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Default Underrail, formerly known as Timelapse Vertigo

April 3rd, 2012, 10:57
Originally Posted by Styg View Post
So last week I set down and implemented a turn based combat mode.
Assuming this isn't an April Fool's joke (as it was posted on 1st of April), I congratulate you on your decision to go turn-based with combat. Two thumbs up! Now I'm doubly interested in this game.

I'll caution you to stick with one combat system and not make two different systems (turn-based AND real time) act together. Two systems will terribly complicate your game design and will most likely not work all that well (balancing encounters to both systems would be sheer hell, I'd wager). Look how badly it affected Arcanum, for example.

Question about your action points mechanic. Why have separate points for actions and movement? Isn't that a needless complication, perhaps? Wouldn't one set of action points suffice, which are used for both actions and movement. Just wondering, mind you, not trying to change your design. I understand that separating them will allow having things that are fast moving (lot of MP) but not that fast acting (few AP), and vice versa, but I still think it's a needless complication. Just MHO.

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April 3rd, 2012, 19:35
Originally Posted by Lurking Grue View Post
Assuming this isn't an April Fool's joke (as it was posted on 1st of April), I congratulate you on your decision to go turn-based with combat. Two thumbs up! Now I'm doubly interested in this game.
Thank you. The change is real. Though it was also meant to be sort of a meta-joke: the joke being that it's not the obvious April fool's joke. But no one bought it.

Originally Posted by Lurking Grue View Post
I'll caution you to stick with one combat system and not make two different systems (turn-based AND real time) act together. Two systems will terribly complicate your game design and will most likely not work all that well (balancing encounters to both systems would be sheer hell, I'd wager). Look how badly it affected Arcanum, for example.
I share you concerns regarding the balancing here, that's why the real time combat will only be used in NPC vs NPC combat and when fighting inanimate objects, as these fights don't need to be finely balanced.

Originally Posted by Lurking Grue View Post
Question about your action points mechanic. Why have separate points for actions and movement? Isn't that a needless complication, perhaps? Wouldn't one set of action points suffice, which are used for both actions and movement. Just wondering, mind you, not trying to change your design. I understand that separating them will allow having things that are fast moving (lot of MP) but not that fast acting (few AP), and vice versa, but I still think it's a needless complication. Just MHO.
The reason for it is as you explained. I think this system works well, but nothing is set in stone yet. I've been running the turn based combat for less than a week so we'll see how it plays out. There's still stuff to be implemented.

I appreciate the feedback in any case.
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April 16th, 2012, 23:10
Progress on TB Combat Conversion

I'm finished with changing stuff to work with turn based combat for now. I converted most of the abilities, psi powers, items and feats. The change was usually straightforward with the exception of stuff that affected movement and attack speed which sometimes required redesigning.

The only thing that I haven't touched yet is the stealth system and related abilities, feats, etc. I have some idea of how detection will work in turn based mode but it's going to be a bit tricky to implement. There's also some other AI related stuff that doesn't work as reliably as it should yet. I'll deal with these things later, as they are not critical to this iteration.



I also added a few more features to the turn based mode UI. When you want to move to a another tile a path will be visualized for you. The color of the path segments will tell you how far you can get with only using movement points and how far you can go if you use action points as well. Also, the points you'd spend on this action will be highlighted on the action point bar. And for those situations when you need to micromanage your action points, there's also a numerical display on how many points you currently have, how many you'll spend on this movement and how many will you have left.

If you don't like some of these features and think they're clogging up the interface, don't worry, you'll be able to turn them on/off individually in the final game.

These features only work with movement action for now, but they'll work with all actions in the end.
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April 23rd, 2012, 22:56
Areas, Shadows, Stats

Been doing a lot of different stuff the previous week. Here's the highlights:

- I've created graphics for a new type of area. In contrast to the Lower Underrail stations which are large open areas, there's a vast network of narrow passageways around and below them. Around the active stations they are usually patrolled and safe, but the farther you stray the more dangerous they become.



- I've added blob shadows to characters.



- I've removed the Wisdom stat. It served no purpose anymore except for forcing the psi-based character to split stat points between it and Will. All psionic skills will now use Will stat instead, just as all science skills use Intelligence; and Persuasion skill will now use Intelligence.

