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Haunts Dev Diary 02 - Rough Refinements

Yesterday’s meeting ended with Austin saying, “We’ve answered so many questions, we should
find more to answer!” That sums up the last week pretty well. We’re still in the process of refining exactly how we’re going to specifically implement all the general concepts we have for Haunts, and we’ve now answered a lot of those questions.

The big challenge for the last week was deciding how we’ll generate the floor plans and room layouts for our many and varied haunted houses. We want the ability to both hand-craft maps for scenarios and generate random but still playable and coherent maps for normal games. I spent the early part of my week puzzling through the issues and a surprising amount of time honing the right terminology for modeling them. For example, Room Spaces became Room Shells became Shells, while Room Types became just Rooms. So we’ve got floor plans consisting of Shells that are then populated with specific Rooms.

Jonathan is still at work on the editor - first for Rooms and then for Maps, so we don’t have much of this implemented yet. He’s been doing back-end stuff, like a system for loading files and things like that. We also had to figure out how we’re going to do stairs, secret passages, and trap doors. The plan right now is for these to work like portals that warp you from one space to another. That was always the plan for the latter two, but we wen back and forth on stairs before deciding this is the way to go. It gives us a lot more flexibility for making maps that are interesting and fun to play on. We think.

Austin did a full battery of animations on a test sprite of a cute little ghost that I’m not going to share with you because, well, he’s too cute. But it gave him a solid sense of how much time it will take to animate our sprites, which in turn gives us a good idea of how many different explorers and monsters we’ll have in the game. Right now, we’re looking at 36 unique people/ghosts/monsters. There might or might not be some color/texture swapping in there to up the variety a little, but I don’t want to do much of that. Our current plan is for 6 different Explorers and 30 different monsters. The schedule is generous on time, so if things go faster than expected, we might end up with even more.

This week I’m also working on revamping the combat system. As it currently exists, it was geared more towards Guerrilla Gorilla and The Last Second, which had a simpler combat. GG was going to be a lot about terrain and position and special attacks, with the units’ stats being within a relatively short range. We had a 2d6-based random element that was indexed to a table that tightened the randomness even more. I thought I could use it for Haunts as well, but as I started making and trying to balance units using it, I found it way too restrictive. We need a wider spectrum of options for Haunts, since one side has just three units for the whole game, while the other might end up with dozens at a time. So we’re switching to something either d20 or percentage based. That’s my job this week to sort it out.

And that’s where things stand. By Christmas we should have the map editor done, the new combat system’s basics set up, and some rooms and sprites in place to play in them. I know what I’ll be doing for the Holidays - making ghosts and ghost hunters fight for my amusement. How about you?


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