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).