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.

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