a combat system. And the random side of things might be an issue. Balancing combat is a pain. Too easy and there's no point having it there because people will just win each fight without even trying, too hard and it becomes an exercise in frustration. I don't want people to get annoyed with things because the random number gods are against them and there's nothing very fun about getting stuck at a certain point in the game because you can’t beat a combat. There are ways to get better at combat and improve your other stats (which in turn will help with the combat side of things) but it’s going to be an almighty pain reverting back to an earlier save to go and train your skills then playing through the game to get to the combat again. So... the combat might get cut altogether if I can’t figure out a better way of doing it.

Size: 122kb
Rooms: 145
Objects: 176
Tasks: 747
Events: 14
Characters: 26

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 1:02 pm
by The0didactus
Good combat systems are this elusive phantom we've been chasing for eons. I hope you catch one.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 4:05 pm
by David Whyld
At the moment it seems like a lot of time and effort for questionable reward. I'd love to write a game with a brilliant combat system, but I'm not sure this is the game for it. To justify the time and effort of such a combat system, I think it'd need to be more of a focus for the game than it is here, which at most is going to have a dozen combats and nothing more.

Also, from testing my combat system at various points throughout the game, I've found it more frustrating than great. With the stats the player has to begin with, it's very easy to die if you get a few random numbers against you, but boosting your stats via various activities can quickly turn you into an unstoppable juggernaut. It's a pain getting the balance just right: hard enough to make it challenging and fun yet not so hard you're dying all the time. Part of the original idea I had was that combat would serve as a 'fallback option', i.e. if you couldn't outwit an enemy through wits or ingenuity, you could just beat them up. Unfortunately, as things stand getting your stats high and pummeling the enemy to dust is often the best way to progress. All the other non-combat options can be ignored most of the time.

So... I dunno. I want to write a game with a great combat system but maybe I should leave that for another time. Now I've got back into writing ADRIFT games again, I'm coming up with loads of ideas for games and the 'generic epic RPG' idea might just be one of them.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:38 pm
by David Whyld
Latest update:

The story has moved on quite a bit since last time I posted an update a couple of weeks ago as I've most been working on that and leaving all the other stuff for later. So a fair few locations have an encounter with an NPC in them and nothing else, but I’ll worry about all that another time.

One thing I noticed only recently is that while this is primarily a game about superheroes and supervillains, there aren't many of them in the game at present. In fact, most of the encounters so far feature enemies who aren’t super at all. Which is an issue. The game isn't meant to have supers tripping over each other because of how numerous they are, but they certainly need a bigger presence then they have so far. The problem with that, though, is that the player herself doesn't have any super powers of her own so without some super-powered weapon at her disposal to deal with the supers, she's going to get killed. I could introduce random elements but I'm not sure that wouldn't just make matters worse; no one wants to get killed in a game because the random numbers weren't in their favour.

One way around the issue I've been toying with is to give the supers a weakness which can be exploited, allowing you to beat them with ease. Or maybe change things so that it’s impossible to fight them without acquiring the means to beat them (so far, it’s actually possible to run into a couple of supervillains with no means of winning, if you missed certain key items earlier). Or allow alternative ways of beating them if you happen to have missed a key item.

All of this has certainly been a learning experience for me if nothing else. More planning beforehand would have given me a much better idea of how the game was going to progress and I could have avoided a lot of the hassles I've run into. The game’s currently at 156kb in v4 (214kb in v5) and I'm guessing I've written about another 50kb which has been deleted or changed. For my next game, I'm going to go with the unusual tactic of actually planning it out fully before I start writing it, which is something I decided I’d do years ago but never did. Hopefully my next game will be a much more smoother experience than this one.

