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Makin' It Up - Part 5

SEP 22 2010 
Makin' It Up - Part 5
Author: Space Lizard

Last time: Characters, part two?!

Today's music choice: Engorging. Boss music. Fuck yeah.

Progress Report: The weapon codes work! As far as I can tell, anyway. Real life is getting kind of hectic this week so progress has been slow, shockingly enough. I had been working on getting "added effects" for weapons and upgrades and such implemented, but have run into a hell of a snag that I haven't figured out how to get around yet. In due time!

Last time was more artsy character talk bullshit, so this week's entry marks the return of Tech Talk Corner! Now, in the last game, I deliberately eschewed everything remotely resembling basic RPG progress - no leveling up, no changeable equipment, no money, none of that! The closest thing to progression was squeezing out a few different flavors of experience for verrrry gradually upgrading stats and skills - this kind of backfired, though, because it quickly became obvious that "offense is the best defense," so all points would go into whatever stat determined basic attack damage, and the skill upgrades were a bit uneven as well. I admit that I wanted the pace to be skewed toward aggression, as typically there would be one character who would be best-suited as the "tank," and since the player could directly control which ally the enemy targeted, it was just a matter of setting up your pieces accordingly and then going crazy. A lot less random than the typical "enemies attack whoever the fuck they want" trend that's been around for 20 years, but easy to exploit by a savvy player, and it became the game's "basic strategy". And we can't have that, now can we?

Remnants of that system still exist in I Miss the Sunrise. At low AI levels, enemies will blindly target whoever is closest to the center line, or randomly pick a target if more than one ally is on the same column. However, enemies with higher AI ratings will assess their weapons versus your allies' positions and weaknesses and remaining health, and will choose the most appropriate target, just like a player would. I am strongly against the old RPG standby of "more HP = more difficult enemy," so all participants have a fair chance at winning, even in basic encounters.

It should be noted that, if you are a big baby, you will be able to change the difficulty at any time so that all enemies are always at the minimum AI level. Your rewards will suffer for this, of course. (You can also go in the other direction, should you so choose).

Let's talk about numbers! Like I mentioned in another article, I think that having both Defense and HP stats is redundant. Think about it. In most games, the big bruiser character will have twice the HP and twice the physical defense of the lanky archer. Sure, he might be more vulnerable to magic, but with his bigger HP pool to compensate, that sort of evens it out and makes it pointless. Instead, I've devised a system where all health values start at 1000, and Defense and resistances are the only protection. There is a defense rating for each of the health types (Hull, Systems, and Pilot), as well as a regeneration rate where a set amount is restored at the start of every phase - there is no healing magic in space, after all. I never really cared for healing magic, actually. It opens up too many questions in the game world, especially around character death. Don't forget, like in The Reconstruction, attacks consume a certain amount of health, so blindly spamming the same attack every turn will leave you critical in a few phases.

Offensive stats are quite different this time around. Instead of one stat directly affecting one single damage type (Strength -> Body damage, etc), combatants have "skill" ratings for three weapon types: Auroral, Ballistic, and Contact. Higher skill means higher damage and accuracy, and each of the weapon types has its own ideal uses. In addition, some weapons can't take on certain properties - Auroral, which is basically laser weapons, can't be Kinetic or Chemical, for example. Therefore, variety is the best strategy. In addition, there are eXtension-type "weapons" that grant passive effects, such as more Hull defense or extra Action Points. These take up one of your precious weapon slots, however, and each character only gets 4 in all (plus one primary weapon that cannot be changed), so you can sacrifice carrying another weapon if it means plugging a vulnerability for that character. INTERESTING STUFF.

Oh, shit, I said "accuracy" didn't I? In the last game, all attacks always connected (though added effects like status changes were random). I hate randomness - or, moreso, how it's applied in games. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 is basically my favorite DS game of all time, but the accuracy rating in that game is fucked six ways from Sunday. Basically, if you want to figure your actual chance to hit, take the 9 off the front and add a zero to the back. So, a "97%" chance is really more like "70%." It sounds crazy, but in practice, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Anything that says it's below 80% is basically a coin toss, and anything below 60% will never actually hit. This bald-faced lying pisses me off to no end. So, I've decided to try something a little different in I Miss the Sunrise, in that the chance-to-hit you are given is the exact calculation to be applied. Things that affect accuracy are the shooter's skill rating, the target's Reaction Time stat, the weapon type, and the weapon's effective range - if you're out of range, you can still attack, but you will be unable to cause a critical hit, and your accuracy drops significantly the farther away you are. Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?

I'm also bring back experience/levels, and money! HOORAY! Experience is measured in "Valor," and is awarded to all allies on the completion of a mission. When 1000 Valor is reached, that character gains a level, or "Rank", and absolutely nothing happens. No stat boosts, no new weapon slots, nothing. What does happen is every five ranks or so, you are granted the ability to boost one minor stat, like an offensive or defensive stat. Every ten ranks, you can boost something major, like wiping out a vulnerability or adding more Action Points. A bit sadistic, maybe, but the real progression is in the money.

Money is measured in half-credits (the credits market crashed, after all). It's used mostly for weapon building, which is the primary form of advancement. It's also used to buy services such as better random exploration maps and access to special missions, which are in turn good for making more money. Vicious cycle, it is.

The last stat of importance is Trust. There are two kinds: Personal Trust and Battle Trust. Battle Trust is easy. It goes up slowly for winning battles, goes down if a pilot is shot down, and goes way down if an entire player's fleet is wiped out. Personal trust is granted character-by-character in non-combat situations. Your dialog choices can evoke positive or negative receptions from your allies, and there are many opportunities between missions to meet your allies and talk one-on-one to boost trust further. The total Trust is added together and affects performance in battle - so, naturally, a negative amount of Trust will cause trouble. Your allies will have some surprises in store if they like you enough, too, so there is that.

(No, this game is not a dating sim.)

That's enough number chat. Next time: Sick of the same old dungeon crawling? Overworlds? Towns? Yeah, fuck all that shit! And I'll tell you why!

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