Post-Apocalyptic RPG forums

Sprints => Ongoing sprints => Topic started by: Q_x on June 08, 2011, 12:28:28 PM

Title: map editor and quest mess
Post by: Q_x on June 08, 2011, 12:28:28 PM
Word of introduction here. I have promised to provide feedback on current state of content creation tools as one of my sprint tasks and try to fill all the holes I can see with some concepts. I was hoping to meet Rowan on IRC, but, since I'm rarely there and there is not much I can do with it, I thought - what the heck, I may post it here as well and maybe someone will benefit from this or tackle the subjects a bit forward.
It is all just my idea, ad-hockerish invention, so feel free to discuss it. Especially if you feel like you have better idea. Or when I'm clearly wrong.

I have checked current state of map editor and it was "not good". It seems to be close to useless now. It was hard for me to do anything in there. There was many basic things not present there. It looks like it should work, yet there is clearly something broken.
  • I was unable to load any object into the editor, for most of the time the editor crashed. I was unable to import whole directory of objects at once as well.
  • There was no objects palette to choose objects from
  • Interface used to customize an object is crude, prototype-like thing, yet it looks promising and extensible.
What was annoying was also the fact that each time I had to choose directory from / level, it was not remembered by the editor.

How can this be improved?
By extending funcionality - for example adding "auto load" of all PARPG assets available in game directory. By adding simple object selection palette that reflects directory structure and eventually adding "last used" palette. (I thought I've seen this palette before, but it doesn't work now...)

What is a quest?
This is the other major topic.
From how I can imagine the quests are three kinds of interconnected elements:
1. Conditions - that block or permit further elements from being executed without fulfilling them. Condition can be: event that happened, time that passed (or certain global time), given inventory state of PC
2. State changes - (taken from dialogue with rowan): NPC state changes (inventory, stats, behavior, look, or if it exists (is visible) at all, also adding/removing/moving dialogue options), PC state changes (inventory, skills, stats that are lowered, increased or fixed at a given level, also changing boundaries of stats if needed, altering learning to be easier or harder, altering health status of PC, changing PC look), scenery changes - map objects changes, new passage is opened, area of map is changed (like when flooding big area or when whole level of building colapses), changing interface (adding or removing a quick slot), item state alteration (sharpening a knife), altering other quest state, changing map situation (adding/removing a map or changing existing map in the game). If a particular object is changed - it would be better to point it (or recall what was pointed) with a mouse.
3. events - stuff that PC does (or NPCs) that can make a need of checking out if quest conditions are fulfilled. This may be entering a "quest area" on the map, that will make someone angry, tweaking inventory, progressing in a dialogue, interacting with a map object in a specific way (pulling a lever), given fight result, given global or relative time.

I have chatted with Technomage and we've been trying to figure out how to bind it together in terms of data structures. It seems like some state changes can be binded to map, global timer and PC himself, and some events may happen due to interferrence with "quest layer" of a map.

What do we need to make to make a quest

  • Produce quest information: dialogues, conditions, chains of state changes, events
  • Attach above to a real (may be real, but invisible) game object or time - that may be as much as altering map for a given location or as little as upgrading a given tool stats due to sharpening

What tools would be needed?

1. Map editor, enabling developer to comfortably put, move and remove things on maps. Features: comfortable map editing, opening one map from another, opening map with other tools when needed (like when pointing state change to object on a different map. Ideally it would be best to only load main map for a given location and freely move to all the needed places by clicking exits and triggering events.
2. Editor, enabling designer to in-depth edit objects (inventory, NPC stats and behavior, buildings and so on).
3. Conditions, state changes and event editor for making a quest. What I think would be needed is making easy editing whole (quite simple in terms of count of branches, but long in terms of link count) chain of conditions, changes and events, jumping from one to another and editing what is going to happen at a given node - this all within a single window.
4. Dialogue editor that we have already nicely prototyped.

As for 2. and 3. - I'd say it will be best to merge it with map editor.

I know this is all a bit fuzzy. But I feel like I couldn't be much more precise. Maybe I wrote to little from time to time, so ask me if you feel like it.

