ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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 Post subject: The Future of Zothiqband
PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 8:07 am 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 5:22 pm
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Location: Finland
With ToME 4 in beta, I was thinking of the future direction of Zothiqband. With developing the T-Engine and other things I haven't been able to give it the attention of deserves, but I don't want Zothiqband to die, even if it's not as shiny as ToME 4. ToME 4 and Zothiqband are getting to be very different indeed, both in gameplay and theme. ToME 4 is going even closer to the traditional Tolkien theme while making radical changes to the gameplay, while Zothiqband retains much of the gameplay and changes the theme.

- Monsters won't scale to player level. Instead I will take full advantage of the tons of monsters I already have, even if many of them resemble each other a lot. I will hack the C code to remove the need to make dungeons tougher by scaling up weak monsters like in ToME 2's Angband. Instead I will have such dungeons mainly filled with monsters that are naturally tough.

- Monsters will be different from the player. I have them already balanced to be different and I don't want to break that balance for symmetry. Who cares about symmetry?

- I will have magic items with pluses on them instead of vague damage ranges.

- I will take full advantage of the computer keyboard. It does make it harder for the newbies, but it's better for the experienced player.

- There will be no cooldowns. I will not impose arbitrary frequency limits on the player. Mana and tactical situation are enough.

- There will be no unlockables. I will give the player the access to everything and let him/her decide when he/she wants to try the more advanced things. Especially I won't make it so that someone has to jump through hoops again due to starting to play on a different computer.

- There will be no achievements that the game keeps track of. Most such achievements are artificial anyway. If an achievement is worthwhile the player will notice.

- I will not enforce limitations in who gets to wear what level of armor. Such things promote dungeon litter by making much of the loot completely useless for many classes. In fact, I'm considering removing the weapon specialties.

- I will remove the tactics settings. Die, berserk/running, die. It's fiddly and doesn't improve the game. The difficulty level is easy enough anyway.

- Fighter types will attack monsters by walking into them. There is enough tactical depth from having to walk just right into crowds of stupid monsters. There will also be plenty of interesting magic items to spice things up, since Zothique is higher in magic than Middle-earth.

- I will retain dimension doors and interesting terrain features like that and try to think of some more in the same vein.

- I will rebalance the economy and give some further thought to item types. I will make rods (should they be called rods? probably not?) viable damage-dealers again. I will try to find the sweet spot in weapon and spell effectiveness/power/depth/dinar cost.

- If I can manage it, I will make the background colors different in order to improve the mood. I will take care to keep said colors dark enough to keep monsters visible as intended. I will also go through the monsters and make them use the extended colors.

- I will consider multiple starter dungeons. I think Cith can easily have at least two.

- I will retain the deep, non-permanent dungeons with many stairs per level and the recall mechanism. I will try to think of a non-AD&D replacement for the name "Word of Recall".

- I will consider getting rid of those stupid nonthematical spellbooks.

- I will consider adding some sort of hotkeys for skills, although I'm not sure how to approach it.

- The plot the player is required to go through in order to win the game will be as simple as possible. There will be optional sidequests but those will be optional.

- Monsters will be stupid. I might make an exception for some truly special cases like Maal Dweb, but those will be an exception, not the rule. And under no circumstances will a monster be able to use the mighty artifact sword it's carrying. That kind of thing leads to annoying instadeaths.

- I probably won't add music. It's not because music wouldn't be nice but because it's not my specialty and currently there are many things that are higher priority.

Thoughts?

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 8:17 am 
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Reaper

Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:21 am
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Location: New Zealand
Yes, please! I always liked Zothiq...

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:39 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 5:22 pm
Posts: 1461
Location: Finland
Well, I'm back... I had quite a burnout earlier, but now I've finally started to recover. I want to continue working on Zothiqband too.

Zothiqband no longer depends on the ToME module being present in order to function and I've got rid of tactics modes in the engine. Now I need to decide what to do next. I've never been good at making decisions or managing anything... Probably I'll add that new starter dungeon to Cith.

I still don't know if I should
a) keep Zothiqband as just a module,
b) fork the engine, making Zothiqband the new official module, or
c) fork the engine and remove the module selection since no one else is making modules for ToME 3 anyway.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:46 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2003 4:01 pm
Posts: 1067
Why not just use the T4 engine? It's awesome! 8)

Also, nice to see you back of course.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:40 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 5:22 pm
Posts: 1461
Location: Finland
Zonk wrote:
Why not just use the T4 engine? It's awesome! 8)


I'd have to throw out the ToME content and redo all the Zothiqband + old Angband content all over again. Well, I would get background colors which I've longed for for a very long time now but I have negative interest in things like unlockables. Things like basic combat math are very different in ToME 4 than in my idea of Zothiqband, and I want to retain advanced features like vaults and pits and nests which I doubt ToME 4 has yet. And I don't think T4 has functioning randarts either...

Also, T4 has non-optional babyface that can't be turned off. I want to kill it with fire.

