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Incline Hearkenwold - an IceBlink and DC engine Campaign

Discussion in 'Codex Workshop' started by Dorateen, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. Ah, OK. Google Play Music it is, then. :)
     
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  2. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    The IceBlink 2 engine has been going through some experimental development. Internally, we are up to build version 51. To put this in perspective, the version of Hearkenwold that I have available to download still uses build 21. I want to be clear, all the details and stuff I describe below are new content and features that will be in the next chapter, which I am targeting to release by the end of this year.

    One of the new elements in the toolset introduces the ability to assign height to individual map tiles. Now of course, these are only 2D images, but the system automatically creates a shadow effect around the border of the selected square. And collision is assigned for other adjacent tiles that are set to a lower height value. This gives the appearance of raised levels, and there is a stair function that changes a tile into a ramp to access the different areas. I went back to a previous map that I wanted to display as more of a highland terrain with a bluff or ridges. Here is how it looks now with the height mapping in place:

    [​IMG]

    And this is an example of using height mapping on an indoor location. The tiles that are set a higher value creates the illusion of a platform, overlooking the floor below. I have also used this method in other places on exterior walls, further distinguishing them from walkable terrain and giving the flat map some depth.

    [​IMG]

    More recently, the engine was updated to include a spell interrupt system. Magic spells now have casting times, opening the opportunity to be disrupted. A target hit while in the middle of casting needs to make a save, or else risk losing that spell. Also, a character who is adjacent to an enemy, will provoke an attack of opportunity when they try to cast. The system was designed with some influence of the Gold Box games, and certainly brings more tactical consideration into play. In this battle, our party's cleric was attempting to cast a heal spell, when a nearby gargoyle attacked him. The cleric took damage, and failed the interruption save, losing the spell as indicated in the combat log. Players will have to position magic wielding characters more carefully.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the party approaching Fortress Relmfur from the east. These are first level characters, who really have no business going to a map this far away from the starting area. But I wanted to showcase that it is theoretically possible for a low level party to wander freely. I did meta-game this journey, since I know the location of some encounters that would need to be avoided. And there is one encounter they had to choose an option to avoid combat. Usually, playing blindly, it would be difficult to reach this location although with a little luck it could be accomplished. Sooner or later, engaging in some of the content here, they would die horribly. Nevertheless, the appeal in letting characters do their own thing and go wherever they want is a fundamental design aspect of this campaign.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, another thing I've been doing is revisiting older maps to replace tilesets with a more appropriate style. I went back and did Castle Hearkenwold, adding a yellow light glow in front of the torches as well.

    [​IMG]

    From here, and for the rest of the summer, I am starting work on a large city that will span about a half dozen maps. There will be many points of interests and important NPCs to talk to, and fight. One idea am thinking about is including a bank where the characters can take out a loan. Then, at a later time, they will trigger an encounter with operatives seeking payment of interest. As the campaign expands, gold is beginning to prove a greater resource with more things to spend it on. Besides ammunition and consumables, soon there will be a fast travel system to pay for horses to move back and forth between destinations.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
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  3. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    One of the new features of the Iceblink Engine is the ability to summon allies in combat. Hearkenwold will have a spell that allows wizards to call for a creature. This extends to enemy casters as well. In the screenshot below, I have set up an encounter with one such Summoner who creates acidic blobs in the middle of combat. Note that first two black slimes appeared adjacent to our party's cleric and wizard. With the new spell interruption system introduced, this development made the battle more challenging, as these two characters would be taking a risk whenever they tried to use magic.

    [​IMG]

    We have been also working on the Traits and Effects systems in Iceblink. I have started to make use of new traits that will represent languages, which characters can learn from a trainer. The trait is then checked as a conditional during specific events, to see if a member of the party has this knowledge. These languages run from the basic player races, to more exotic creatures such as Undead and the speech of animals. Here, our party's wizard is learning the language called Primus.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In addition, over the past month I have been building the city of Skardale. It is a sprawling location of interconnected maps, divided into multiple districts. Below is a partial view of the Business District. What is being abstracted here are the walls with rectangular doors represent the homes of citizens, which the party can visit and discover all manner of occupants from friendly to hostile. The wall tile with the rounded wooded door is used for buildings of commerce, whether shops, inns or taverns. The wooden building in the corner near the graveyard tiles is an old church. Further, a curious characteristic of Skardale is that the streets of the city are paved with black granite, speckled to mirror the night sky.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, I couldn't resist adding a special Grimoire tribute to mark this momentous occasion.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    For the remainder of this month, I need to continue adding content to Skardale. But there are also story-related events and conversations with important NPCs that require attention. In September, I will be expanding the gameworld to include a dwarf village in a remote part of the map. Then it will be a matter of tying all the new content together, aiming to finish this updated version of Hearkenwold by the end of the year.
     
