Friday, July 22, 2011

Nothing To Report

Wedding planning is gathering momentum - we're two months out now.
I'm busy playing Avadon, from Spiderweb Software. So should you.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

v0.902 released

I've packaged up the latest changes and released v0.902. Head over to SourceForge to get it.

As noted in the release notes:
v0.902 (26 June 2011)

 - Character Class Refactor
 - Resistance/Saving Throw Refactor
 - New special abilities: Lightning Strike, Berserker, Deadly Strike, Dodge, Master Archer, Divine Protection, Ki Fury, Fey Affinity, Arcane Blood, Displacer, Parry, Melee Master, Deadly Aim, Master Thief, Poison Touch, Obfuscation, Shadowmaster, Charmed Destiny, Channelling

3277586: Mouse click indicator for item movement
3299359: Traps spells always fizzle
3299363: Guild list box is broken

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Todo's Remaining

With the balanced character classes in the depot, the following TODOs remain before a v9.1 release:

  • data: sort out character class balancing, abilities, resistances.
  • data: sort out NPC inventories.These need a quick look in the default campaign.
  • data: RESISTANCES: Resistances of foes.These need a look in the default campaign.
  • data: mind read results from all NPC. Needs implementation in the default campaign.
  • data: more craft recipe. Ideas?
  • code: make weapons depend on disciplines instead of class, flesh out disciplines. Chivalry, Kendo and Martial Arts already exist. This will end up being more similar to the 4th Ed d20 weapon proficiency feats.
  • The starting dungeon may be too long and confusing. Three exits may be too much, especially when two of them dump the player in the middle of the forest rather than near the path to the city.
  • The starting dungeon needs more loot that can be easily found. I'd like the player to have a decent selection of items by the time he gets to Ichiba.

Not A Lot To Report

Still trying to find time to finish tweaking the character class data.
I've officially paid to upgrade to IDEA 10.5. Wedding planning continues apace.
I'll post again when there is a new release.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Special Ability Round Up

This ability gives the character a bonus to his or her initiative proportional to the amount of blue magic present. The lucky winner is the Shaman class, now a handy fighter indeed.

That wraps up the character class related special abilities for now. Just a few more character class stats to balance out:
  • starting and level up hit/stealth/magic points
  • starting and level up resistances
 Once those are done I might tweak the character races in a similar way, then cut another release.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Open Season On Special Abilities

The character is less likely (relative to the other characters Obfuscation values) of being targeted by foe attacks. The statistic basically changes the target selection from a uniform distribution over the actors in a group to a weighting for each one that is 1/(1+Obfuscation). For example, in a party of two where one character has 0 Obfuscation and the other has Obfuscation +1, their weightings will be 1 and 1/2.
The modifier name is shamelessly borrowed from White Wolf's Vampire system. The Ninja gets this modifier out of the box.

This property gives the character a bonus to all the critical hit modifiers (melee, thrown, ranged) based on the amount of black magic present.
Again, this one goes to the Ninja.

Charmed Destiny
This property gives the character a bonus to Obfuscation, To-Run-Away and Resist Energy based on the amount of Purple magic present. The Gypsy gets it, her first really useful special ability. That's right, Gypsies are going to be aces at running away, and probably less likely than the Ninja to be targeted by foe attacks.
The modifier name is of course a nod at the show Charmed. Glad I finally managed to work a reference in.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Get Your Special Abilities Here

Deadly Aim
This modifier expresses a % chance that the character will automatically do maximum damage with a ranged weapon (although not the ammunition, if any). The Amazon gets this, in homage to her AIM special ability in Magic Realm. Possibly the Scout and/or Ranger will get it too.

Master Thief
Vendors will never catch the character stealing. The Thief class gets this ability.

Poison Touch
Melee attacks by the character have a % chance of infecting the victim with a poison whose strength is based on the attackers character level. The Blackguard gets this ability... and it's worth noting that with this change all of the XXX_TOUCH modifiers now apply through all melee attacks, not just unarmed attacks. The Cultist can now deliver her hex touch through a weapon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More New Special Abilities

A character with this property get the option to swap positions with one other character each combat round before the combat round starts. Usually formation changes only take place at the end of the combat round.

A bit more complex to implement, and it uses up another precious button on the combat options widget. But worth it for a fun special ability.

The Shugenja class gets this ability. I usually picture the Shugeja class as something like the spy Dakuan from Ninja Scroll. Finally the class has a special ability that captures that sort of vibe. He disappears... an interesting tactic.

