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Magic & Mercenaries: The Curse of Eternal Darkness

Discussion in 'Codex Workshop' started by ProphetSword, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    Now that I have enough of a working engine to officially announce my project, I wanted to bring it to the attention of fans of classic old-school CRPGs. In particular, if you were a fan of the SSI Gold-Box series, you will find a lot to love about the game I'm working on (at least, I hope you will).

    In the game, you create a party of six characters and engage your enemies in tactical turn-based combat. With skills and perks and a total of 12 character classes, there are multiple ways to build your party and a lot of combinations to try.

    The game is not finished at this point and still needs a lot of work. But, even still, it's never too early to get people interested. Here are some screenshots of the game in action:

    Outdoor Exploration:
    [​IMG]

    Indoor Exploration:
    [​IMG]

    Tactical turn-based combat:
    [​IMG]

    Character Skill Screen:
    [​IMG]


    As an added bonus, I created a demo specifically to show off the engine and made a video of it. The demo is not part of the actual game, but gives a general idea of how the game will be. I created a town and a dungeon specifically for this demo and a generic story (really, really generic, but it serves its purpose).

    The video if an hour long. It covers most of the basics, though I didn't get as far into the demo as I wanted to show everything off. Hopefully, there's enough there to get people interested in the engine and what I can do with it. I'm also not great at making videos, so don't expect professional quality narration or anything. (Also, the video is currently only 360p since it was just uploaded. I'm told it will eventually be in 1080p once YouTube stops processing it, so just be aware of that if you watch it soon after I post it).

    Here's the video:
     
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  2. Wayward Son Fails to keep valuable team members alive

    Wayward Son
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    Can never have too much Gold Box lovin’
     
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  3. Bester Arcane Patron Vatnik

    Bester
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    I'd love to know why new games that simulate old school games still have this small viewport. What's the point other than "that's how it was back then"? Any game design reason?
     
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  4. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    So that you have access to all your character information, the move buttons, the game buttons, the text box, and the location information. Also, because (and I can’t stress this enough) I am trying to replicate the look and feel of the old games. And, I like it that way.

    I’d love to know why people expect new games that simulate old school games to have a bigger viewport. What’s the point other than “that’s how we do it now?” Any game design reason?
     
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  5. Bester Arcane Patron Vatnik

    Bester
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    Easier to immerse yourself in a viewport that's not restricted by technical limitations of 1986. Same as why we use 32bit colors nowadays.

    On this image you can tell the UI takes up all that space unnecessarily. Humongous "rest/camp" buttons that could be made into icons like in BG. "Location, time" etc could be drawn on top of the viewport. Then there's one window that's empty. And then character stats that could be in the "Character Stats" screen and/or in form of MM6 UI.

    [​IMG]

    Pillars of Eternity doesn't work in 860 * 720 resolution to simulate old games, just because it was all BG1 could do. It's just a technical issue.

    I don't think technical limitations are what makes those games good. There was a certain way about doing UI/UX back then, but doing super small viewports was just a technical constraint. Had you offered the game creators at the time the possibility of making a bigger viewport, they would've taken it without a second thought and their games wouldn't have suffered.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
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  6. CryptRat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Developer

    CryptRat
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    Looks great.
     
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  7. Krice Educated

    Krice
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    Less pixels means it's easier to do. This is one reason why these retro RPGs are so popular now, because you only need basic art skills and least amount of effort to draw sprites and tiles, possibly even copying them from some old game with minor changes. I wouldn't be surprised if someone is doing that.
     
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  8. Alchemist Arcane

    Alchemist
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    ProphetSword I watched the whole demo video - this is looking great indeed. Definitely will scratch that Gold Box itch. Looks like you have a solid engine in place with most of the Gold Box elements in there.

    The small 3D viewport does serve a game design purpose in my opinion: It allows the textual descriptions to carry more weight in the experience, in lieu of graphical details. For those too lazy to watch the video, here's an example of what shows up in that middle panel:

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Tavernking Don't believe his lies Shitposter

    Tavernking
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    'Magic & Mercenaries: The Curse of Eternal Darkness' is a very generic and uninspired game title.
     
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  10. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    Trying to decide if I want to go to the effort to make this even more Gold-Box like and use the OGL. Seems like a headache, but it might be worth it.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    Actually, now that I started toying around with changing the system, I realized what a massive undertaking it would be. Had I planned it from the start, it would have been fine, but I'm too far along now to start revamping the entire game. Should have known better, really. Doing this sort of change would be like starting over and rewriting the game from scratch. Not to mention it would likely remove the uniqueness of the system and pigeon-hole me into all the faults of the D&D system. Oh well...
     
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  12. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Use your own system. There already are all the Gold Box games, FRUA adventures, NWN and its modules, the upcoming Realms Beyond, KotC and the upcoming KotC2...

    Unique systems are definitely more interesting.
     
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  13. Mustawd Arcane

    Mustawd
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    I agree.