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  4. Comte Arcane

    Comte
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    Does combat take place on the main map or does it go to a separate tactical map? Does this play like a goldbox game?
     
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  5. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Yes, combat switches to a different map. Those battles above take place on separate maps that are loaded in when an encounter takes place. When designing them, I try to make it a "zoomed-in" version of where the fight is supposed to take place.

    The goal of Iceblink is to definitely have combat similar to the gold box games. We're not there yet, but it is getting close. On a basic level, I would say it is very much like Gold Box. What's missing is just the high level of polish and more details (like how monsters could surrender or flee, for example. Iceblink is not that advanced yet.)
     
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  6. Wayward Son Fails to keep valuable team members alive

    Wayward Son
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    Hope it goes great for you Dorateen. We need more games like this. :salute:
     
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  7. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    The recent photobucket suicide killed most of the screenshots from this thread's previous updates. It's not that big a deal, since the IceBlink engine is constantly evolving, and I've been working on improvements to Hearkenwold. So some of the stuff posted a few years ago isn't relevant at this point. But there are a couple of things I showcased earlier this year, that I wanted to re-upload.

    First, to follow up on the point of separate combat maps, here is an approach to the bridge over the river Astar.

    [​IMG]
    If the party gets into a fight, combat switches to a close up view of the immediate area. Using this approach, it means every combat has a new map designed, which I try to create a zoomed-in view of battle field, within reason. I'm including this one because I think it's a neat encounter.

    [​IMG]

    And below is a battle I posted a few months back, which showcases the spell interrupt system.

    [​IMG]

    The way the system works, if a spell caster incurs damage from an attack of opportunity while attempting to cast, he must make a save versus 10 plus the damage inflicted. That is why our cleric needed to beat a roll of 31, and of course failed miserably.
     
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  8. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Work has been done on enemy AI scripting in the IceBlink engine for the PC. There are now options to assign attack behavior to creatures, under the following labels:

    Blood Hunter: enemy will target the character with the lowest hit points, within range
    Soft Target Hunter: enemy will go after the character with the worst armor class, within range
    Mind Hunter: enemy will target the character with the highest spell points, within range

    In order to test the system, I applied the template "Soft Target Hunter" to an enemy guard, using a battle with a homogenous group of six of them.

    [​IMG]

    A couple of things to note. In Hearkenwold, I have set the option to display the PC armor classes in the old AD&D style where a lower value is better. For this battle, I sent three characters to engage in melee: a cleric with an Ac of 6, a fighter with an AC of 4, and a paladin with an AC of 1. With the new AI script on the guards, the ones that were within range targeted the cleric accordingly, because he had the worst Armor Class. Because they focused their attacks, they pretty much ripped him to shreds. Another thing to consider is that these guards wield spears and have an attack range of 2 squares.

    Obviously, this new AI behavior can potentially make combat harder for the unprepared. Besides concentrating enemy attacks on a single target, in this case, it also meant the guards ignored the character with the better armor class who they would have likely missed and wasted their turns. Thus, the result is the illusion of a smarter enemy and requires the player to think how they will approach a fight.

    We will also have these AI templates as options for enemy spellcasters and range attackers. You can imagine the havoc a squad of archers can cause if they focus all their fire on party member with the lowest hit points, or specifically target magic-users.

    A couple of months ago, I posted about the new summoning ability incorporated into Hearkenwold, with a battle showcasing slimes being called in the middle of battle to harass the party. Now I have just started testing the ability for characters to summon creatures of their own.

