Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 25, 2010
Okay, this isn’t really an update on the upcoming indie RPG Frayed Knights so much as a commentary from the trenches. Since my life these days seems to revolve around this frickin’ game…
As part of alpha, I’ve been going back and cleaning up levels and “modernizing” them with systems that hadn’t been implemented when I first built them. This means clearing out some ugly compromises with … well, less ugly compromises. And other stuff.
So I find myself in the hallway in the underground Pokmor Xang temple from the pilot, hiding from a Pus Golem patrol. This means keeping out of range or out of line-of-sight until they pass by. It’s fun, although most of the time I’m happy enough to just charge the patrol and let the combat resolve itself. But as I’m attempting to balance things out, avoiding an encounter is often the best bet.
There weren’t patrols or visible encounters in the pilot. These are new. So going back and revising the pilot area after all this time is… weird. And fun.
A note from the screenshots – patrols and guards are often represented as a single entity. But you never know exactly how many there are until you fight ‘em.
Frayed Knights adopts the D&D combat convention of attrition and resource management of combat. In other words, you may have several fights that aren’t particularly challenging on their own, but in aggregate they wear you down. Sometimes it’s advantageous to try and avoid optional encounters on your way to the tougher fights in a dungeon. But leaving unexplored territory behind you can also be a detriment, as you may find the ones you ignored becoming reinforcements deeper in the dungeon, or that those optional areas contain equipment or secrets that can give you a leg up on later encounters.
Anyway, other than getting a little bonus experience points or silver, there’s not much to be gained by fighting through wandering encounters like this. So it may be advantageous to dodge patrols like I’m doing now.
But there are a couple of things about it that bug me. Frayed Knights is a turn-based game. Quite simply, if the player isn’t actively doing something (like moving), the clock ain’t ticking. If you stand in one place and do nothing, hours of real-world time can pass by without any in-game “turns” passing, spell effects won’t advance their durations, etc. The patrols break this consistency. Patrols are a real-time event. While no new patrols will spawn while you are standing around doing nothing, if you happen to be near the route of an existing patrol, they will encounter you and initiate combat. Which is, naturally, turn-based.
The other, less important issue is that it really isn’t any part of the “old-school vibe” I’m trying to achieve with Frayed Knights. No big deal, but I do tend to give a bit more scrutiny to those elements. And hey, I can think of at least a couple of RPGs as early as 1991 that would allow you do do stuff like that, which is old-school enough to me.
Ultimately, I try and use the nebulous “fun-factor” be my guiding star. I’m having trouble envisioning solutions to this little problem that aren’t more clumsy than the problem itself. So, for now, I’m inclined to simply put up with it and leave it as it is. It’s not a dominant gameplay element by any stretch, but skulking around and dodging patrols (or avoiding them until you are ready) in real-time is a go for Frayed Knights 1, until further notice. I hope people like it.
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