I finished the last release before the Alpha phase, which starts in about 8 weeks. The game has really improved a lot over the past 6+ weeks. Keeping with tradition, I ended up extending the features beyond my original goals. This is especially true for the quest design.
Players can now create their own quests and set many additional options for skirmish boards. These boards will work for local games and multiplayer ones too. Quest data and player progress is streamed to the client along with all of the previous data. This occurs each time a player logs into a game, whether it is new or saved. Eventually, I plan to store progress of at least 20 players for every saved skirmish board. This way, a bunch of people can play the same board with some persistent data.
Up to 50 quests can be created for a skirmish board. Each of those quests can contain a description, up to 10 requirements, a source and target NPC, a required quest the needs to be completed before getting it, as well as a quest item and player item reward (optional). Enemies can now have a quest item and player item reward when defeated too. The percentage chance to drop each item can be set from 1 to 100, with 100 being the default.
I need to clean-up the editor a bit, but it is very effective. Quest, NPC, and enemy data are immediately updated when changed. Furthermore, the data for these components is shared in a logical way, which makes it pretty easy to create content. I have a few more ideas to enhance the skirmish boards, but I need to wait and see if it is feasible.
Non-player characters (NPCs) can be placed anywhere on the board. However, only 1 instance may exist at a time. The game automatically enforces this rule. Left-clicking on an NPC opens a dialog window, which will display available quests. All accepted quests show up in the quest journal. Both windows display the quests that are ready for completion. The quest design is already quite robust.
I also added a new window to display game messages. I improved the text output boxes so they can display color text now. This was necessary to allow color-coding the game messages. It looks a lot like an MMO right now. I implemented most of the combat updates, with damage and heal values, effect states, etc. I couldn’t believe how much more fun the game was once this display was in place. The visual feedback makes the combat feel much more alive.
I revamped part of the combat to further add to the fun. I added a few new abilities and modified some of the existing ones. There is much more purpose when fighting. There is also more room for skill, as certain combinations of abilities are more efficient. I’m excited to get the remaining combat features into the game. I have some cool ideas for enemies that will keep players on their toes. Boss mobs will have extra tools to thwart players too.
My next 8 weeks will be spent getting the game ready for the Alpha release. I still have a lot of things I want to get into the game by that time. Some of these additions include interactive items, an event (scripted) system, character development, a lot of new artwork (including movement animations), and the tutorial.
Once the alpha phase begins, it is a sprint to the finish. Everything looks good for a November 2007 release. Check back to see the progress of “Birth of Shadows.”