Sunday, July 16, 2006

Project #3

Some posts ago I mentioned a 3rd project besides Graphite and DScript. Now I feel ready to go public with it.

It is a game, a single-player RPG, to be more precise. It is in an early stage and doesn't even has a name yet. The working title is SRPG, where 'S' stands for simple.

Now simple doesn't mean, it will be a simple game. What I am trying to do is building a complex game by simple means, so that development time can be cut down considerably.

I give you an example: Most RPGs today have a map (either isometric or real 3D with first person perspective), where the player can walk around freely. SRPG won't have that. Instead I will create a set of locations, that can be reached through a well defined set of connections. These locations can be represented on a graphical map, but a pure textual user interface would do as well.

I am not aiming for a textual game. SRPG will have a GUI, but that is only for the players convenience. It could as well be played from a console-like user-interface without loosing any gameplay functionality.

I am trying to adapt features commonly found in MMORPGs, especially resources gathering and crafting, giving the game an addictive quality. In MMORPGs the economy is shaped by the actions of the players. In a single player game that isn't possible, since there is only one player. Instead I am planning to let the storyline and the major quests influence the economy (eg. events can raise or lower the prices for certain materials, increase/decrease the demand for weapons and other equipment).

Combat will be rather tactical. Again, no map, where player and enemies can roam freely. Instead I am aiming for something like the old Bards Tale battle system. For those of you, who don't remember: In BT foes were listed by distances, which opened up tactical options like advance/step back/range attacks/melee attacks and so on. Furthermore I want to add a complex system of attack/damage-types and immunities, so not every attack will work equally well on any foe.

The overall design is rather experimental. To be able to concentrate on the gameplay I separated the back end (that is where the gameplay takes place) strictly from the front end (the GUI). Now that by itself is neither experimental nor unusual. On the contrary, it is generally considered good design.
What makes this setup so special is the interface between front end and back end. It is pure textual. The front end translate the players instructions into some commands and sends them to the back end. The back end does the gameplay stuff and then sends some commands back, which are used by the front end to update its display of the game state.

The main objective of this design was, that I could work on the back end without worrying too much about the front end. Only much later I noticed, that I created an opportunity for parallel development. Someone (me) could work on the back end, while someone else writes the front end.

Now I know, that there aren't that much developer left and most of them will probably prefer to work on their own stuff. I don't have much hope to find someone, who would be willing to write the front end for SRPG. But it is certainly worth a try, so I will ask on the newsgroups (and maybe some other places), once the development is a little more advances. Anyway, if someone who reads this post (and has sufficient programming skills) would be interested in taking part, please let me know. You can either comment here or send me an email (address in the contact section of the Z-Pages, see sidebar link).

I would like to show you some screenshots, but there isn't anything to show. My temporary front end consists of a solitary console, through which cryptic instructions can be issued to the back end, which answers in an even more cryptic way.

So far I have the following stuff ready:
  • a basic item system (no item usage yet)
  • the foundation for the skill/levelling system
  • one flavor of the gathering system (mining-style)
  • the location system


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