Saturday, June 19, 2010

NPCs and Quests - Making progress again...

I've finished my major code refactoring for now. I've even managed to make some content progress again, and have started on a universal inventory screen that can display all stats, ingredients, quests, enchantments, and the bestiary. I was originally planning on having lots of independant UI screens for these things, but it's looking like a single scrolling menu will work better - though probably with some tabs for viewing different subsets of items - scrolling through 300 items would get a bit tedious and noisy...  I think this will also replace the current enchant screen and possibly even the socket screen.  If it works out it will be great because it means the player will have one standard interface to learn to get access to all the games stats and items.  There is a small preview of this screen midway through tonights video, though there is still much to do on it.

I thought I'd go over some of the quest & conversation system tonight.  It's actually been in and working for a couple of months now. Each NPC in the game has a list of conversations they can have with you if particular conditions are met. Missions are generally (but not always) be started and ended in conversations. On any line in a conversation I can run scripts that can control any aspect of the game. Each line also has the option of giving the player multiple possible responses...  This allows the player to control the conversation at key points and will results in minor rewards or punishments to the player. I don't want these choices to have long lasting consequences as I don't want the player to be afraid to experiment with responses. Sometimes a nasty response can give good benefits - intimidating an NPC into giving extra rewards -  and sometimes a friendly response is going to work more in your favour.

In tonights video you can see a clip from the tutorial mission for the game. The setting of the mission will be moved in the final content as you will start in a city and not be allowed to leave the area until you have completed the tutorial. I don't want players getting lost in the world until I've explained some of the basics. Experienced players won't take long to complete the tutorial. I can always slot in some fast-track responses if needed that will skip the tutorial. I've gone with photographed people for the NPCs. Apart from it being a really cheap way to get lots of character art,  the grand plan is to have a mode where people can add their own faces to the actors in the game - effectively you could put all your family and friends into the game.  It's something of a gimmick but I think it could be really well received. Yes, that is myself and my wife as the main characters, but don't tell her I've put her up on youtube :)

So, anyway, in the video you can see me having a chat to the mage master Mina and she is going to eventually teach me how to do magic. Early in the conversation I am given a choice of response.  If I respond confidently, I jump straight to the harder mission. I am not confident, she gives me an easier mission first (as seen in a second run through at the end of the video).  The final outcome is not affected as I still get to do the hard mission either way, but it is a good example of how the conversation flow can change according to your responses. Other examples would have the NPC giving me additional rewards or puzzle clues.

Thats probably enough reading for one night. Enjoy the video and see you next week.

See it on youtube

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