Simply a modifier expressing a % chance to parry a melee attack, works as long as the character is armed with a melee weapons. The Shugenja gets this one, perhaps Knave will too.

Melee Master
Grants the charater +1 attack rate for every foe present. The Hero character class gets this ability, who else? One man faced by seven will always win.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Special Abilities

It's been open season on new special abilities, as the character class refactor continues.

Deadly Strike
While the modifier is classed with the properties modifiers, it expresses a percentage chance (modified slightly by the melee critical hit modifier) that a melee attack from the character will do double damage. That's it, straight up double damage chance for fighters.This one will go to the Blackguard (what the Assassin class will be replaced with, a combat focussed black magic hybrid to balance the Ninja) and possibly the Knave (new name of the Rogue) and/or Monk.

The Dodge code is back, this time fronted by a modifier that expresses a percentage chance (modified by the attackers anti-dodge modifier, which is still there) that the defender will dodge any melee or missile attack. This one will go to the Monk.

Master Archer
This character adds his or her level to the to-hit roll with bows, crossbows and modern weapons. The Ranger gets this ability.

Divine Protection
Grants the character a defence bonus in combat based on the amount of White magic that is present. The Adept gets this ability; handy for a specialist caster.

Ki Fury
Grants the character an attack rate bonus in combat based on the amount of Green magic present. The Sohei gets this ability.

Fey Affinity
This character gets a magic point regeneration bonus depending on the amount of Gold magic present. The Illusionist gets this one.

Arcane Blood
The character gets a hit point regen bonus depending on the amount of Red magic present. This one is for the Warlock.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Refactoring Saving Throws and Resistances

I'm in the process of dropping all of the saving throws (Save vs Beguilement) in favour of the resistance modifiers, and refactoring the resistances to be basically the same as Wizardry 8.

I thought I was being clever way back when I designed it, but it turned out that I was wrong.

Some things just don't need to be changed.

Old Modifers New Modifiers

  • Resist Damage
  • Resist Fire
  • Resist Ice
  • Resist Poison
  • Resist Acid
  • Resist Lighting
  • Resist Psychic
  • Save vs Beguilement
  • Save vs Evocation
  • Save vs Illusion
  • Save vs Curses
  • Save vs Blessings
  • Save vs Transmutation
  • Save vs Conjuration

  • Resist Damage
  • Resist Fire
  • Resist Water
  • Resist Earth
  • Resist Air
  • Resist Mental
  • Resist Energy

Yes, Energy replaces Divine from Wizardy 8. It's still basically the same thing.

Resistances to damage from different types work the same way; i.e. reducing said damage by the resistance % modified by stuff like Power Cast. Saving throws against binary effects (blinded/not blinded) are now based on the same %, modified by more or less the same stuff.

This means all of the condition templates and items that grant bonuses to saves and resistances get an update. Effect types pretty much line up with Wizardry 8: poison is mostly an Air effect, acid is a Water effect, lightning is a Fire effect, etc. It also means that currently the spell school types (Beguilement, Illusion, etc) are not used for anything. Maybe one day they will be. Caster magic points are still just one big pool, perhaps in future they will be divided up into differnt pools as in the wizardry series.

This also means that for the first time I can go about balancing the class/race resistances and the foe resistances. Happy days, this is a long overdue change. With a bit of luck, the character statistics display screen will get an update too. Some nice colourful resistance bars to use the new screen space freed up by trashing all those confusing modifiers.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


The berserker special ability is in the depot. At the end of each combat round, and at some stages during the round (taking damage or killing a foe), a berserker has the chance of flying into a berserk rage that lasts until the end of combat or the berserker is knocked unconscious.

While berserk, the character can only take attack actions. He or she does benefit from an impressive list of positive and negative modifiers. The most notable positive is the fact that all attacks do double damage. The most notable negatives are probably decreases to defence and stealth.

The chance of berserking is closely tied to how much damage the character has taken. Characters with this ability will usually go berserk as their hit point drop towards zero.

In line with the character class refactor mentioned earlier, the Warrior now gets this ability. Berserk makes a good synergy with this class's existing immunity to KO. I'll probably add this special ability to one of the standard races too (they'll be getting two abilities each too) - maybe the Troll or the Yeti.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lightning Strike

I've implemented the lightning strike special ability. It comes in seven varieties - one for each type of melee weapon (axe, dagger, mace, pole arm, sword, spear, unarmed). I will need to add something comparable for missile weapons, but haven't decided what yet.