I'm actually thinking of perhaps dropping features from T3 if I end up forking it and no one else is interested in making modules for it. If I drop module selection to make T3 exclusive to Zothiqband I can get rid of the babyface code and the player gets to the game faster and I don't have to worry about downloadable modules being available or the system not being hacked. This allows me to then drop PhysFS and zlib and not worry about updating them to non-obsolete versions. If I drop music I lose something I'm in all probability never going to take advantage of and lose a couple of memory leaks and console error messages that don't matter but are nevertheless annoying.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:50 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2003 4:01 pm
Posts: 1067
I was just suggesting there, you're free to develop this as you want but...your arguments against using the T-engine seem a bit weird.
Perhaps you're not up to date on the game?

While you do have a point about babyface, the other 4 objections don't really apply...

1)You don't have to use unlocks in your module. I don't like them myself, so my module most probably won't have them! :D
2)You can build a different combat system.
3)Vaults have been in for a long time.
4)There is a working randart system - although the results are usually wildly unbalanced. It *is* there though.


Remmber, the T4 engine is VERY modular.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:03 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 5:22 pm
Posts: 1461
Location: Finland
Yeah, I haven't been up to date to the latest developments. Still, there's just an awful lot of things I'd have to port over. I know that unlockables aren't required; that's just an example of how I'm feeling the projects have gone in entirely different directions and many new features would end up unused by me. I just have a very different game design philosophy from DarkGod, it appears.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:34 pm 
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Master of Eyal

Joined: Wed Jul 24, 2002 9:26 pm
Posts: 10126
Location: Angolwen
Welcome back :)

Not trying to tell you to use TE4 but zonk is right, all those things you do not like are part of the ToME game, not the engine, hell I even have a side project to make an angband module ;)
It's not that those feature would need to be removed or be unused, they would simply not exist in your game unless you add them

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:56 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 5:22 pm
Posts: 1461
Location: Finland
Unfortunately babyface II cannot be avoided... And anyway, as a fan of strong typing I'd much rather implement the whole thing in C++ rather than in a script language like Lua. Zothiqband is big enough that I think it already has too much Lua and could benefit from moving things back to C where errors are easier to find, especially with the lack of other module makers using the same code...

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:46 pm 
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Master of Eyal

Joined: Wed Jul 24, 2002 9:26 pm
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Location: Angolwen
We'll have to agree to disagree on what you call babyface (aka, the standard interface of like, all gave on this planet :> ).

I am persuaded it'd be better using TE4, but you do as you wish with my blessing it'll be interresting anyway :)
Fork T3, rip the module code and make it into Zothiq, so long you dont call it tome or remove my name from the parts I wrote, I'm fine :)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:34 am 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 5:22 pm
Posts: 1461
Location: Finland
It looks like it's officially a fork now. I feel sad and lonely. :(

I just removed the sound code from the engine so that there are no more those underflow error messages. There's no point in pursuing compatibility with old modules that won't be updated anyway, especially since I'll easily end up breaking them anyway with my other changes.

I've also done some Zothiqband module stuff like adding an alternate starter dungeon. I need to get this thing to play better.

Anyone: I'm intending to eventually release under GPL. Does anyone know what the GPL status of the monsters originating from Zangband is when converted from their original form to Lua? Bucketman as well as DarkGod have ok'd the use of their code as GPL, right?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:48 am 
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Master of Eyal

Joined: Wed Jul 24, 2002 9:26 pm
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Location: Angolwen
All my T3 code is GPL yup.

PS: Had you used TE4 you would not feel sad and lonely; because TE4 can also hug you ! :)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:49 am 
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Master of Eyal

Joined: Wed Jul 24, 2002 9:26 pm
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Location: Angolwen
Oh and I'll sure follow your dev, zothiq always sounded fun :)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:03 pm 
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Spiderkin

Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 12:48 pm
Posts: 481
Nerdanel wrote:
It looks like it's officially a fork now. I feel sad and lonely. :(

Don't feel sad. Sometimes the only way to make real progress is to rip stuff out or refactor relentlessly. I've considered doing the some to ToME 2 (e.g. removing Lua and porting the rest of the codebase to C++), but I just have too much on my plate right now to make real headway. If you're feeling motivated, I say do it!

Also: If you haven't already, put your stuff on github, gitorious or something and post to Oook, you'll be much less lonely if people can see your code and play/comment/contribute actively. FWIW, I tried Zothiq at one point and was intrigued, but bugs prevented me from playing long enough to make it past the "I must complete this game at some point" point. If you can make things work well enough to get past that point... well, you've got at least one more playtester. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:40 pm 
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Sher'Tul

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 5:22 pm
Posts: 1461
Location: Finland
Some time ago I got rid of those nasty dungeon generation crashes that used to menace the T-Engine 3. The most recent alpha no longer suffers from them, so there's at least that.

Now I have to deal with game content issues like a great stick revamp involving rayguns. I have a lot of ideas, and the game is very much in a flux at the moment (or would be, were I spending Christmas somewhere within the range of my home computer). I think I'll have to at the least figure out the directory structure I'm going to settle on and decide if I'm going to rip out the module capability before I can show this to the public again.

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