Are you an indie developer?
Friday, 17 July 2009

A while back there was an interesting blog that talked about defining what an indie developer was. Basically he stated that everyone has a different definition and that ultimately it includes you and does not include anyone that has more advantages than you. So he says that when a developer tries to make the definition, it is completely relative to their situation.

From what I've seen he is pretty accurate when game developers label companies as indie or not. When another company does something interesting or is doing better, they don't count because they aren't an indie. I've also heard many people complain there aren't many successful indie companies. That's because when you become a successful indie company everyone stops thinking of you as an indie company. At one point in time id was a very small indie company. Until recently they were still pretty small and still independent, but very few people actually considered them an indie company. What changed? Mostly they were successful and made lots of money.

Personally I think we are in an indie company and I don't particular care whether or not others label us that way or not. It is interesting how many times we have been disqualified from being considered an indie company though. Here are just the ways I can think of off the top of my head:

Charged more than $20 for a product (DoP was initially $29.99)
Worked in the industry for more than 2 years (6 years at Ritual)
Got a publishing deal (US, Canada, & Russia)
Actually have a company setup (with all of the stupid lawsuits, how can you not)
Have the game on retail shelves (DoP)

Anyways, no real point to all of this, just thought some of this might be interesting to others.

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Objects
Friday, 10 July 2009

So other than world modifiers, I've been working on objects a lot of the week. I've twittered a bit about these, but here's some of the objects I've added into the game this week:

Altars - heals your health, mana, and stamina, and identifies and repairs all of your items

Lifestones - same as DoP, regenerates your health and mana fairly quickly

Manastones - regenerates your mana fairly quickly

Healthstones - regenerates your health fairly quickly

Barrels - there are many types of these including normal, explosive, oil, poison gas, and alcohol. Sometimes you will be able to tell the difference between the barrels and sometimes you won't.

Torches - as usual it's a light source, but now you can destroy them (on purpose or accidently). The good news is you might get an item. The bad news is this will make the dungeon darker.

Doors - doors can now be locked and need a generic key or opened by a specific lever or switch. However you always have the option of bashing them down. Bashing causes a lot of noise and gives you a combat penalty for a few seconds though.

Chests - mostly the same as DoP, normal, silver, and gold. There is now unique chests though. A unique chest is named, has a ton of loot, and is always trapped.

Obelisks - obelisks give you a powerup for a period of time when touched. There are 10 types so far.

Gold veins - these can be mined for money, it is very noisy though and might attract attention.

Armor & weapon stands - spawns 1 armor piece or weapon.

Energy vortexes - a very dangerous and unstable energy field that tends to easily explode.

Levers/switches - these are almost always set to trigger something near by, it might help by opening the nearby door, it might trigger a trap, or it might trigger something else.

Ground traps - the usual, don't step on the traps

Spider webs - mostly an obstacle to destroy

Ice - ice can form on the ground from various things. It is slippery and makes you slower and adds penalties to combat (works on monsters also). Fire will melt the ice.

Pools of oil - also slippery (see ice) and can catch on fire

Pools of acid - will damage your items if you touch it and fire turns it into poison gas

Pools of alcohol - can catch on fire

Lanterns - light source that if destroyed will form a pool of oil

Lumen defensive totems - a friendly totem that have been setup by the lumen people. These will kill monsters with various magic spells.

So that's some of the objects that have put into the game so far. Most of these will randomly spawn in the world. Some of them are formed from other things like ice. What do you guys think? Any more fun object ideas?

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World modifiers
Tuesday, 07 July 2009

Yesterday I added another system that should make all of the random stuff a little more interesting. It's the World Modifiers system.  Each world has some random world modifiers that gives that world a bit of extra flavor and gives it a different style from other worlds. A modifier basically changes the world from normal in some specific way and usually to some extreme.

A simple example is a high intensity modifier that increases the quest and event generation.  This means more unique monsters running around, more monster uprisings, more earthquakes, and many other things going on more often.

Another example that I want to add is a horror modifier.  This will probably have more dead bodies laying around, be darker, have more undead, and the monsters will likely make more noise. I'm hoping this will feel pretty different than normal.

If I can make it so it's not abused, there might even be a high treasure modifier.

The neat thing about the modifiers is that there is a random set of them each world.  Hopefully we will have a ton of these so that not only will you not see any specific modifier very often, you might never see the same combination of modifiers ever again. I'm also planning on there being a level requirement from a lot of them so as you increase in level you see more and more different modifiers.

Do you guys have any specific world modifier ideas or comments?

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Stamina and durability
Friday, 03 July 2009

I should state up front that these are not definite for the final game. If they aren't fun, I'll either modify them till they are or take them out. Even if I decide to keep them and you don't like them, they are very  easy to mod out (just change a 1 to a 0 in a text file in both cases).

Ok, having said that both of these systems are in now and I think will be cool. I'm trying to make both of these to not be a nuisance, but cause exciting things to happen occasionally. So let me explain how they currently work.

If you run out of stamina, you will only run at half speed so it can be dangerous to run out of stamina at the wrong time (like when you are running from the horde of Orcs). That part is pretty typical. However, you only lose stamina when you are running AND in combat or when something else leeches stamina from you (like a ghost). This might make something like a ghost not too dangerous directly, but if they drain away all of your stamina, you might not be able to run away from other more dangerous monsters (effectively that is). However, if you are just running across the empty level for some reason, stamina will never be a concern.

Durability works similar to other games. If an item gets to 0 durability, it will no longer work until you get it repaired. However, our difference is that normal combat is probably going to have very little wear and tear on items (if any). Critical hits, crushing blows,  and bashing through doors might cause some damage, but the real danger will come from specific monsters. Like a special attack from the huge Chaos Lords might do damage to an item and something like an acid attack from a Naga might damage several items at once.

The nice part about these systems is that they can lead to interesting situations that aren't specifically setup in advance. For example, if you are in a town that has lots of Nagas in the dungeon and the town is attacked, you might want to protect your armorsmith.

Both of these systems still need lots of tweaks, but they work.  I still have to create items, skills, monsters, traps, and other stuff that impact both of these systems.

So what do you all think?

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Morale system
Thursday, 02 July 2009

Now that the game is in a playable state I'm actually adding new stuff which is much more fun.  First up is the morale system.

In Depths of Peril and Kivi's Underworld, a few of the monsters do have morale, well mostly a lack of, but it's pretty static. The static method does make the monsters more unique.  For example the Scree uses hit and run tactics because their morale is pretty low, but in this game I want a mechanic that is more consistent and can interact with the world more.

With the new system, all of the monsters have a base morale that can go up or down based on things they do, things their enemy does, what is around them, and even external events. So back to the Scree. With the new system, they still are pretty much cowards and use hit and run tactics.  However, when they are in a large enough pack, they are much braver and go on the full attack and forget about the hit and run stuff. Now if a Chaos Lord comes over and roars, it will scare the crap out of most monsters and all of the Scree are going to run away even with their large group. Even bigger things like Orcs might run from a Chaos Lord. Even a Chaos Lord will run away if you can manage to put enough fear into them some how (although I doubt it).

I haven't added it yet, but there are likely to be some item modifiers and maybe even some skills that impact the monsters' morale.

What do you think? Any cool ideas to use and abuse the new morale stuff?

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