When using a weapon of the chosen type, the character has a chance on each attack of "moving with blazing speed" and making 2-4 extra strikes. The base chance is about 2%, modified upwards for skill and initiative, and downwards with encumbrance and the weight of the weapon.

Monsters can perform lightning strikes too; theirs always keys off the "unarmed" modifier (consistent with the tireless modifiers).

As part of the character class rework I am aiming to give each class two special abilities instead of just one. The Samurai gets his first: in addition to being tireless with swords, he can now lightning strike with them too.

Monday, May 2, 2011

v0.901 Released

Primarily a bugfix release, plus most of the Stealth Point Refactor.

I have stopped shipping the "Windows sans JRE" release, if you're interested in a build that runs on Windows but do no want to download the JRE with it, grab the platform independent version and write some .cmd scripts.

Get it at the SourceForge page.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


59% from Poland.

Hi Polska, niektóre sprężenie zwrotne użytkownika byłby jest przyjemny.
97% on Windows, no surprises there.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Current development update

Real life has been keeping me busy, but a number of bugfixes have gone in along with most of the Great Stealth Point Refactor. I'm aiming to roll it up and release a v0.901 some time around Easter.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Open Source Versioning

I suspect that I'm going to have to release a v0.901, with some bug fixes. Release early and release often, even if you start at v0.9 :)

Enjoy your weekends.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Usability Notes

Here are some notes taken from play testers. The interface and the default campaign have confused people in some ways.
  • Add a warning to the start game process if the user chooses a party of less than six members. The game does not make it immediately apparent that you can add up to six members.
  • The starting dungeon may be too long and confusing. Three exits may be too much, especially when two of them dump the player in the middle of the forest rather than near the path to the city.
  • The starting dungeon needs more loot that can be easily found. I'd like the player to have a decent selection of items by the time he gets to Ichiba.
  • There should be an early way to resurrect characters. I was planning to sprinkle a few early game resurrection powders, think I forgot though.
  • The inventory screen doesn't make it obvious that the top left corner of the item icon is the mouse click point. Something like a dot or a triangle needs to be masked over the icon.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Heroic/Retainer class distinction problems

I've had feedback from a couple of play testers that the distinction between Heroic and Retainer classes is confusing. This is kinda what I expected, and v0.91 will remove the distinction.

Originally I planned the Heroic/Retainer distinction as a way to achieve a couple of goals.

Firstly, I wanted to support changing out party members without supporting Wiz8 style recruitable player characters (RPCs). I didn't like the Wiz8 way, and allowing retainer characters to be replaced at a guild seemed a better way forward. In addition, it opened the possibility of training up a team to go on special missions - a team of stealth:wilderness specialists to strike out into the forest, for example.

Secondly, I was aiming for a game that displayed different snippets of information based on which Heroic character class you chose - inspired by the Blood Sword game books.

In practise it seems like the confusion for players outweighs any benefits from the first point, and developing a campaign with useful info-snippets for all the heroic classes was very tedious. To solve these problems, I'm going to just present one set of classes to choose from and make the knowledge snippets dependent on character modifiers instead of character class.

The class hierarchy will need some re-jiggering since most of the current Retainer classes are weaker versions of the Heroic ones. I plan to introduce more character class abilities and tweak experience point tables to balance this. Still, fitting in both of some combinations might be hard: Rogue/Thief, Ranger/Scout, Hero/Warrior. I'm not yet sure how I will manage the retainer class guild replacement feature, but for a first pass I might just disable it.

More on the knowledge modifiers later, when I have refined the list.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Stealth Point Refactor

Maze splits character classes between combat, stealth and magic. Each focus has an associated resource: hit points, stealth points and magic points.

v0.9 was released with Stealth Points working the way I originally planned: they are a resource that can be spent to dodge physical attacks and to deliver ambush attacks that used a single modifier instead of those associated with the weapon. In theory, stealth characters would be able to easily give combat characters a hard time (and suffer vs magic characters (spells that can be dodged like missile weapons are not yet unimplemented)), and would be able to use a wide variety of weapons by investing in only one modifier, leaving other points at level up to be spent on other stealth-related stuff like locks&traps. In theory it sounded good.

In practise, it worked fine and balanced, but I overlooked something fundamental about the game - it's a dungeon crawl at heart. Having characters and monsters dodging attacks all the time made many of the battles long and tedious.

