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Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar Weekly Update Sun 21st Feb 2010 9:43am

Category: Weekly Updates

Well, hello there.
This last week has really flown by for me; I have no idea what happened to it or even what I've DONE this week! Or maybe it just feels shorter because it's not as long since I last wrote a news article?

Anyway, MARDEK 3 still needs a lot of work doing on it, and I've yet to contact sponsors or anything like that. I'll try to do that this week after I've finished some of the most significant fixes that I need to make.
I've got a huge To Do List of things compiled from feedback from the beta testers, which I'm working on. But it is indeed huge... There are 295 items on it, of varying difficulties (ranging from minor tweaks and typos to significant amounts of writing or even huge changes in mechanics), of which I have only done 39 so far; that's 13%. I may put a progress bar on the main page of this for all to see.

And speaking of the main page, I need to remove that February release date, because that's just not going to happen at this point. Next month is... probable, but I don't know for sure. Release is definitely less than TWO months away, though (and it'd be closer if I didn't have to worry about sponsorship)...

Annoyingly though, apparently my girlfriend is coming here for another trip in two weeks! Well, I say 'annoyingly', but we're both greatly looking forward to it because we only get to see eachother for a few weeks a year, but it is annoying in that it is ill-timed and will probably affect the release of MARDEK 3 somewhat.
It was originally meant to be in April or some time like that, but when we started organising it properly and everything, we found that there are no places available for long enough during that time so we had to pick earlier dates.
She's coming the weekend after next for five weeks, and, as usual, we'll be staying in a rented place rather than at my house, BUT, unlike other times, this time I'll be taking my computer with me so I can still work on games. So getting work done on MARDEK is not a problem.
What IS though is the internet. At home, my internet is decently fast most of the time (even if it's nowhere near as fast as I'd like), but staying in a rented place gives us no direct internet access, and we have to use one of these 'get the internet anywhere!', uh, 'dongle' things, which you plug into your computer to pick up what's essentially a long-range radio-like signal, but it seems to function only at DIAL-UP speeds; last time I used it, it took like five minutes to load this website!
And considering that at home it takes a second to load this site, and 20 minutes to upload MARDEK 3 to the server, it may take all day to upload it using that dial-up thing, if I can even upload it at all.
I'll try to get it done in the next two weeks so then I don't need to make regular updates, or, if I'm still not done by then, I'll try going to internet cafes or libraries and uploading it from there or something. But I don't know what I can promise, so a worst-case situation is me being unable to upload it during those five weeks and having to wait until after them. Anyway, uh, we'll see!
This is really all badly timed though, sorry... D:

Hmm, what else?
Oh, right! The Soundtracks that I mentioned earlier this week have generated a surprising amount of money, apparently! I don't know if I should mention my earnings here, but it''s not an insignificant amount, and some of the few people who bought them at all were EXTREMELY generous, paying many times the asking price, so THANK YOU so much! You raise my opinion of humanity as a whole and give me hope and stuff!
However, the sales of the chapter 2 OST were rather disappointing...
I only sold 5 copies of the chapter 1 one, but only 3 of the chapter 2 one, which I thought people would want more, for the secret tracks... I am wondering if lack of awareness is a factor, with people just not seeing it, or whether the ones who bought the chapter 1 one had little interest in it in general and just paid because they wanted to show appreciation, which is fair enough. I'm not complaining or trying to seem ungrateful or anything, but it is sort of exciting to get money from sales and it'd come in very useful at this point in time, I think, since I've not made a significant amount in a while and then I spent most of what I own on this trip...
So, uh, in the hope of more sales, I will now link to the soundtracks again! Here, these images are also links:



Oh, I also added a 'Merchandise' link to a CafePress shop that I made a while ago for the site, but which I never linked to because I felt that its wares were too expensive and I've only got an Eye of YALORT shirt up for sale so far. I'll get around to adding more types of shirts and things at a later date though, if I can actually think of any desirable designs that people would pay that much for...
(I've no idea how much clothing usually IS, which is perhaps why those prices seem too steep to me, but I can't do much about them without making no money, and I only make like $5 profit for selling a $30 shirt anyway.)




Hmm... There's some significant change to the mechanics of MARDEK that I mentioned to testers, but I suppose I'd be curious about the opinion of others, too.
Currently, MARDEK 3 uses the same Reactions system as the previous chapter, where you assign offensive or defensive reactions to the A, S or D keys, then use one of those three keys when hit or hitting.
However, I've never really been fond of this, since it requires you to remember which reactions everyone has, and I always end up using whatever is on A without really noticing what I'm using until it's been used (does anyone else do this?).
So what I came up with instead was a way for all reactions to only use one key (probably X or something)...
There could be four 'types' of reaction: Physical Attack, Magical Attack, Physical Defence, and Magical Defence. The appropriate one would always be triggered depending on the circumstances, so if you're hit by a magical attack, you just need to press X and it'll trigger your Magical Defence reaction, always.
To make it interesting though, each type of reaction would have a list of skills, and you could 'equip' MULTIPLE skills for that reaction, each one with a distinct 'cost' (in 'Reaction Points', or RP), effectively allowing you to customise reactions.
For example, you could have learned three Physical Reactions skills, which are these, with their costs:

DMG+10% - COST 2
DMG+20% - COST 6
Add PSN 10% - COST 5

Say you have 8 'Reaction Points' (I suppose these would be determined by level or something). That means you could equip DMG+10% and DMG+20% to have your attacks do +30% more damage, or you could equip DMG+10% and Add PSN 10%, to have your attacks do 10% more damage and also have a chance of poisoning opponents. Both of these skills would trigger every time you reacted while delivering a physical strike.
To equip reactions, you'd just go through the list like before, but instead of pressing A, S or D to assign that to them, you'd instead just press X and the skill would turn off or on (unless you didn't have enough RP; then you'd hear an error noise).
Each reaction type would have its own store of RP, probably of the same amount, so a character could have '8 RP' but it means they could spend 8 points for each reaction type, rather than 8 points between them all.

