September 24, 2012

Telepath Tactics September 2012 update

Hey there folks, welcome to another update on our progress in developing Telepath Tactics!

There were a few hiccups this month. First, I had a bit of a roommate transition, which resulted in my not having internet at home until late Saturday evening. This, in turn, made it impossible for me to make much progress on multiplayer over the prior month, as I had internet access only in places where I could not change the router settings (which is necessary for working with Player.iO).

There have also been a few delays in getting the character movement animations done, so I still have at least a week to go before I can really get going on the sprite animation engine. Still, we’re making steady (if slow) progress, much like the little Bronze Golem above.

I mention all of this to presage the following: it is becoming obvious to me that a Winter 2012 release is most likely not going to happen. If I had decided to scrap the requirement for smooth, detailed character animations and kept the game’s scope narrowly focused on multiplayer, it might have been possible, but I want something grand. The price of grandiosity, it seems, is waiting.

In the meantime, I’ve bided my time by implementing a variety of small improvements to the game engine:

  1. The game now supports preview thumbnails during the map select screen in multiplayer–a useful feature, I think we’ll all agree.
  2. You can now define custom Create attacks in .xml; this means that you can make your own custom attacks where characters build any sort of destructible object you like, or even summon other characters outright!
  3. Attacks now support elemental resistance buffs and de-buffs, defined in .xml along with all other attack properties.
  4. Items now support boosting a character’s counterattack limit.
  5. There are now “negative status effects.” These are essentially effects that remove certain status effects. (Extinguished, Thawed, Unslowed and Unblinded, for instance, remove Burning, Frozen, Slowed and Blinded status, respectively.)
  6. Frozen characters are now automatically Thawed when hit with Burning status, and Burning characters are now automatically Extinguished when hit with Frozen status.
  7. Accuracy is now a character stat. Now, before everyone freaks out: I’m not changing the game’s “attacks always hit” conceit. Characters in Telepath Tactics still have 100% accuracy. If they miss, it’s for a very specific reason: either the target had Dodge, or else the target was in a Defensive Stance. That said, when creating a custom campaign, if you think it’d be fun to have characters randomly miss sometimes for absolutely no good reason, then hey: you’re now totally free to make that happen.

I’ve made more dramatic changes on the single-player campaign front. In particular, I’ve added a lightweight scripting system to character dialog that will let me (and you!) do all kinds of fun stuff in addition to making characters say things during cut scenes. Move characters around on-screen; rotate them to face whoever they’re addressing; spawn them; remove them from the scene; make them join or leave your team; or even kill them outright. This power is now in your hands!

I’ve also implemented persistent character death in the campaign. Death occurs in a style that I’m calling perma-non-lethal K.O. Basically, characters don’t actually die: they just suffer injuries that prevent them from ever fighting again. It operates in the same way as permadeath as far as the battles are concerned, but it won’t prevent characters from saying their lines during cut scenes. It’s the best (which is to say, the easiest to implement) of all possible worlds.

Finally, I’ve done a lot of work on the campaign’s story. I’m quite pleased with how the characters are developing–there’s a lot of sharply worded drama here. I’d say more, but I’d prefer to avoid spoilers for the time being.

Bonus: for everyone who is super into rulesets, or just wants to understand exactly how combat works in Telepath Tactics, I’ve begun documenting the game’s mechanics in detail in this manual.

Progress marches on. Until next month!