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Sneak Peek: Loonyland: Titan Tunnels11:06 PM -- Mon April 2, 2007

I mentioned earlier how I was updating the skill displays, so here are a few examples!

I just included Ice Cube to show a skill that has a bunch of interesting values, since the other two each only had one value in them. But I included the other two for a reason!

First, Pick Lock is a new sort of skill, in a way. It takes the synergy idea from the Magic, and applies it to this specific skill (Pickpocket and Disarm both work this way as well). Basically, anybody can invest a few points and be able to pick locks, but only a dedicated thief - someone who had invested in a lot of Thieving Skills - will ever be really good at it (points spent in the Pick Lock skill are worth far more to your success than points elsewhere, of course). In fact, if you max out the entire Thieving Skill set, you'd have a 100% chance to pick any lock (or pocket or disarm any trap) in the game! I don't think that's too wrong, since it requires a 100 skill point investment. As you can see, Thieving Skills get a notice at the bottom like magic spells do, so there is no confusion as to what counts. I actually could get rid of all those notices now that everything is in full sets of 10 skills - there's a label at the top of the screen saying "Nature Spells" or whatever the group is, so you can't really be confused. Think I might do that. Anyway, sorry you have to do math to figure out your Pick Lock chances, but rest assured that the odds are low and rapidly get higher as you add points. I only have the ability to print out specific values in the skill description, rather than making calculations based on a bunch of stuff. Definitely in the next game, I'm going to make skills display values that reflect everything you have that affects them.

Acid Spray is also a new and interesting type of skill. It replaces the skill I mentioned a few peeks back called Toxicity. That was a passive boost to poison damage. I worried that that was a little too powerful, especially with the added boost of decreasing enemy strength (with the Arsenic talent, it already decreases their armor drastically!). So I came up with something I think is much more interesting. A skill that is activated simply by drinking a potion - and a potion that nobody really thought was of any particular use before. Now it will have a use! I'd like to make other "potion skills", but I'm not too sure of any more that are needed or interesting. It occurs to me now that I should change the description to "per second", though, since that is more universally understood and is in fact how long one 'tick' of poison is! There, just changed it. But you get to see the original! That is some behind-the-scenes action right there.

Another reason I dropped the weakening effect on Acid Spray/Toxicity is that I want to add 'cursing' as a game mechanic. I mentioned that before. The only really worthwhile curse I could come up with for the player to use on enemies, that isn't already covered by existing abilities, was Weakness. So I want to add a Weakness spell to Death Magic. If it's not obvious, Weakness would make the damage the monster inflicts much lower until the curse is gone. Or maybe I'd call it Doom Curse (or how about "!$&# Curse"?), and if the monster dies while afflicted by it, you get a free Bonehead! So many things that could be done... I just have to pick out the best choices and get this game done.

That reminds me of a huge mechanic I dreamed up this past week and spent a while writing out. I won't be including it. It's just too big, and will have to wait for another game. The idea was that you would have a pet Bok Bok that follows you around. You could equip Wingbands and Bok Hats on it. Besides boosting its stats, a Wingband would tell it what to do. Like a "Wingband of Healing" would make a Bok Bok that spits healing bolts at you as needed, and a "Wingband of Slaying" would make it rush at enemies and headbutt them. The Bok Hats would also have a skill on them, but a different type of skill. Like a "Bok Hat of Fury" would allow him to activate a Berserk effect on himself every so often. The Bok Bok would of course level up over time, improving its life and energy. The last element was that Wingbands can hold Feathers. Better Wingbands (found at higher levels) have more Feather slots. Feathers are just simple stat boosts, so the combination of the two pieces of gear and which Feathers you stick in them let you decide just what type of helper you want. Maybe you want a little tiny tank to take hits for you, or you want someone to heal you, or an ally to dish out damage while you take the hits. The cherry on top of the whole concept is that if the Bok Bok is slain, it's gone until you get a Tucson Feather, which is a semi-common random drop. If you have any in your inventory, one is used up and he reappears with half health and energy. So you don't want him to die, because it uses up a limited resource, but it's not such a big deal because the feathers are common. It all sounds fun, but it's such a huge concept it's practically a game of its own.

I am definitely looking to expand the options you have for upgrading your gear, though. Just not that drastically. There will be some new equipment slot for sure. One idea is to have Boots, and one of the two stats they carry is Speed. Then I can get rid of the Mobility talent, and just make the Speed stat on the boots have that effect.

Another thing along these lines is that there WILL be a shared stash between characters. Not the whole stash - if you have family members playing, you can keep some items to yourself. But a page of stash will exist to swap items between characters. This lets you 'twink' your new characters (pretty important in a game with dozens of classes that has special achievements for each class to earn). As a result of that feature, I'm adding an 'anti-feature' of sorts. Something you might not like, but which is important for maintaining some balance and adding a sense of progression and something to look forward to. Requirements on items. So if you give your newbie a magic Axe with 10/10 stats, he won't be able to use it for a long time. The other thing I like about adding requirements is that it makes finding equipment more of a challenge and more exciting. One problem in LL2 is that you can get 10/10 gear by the time you're level 10, or close enough (and with axes, you often don't want 10 damage, so you can find 5/10 or something like that even more easily). So now getting a 10/10 that actually suits you will be tricky. Requirements will be randomly either a straight level requirement, or a skill. So an item might require that you're level 20 before equipping it, or it might require that you have 7 Axe Mastery to use it. This also makes it easier for a fighter character to use heavier weapons, because Axes will either require a level or any random Swinging or Throwing skill (making 2/3 of powerful axes unusable to a magic-user). Similarly, Amulets will either require a level, or a random Magic skill (a little tricky, since there are 50 magic skills - maybe the Energy skill will be picked half the time). And so on... I can also add a talent that lowers item requirements ("Fashion Sense"). Of course, you'd be fairly high level by the time you maxed it! Anyway, it's interesting how adding a simple limitation like that can add a lot of complexity to the items.

And lastly with regards to adding equipment complexity, there will definitely be some sort of 'socketing' feature. I've already got a simpler one - sticking lenses into glasses. But I'd like there to be socketable regular equipment, so for example, you might find a non-magical axe with 2 sockets in it, and you stick in runes/gems/flowers/sandwiches (whatever the socketing thing is) to make it a flaming axe that gives you +1 to Axe Mastery. That way you can hand-craft items that have exactly what you want, but not quite as powerful as Golden items can be. You trade off the top bit of power in exchange for actually having a chance of finding just what you want. I haven't really come up with how I want to implement socketing, but definitely something. Some way of enhancing items.

Oh, and lastly lastly, I really need to add one more type of 'crafting'. I think I mentioned that before. Any ideas? Something like Clockwork, Alchemy, and Junksmithing, but obviously unique in some way. What else could you craft, and how could you craft it?
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