20 August 2018

Released: LoSt #12 (Night Errands)

Download Land of Strangers #12

I finally decided that the time was ripe to release Land of Strangers version #12. This version has been in the works for a year (on and off), and represents the meatiest changelog in the project so far. Some of the more notable changes include a basic infrastructure for bounties (quests), the option to heal long term wounds by resting, a zoomed out view of the map, and a rehaul of the combat system, UI and controls. In addition, #12 is the first version with (rudimentary) mouse support, as well as a (placeholder) system for character advancement by shtick aquisition.

LoSt joys
The current scenario starts you in Arken Town, a sleepy settlement in the unsettled outskirts of the young world that some simply call The Land. By some ill-boding twist of fate (yet, ill-boding still unbeknownst to whom), you have gleaned the location of an infamous fugitive. So you find yourself drawn to the jailhouse, at least to ogle the Wanted-poster and count your options …

As always, player comments are very welcome, here or on appropriate discussion boards or to the e-mail address supplied in the archives. Players should be advised that the game is still sparse on the content side. However, picking up the plot hook with the bandit campsite should offer a challenging little game in itself, enough to showcase the new features and give some indication of the direction I'm hoping to take the game in.

Version #12 is quite experimental, rolling in a lot of systemic changes. It is intended to be somewhat of an interim release, as I'm hoping to add more content for the next version, as well as doing a quick turnaround of important bug fixes that will hopefully become apparent in the time to come. There are some obvious issues, especially a lot of graphical glitches. Take it as a late entry to the "glitch roguelite" subgenre, if you will, but feel free to take the opportunity to point out errors and make more general comments regarding the graphical interface.

As always,

PS. And now, what we've all been waiting for, here's the changelog (a few minor changes may have fallen between the cracks and been left unnoted):
Keep fucking that chicken.
SYSTEM Started work on travelogue mode (zoomed out map) 
SYSTEM Scaled everything up a bit in size
SYSTEM Added base system for boons
SYSTEM Added long-term resting (incomplete)
SYSTEM Added individual reputation stat for Critters (incomplete)
SYSTEM Dynamic nicknames (incomplete)
SYSTEM Experience/shtick acquisition (temporary)
SYSTEM Disabled sprinting (temporary)
SYSTEM Drop/pickup now works on adjacent tiles
SYSTEM Give items by dropping them onto an adjacent NPC
SYSTEM Replaced wound system with a flat Grit meter
SYSTEM Interrupted attacks not blocked, but always graze/go wild
SYSTEM Increased inventory space
SYSTEM Flumadiddling (inventory handling) counts as a free action
SYSTEM Flumadiddling with cocked guns can be dangerous
SYSTEM Better support for instantaneous events
SYSTEM Perks and skills merged to one category, shticks
SYSTEM Character generation changed to reflect new shtick system
SYSTEM (testing) Set all shtick costs to 1 point in character generation
SYSTEM Kits for unarmed combat moddable (like prefixed guns etc.)

CONTENT Start game in Arken Town, a small settlement
CONTENT Basic bounty: Bring a wanted bandit to justice
CONTENT Changed intro text to reflect sample, soft "win condition"
CONTENT Simple rivers and mountains added as climate types
CONTENT Added some props: [redacted] and more
CONTENT New shticks: Muster, Circle blow, The breathing way, Leatherbrain
CONTENT Made bricks stackable and gave them stats as thrown weapons
CONTENT Derringers and pepperbox guns are now two separate types
CONTENT Changed effect of adrenaline syringe to: heal all bruises
CONTENT Changed effect of bleeding to: inflict all bruises as wounds
CONTENT Changed feel no pain to: always heal for 3 turns
CONTENT Changed war wound to: increase chance of wounds healing badly
CONTENT Changed tough as nails to: decrease chance of healing badly
CONTENT Removed Swordfighter career, added Barber instead

UI Started to implement mouse support (incomplete)
UI Configuration wizard for first-time players
UI Message log now oriented to center of the menu
UI Message log not flushed between turns
UI Added option to cancel character creation mid-process
UI Replaced dual-button system with main button (experimental)
UI Separate shortcut keys for inventory (default [F1-F10])
UI Shortcut [G] and [,] to get/give/drop command
UI Commands to zoom in/out on map
UI Menus reorganized to put option 0 on top
UI Scrolling menus are still ugly and buggy, but less buggy :P
UI Distinct animation for grazes and several other events/effects
UI Support for onomatopoeta (sound effects) on tactical map
UI Added colored messages (signals pleased/annoyed status)
UI Speech scrolls now take a few seconds to fade out when dismissed
UI Removed all non-free fonts from the game
UI Modified font (Linux Biolinum) for better unicode support
UI Redid the in-game character sheet a bit
UI Disabled player survey (at least for now)
UI Removed obsolete manual (temporarily)
UI (debug) print_me() to log/stdout when looking at beings slightly prettier
UI (debug) Game now makes a backup log when the game crashes