- Redesigned the stat system somewhat too. Previously you could assign values between 5 and 15 for each stat (Strength, Dexterity, Agility…etc) at the character creation. The system had D&D like purchase aspect (or whatever you call it) where the higher the stat goes, the more expensive it is to increase it. The new system works much like the stat system in Fallout. Where you start with 5 points in each stat and have 5 additional points to spend, or more if you decrease some of the stats (no stat can go below 3). You'll still gain stat points as you advance levels, but it'll now be only on even levels. Basically I made it a bit more straightforward.
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April 25th, 2012, 12:16
Looks like fallout2. It might do well in kickstart

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April 26th, 2012, 21:10
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
Looks like fallout2. It might do well in kickstart
Why? You don't have enough Kickstarted games to throw money at already?
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May 2nd, 2012, 18:23
TB Combat Stealth

Last week I worked on more graphics for Lower Underrail areas.

I also added pistol and crossbow blueprints and some basic parts to be used to create "lower tier" weapons.



But most importantly I went back and worked out the remaining real-time to turn-based combat conversion stuff, including stealth. You will now properly detect stealthed characters during your turn as well as be detected.

So to explain in a bit more details: previously the detection checks were performed every 0.5 seconds against all the surrounding characters.They added or subtracted from your stealth buffer for that particular detecting character (your stealth value is being tracked against each individual NPC, it's not a global thing) depending on your stealth skill and their detection value (which is based on their level and perception). These mechanics have been retained for the real-time mode, and in turn-based mode this check is performed after every 10 action/movement points you spend, but the stealth buffer change that it causes is halved. This is because in turn-based mode while you are playing out your turn you are both detecting and being detected. So basically you are being detected both during your turn and your opponent's turn, unlike in real-time when everything is happening simultaneously; hence the halving of the stealth buffer change value.

So all that stuff that I explained in the original Stealth update way back still applies to the turn-based combat, but the detection checks are a bit more granular.

Since the character movement speed is reduced when in RT mode, it's movement points are reduced in TB mode.

The actual steath/detection levels still need tweaking for both RT and TB mode, though. Currently, you can unreasonably hard to detect with enough points in stealth even at very close distances and that's not the idea. I'll be fixing this at some point soon.

I also fixed other various problems with TB combat, so I can say that it is now pretty much fully functional with all the features that were present in the RT mode.
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May 9th, 2012, 06:43
Looking good. Keep up the good work and thanks for keeping us informed.

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May 9th, 2012, 15:53
As always, your update is much appreciated, Styg. Thanks! Good to see the game progressing at a steady pace and it's shaping up very well.

Originally Posted by Styg View Post
The actual steath/detection levels still need tweaking for both RT and TB mode, though. Currently, you can unreasonably hard to detect with enough points in stealth even at very close distances and that's not the idea. I'll be fixing this at some point soon.
Good. It always strikes me as goofy game design, when you can have a character stay hidden in plain view of a foe (like it was in Alpha Protocol, for example, IIRC). No matter what their skill in Stealth is, someone in clear LOS and at very short range of a foe should be detected, unless they have somekind of invisibility field gizmo or something.

Originally Posted by Styg View Post
I also fixed other various problems with TB combat, so I can say that it is now pretty much fully functional with all the features that were present in the RT mode.
I've lauded you for the change to turn-based combat before and I'll do it once more for good measure - a most excellent decision that! Great that the TB aspect is now fully integrated.

Originally Posted by Styg
(From the post before the last) I've removed the Wisdom stat. It served no purpose anymore except for forcing the psi-based character to split stat points between it and Will. All psionic skills will now use Will stat instead, just as all science skills use Intelligence; and Persuasion skill will now use Intelligence.
It's always good to trim the useless excess. Useless stats (or skills) are a big annoyance of mine in CRPGs, so this is good news. However, be careful not to trim too much, like dropping stats altogether or something. I don't really think you would go that far, but just saying. The current trend, and one reason for the decline, in most recent CRPGs is oversimplifying, so I'm hoping you do not fall into that trap. CRPGs need "crunchy" stats! Be that for characters or gear, attributes/stats are good. They're one of the foundations of RPGs, afterall. Ooh, I likes them stats!

