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Default Age of Decadence - News Catchup

June 23rd, 2007, 19:29
It's been a while since we've posted anything "official" for Age of Decadence, so I thought I'd scare up some stuff from the forum at RPG Codex.
First off, a while back community member Elhoim was recruited to work on improving the appearance of the interfaces - you can read about it in this lengthy thread with lots of samples.
VD comments on character creation and options here, and in May made a few comments on the status:
So, from one, purely technical point of view, you can say that it's 100% done and playable. From a more demanding point of view, it's about 60% done, meaning that I would like to replace about 40% given an opportunity (just like we replaced the interface, for example). I can post a list of things I want to fix, if someone's interested and, perhaps, would like to help.
Well, one thing that always bugged me was the complete and utter lack of anything resembling art direction. I underestimated this aspect, which is probably the biggest mistake I've made developing AoD. We have visually interesting locations like the towers, the Petra-inspired location, the temple, some tombs and underground places, but the towns look… I don't even know what word I'm looking for. Generic? Uninspiring? Boring?

Somehow they don't look like towns, but like a loose collection of buildings. At least in the Spiderweb games the towns are way too abstract for someone to say "wait-a-minute! That doesn't look like a proper town at all" (I'm too lazy to take screenshots right now, but I think we have a town shot on the website, so take a look). Anyway, we decided to throw away the town maps and start basically from scratch, splitting each town map into districts and spending more attention/time on each district, doing it right this time.
…and more recently, posts about the reason for delays:
I decided to start posting short updates to a) show that the project is not dead and b) to entertain you with crazy game development stories.

For the last 4-5 months we've been working on the combat system. While it sounds simple (I kill you with death -> u die lol!!!!), it's actually not. And no, I'm not taking about all kinda hit/miss calculations, clevar AI, the ruleset, or anything remotely interesting. I'm talking about some annoying, minor, but time-consuming crap like dropping and picking up weapons and other junk.

Our general pick-up system is simple. You click on the eye icon* and get a window that shows you all available (not in containers) items in each map(!). We have, basically, an invisible container where all the local junk is contained and dropped into when you discard an item or kill someone. Since we don't have a lot of junk lying around that seems to work well. All ingredients (leafs, sulfur, etc) are also in the container (different areas have different items - there are no leafs in desert locations, obviously). The access to the ingredients is skill-based. Let's say there are 40 "healing" leafs in an area. If your alchemy is 50, you only see 8 leafs in the pickup box. You can't see any items, weapons or ingredients, on the ground; everything is handled via the pickup window.

Anyway, moving on. In combat your can't access the general pickup window. Some battles involve allies and smarter testers waited for a better equipped characters to die and then grabbed their stuff telekinetically, being 5-10 squares away. That didn't work for us, so we had to change it. You can pick up only what's on the square you stand on (think XCOM). That way if you see a dropped weapon and you want it NOW!, you move your ass to that square and pick it up. Alternatively, you can wait for the battle to be over and then pick up everything through the general pickup window.

Now, that seems to work, but you can't see items that are on the ground, which creates a problem. Yesterday my character was disarmed by NPC A and then was knocked away by NPC B's hammer of painful death. So, here I was, disarmed and far away from the square with my axe. What was worse I couldn't even remember which square it was after the NPCs moved a bit. So, we decided to use the NWN2 "lootbag" system, which I hate with passion. We wasted a few weeks trying to come up with a better system and trying different things, but failed. Well, we'd have stupid little chests instead of bags. After a battle is over, the chests will disappear and all the loot will go into the main invisible chest. So, that's the kinda stuff that we are dealing with at the moment, in case someone's wondering.

* It also gives you a description of the area in the interface text box.
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