    Also, in your system you should include ninjas, and make them overpowered. Later on, you can nerf them, and people will complain, so you’ll be forced to put a lot of the OP piece in, but in a more balanced way. Then there will be controversy over which version of your game is the “true” game as god intended, and a schism will form amongst your userbase. The stress of having to deal with so many competing interests will push you over the edge, and you will start abusing narcotics and alcohol. After a particularly crazy bender you completely revamp your game and make it more of a barbie and ken shopping crawler. Eventually, everyone comes to hate it, and you take it off steam, self eject from the codex and spend the rest of your time posting once a month on rpgwatch....


    Man, this game is gonna be good. Can’t wait.
     
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  14. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    While I don't have any new screenshots to share, progress continues.

    I just spent a month and a half coding all the remaining spells and getting them working in the game. There are five spellcasting classes (Priest, Sorcerer, Shaman, Druid and Battlemage) and a total of 75 spells (15 per class). There's a lot of variation in the spells (some things are repeated...for example, being able to remove diseases or poison...but that's because I assume no one will be playing a full caster party, though it's certainly an option).

    In particular, I like the spells available to the Battlemage, who has a lot of combat-focused spells and who has interesting options when in battle, including being able to resist death while simultaneously being able to deal damage to themselves to deal damage to enemies. Or the Shaman, who can leech some of his own health or mana in order to give it to someone else during combat ("Here, battlemage, have 5 more mana from my mana pool in order to continue your damage streak.")

    In the end, I'm glad to have the spells done. It's a major milestone.
     
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  15. Mastermind Arcane Patron Bethestard

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    Is the engine made from scratch?
     
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  16. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    Depends on what you mean by that.

    It's built in Unity, but the only part of the game that's even taking advantage of Unity is the 3D exploration window. Everything else is custom. Even the GUI isn't the standard Unity GUI, and the battle screen doesn't use any part of the 2D or 3D engine in Unity.

    If we're talking game rules, the RPG system is custom created. If we're talking functionality of the game, all the tons of scripts in the game were written by me, so everything you see from how the camera moves to how the inventory items are handled to how the battle system and spells function were hand made...I'm not using anyone's RPG framework or anything (and I wouldn't, honestly).

    Does that answer your question?

    For those who haven't watched the video I posted above, I suggest watching it to get a general idea of what the game is like (though, I wish I could have covered more stuff in that video...I filled up an hour much quicker than I wanted and didn't cover a lot of cool things I put in the dungeon).
     
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  17. Mastermind Arcane Patron Bethestard

    Mastermind
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    unity it is then
     
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  18. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    Game development continues. Monsters now have special abilities (spiders and scorpions inflict poison, rats and bugs inflict disease, etc). In addition, some monsters can cast spells...making life really difficult for the party...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    As an added bonus, I took some time tonight to make sure that the enemies could also cast spells that targeted more than one character at a time.

    (NOTE: The animation in the GIF doesn't capture the frames nearly as well as I'd like, especially when it comes the flashing icons. Due to dropped frames sometimes you see a color change and sometimes you see nothing, but in the game itself the icons actually flash. If you want to see what it looks like with a full frame rate, try this link: https://gph.is/g/EJlr0Re ).

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Poor Janessa Waylan. Have you addressed how you are handling death/unconsciousness in this? Can characters recover from negative hit points, or is it death at 0 health?
     
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  21. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    At this point, it’s death at 0 health.

    I know a lot of old school games did it that way, but I’m not sure how popular it remains. To be fair, four enemy spellcasters with higher level spells against a 1st level party (as seen in the GIFs from testing mode), should result in a catastrophic loss, regardless of the death threshold.

    I’m willing to hear feedback and thoughts on it, though.
     
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  22. Strange Fellow Magister Patron

    Strange Fellow
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    Regardless of how you do it, a character should not be out for the rest of the game at 0 health. Either have them fall unconscious at 0 HP or offer some kind of resurrection service, preferably both. I like the (low-level) Gold Box way where you have to sacrifice a character's turn to bandage the unconscious character. There's plenty of other stuff you could do, though; I feel there's a lot of room to maneuver and a lot of untapped potential in this area.

    The project looks terrific, btw :D
     
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  23. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    I'll give it some thought. Being reduced to 0 should take the character out of combat, but maybe there should be a way to get them back up while camping or through healing spells. Of course, it will require me to rewrite whole sections of code. I should slso mention that there is an option to "Raise Dead" at the temples as well as spells that can return a character to life. These options are expensive or require you to be a much higher level, though. There's also the option of reloading the game from a previous save point if things go south.
     
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  24. ProphetSword Arcane

    ProphetSword
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    As an update, someone asked if I was going to include obstacles on the battlefield. It has always been my intention to do so. I've done some very early groundwork on this today, and here's a screenshot showing goblins (from my same test battle that I'm sure you're all tired of seeing) blocking a path across a small bridge over water while the party sets up in "Guard" mode to attack any goblins coming over the bridge. Ranged attackers and spellcasters also spent part of this same combat shooting at each other across the water.

    It's a work in progress...

    [​IMG]
     
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  25. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    I'm partial to a bleeding system, one that knocks out characters at 0 health, and then they would die if they reach a threshold such as -10 hit points. But definitely, you should stick with the system you have designed your encounters around. If a Raise Dead option is available, then that should be fine to deal with casualties.
     
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