Keep up the good work!

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May 12th, 2012, 16:14
Thanks, guys.

I agree with you, Lurking Grue, and don't worry I'm quite content with the current set of stats present in the game and have no intention of removing any more.
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May 12th, 2012, 16:15
Ventilation

Most buildings in the Underrail will have a ventilation system you can access and use it to move around or hide from the enemies. It'll be a particularly good way to scout ahead, as I intend to implement a 'peek' action you'll be able to use from within the ventilation to see what's outside a particular ventilation opening before stepping out (have to implement context menu on objects first for this, though).



All this doesn't mean that ventilation ducts are the safest place in the game, however. There will often be nastier things than you hanging out there.



Currently any character can access the ventilation, but I'll be adding skill checks later on. There will probably be two ways in which you can open a ventilation shaft:
  • have enough points in lockpick and use a special tool (will probably need to rename 'lockpick' skill into 'burglary' or some such)
  • have enough points in strength and use a crowbar
One technical limitation is that I cannot really afford to produce all the separate crawling animations for all the actions and weapon/armor variations, etc. So the character will visually appear to be standing even when inside the ventilation ducts. I think this is acceptable compromise considering how much this gameplay element will be adding to the game.
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June 1st, 2012, 03:37
Security Measures

I'm almost done with the first big "indoor dungeon" I've been showing ventilation plans for earlier. Two levels done, one more to go.

It's going quite slowly right now because I'm also adding a number of features, as well as refining AI and adding more special abilities to enemies you can encounter so far.

As I've mentioned before I would, I've added security cameras. They have two purposes:

1. You can use see what's happening in all different corners of the area if you find the surveillance room



2. If you are in a hostile area (and couldn't take control of the security system) you should avoid the cameras themselves because if they detect you, they will be calling in reinforcements (System Shock style).



And in this particular area it'll summon sentry bots that are patrolling around the area. I think I made these a bit too powerful for the level you're supposed to encounter them and they are all but impossible to deal with without cheats currently. They have a lot of mechanical resistance, a fairly powerful main attack and two types of disabling attacks. I might be toning them down a bit, though they are not that many and once I introduce EMP grenades they will be easier to handle.

Personally, I think it would be fun to have an enemy you circumvent in the early game (by using ventilation ducts, stealth, distractions, etc) before you are powerful enough to deal with them, but we'll see.



In other news, I've reworked the melee and ranged hit chance calculations. The final hit chance is now displayed when you mouse the target as well.
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June 24th, 2012, 19:25
Armor Types

It's been a crazy week since I released the demo video. It went better than I hoped. I got a lot of positive reactions to it, and also some attention from a couple of digital distribution platforms.

Next big step is to release a playable demo to the public. I made a big list of all the stuff I want to get into it.

This week I got the three armor types done, with blueprints, components and all. Now before I talk about the specific armor types it's important to understand what the basic properties of armor mean:
  • Damage Resistance / Damage Threshold - most people will be familiar with this. DR is a percentage of total damage that is absorbed by the armor, while DT is the flat amount of damage that is subtracted from the incoming attack. So basically DT can absorb the whole thing, so only attacks that do more than it can actually hurt you. But unlike in some games DR and DT don't add up, the armor will either absorb the amount of damage specified by DR or by DT, not by both. It will use the one that absorbs more damage.
  • Encumbrance - this property indicates how much the armor restricts movement and how noisy it is. Dodge, evasion, stealth and movement points are reduced by this percentage.
  • Minimal Strength requirement - if you wear an armor and do not meet the strength requirement, it will reduce the amount of action points you have (and this is very bad).



Here are the armor types that I got done for the demo:
  • Leather Armor
    • cheap
    • provides some mechanical damage protection
    • can be padded to provide extra protection in melee combat
    • components are readily available (animal skin)
    • can provide other damage resistances depending on the type of leather used
    • low encumbrance, no strength requirements
    • can be crafted with an overcoat that grants stealth bonuses or additional protection
  • Tactical Vests
    • provides excellent protection against bullets (+200% DT), but not much against other types of attacks
    • low encumbrance unless anti-rifle plating is used
    • no strength requirement
    • can be crafted with an overcoat that grants stealth bonuses or additional protection
  • Metal Armor
    • Excellent mechanical resistance
    • Decent energy resistance
    • high encumbrance
    • moderate to high minimal strength requirement (depending on type of metal used)
    • can have offensive enhancements (spikes, blades)

The final game will have at least two more armor types, but I haven't decided which ones yet.

