Monday, August 6, 2012

Shattered War Update

After last week's trailer, I feel I should provide some indication at to what I've been doing recently on the mod apart from making trailers and screenshots. The short answer is: playtesting.

For anything of a decent level of complexity, you'll never get everything perfect the first time, and there are inevitably things that require testing and in-game observation in order determine whether they work.  Is the player having to run around too much, does the area feel too empty or busy? Are the NPCs wandering around naturally or should their movement be changed. These are the sort of things that a designer gets better at with practice, but they still need to be observed in the game to make sure they're working as they should.

Too empty? I have to explore to know for certain.

The other inevitability is the presence of bugs. I've yet do any large project where everything works perfectly first time. An unassigned script, an overlooked set of possibilities combining to provide a dialogue choice that doesn't make sense, or any number of issues can cause a problem that will crop up for a player.

Perhaps the most significant problem I found was that it was possibly to short-circuit and complete two quests practically immediately after receiving them if the player had followed a particular course of action beforehand. This was obviously an undesirable situation, but I'd not contemplated the possibility that those events could or would occur in that order, hence I'd not catered for it. A few hours and a large number of tweaks later, the dialogue now had appropriate dependencies to prevent players from effectively skipping and missing out on a large amount of dialogue.

One thing to note from this is that some quests can be solved entirely through dialogue and exploration rather than through combat. I wanted to give players options in the way they pursue a course of action, and have catered for diplomats as well as warmongers. I'm just now fortunate enough to see those different options coming together within a playable product.

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