What are your thoughts and ideas? Does it make sense to do it that way?

Will it be better to keep with buged and incomplete FIFE map editor? Or should we move to, for example, tiled, which seems to be more mature and stable (and will reqiure some extra work)?

Title: Re: map editor and quest mess
Post by: zenbitz on June 11, 2011, 03:11:08 AM
Map editor is probably much higher priority.

I wouldn't worry about the quest editor until the actual game system is more developed.

Title: Re: map editor and quest mess
Post by: Q_x on June 11, 2011, 06:35:48 AM
To keep content creators busy, we have to have something they will work with - for now this is broken (at least here) map editor, barely prototyped dialogue editor and their local tools. Map editor alone, fixed, will not make things go faster - we can make a map or two more, but that's it, and doing anything else will be extra-tedious.

I know what your point is - there is very little quest-enabling mechanics implemented. And that's not even a priority item to tackle yet. But, I hope, with what I did, and what we have figured out with Technomage and what took like an hour for both of us, it will be not needed to redesign and refactor whole thing again, once implementing fully featured quests will be needed. Same thing with quest editor, that no one before even imagined (or left a trace of such activity), and now it's ready for first pre-prototype mockups.
Finally, wasting a month-long sprint was the other choice for me. Now I'm rather busy, but it was not so during last weeks.

Title: Re: map editor and quest mess
Post by: rowanthepreacher on June 12, 2011, 06:37:29 PM
As much as I'd like to start making stuff, until we've decided the whys and wherefores, I think that any effort would be wasted. We don't even have some of the basics down yet.

Title: Re: map editor and quest mess
Post by: dracre on July 30, 2011, 06:11:22 PM
A game like this doesn't need a ton of programmers. You can easily make a game with just 1 or 2 programmers (engine and tools).

The problem with you guys seems to be that you're all about "pipelines, management tools and synergy methods" and all that crap, and you lack a real code monkey who simply gets stuff done.


Title: Re: map editor and quest mess
Post by: Q_x on July 30, 2011, 08:06:22 PM
It is all about getting the stuff done code-wise, at least from what I feel. And yes, a guy who does all the major stuff within a week would be a blessing here. Not happened yet, but we all have hope. After doing that he will be insta-blessed with a good job everywhere he wants with a game like this in his portfolio (plus experience in medium-size project in international team with all the "cool features", like timezone mess and me not speaking English too well :P :P ), as there is some content to start, so it will be not bad-looking thing (like, sadly, Whiff of Smoke presents itself now, just for an example).

But there are some other problems that will eat some more time: making whole toolchain - dialogue editor, item editor, "quest editor" of some kind, map editor (partially usable now, but it seems not to have anything more to offer than placing ready-made blocks on the map - what with editing npcs, events and such?), graphic asset and mechanics editors maybe as well...  It's too much for one person, I think. And that's all is needed before someone will start adding real content - that is write thousands lines of dialog, plan quests, edit maps, make hundreds of items, and model, texture, rig, animate and render a good million of frames. This - making content - will seriously take years, and we're not even able to start. Just to put things into the right perspective of why all this management and pipelines are critical.

Title: Re: map editor and quest mess
Post by: zenbitz on August 16, 2011, 06:36:06 PM
holy smokes I agree with dracre.

Title: Re: map editor and quest mess
Post by: shevegen on September 17, 2011, 10:03:15 PM
There is an overmanagement with bureaucracy in PARPG.

That's why I want to radical clean up the wiki and the forum and discard concepts which do no longer work.

That includes everything by the way, even Trac. If there are trac issues that never get fixed, something must be done too.

For content creation, we need to agree to use a format. Wesnoth has decided to go with XML, the "Wesnoth Markup Language Format".

I personally HATE XML. I hope we never use it to describe the Quests or dynamic aspects of the game world.

If we have a background story, it will be easy to notice what parts we are lacking still. This engine should be powerful ... a quest can be complicated. But for now, we can agree to use something SIMPLE and continue from there. We just should keep in mind that we may one day use to something a little bit more complicated.

Apparently we lack a code monkey indeed, though Beliar is still about and fixing things.