WORLD Place templates can contain player's starting position
WORLD Merged Region and Climate classes
WORLD Added Superregion class (named region on the map)
WORLD Region name generation takes climate etc. into account
WORLD Lots(!) of small and big changes to how the world is built

AI States can be pure switches
AI State machine can remember several distinct targets at once
AI Can prompt the player to choose an alternative and react accordingly
AI Can test (simple) scripted conditions directly from the data files
AI Some tactical changes to reflect new combat systems (incomplete)

BUG Time system with simultaneous actions wasn't simultaneous
BUG Shtick descriptions weren't displayed during character generation
BUG Sometimes crashed when critter ai had no target
BUG Game crashed with manually inputed world seeds
BUG Trying to draw off screen crashed (hopefully fixed)
BUG Various other small bugs that would crash for no reason ;)
BUG Post mortem "screensaver mode" sometimes hung
BUG Impossible to demolish house walls
BUG Certain places didn't spawn at all
BUG Savescumming may have been buggy, should now be more fool proof :)
BUG Help screen didn't print command keys properly
BUG Game window sometimes started maximized when it should not
BUG Reset some attributes when patching beings with certain kits
BUG Some speech scrolls were rendered twice (fixed, but reappeared )-:
BUG Some speech scrolls didn't get painted to the map
BUG Speech scrolls flickered for a split second between turns
BUG Sprites disappear when several gets drawn to the same hex
BUG Certain "steppable" objects, like thorns, didn't work properly
BUG Random characters always started with "animal friend" shtick :P
BUG Character sheet listed inventory's kit names instead of prop titles
BUG Typo in /kits/desert_life/brains.yug made tool wielders unable to attack
BUG Dilettante sometimes got same skill twice
BUG Attack forms without crit effects did no damage on crit hit
BUG Typos "pilarist", "omniscinet", "likelyhood", and a few more ...

15 August 2018

LoSt this month: State of the art

Early GUI mockup
Surprising as it may seem, the first release of LoSt was a bit more than five years ago. I've come a short way since then. However, if LoSt is currently lacking even something as basic as a win condition, it has seen some more "rounded" releases in the past. Regarding the win condition, that's something I actually had in #4-7, when LoSt was a light crawl with the necessary features to constitute a bare bones, but complete, little game (it took place in a mostly unicursal labyrinth, as you played a mine slave ascending from the depths of the shaft).

Current state of the art
With release #8, the game was reset to alpha stage, but by widening the scope somewhat. This is where the overworld, with its randomly generated flora and fauna, was introduced, and I also started on simple animations. Speaking of the graphics engine, suffice to say it's an incomplete mess at the moment, but not top priority with the next few releases. There should come a refactoring at some point ;)

Regarding this month in LoSt, I've had the project on the backburner, tying up some loose ends for the upcoming release #12; from a change in how the message log is displayed (the last on my list of player requests in response to #11), to strengthening the "main bounty" a bit and fixing some minor AI bugs. The last big thing that remains, is still to somehow balance the acquisition of new shticks. I'm thinking I'll just count "experience points" very crudely (more from seeing new areas of the game world, than defeating enemies), and then "bumping the player up a level" at  intervals. The more I've been thinking about it, the less inclined I am to settle with something too much like good ol'e XP. But for that precise reason, I'm more eager to just get anything in place right now, so that I can put out #12 (heavy on engine-related changes, but not extremely meaty content-wise) and get on with it.

If I have any general long-term vision at the moment, it would probably be to make #13 rather quickly, adding some more content/encounters, whilst fixing issues that become apparent in #12. My personal view is currently that the game isn't very fun to play, mostly because there's not much to do in the game world. If I make some interesting bounties and places for #13, I should have a solid base to build from. After that, there are still some features I'm looking forward to adding to the engine, including riding and rope use (which will probably also be used for taking prisoners in non-lethal combat). Some other stuff will come in organic relation to the content I manage to add. For instance, if/when there are ranches, there should come systems for things like herd handling and branding; and if/when we get lumbering and floating logs down the stream to the mill, that would go hand in hand with more fleshed-out systems for water movement, as well as platform riding (carriages/boats/floating logs). A log drive down the river, getting attacked by hostile humans and animals along the way, could be fun (or leading a cattle/post ride through the outlands, which could be modeled along a similar arc). We'll see about all of that, of course. Here and now, I'm crossing my fingers that the next update on this blog will concern the release of #12.