Size: 156kb (214kb in v5)
Rooms: 151
Objects: 220
Tasks: 952
Events: 15
Characters: 33

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:18 am
by David Whyld
It’s been a couple of weeks since the last update, so I figured it was time for another. The biggest change since last time has been me deciding to switch from v4 to v5. Now, I'm still not entirely sold on v5 and it certainly seems to take longwinded ways of doing things to a new extreme, as well as wrecking some of my old v4 tasks (no text to display for previously repeatable tasks? Ouch!), but I'm finally getting my head around it. The game survived the update process largely intact, but it’s going to take some time and effort to check everything and make sure it’s working fine. At least with future games, they'll be written from the ground up in v5 so I won’t have this hassle to look forward to again. Hopefully once I get as familiar with v5 as I am with v4, I’ll be able to write games much faster with it and not keep getting stopped and forced to look things up. (Half my time since making the switch has been checking out the wiki and forum for how to do certain things, which isn't something I've had to do with v4 for a long time.)

Why did I finally switch? I'm not 100% sure. The ease of use of v4 is more to my liking, but the program is really beginning to show its age and some of the features of v5 (i.e. things it can do but v4 can’t) hold great appeal. There are also things about v4 that I don't like and will never be fixed and it’s frustrating having to constantly work around them. V5 might never get updated, either, what with Campbell going through yet another of his AWOL phases, but at least the problems with it are largely new to me so they're not half as annoying.

As for the game itself, the first part is mainly done and I'm now into the second part (of, perhaps, three or four parts depending on how it all goes). Not a great deal has actually been added over the past few weeks because, due to the game’s structure, a number of old locations have been re-used. I'm guessing I'm at about the halfway stage now so the finished project should be done any time between now and, well, the end of time.

Size: 245kb
Locations: 176
Objects: 233
Tasks: 1096
Characters: 39
Events: 19

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:24 pm
by Denk
Great to hear that you are switching to V5. I have no problem with V4-games but it will cause less confusion in IFcomp etc. if all games require the same interpreter.

However, it made me think that one reason many V4-drifters might gave up on V5 is that they transfered a WIP from V4 to V5. Doing that can cause all sorts of problems even if the converted game works well. Thus a V4-drifter will get the impression that V5 does not work as intended. I believe it is much much easier when you start a game from scratch.

My main concern is the "Task Execution Logic" in V5 found under Options->Advanced.

A normal V5 game is set to the upper option:
"Execute the highest priority task matching command input, whether it passes or not."

whereas a V4 game imported into V5 will be set to the lower option:
"Execute the highest priority task matching command input that passes restrictions. If none are found, execute the highest priority task matching command input that fails restrictions."

Thus if you stick to the lower choice, the new tasks you make in ADRIFT 5 might not behave as intended (I have never tried with the lower option but I am sure it must make a difference.)

On the other hand, if you switch to the upper option, new tasks will work as expected but the old tasks might not.

I would personally go for the upper option and then, if necessary, rewrite all non-working V4-tasks. Still, I think it is a tough way of getting to know V5 - starting from scratch is much easier.

I hope you manage to get it working. If so, it would be interesting to hear which option you used, which problems you came across and how you solved it.

Re: The Superhero’s Sidekick

PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:19 pm
by David Whyld
Yeah, I realise converting the game from v4 to v5 is a lot more hassle than simply writing a new one in v5, but I've written a fair bit of this one and I don't want to give up with it now. I've got ideas for other games I could write with v5 instead, but I know from past experience that once I take a break from a game I seldom come back to it. Right now, the game is fresh in my mind and I can figure out easily enough what needs fixing, but if I leave it six months, I'll really struggle to remember all the finer details.

The biggest pain with it right now is the fact that all my v4 tasks which had a secondary responses for if they were tried again have just become repeatable tasks in v5, with the secondary responses apparently being deleted. As such, you can now repeat certain one time tasks and get endless money and points, so I'm going to need to fix all of those. I take it v5 doesn't have a secondary response for repeatable tasks and if you want a secondary response, you instead need to make a second task? Seems like a weird way to handle things but I'm sure I'll get used to it.