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July 21st, 2010

marcmagus: (Magus sprite)
Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 03:15 pm

[I clearly need some kind of an @ icon.]

As I just commented to my previous post, Legerdemain's food clock, like so many of its clever design features, has a really annoying misfeature which I consider poor design. While nearly every sort of civilization has a general store [my term for the store type] which can generate food, the random shop content algorithm combined with the increased potential inventory as you get into higher-level areas [like in so many games you get better available equipment in shops as you progress...here it seems to be done by moving the cap on the list you generate each tile's contents from] has annoying results.

Specifically, general stores outside the first town in the game have a pretty good chance of only having specialty food which is both expensive and not actually useful as nutrition. I recently had to walk back from the main city (where I'd saved) to earlier towns just to avoid starvation. Only to discover tons of horseflesh rations (basic food) in the city's general store upon my return.

Also, a thought from my Crawl experience that should be heeded by all developers of RLs, other tile-based games, or really any game where it applies. In Crawl when you're targetting a ranged attack such as a fired arrow or a projectile-type spell the path it will take is explicitly shown to you while targetting. This means you can see if you're going to hit the wrong target on the way. Given that the paths of lines cutting across grids are often really nonintuitive, and that these sorts of effects are often unforgiving about what happens if you hit something before your intended target, this is really important. [Don't ask me how many times I've died to a misaimed Web in Legerdemain.] Ideally, if there are multiple paths that are reasonably close to the same thing the more forgiving one should be selected instead of the least forgiving one, but barring that you should at the very least be able to see what's going to happen. I don't want to go sit in a corner practicing ray angles until I divine the game's algorithm so I can then figure out if I can aim something the way I want...learning it so I can position myself would still improve my play if you want to give the "you should learn" argument.

Also, and I can't remember if Crawl does this or not, but if your game features area-effect spells with fixed shapes (e.g. 2-radius circle), please give me a feature that shows the overlay of the shape. Especially if those shapes change with increasing skill. I really shouldn't die because I became better at casting Bios spells so I caught myself in my own web when it increased to a 3-circle. If you want to be really slick, allow casters to scale their explosions down from the maximum based on their current skill. I shouldn't have to wonder if advancing Bios is really a good idea given that I spend a lot of time in twisty passages where it's really hard to target a projectile-to-explosion 3-circle (a 1-circle is much easier to target in those circumstances just because you don't have to send it as far to not include yourself).

OTOH, as I've learned from looking at both Crawl and Legerdemain, spells which have to traverse an unobstructed path before their area effect are frustrating to use in a really interesting way involving the tactics of combat, especially when there are a bunch of opponents around. Especially if catching yourself in your own spell is bad. But it needs to be interesting in a gameplay way, not in a "I died because the UI hides information my character should know" way.