Considering the ease of which collisions are handled in Game Maker and the isometric action-adventure nature of the game we are currently shooting for, I would like to suggest Destructible Scenery. It's the same stuff as in Legend of Zelda, when you throw a pot or cut grass. Naturally, given our setting we would have a different sort of environmental interactivity. Let's take for example the classic adventure trope of the bar fight. In this case, having destructible chairs and tables would be pretty neat; it'd give a sense of carnage that is expected of such scenes.
The ways to implement this are varied. One way would be to make it so that stuff only breaks when it is attacked (like if it is hit in the arc of a sword swing) or if someone in a knockback state collides with it. To make it more than just an aesthetic thing, we could make it so that being knockbacked into different objects is a useful tactic; perhaps it prolongs the stun effect at the expense of distance (colliding with a destructible objects forces any movement caused by knockback to stop), or maybe it increases damage, scaled for the kind of impact (impacting into an open iron maiden vs. colliding with a tree for example). You could also use it to force enemies into traps, which we could make the basis of the Gemseeker's fighting style and an important subtactic of the Werewolf monk.
Considering that The Prophet and I are leaning towards Game Maker as the development environment, I'd like to point everyone towards perhaps the most impressive indie game made in it: Iji. It was originally developed over a course of 4 years and then updated sporadically over another two (2004-2010). You can download it here. I highly recommend playing through some of it if you get the chance. If you can't play it for whatever reason, then just watch this video (hell, just watch it anyway!):
Iji has multiple types of weapons and projectiles, knockback effects, a stat upgrading system, a hacking minigame, monitors the character's morality (based on their kill count), has a story that responds to said morality, and a surprisingly good soundtrack. Basically, it has a lot of stuff I think we can and should crib from it.
I also spent some time today working in Game Maker, and completed the first tutorial. I think that, rather than moving straight into Project Octopus (we ought to come up with an actual title sometime), we should prototype lots of the things we want to try. Basically, break apart the game ideas we have into smaller, manageable chunks, and get them working properly; a prototype for the dialog/choice systems, inventory management, map maneuvering, combat, and so on (kinda like Scrum Development). We'll be able to more easily figure out and tweak the systems when they are isolated. Here's an example youtube video I found of some strangely accented kid explaining how to make a level up system in Game Maker (for demonstrative purposes. I swear I am not trying to torture you guys);
I'm also going to add a coding section to the wiki, to serve as a repository where all the tutorials and other reference stuff for coding will go. This'll include stuff like a list of all the tools we've used, and maybe later on guides to the code for things like how to replicate the overworld, or how to make a certain effect in combat, how to transition between combat and exploration, etc., essentially stuff we'll probably end up figuring out on our own and will need to reuse heavily.
The code repository will also act as a space where we can link prototypes and builds; Say for example, I wanted to get everyone's opinion on my combat prototype; I could upload an exe file of the prototype with instructions on how to use it, and then everyone can get a feel for it, and provide feedback. We might migrate to a better system for such a thing, but I think this will do for now.
A couple ideas for the game system itself:
- Equipment, unless magically imbued, should not vary massively between objects of the same kind. A dagger is a dagger is a dagger. All daggers are light, swing fast, and are short ranged. Leather armor hinders movement less, but doesn't protect as well as chainmail. This will save time in balancing and reduce overall item clutter, but without sacrificing depth provided we include enough item variety in the first place.
- If anyone has played Alpha Protocol, they should be familiar with the Perk System in it. Basically, just doing stuff nets you different rewards; playing stealthily grants stealth benefits, being violent makes killing easier, certain dialog choices grant different benefits (cheaper items, stat bonuses, etc). I think this would be a good way of tracking faction relations (different perks at different junctures), personality choices (in dialog and actions), and other things. I haven't decided on how explicit the system should be, however.
- Also in Alpha Protocol, and in the new Walking Dead game is the time-limited dialog sequences. I think this would be pretty cool to include in the Lore game.
- The Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP game has a pretty cool pixelly visual style. I'm not convinced that this would fit the project's more realistic sensibilities, but I think we can take some inspiration from it. Pictures in the slideshow below: