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Messages - TheLastZica

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General Discussion / Slade and Amulets and Armor
« on: February 22, 2016, 04:19:18 PM »
Lysle, can I interest you in working with the author of Slade to get it to fully support AA? I emailed him, and he seems open to adding FULL support including level editing, which is something I doubt DB/GZDB will act to support on their own. And he already has .RES support. You can find him here: Naturally, you'd be the better representative here than I.

The editor is under active development, is crossplatform free open source software, supports both map and resource file editing, and should require few changes to get basic AA support up and running; mainly support for editing thing flags as unsigned short, and handling doomednums >32767 properly. I would recommend minimizing actor definition in editor-specific formats and instead provide that through the form of (potentially stub) decorate definitions, which with the right //$ keys can be as fully functioned as doing it in DB/Slade-specific formats, while being usable in both. Only the categories need to be defined in editor format. And I'm considering handling the decorate stubs end of things myself if someone else makes the editor-exe-side stuff happen. That way switching back and forth between Slade, DB, and any other editor with a compliant decorate parser will be comparatively easy.

If you can get the 2 key features into 3.1.1, that would be ideal, as it is much easier to merely edit the configs (which are stored in a pk3) to finish the job than it is to recompile the exe and work with a beta build longterm.

General Discussion / Re: Got suggestions for new/revised A&A content?
« on: February 22, 2016, 03:13:26 PM »
I take issue with one more thing. How annoying losing the items are. The biggest influence into A&A is D&D. Even for the time, there are very little influences taken from popular computer RPG titles. Most of the mechanics and limitations are right out of the book. Coming up against, and then figuring out a way to defeat, rust monsters is part of every player's upbringing. Part of the charm is this risk. See, most RPGs today are hack and slash and nothing else. When a level designer gives you a reason to skip a room it's taken as bad level design. Why, you're a mighty sword swinging adventurer! You deserve to kill every single monster and take its stuff without so much as a thought to how. All strategy = +forward and +attack. Player skill is measured in how well you can bash the 1 and 2 keys to use enough potions to survive the fight. A&A is not that game. It was never that game. And although it didn't do it perfectly, getting players to avoid bad situations is extremely important about the game. You think and prepare before fights. You skip the dangers that you can't handler. You weigh the risks and rewards of every room.
Well, you've got more than enough to make multiple posts worth of replies to, but let's start with this. I again disagree here. Where you see influence from D&D, I see influence from several major computer games which predate A&A. Doom, obviously and indisputably for the engine and perhaps more, among them, probably Heretic and Hexen as well, and possibly, though much less likely, Strife. But that's just for starters. That magic system, where do you suppose that came from? Runes used thusly are certainly not D&D. Another game, Arx Fatalis, uses a similar system later on, but it got them from what I strongly suspect is the exact same place A&A got the rune system and more:
It's a huge classic and I'm fairly certain more than just the rune system was heavily influenced by it. The UI, for instance, is in large part identical. The food system bears a strong resemblance.
Then we have the colorswapped items of increasing power by material. A&A isn't the first game to do that, and I suspect the system was most influenced by:
Both these games are major classics as first-person 3D RPGs go, and I can't imagine how you don't see the potential depth of influence unless you've somehow never played them. Even Daggerfall, which came out not too long before A&A was released, probably had some influence. Other influences are more murky (though a lot of 2D RPGs of the time do some things very similarly to how AA does - in turn making it hard to finger specific ones among the crowd.) Of course, ultimately, only the authors can say exactly what they were influenced by, but really, my impression is strongly that D&D's influence is mostly just through its own influence on the titles above, which then took the concepts and molded them to fit computers better and otherwise innovated on them. And as far as the Rust Monster... correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think they ever had ranged attacks. I see fairly little resemblance between a Rust Monster and a Sorcerer of the Star - that they threaten equipment is about it. Likewise, Paladins of A&A have little in common with classic D&D paladins - no lay on hands, no detect evil, just the basic concept of being a hybrid cleric which has been revised so aggressively by computer RPGs. D&D generally hasn't even had an Archer main class, and the closest thing, Rangers, have a lot to them that A&A seemingly makes no effort to copy. D&D generally did not do regen anywhere near how A&A does, and hp are clearly not rolled anything like D&D hitdice. The coinage system may have come from D&D, but it may very well have done so indirectly, as the 5-coin thing has no basis in D&D that I'm aware of. Could you perhaps cite a specific edition or set of editions of D&D you believe A&A was most influenced by, and the mechanics you believe influenced? This is no gold box game, nor is it anywhere near as close to D&D as classic, fully-D&D-influenced games such as Neverwinter Nights, are. I see far more resemblance between A&A and UUW1+2/TES1+2 than between A&A and any D&D edition or even strongly D&D-based CRPG. Because A&A is fundamentally based on the Doom engine's map format and even seems to have began life as a Doom TC (see: texture naming,) we can guess development started no sooner than around 1994, which places both UUW1+2 as firmly predating it and TES1 coming out early in its development if not before. TES2 only predates the release by about a year, but it does still firmly predate it.

That said, I will certainly agree there's no apparent influence from Diablo, which didn't even come out until about the same time. Diablo is a major source of that hotkeyed potion-guzzling slaughterfest loot pinata gameplay you mentioned, and it's quite a different beastie in general, not even being first-person, and taking CRPGs in an entirely different direction from where the UUWs and early TES games did. There are multiple brands of CRPG, and Diablo is definitely not a good point of comparison here, it's practically a different genre despite being a CRPG. One could say it's far more of an ACRPG-lite. It's no A&A, it's no UUW, and it's no nethack either. Which, honestly, Nethack actually probably has some similarity to elements of A&A you like, though I'm unsure if there's actually any influence there. Nethack is practically its own genre (Roguelike,) as well. One thing is certain: Nethack likes to punish players hard and at relative random if they don't immediately adapt to new information, and many people won't touch it for exactly that reason.

I would take issue with the room-by-room assessment statement relative to Q4, because quite simply, virtually every room is a bad deal if you can't largely nullify the acid by being immune or not taking any hits, because the entire first 2+ maps are chock-full of Sorcerers of the Star in virtually every single room, often in multiples and situations where they are extra hard to avoid. Yes, there's one good but not exactly essential rune there, and it's completely worthless if you're not a Priest caster; you can't even sell it to recoup costs. The armor's largely trash, with the best leather coming before it, the best chain not showing up until 5-6, and the best plate being in 7 with 6 also having a very good set. Weapons, also underwhelming as I recall. And other items... well, this is exactly where that silly amulet of nourishment that's useless by the time you get it is, for example. Even if it were swapped for the strength amulet, I would still consider the loot quality of dubious value compared to the risk losing what you already hopefully have. Exp? The best exp is generally beating on something with a weapon it's immune to. Monster generators are small fry, even compared to just slaughterfest-running quests you can handle quickly. You don't get any extra exp for kills in A&A as I recall, the exp is entirely based on how much damage you're doing. Whacking all the easy enemies in Q1 at rapid pace (especially, if you're already one-shotting them, with a weapon that hits very hard in one hit, such as a longsword or axe) is probably more exp and money from all the stuff you pick up along the way than trying to farm a monster generator later on. This interestingly somewhat balances out against daggers probably giving you less exp due to less roundoff, but making it easier to survive due to action-breaking monsters more.

I'm quite curious what Lysle and anyone else from the original devteam might have to say about influence and intent in A&A. I've always wondered if the script system is influenced by Hexen ACS, because there's a very strong similarity, which helped me reverse-engineer it before source was out.

General Discussion / Re: Got suggestions for new/revised A&A content?
« on: February 21, 2016, 09:42:19 PM »
Hm, the nature and relative lack of response on this project is a bit... concerning.

But anyways, I've done some tinkering, and have some questions. Lysle, is that a customized version of Doom Builder you made? It looks like the Value field isn't in normal ones. Is the source to that version somewhere? It seems to have a bug in Y alignment too. It seems neither stock DB or Slade can support using flags fields as numbers gracefully, though perhaps they might add it if you asked nicely and stated why it's needed. Since slade is under more active development and also supports other aspects of AA as-is I think, they might be the better to approach.

Are the compiler program source and resources for the .RES files available, particularly the parts covering object and spell data? Haven't noticed them browsing through, and some important game mechanics data seems to exist only there.

I've noticed AA crashes on level transition if a level has less than about 30 sectors, and won't load without 2. I've also noticed a fair number of items and even textures are not as they appear in the editor, and the DB config by default is missing a line needed to support decorate actor parsing. Max vis range without problems appears to be a touch under 4096 units orthogonal - it doesn't seem to care about diagonals. Also, the current editor package has like 2 or 3 copies of itself stuck in there.

And for reference I've known multiple people, myself included, that simply generally don't play Q4/5 without acid protection or extreme ranged DPS. Common practice is just to skip over them and come back at a higher level, because while you may say it's the only challenge at mid/high-level, it's an extremely random one, and one generally one better left neglected until later, as-is, since any given hit may take nothing at all, a bunch of cherries, or a weapon that cost you most of your platinum up to that point, possibly pretty much forcing you to abort anyways because your DPS just dropped unreasonably much. It's quite simply not worth it to bother with those quests as a melee without acid immunity. Once you have enough ranged DPS to obliterate them at a safe distance, or acid immunity... well, it's practically necessary for it to even be worthwhile, there are simply too many all over Q4. And then there's the simple fact that after quest 5, acid simply isn't used to any meaningful degree, so any kind of acid resistance gear is useless for anything BUT revisiting what should otherwise be "previous" quests that are either wasteful money sinks or trivial depending on when and how you do them. Amy wyverns are too rare and slow to land enough hits to matter. In contrast, poison is much more consistent in effect and prolific in counters.

Updated my post with a correction on obsidian armor.

General Discussion / Re: Got suggestions for new/revised A&A content?
« on: February 15, 2016, 06:18:52 PM »
OK, I've started up my development environment and gotten that working. Now I'm assembling the TODO list...

- Fix the secret in Q3M2 by moving the light
- Make the exit window in Q6M3 taller, possibly replace glass
- Provide a (secret?) way for all classes to resist acid by Q4, probably in Q3? Mage-school classes can't get it any other way but the amulet, so that needs to be in Q3, maybe in the final loot cache? Check for scrolls/potions of acid resist? (Harden Self)
- Add a second key to Q2M2 for the other secret? Or explicitly check that it's pickable, maybe even put a lockpick in the map
- Swap the Amulet of Strength for another, possibly Nourishment or Stealth?, lower lock level on it?
- Possible reexamination of spell scroll and rune locations, especially in quests designed for L4 and below, to make the game more smooth and new-player-friendly
- Possible locations that Archers need more bolts, or where rogues/magicians need alternate methods/more loot, especially XP scrolls/gems in locked areas?
- Maybe addition of new secret areas, especially supersecrets with locks and/or jumping requirements, to better accomodate the above, but I'm hesitant on this; I particularly don't want to change non-secret gameflow much, to keep the feel as similar as possible while improving it; I think I'll probably leave Q3M6's keying issues as-is, for instance, precisely because the reward is a large motherlode of loot; they're user-unfriendly, but not outright broken; a warning before the first level exit with a key might be good, though?
- Are ranged-weapon-hit triggers possible, and if so, should they be used to lock some archer/mage-friendly secrets?
- Items designed to be obtained by pull/blink/fly? Does pull or anything else even work on items?
- Texture improvements, especially on poorly-identified doors that aren't even supposed to be secret (consider exit on Q6M2?)
- Can someone confirm for me that Q7M4 #61 Griffon's Keep has NEVER had a functional music assignment, even in the DOS 1.0? The .I file should probably be adjusted, MUSIC1?
- Spelling and grammar improvements in quest inis
- Texture alignment
- Reexamination of anything that seems unfinished or excessively clunky
- Maybe a few more light sources in places?
- Since the wand of earthsmite is so good, perhaps it should be swapped with another? Though it being in a cleric-oriented area is appropriate...
- Possibly refurbish the dormant secret area in Q3M1
- Examine and refurbish any original levels not in the release
- Add Pyrinium BP and 2nd gauntlet? Maybe a few other unplaced items?
- Extra quest designed to support pvp? "deathmatch maps", possibly with a hub level that exits to all other levels, with other levels exiting back to the hub?
- If anyone can think of anything not yet on the list, especially from other threads, please mention it

If anyone can get word out to fans who may not check the forums often so we can get more input, that'd probably be good. I'd like to do multiple coop runs with various class setups to further get a feel for what's already working and what could use some tweaking. Who wants to do QA playtesting? Do we have a common AA server already up?
While I don't want to test directly on peewee mod myself, I'm open to trying to make sure this plays well on it, especially if it doesn't maintain its own set of tweaked levels. Also, Q8M1 could really use some healing potions and maybe less wolves in the first pack. And it would be good for all files to be consistantly all-uppercase in line with DOS conventions.

Many of the special files were made obsolete when we went with a Tool object in the game.  I mean, we even had wall animations in text files and each door was a line item in each .DOR file.  Talk about tedious.  Don't know what i was thinking (okay, it was easy for programmer, terrible for the level designer).  The only real file that got left behind of any worth was the .GEN file for object generators.  Couldn't quite make that one work with the existing editor (but should have just done it with scripting now that I think about it -- OMG!).

