Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 29, 2013
One might think that working 11 to 12 hour days on the “day job” – plus weekends – would make it impossible to do game development on the side. One would be wrong. But it really does slow development a lot. What used to be four hours a night of development time slows down to an average of maybe one, one and a half.
Frayed Knights 2 is turning into a bigger overhaul of the game system than I’d really planned. Porting core game code over from the old system to the new one was almost as exactly as much effort as I’d expected – which is to say, not bad at all. But so much of an RPG is the UI, and the UI needed a complete rewrite from the ground up for the new engine. And since I had to rewrite the UI anyway, I figured I might as well make some major improvements. In a lot of ways, I’ve gone back to the ol’ drawing board, which takes time. But while I’m working with a new engine (Unity), and a new UI system (NGUI), they are relatively easy to work with, even if my development time is abridged to only an hour or two an evening.
But as I said before, much of an RPG *is* the UI. The UI defines interactions, defines so much of the look, feel, and pacing. So a change to the UI has repercussions back into the core game code. Things like haste and slow effects, or the impact of fatigue, have completely changed. For the better, in my opinion. At least in a way that’s simpler to understand and work with as a player.
A lot of the changes this last month have been down in the guts of the inventory code. I think the inventory system took as much time as the combat system last time around, and this time is no exception. Most of the tricky stuff isn’t necessarily in the game logic, but in the UI. Some of this is still in flux, and nothing is final until… well, as this is indie gaming, nothing is final EVER, but here are some of the things that are going on:
More Traditional Inventory Slots
I had some bizarro ideas that I’ve chronicled before about having multiple items per ‘slot’. Like you could wear a magical headband, an arming cap, a chain coif, and a helmet all on your head at once. Why not? That’s what they did in the old days! (Well, maybe minus the headband). Or lose the helmet and wear a hat instead (over the coif). In theory, it should work. In practice… well, very little of that ever actually made it into the game. I’m not saying layered armor or equipment has no place in an RPG (far from it!), but it was a poor choice for Frayed Knights, and it showed in the inventory UI. So now there are several ‘equipped’ slots – primary weapon, secondary weapon, head, torso, arms, hands, legs, feet, and three accessory slots. Accessories are any sort of item that can be worn that don’t really take up a slot – rings, earrings, noserings, eye patches, headbands, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, socks, garters, whatever. ‘Cuz yes, Frayed Knights 2 has plenty of non-traditional items. Now you can wear three. It can be three rings, or whatever.
No More Party Inventory
Since I’m still leaning towards having unlimited character inventory, there’s really no sense in having that leftover ‘party’ inventory from the last game. This was another holdover from early development of the first game that I should have nuked before it had grown roots. The only thing that emerged from that complex design was the recognition that you could equip items in combat from your own inventory, but not from the party inventory. Originally, it was going to be possible to do it from the party inventory, but was going to take a lot more time… and it was just a dumb, useless, extra-player-input-required rule. Without things like encumbrance or item limits, there’s functionally no difference between an item being in the party inventory or another character’s inventory. It’s a pretty redundant place. So I’m getting rid of it.
I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today
The evolved use for the ‘party inventory’ was to stash stuff you didn’t really want to use but planned to sell to a merchant. Now, in FK1, I had some early code where merchants would have different buy-back rates and so forth. That’s going away in FK2 – stuff sells for constant prices. And rather than having this abstracted supply of ‘stuff’ you somehow managed to haul with you from the dungeons (I always imagined you buried it somewhere and hauled it into town later), why not just abstract out the whole selling process? Now, “discard” and “sell” have been combined into a single function – you can sell at any time. You don’t get the money until you visit a merchant, at which time everything you’ve dumped into the sell box since the last time gets converted into coin. This allows you to keep your working inventory uncluttered, and you don’t really need to go visit the merchant until you need to buy something, or actually need to pick up your money.
Scrolls vs. Spellbooks
Somebody made the suggestion that seemed obvious in hindsight of splitting off the functions of scrolls vs. spellbooks. I got stuck in the old D&D mode of allowing players to learn spells from scrolls, as well as casting them directly from the scrolls. That made pricing weird, it made balancing and UI weird, and so forth. So now you learn spells from spellbooks, and cast spells from (far cheaper) scrolls. Problem solved.
Click & Drop & Single Window Inventory
Rather than cycling through party members in the two-window inventory system of Frayed Knights 1, in the sequel you can just move the item to a character’s portrait to trade an item to them. It greatly simplifies things, both as a developer and as a player.
Anyway, so there are some changes to how inventory is handled in Frayed Knights 2. It will still resemble the old way of doing things, and pretty much every other RPG inventory UI of the last twenty years, but it should hopefully be easier to work with. Which means you, the player, can focus on the more interesting parts.
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