For v0.91 I am working on a different balance. Instead of spending stealth points to avoid attacks, stealth focussed characters can spend stealth points to make their attacks deal double damage. The Ambush:Melee and Ambush:Missile (renamed to Backstab and Snipe) still take precedence over the weapons own attack modes, but weapons now have a flag that must be set before they can be used for backstabbing and sniping.

In retrospect, I should have learned from the Wiz8 approach to this.

Some other thoughts on this:
  • Stealth points are now less valuable, and stealth focussed characters are going to need more hit points to survive. perhaps 66% or 75% of a combat focussed character (as opposed to the current ~50%)?
  • Unlike Wiz8 I am not planning to make stealth characters less likely to be targetted by monsters - I feel this mechanic was too easily abused in Wiz8. Perhaps the Stealth:TerrainX modifiers need to be reduced to two instead of four.
  • Stealth characters will now have a restricted range of weapons they can use for this. No more backstabbing with a Giant Sword. Probably a good thing.
  • I'm planning a couple of other ways of speeding up combat: adding the Beserker and Lightning Strike character abilities. Another page out of the Wiz8 book. More on those later.
  • I considered taking out Stealth Points altogether, and simply making the Backstab/Snipe attacks free (I even implemented this and played around a bit). It seemed better to have to spend Stealth points on it - kept the game balance from swinging entirely away from combat focussed characters. Also it would have involved replacing all the spells that currently operate on Stealth points.
  • With this change and the new weapon disciplines I have planned, Combat focussed characters will proabbly end up being more useful as tank/heavy weapon types, while a properly managed Stealth character will be able to deal more damage quicker but will be more vulnerable.
  • The dodging code is still there, and I plan on adding a Dodge character ability that will work similar to the current Arrow Cutting one - a nice symmetry there.
The first draft of this code is in the depot, although I still need to do some work to make foe attacks work like this (currently the foes have effectively an infinite amount of stealth points).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Big in Poland

Version 0.9 has been available for a few weeks, and the SourceForge stats show some downloads from places that I'd expect, usually the locations of friends who followed a link from Facebook.

But for some reason there have been a whole lot of downloads from Poland. I have no explanation for this; I don't know anyone there, nor has any feedback arrived from anyone in Poland.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Planning for v0.91

The following is a quick list of changes and features I’ve got in mind for v0.91.
  • code: remove Stealth dodges, replace with backstab/snipe double damage. While the dodge mechanic is nice in theory, in practise it makes battles take too long. It will be replaced with backstab/snipe, which will allow stealth characters to deal double damage using their stealth points. This should have the effect of speeding up battles. More on this later.
  • code: remove heroic/retainer class distinction. I have a feeling that this just confuses users. Also, the snippets of heroic knowledge got really tiresome to implement. I plan on adding a set of modifiers representing knowledge areas and tying the knowledge snippets to that instead.
  • code: make weapons depend on disciplines instead of class, flesh out disciplines. Chivalry, Kendo and Martial Arts already exist. This will end up being more similar to the 4th Ed d20 weapon proficiency feats.
  • code: replace saving throws with just the resistance modifier. No point having both saving throws and resistances. In Wizardry fashion, this will be replaced with just resistances.
  • data: sort out NPC inventories.These need a quick look in the default campaign.
  • data: RESISTANCES: Resistances of foes.These need a look in the default campaign.
  • data: mind read results from all NPC. Needs implementation in the default campaign.
  • data: more craft recipe. Ideas?
  • code: berserker and  lightning strike. Two new class abilities, both with the intention of speeding up combat by allowing characters to do more damage. Dodge might also become a class ability. More on these later.
It will be released when it’s ready.

Blogger online

Being unsatified with the SourceForge “Project News” and hosted Wordpress apps, I’m giving Blogger a spin. I’ll be posting regular small updates on my project, Escape From The Maze.

v0.9 is released (9 March 2011)

The time has come to toss it over the fence. You can find v0.9 at SourceForge.

First, the bad news: for now things are a little rough. It needs Java 6 to run. The Windows distribution should help you download that if your machine doesn’t have it installed. If you feel confident running Java applications, you can download the platform independent distro and run it yourself from the command line args on any Java 6 platform.

Now, the good news. The default campaign has been implemented end to end. Some numbers, at last count:
  • 869 items
  • 280 spells across 7 spellbooks
  • 225 foes
  • 36 NPCs
  • 30 character classes (13 heroic and 17 retainer)
  • 25 zones to explore
  • 12 player races
  • 3 genders
all in one campaign

It ships with an editor with which you can add, edit and delete any of the above, including adding your own campaign from scratch. This is effectively an “open beta” test – take it and play with it.