Anywho, I have no problem with letting you guys tweak/fix the levels and put it up as v1.05.  I'll even put in more quests.
I see, good to know. Any comment on the .LIT files and how if at all sector lighting in the .MAP is used? I know about the doors acting as light sinks part, and the in-game lightsources, but most of the light values I see on sectors are multiples of 50...

General Discussion / Re: Got suggestions for new/revised A&A content?
« on: February 14, 2016, 07:22:31 PM »
I'll happily help with any questions you may have. I've been trying to keep my accumulated knowledge and trial and error results on the wiki
Thanks, I don't think I'll have very many on tech issues, though, I've worked with A&A quite a bit over the years already.

Check out the recent upload to the .src files for the existing levels.  I don't know if that got put out there yet.
Excellent. Looks like I can edit concerns with the scripts too using that, without relying on decompiles or other reverse-engineering. It seems like there are a lot more source files than I expected, though, are DOR and kin compiled into one of the other binaries? Or obsoleted?

How do you feel about the prospect of tweaks to the existing levels? Think you might role it into 1.05 eventually if I get something good enough together? If I do go that route I'm thinking of making sure it gets a lot of playtesting before rolling it into an actual main release. Kind of make up for the QA that A&A didn't get enough of back in the day.

I've always wondered what a Tomb of Horrors conversion to A&A might look like.  Not sure if it would work.  But the concept could be the same.  A more or less string of deathly trials that would test most player's patience.
Interesting thought, probably something that would work best in coop, too, IMO. And actually the secret level I have in mind might... somewhat... resemble that. But for main content I'm planning on being more sporting.

Hints, Cheats, Tips & walkthroughs / Re: Aegean God - can he be killed?
« on: February 14, 2016, 07:11:57 PM »
The Aegean God has no death animation.  He just stops wherever he is and floats.  We had an early tester figure out that if he filled him with poison, it would kill him.  It should not crash the game if you could figure out how to do 30000 damage to him in one frame.
Interesting... so there's a way to stack poison dots to the point it outstrips his regen? Spamming the poison wand and mana scrolls perhaps?

Bug Reports / Re: [FEATURE] More character slots
« on: February 14, 2016, 07:09:57 PM »
Interesting idea. Personally, I just shuffle the save files in and out when I need more, but this could be a lot more convenient. If it's going to happen, though, I'd like the list to be scrollable. The filenaming should be able to handle 100 characters, so it would be nice if that were fully supported. Though, I'm not 100% sure how to best make the interface handle that nicely while letting you put characters in arbitrary # slots... then again, if 15 were visible at a time, that's not all that many pages to scroll through even if blanks are shown. I do kind of like the setup of the existing screen, though.

Community Edition / Re: LUA progress
« on: February 14, 2016, 01:19:52 PM »
Just want to express my input that personally, I'd really, really rather not work with Lua. Based on what I've seen so far, I'd much rather see one of these implemented:

Unfortunately finding info on what their requirements are proved more difficult than expected; really, a large-scale scripting language like this for A&A would need to be both C-like (C block syntax, not Basic/Pascal) and able to be put into the DOS port soas to then automatically support Mac and *nix, to be something I'd actually code in. Without those criteria, it'd be something I'd avoid using as much as possible, probably even to the extent of compiling custom .exes with revised C code over using the scripting. If that were to happen I'd likely try to treat the DOS version under latest DOSBox as flagship with the Windows port as secondary.

General Discussion / Got suggestions for new/revised A&A content?
« on: February 14, 2016, 12:19:07 PM »
I'm thinking about doing some A&A development in the quest department, and I'm curious what anyone who's still around would want to see in a new quest, or what they might want to see altered in existing ones. Ideally things that do not involve any new graphics/sound, just actual level design content and the scripting that goes with it. I'm not a big fan of overdetailing, either, so I'm not really game for making existing quests "look prettier", I'm much more interested in gameplay concerns. Things that are broken, things that make gameplay smoother and more fun, things that make the game more accessible to first-timers, that sort of thing.

Chances are if I make a new quest it's gonna be heavy on secrets (my idtech1 levels always are,) bonus loot, and devious, difficult optional puzzles. Actually progressing through it will be kept relatively simple and easy, though, as long as you're not too underlevel and use everything you have. My rule of thumb is that you should always be able to finish a quest without resorting to spoilers - but stupidly hard optional secrets are just fine. I'll be trying to keep in mind rogues being able to sneak around and not necessarily wanting to slaughter everything they see - probably more hidden/locked up/placed past a big jump scrolls of experience than typical. And archers needing open spaces and bolts. Coop compatibility is also a big concern of mine, and people interested in playtesting whatever I make in coop would be welcome. Generally speaking, coop is more likely to break things than singleplayer, since you have to make sure multiple players can navigate through, and place enough items that they can all play.