Next week I'll be working on weapons, with focus on the ones I haven't done much work on yet - the automatic weapons (SMGs and assault rifles) and melee weapons (knives and sledgehammers).
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June 24th, 2012, 19:46
Just to chime in and let you know that I really appreciate the updates and the game just looks better all the time!

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June 24th, 2012, 20:07
Originally Posted by Styg View Post

It's been a crazy week since I released the demo video. It went better than I hoped. I got a lot of positive reactions to it, and also some attention from a couple of digital distribution platforms.
Congratulations.Which digital distributions if it's not a secret?I hope you can get some founding from them because I consider this to be one of more promising indie projects atm(and there are lot of promising indie projects ongoing).
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June 24th, 2012, 20:41
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Just to chime in and let you know that I really appreciate the updates and the game just looks better all the time!
Thanks. I appreciate the support.

Originally Posted by Nameless one View Post
Congratulations.Which digital distributions if it's not a secret?I hope you can get some founding from them because I consider this to be one of more promising indie projects atm(and there are lot of promising indie projects ongoing).
I didn't omit that part by accident. I don't want to talk specifics until there's something more substantial than interest.
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June 28th, 2012, 22:41
Weapons

All the weapons I've planned for the demo are in, along with their crafting components and blueprints.

Of all the weapon classes for the final game, only the energy rifles are not in yet. Of course, only a 1 or 2 models for each weapon class are done as of now, but that should be enough for the demo. Anyway, adding more models and weapon enhancements is pretty easy (and fun), it's creating the crafting mechanics that's a lot of work.

Anyway, here they are:
  • Knives
    • can be crafted out of any type of metal
    • can't have any extra enhancements, but there are several types of knives you can make with different molds: regular combat knife, serrated knife (chance to inflict bleeding wounds), dagger (bigger critical chance, damage that pierces the armor is increased against organic targets)
    • incur 125% mechanical damage resistance more (harder to penetrate the armor)
  • Sledgehammers
    • high damage output (especially in hands of a strong character)
    • high strength requirement
    • ignores mechanical damage threshold (damage can never be fully mitigated)
    • 10% chance to stun target on hit
    • can be enhanced with special components for extra on hit effects
  • Pistols
    • only firearm with no skill requirement (any character can be fairly efficient with it)
    • AP cost varies greatly with caliber (high calibers are good vs armor targets, low calibers are good for spending remaining APs)
    • no moving penalty (can move and shoot without precision penalty)
    • no melee penalty (enemies in melee range do not reduce your precision)
  • SMG
    • single and burst fire
    • no moving penalty
    • no melee penalty
    • can be enhanced for increased burst precision (less likely to miss/hit other targets)
    • moderate skill requirement
  • Assault Rifles
    • single and burst fire
    • slight moving penalty
    • no melee penalty
    • high damage output, especially with short range burst (most powerful close range firearm in hands of skilled character)
    • high skill requirement
    • moderate strength requirement
  • Sniper Rifles
    • powerful single shot attack, great against armored targets
    • high moving and melee penalties
    • high skill requirement
    • high damage output (especially from stealth)
    • low strength requirement
    • high precision when firing without interference
  • Crossbows
    • versatile weapon
    • incur 125% mechanical damage resistance more (harder to penetrate the armor)
    • slower projectiles allow easier energy shield penetration (energy shields are not implemented yet, though, and won't be in the demo)
    • can fire special bolts (poison, tranquilizing, etc; this is not implemented yet but will be in the demo)
    • cheap ammo
  • Energy Pistols
    • Lower damage potential than an average firearm of the same quality
    • Increased precision
    • Does energy damage which easily penetrates most armors
    • Bad against energy shields
    • Very expensive
    • Uses energy rather than ammunition (charged from batteries)

Got all the ammunition calibers done as well, but only the standard, tungsten-carbide (AP) and JHP (anti-personnel) rounds. Each caliber will also have at least one special bullet type in the final game.