    [​IMG]

    Here, our party's ranger has summoned a bear in a battle against an owl bear. At this time, PC summons are limited to normal sized tokens, so our new friend looks more like a cub. Also, the way PC summons are handled is different than enemy summons. Instead of pulling from the existing database of creatures, the new ally must be created first using the Player Editor tool in the toolset. In other words, that brown bear was set up as if it were a PC, and then its tag attached to the summon spell available to characters. This method is generally used to call allies into combat on the side of the party, thus its additional utility for summoning spells.

    During the month of September, I spent most of the time building a new location, a dwarf village that leads to a mountain stronghold. The purpose of this area is to add depth to the campaign with a remote destination to be discovered. Adventuring here will be mostly about information gathering, although there is some content that links back to the rest of Hearkenwold, and some items can be found here that are not available elsewhere.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, for the remainder of this month, I am dedicating to the design of monsters and adding more encounters. This is in order to populate existing maps and the areas I have be working on to include in the next version of Hearkenwold to be released. There are some campaign arcs, which need to be finished, conversations and story-related stuff. I'm still aiming to have it complete by the end of the year.

    On a side note, slowdive has begun to develop the possible option of using a 3D view in IceBlink. It is a bit early, but here is a sneak preview of how it might look:

     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
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  9. Crichton Erudite

    Crichton
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    Hey Dorateen, as I mentioned on the Iceblink forums, I get a crash when I try to implement the summoned bear (I've tried the original bear and a skeleton warrior) using version beta version 69. Which version are you using here?
     
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  10. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    I am still using beta version 69. It took me a few attempts to figure out how it works. In the toolset, there is a Player Editor under the Wizard/Editor drop down menu. You want to create a PC for the bear or skeleton, or whatever you want your characters to summon. Give it stats and abilities, assign it a token. Then reference the tag of the newly created "PC", as part of the summoning spell. Hope that helps!
     
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  11. Crichton Erudite

    Crichton
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    I wonder what's different about our setups then. Because I can always summon the creature but at the end of the turn of the character that summoned it, I get this:

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    I'm working on a Windows 7 64 bit OS, I don't know if that makes a difference. Have you tried testing the summon spell from another character? I would post the screenshot of that error message at the IceBlink forum, maybe youngneil1 can take a look at it.
     
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  13. Crichton Erudite

    Crichton
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    Hmm, I'm using Win10, but it's hard to believe that's the difference-maker. I posted the error on the Iceblink forums; we'll see what Neil makes of it.
     
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  14. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    I doubt the operating system matters. I noticed the error was due to an object reference not being set to an instance of an object. This tends to happen when the program references an object that doesn’t exist, either because it has not been created yet or it has been destroyed.

    Since it isn’t happening to Dorateen, it could come down to how you reference the tag. I haven’t seen this functionality in IceBlink, so this is just a guess. But, you might look to see if you are referencing the tag correctly.

    It could also be a programming error out of your control caused by the code trying to reach a class object that doesn’t exist. I’m sure you will find out soon enough.
     
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  15. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Hopefully this will be the last update before the next release version of Hearkenwold. I have a lot of details that still need to be added. The way I approached building this campaign is to set up a skeletal construct of the various areas as containers to then be filled with content. Some areas are more fleshed out than others. So it is a matter of going back and populating maps with encounters, events and conversations where needed. In the process, the IceBlink engine itself continues to improve and bring the potential for new ideas.

    One feature now available is the scripting to cast spells from the conversation interface. In the example below, a text event triggers the fireball spell being unleashed on the party. Now we have already had a general damage party script in the engine. But this alternative actually uses the effects of a fireball, will all the available resistances and saving throws on individual characters accordingly. Furthermore, the new cast spell script can be configured to select specific party members, what level a spell should be cast at. Of course there are other in-game applications here, such as triggering a bless spell in a conversation. But to test things out, I went with something of a more damaging nature.

    [​IMG]

    :shredder:

    Another thing I've been working on is giving certain enemies spell effects that would trigger on successful hits. Here, I have some rude chaps who will blanket the area in a sleep spell when they land a hit on a character. It makes for an interesting battle. I need to tweak them a little further with some higher resistance so they don't put themselves to sleep.