Die next to a window.
Pretty easy to accidentally get too close or too far and not be able to actually reach in and get it all without reentering the area. That's why I suggested throwing stuff out instead. AA's grab range is not terribly generous.

swapping the amulet of strength for the sustenance one, probably lowering the lock level in the process, maybe adding a 2nd key to that level for the 2nd secret.
Good ideas.
Thanks. Good to know I may be on the right track.

swapping the amulet of strength for the sustenance one
I have nothing to actually add to the conversation, I just wanted to echo this :D
Kinda think most people will agree on that one, the amulet is well hidden, but something more in proper range with a little less lock would just fit gameflow a lot better, and likewise an amulet that late in the game needs to be more potent. It's almost kind of funny, because even an arcane caster like a Knight can get the amulet very early, it's just very time consuming and boring.

Hints, Cheats, Tips & walkthroughs / Re: Aegean God - can he be killed?
« on: February 13, 2016, 08:25:13 PM »
I think we figured out that you definitely can't kill him, IIRC Cave_Johnson poked around the .exe and he's unkillable.
I don't think I hardconfirmed it back then, but these days, the source is readily available and I looked.

He has 30000 hp.

And he has 30000 regen per tick (didn't bother to check if/how that's scaled, and his tics are 7 I think but I didn't check against what time unit - with values this high, it shouldn't matter.)

So you need to do some really fast insane levels of damage or he will heal it all back long before you can finish him. I strongly doubt any normally-available means can do that much damage, quite possibly not even typical crushers. A crusher set to do extreme damage, perhaps, but such a crusher would instantly kill any player at any level unless they have true invul, since player hp and regen are nowhere near this level.

He is flat-out immune to several types of damage but not all. Which is purely academic unless you've found a way to do thousands of damage per frame with at least one of them... so ultimately, if you do catastrophic damage with one of the right types of damage, he should die. The question is, can any usable means of doing damage without editing the game meet that kind of sheer DPS? Doubt it, but I'd be happy to consider any speculations.

Side-note: Those pesky blue elves in Q6 ARE normal-immune and fire-immune, but also have other things that they're not immune to, and they don't have insane regen.

Hints, Cheats, Tips & walkthroughs / Re: Need help figuring this puzzle out
« on: February 13, 2016, 08:14:21 PM »
Well, whadyaknow, there's a topic just for the issue I mentioned in passing in the previous topic I posted in. Yes, this is a secret. There are a scroll and coins inside if memory serves, but the reason it doesn't open in 1.0 is because there's also a light fixture big enough to block part of the pillar, and so the engine refuses to open it. I'm assuming this didn't get fixed in 1.04 and needs to be on the TODO list - moving the light fixture may be enough to get it working. It's very much off-center in 1.0.

I'm surprised so many of these details didn't get a canonical reply as to what's happening and why...

I recall seeing that in the editor and I'm fairly certain from the condition of it and glancing over the linedefs down there that it was an area later scrapped after being designed, which was not removed to avoid changing the line numbers of content made after it, which, due to the way the scripting works, is a very compelling reason - you change lower numbered linedefs much and you have to redo every line reference in the scripts for things like switch textures. Not pretty.

Of probably greater interest is a secret pillar with stuff in it in I think, Q3M2 or so. It won't open in 1.0 because the light fixture inside overlaps the pillar wall and makes it decide it's blocked and can't move. Dunno if that got fixed in 1.04 or not because I haven't gotten back there yet, but I doubt it. Another one for the 1.05 TODO list, probably, perhaps along with actually re-implementing the secret area this topic is about.

Oh, there's a way to get out alright, but you probably won't like it.


Not kidding, that's the only surefire easy way I know of, assuming you even have a way to suicide handy (hint: wand or spell splash damage.) Of course, with drop items on death in effect, it largely negates any point going in there, but recent versions can turn that off, and so it becomes a way to deal with the issue. You could always try and defenestrate everything before killing yourself instead if you want to be picky for whatever reason.

And yes, any 1.05 version should address this by making at least one opening large enough to exit easily. As-is, the area is a trap most devious for the careless of foot. Half-tempted to offer to do some tweaking for a future release of this sort of nature, maybe... we'll see. (Similar things I'd consider changing is making sure there's a possibly secret way to get acid immunity on every class before the quests where it's thrown constantly, and swapping the amulet of strength for the sustenance one, probably lowering the lock level in the process, maybe adding a 2nd key to that level for the 2nd secret.)

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