There are 6 bullet calibers in the game: 5mm, 7.62mm, 8.6mm, 9mm, .44in and 12.7mm. They are all packed into a universal cartridge that any weapon class can use if the weapon is of that caliber (I know it's not how it works in the real world, but there it is). When crafting firearms, one of the components is the barrel which will dictate the caliber of the weapon. Not all weapon classes and models and use all calibers.

Next on the agenda is tweaking the game interfaces; most importantly, adapting it to high resolutions.

Btw, here's my new favorite weapon in the game:
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July 5th, 2012, 00:15
Interface Work

I did a lot of interface work these last couple of days:
  • Reworked all the controls/windows to be able to scale to any resolution (or at least those that should scale)
  • Added an options page with video resolution, audio levels and some gameplay settings
  • Added interface sounds
  • Replaced the remaining placeholder icons
  • Added indicators that will show you which target's you'll hit when invoking AoE abilities (no more accidentally getting caught in my own pyrokinesis)
  • Other minor tweaks


I also made a big change to how the quests are documented. Originally there was a journal that would record your quest progress in more detail, but as I started adding more quests I found that they all had some minor or major decisions you could make, so documenting all that become tiresome and time consuming very fast. So I fell back to a Fallout-style check list instead. This will enable me to add as much C&C into quests and dialog (and just the world in general) as I want without all the overhead of having to reconstruct it all again in the journal (my dialog engine is so much more advance than the quest tracking code to the point that sometimes it actually takes longer to create journal entries than to write the dialog they are based on).



Not the most interesting stuff to work on, but it's essential for the release. Also, adding stuff like support for wide range of resolutions and options page makes the game feel more like an actual product already.

Next I'll be working on a number of changes and additions to game mechanics, before getting back to producing more content, starting with a couple more psi abilities.
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July 8th, 2012, 11:23
Force and Fire

I think I fixed all the existing game mechanics that needed fixing for the demo:
  • Fixed the stealth calculations; most notably, it's not possible any more to slip under other characters' very noses no matter how high your stealth is (if you're standing right in front of the NPC, he WILL detect you); I've also restricted how quickly you can be detected at different ranges so you'll always have time to react and move away if you are near the edge of the sight range; All in all, it works much better now
  • Made the unarmed attack damage scale with level and strength; that is in addition to scaling with skill level; since you can't swap out your arms for a shiny new pair (maybe in a sequel), this should make up for gear progression that you get with other types of weapons
  • Fixed the flickering lights affecting hit chance in turn based combat - it doesn't matter now if you fire while the light is on or off, the mean lightning value will be used
  • Allowed swapping out equipment during combat but only weapons and utility items (not armor and other clothing pieces); unequipping an item is free; equipping costs 50 AP (whole turn); Used to be very tricky if you ran out of ammo with both weapons and couldn't swap to your unarmed attack

Ok, boring stuff over. Here's some new stuff I added:
  • Explosive barrels - self-explanatory; shoot the barrel and get a free pyrokinesis
  • Setting people on fire - with the right feat, your pyrokinesis will have a chance to set the targets on fire; besides dealing damage over time it will also make the living targets run around in panic


  • Three new psi abilities
    • Frighten (Thought Control) - makes your target run away from you unless it passes a resolve check
    • Force Emission (Psychokinesis) - toggled; while active, your unarmed attacks do additional damage and have a short range, but each attack costs 5 psi
    • Force Field (Psychokinesis) - A very useful ability. Creates an impenetrable force field that lasts 10 seconds / 2 turns. You can use it to split up your enemy forces, isolate yourself until you can heal, cut off escape routes or thwart your pursuers, etc. It actually might be a bit too good in its current form, so I might nerf the base version a bit and require the player to pick up a feat to improve it.



Next on the agenda are more items and after that more feats. Getting close to completing phase one of the demo preparation.
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July 8th, 2012, 18:28
This is really looking nice, man. My kinda game, I'll be first in line for this one. I'm waiting on that demo, I think you might be amazed at how many people give it a try.



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