    [​IMG]

    I might have alluded to this before, but there are now trainers available who will teach a character a skill to raise an attribute point. These manifest as traits on the party member who selects to make the purchase, and there is a trainer for each of the six ability scores.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, I have spent some time working on itemization. In addition to weapons and armor, also magic items that serve a variety of purposes. We have been working in the engine to make items with expendable charges and usable while equipped, as opposed to accessing from the shared inventory like the way potions function. Here is wand of lightning, which in addition to shooting lightning bolts, also grants the character protection from electricity when equipped.

    [​IMG]

    And outside, our party's wizard uses the wand in a battle against undead monsters. Sweet!

    [​IMG]

    Overall, I am pleased with the way combat is developing. The positioning of the party matters, as it should. And with the introduction of new creatures that have higher hit points, trying to immobilize the enemy first instead of going for direct damage becomes a worthy strategy to consider. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but with the spell interruption system, again tactical placement is important.

    I expect to release the updated Hearkenwold early in the new year.
     
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  16. Jack Dandy Arcane

    Jack Dandy
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    Whoa, why have I only heard about this now? this is super neat.
     
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  17. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Thanks. It is still a work-in-progress, and I am planning to release a new version soon with more content, system and graphic changes. The game is playable, but I can't call it a proper full release just yet.
     
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  18. Lots of potential here.

    I was thinking about possibly getting into modding soon. Originally I wanted to do Infinity Engine stuff but that might be a bit too advanced for a first-time modder, so I'm thinking either NWN or IceBlink. Would you say IceBlink overall is more advanced than NWN for all the behind-the-scenes dice rolls and nerdy type of RPG stuff? I'd like to do a lot of skill-checks, optional content and just interesting, C&C (story + gameplay) CRPG features.
     
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  19. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    I would say the advantage of IceBlink over NWN is the turn based combat. The conversation editor itself, where you can incorporate skill checks or conditionals in a branching dialogue hierarchy, is similar to NWN2.
     
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  20. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    So I've been making good progress on the Hearkenwold campaign, adding more bits of content to explore. For example, as I am populating the city with events, at one house the party can break into enter they will meet this paladin chick. Depending on how the characters choose to respond, this encounter can lead to a fight, or getting a small assignment from her, or they can simply avoid any further confrontation.

    [​IMG]

    More importantly, I have finished the critical path. This closes one story arc, and takes the adventure as far as it will go in the upcoming release. For me, it is always satisfying to reach this screen, announcing the completion of the primary narrative. It means the end of the new build is near.

    [​IMG]

    What I have left now is mostly side content. Following an open-ended design, there is a lot of stuff to do completely unrelated to the main story. I have things in place already, it is just a matter of finishing off the resolution of these mini-adventures, and a few more combat encounters. There can never be enough turn-based, tactical combat. In fact, here is a random battle the party can get into with a guard and six friars.

    [​IMG]
    On that note, I recently installed IceBlink on a Windows 10 laptop, and it runs without any problem. There is built-in video capturing software, and I'm thinking about making a small clip to show Hearkenwold in action.

    If I can complete the remaining micro-issues over the next month or so, I should be able to release the update module to download by June. That means I only underestimated how long it would take me to finish by half a year!
     
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  21. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Video clip of Hearkenwold, party encounters a pack of Hell Hounds.



    This is an encounter that was added to a previously explored area. Characters are 5th and 6th level. Hell Hounds have 32 hit points, and upon a successful attack, they trigger a small burst of flame that damages the surrounding targets. The monsters are also fire resistant.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
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  22. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Another video. This time, a party of lower level characters enter the woods, fight some skeletons and reach the site of a dangerous tower.

     
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  23. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    One more video. Inspired by the recent Realms Beyond preview showcasing the fireball spell, I wanted to capture a battle that includes our party's wizard blowing up some bugbears.



    In the Hearkenwold campaign, fireball is a powerful spell that becomes available to wizards at fifth level. Because the range is a maximum of three squares, it requires the character to move up to the front lines if they don't want to hit their teammates. It is best deployed in wide open spaces, which means that when using fireball indoors on a cramped battlefield, targeting could be tricky.
     
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  24. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    Why does it only have a maximum range of 3 squares?
     
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  25. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    I think to keep it from being overpowered, the range restriction adds a targeting consideration. The risk of running your wizard to a somewhat vulnerable position, for the reward of getting a 5x5 square mass damage spell.
     
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