If I did this, I could make all characters have the same selection of Reaction skills to learn from, unlike currently where each character has their own unique set, usually with duplicate skills; I never liked having to give items things like 'Magic Sword: DMG+20%' AND 'Spellbladery: DMG+20%'; I'd much rather have given the item just 'DMG+20%' for everyone who could learn it...

If I did this, I could also add a set of 'passive' skills that characters could equip and they'd be constantly active, sort of like equipment. For those of you familiar with Final Fantasy IX, think of the equippable skill things in that, like Beast Killer, etc.
Items like the Snakestone - which protects 100% against poison - would offer that full protection when equipped, but might also have a learnable passive skill like 'Resist PSN 20%', which you could cheaply equip, so that when you removed the Snakestone and you'd mastered that skill, it'd be sort of like some of that item's magic had 'rubbed off on you'...
Of course, your RP for these skills would be limited. And these passive skills would consist mainly of stat boosts and things rather than things like DMG-20%, which would be limited to defence-type reactions.

This is a major change and might take a while to do (well, hopefully only a few hours, but still), so should I try? If I'm to do it at all, now is the best time, because I don't want to make a major change in the next chapter as it'd make saves from THIS one possible incompatible (or you'd lose all your reactions, at least).
If the consensus is that it's a good idea, I'll do it.

So, uh... back to work now, I suppose! I'll add that progress bar thing to the front page!

UPDATE: I've actually added this new reaction system to the game now; it took about a day. It's all working fine, but I still need to add many of the skills to the game, on items. Now let's see what the beta testers think of it...
99 comments

 

99 Commentson 62 roots

Nahraz`s Avatar
Rating Orb Nahraz 21 MelancholicPhlegmatic 2C 0F
8 years ago | (3)
There could be four 'types' of reaction: Physical Attack, Magical Attack, Physical Defence, and Magical Defence. The appropriate one would always be triggered depending on the circumstances, so if you're hit by a magical attack, you just need to press X and it'll trigger your Magical Defence reaction, always.
To make it interesting though, each type of reaction would have a list of skills, and you could 'equip' MULTIPLE skills for that reaction, each one with a distinct 'cost' (in 'Reaction Points', or RP), effectively allowing you to customise reactions.

-- I very much love this idea because im having the same "problem" sometimes not knowing which reaction everone has assigned. I think you would be able to enjoy battles more because you dont have to focus that hard but still need enough timing to hit the key.

I never liked having to give items things like 'Magic Sword: DMG+20%' AND 'Spellbladery: DMG+20%'; I'd much rather have given the item just 'DMG+20%' for everyone who could learn it...

-- Actually i liked that part. I dont know, although, like you mentioned above, most of them have the same ability (DMG +20% for example) it seemed that every character had his own "job" or dunno "soul" maybe. Like his own way of fighting. Yea i liked that =)

If I did this, I could also add a set of 'passive' skills that characters could equip and they'd be constantly active, sort of like equipment. For those of you familiar with Final Fantasy IX, think of the equippable skill things in that, like Beast Killer, etc.
Items like the Snakestone - which protects 100% against poison - would offer that full protection when equipped, but might also have a learnable passive skill like 'Resist PSN 20%', which you could cheaply equip, so that when you removed the Snakestone and you'd mastered that skill, it'd be sort of like some of that item's magic had 'rubbed off on you'...

-- I love this too because it somehow rewards you for playing. Im a fan of powering up things and stuff and to be rewarded with passive skills for different situations would be very nice!
sharramon`s Avatar
Rating Orb sharramon 18 South Korea CholericSanguine 169C 320F
8 years ago | (2)
Now I shall add a comment that most people would most probably not read anyway XD.

Frankly I don't like it. Since the 'best' reaction isn't always clear and having the comp spam all the available reactions would just be a waste of points if I wanted to use a specific reaction. Also worrying over points while fighting doesn't seem too good either O.O

I never had any problems with the reaction buttons since my hand sort of moved by itself the moment I thought of which reaction I wanted to use. Sort of like knowing what I'm typing without having to look at my fingers the whole time.

Well anyway it seems like a system for those who just can't be bothered to go through what little effort is needed and just a dumbed down version that's not as effective as the old one. I like the idea of passive skills though.
Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar
Rating Orb A β Pseudolonewolf 23 United Kingdom MelancholicPhlegmatic 2257C 559F
8 years ago | (2)
YET ANOTHER person who doesn't understand the concept, it seems... You don't expend any points in battle so there's no need to worry about them; the 'RP' merely limits how many you can have 'permanently equipped' at any one time; sort of the equivalent to equipment slots with each reaction taking up a certain number of slots each... or something.
Also, I've already implemented this into the game anyway.
sharramon`s Avatar
Rating Orb sharramon 18 South Korea CholericSanguine 169C 320F
8 years ago | (3)
Should have guessed you'd go through with it anyway.

So it'd be like equipping the skills in FF9? How many reactions can you have equipped? As many as your points allow?
mickle377`s Avatar
Rating Orb mickle377 16 Australia 19C 0F
8 years ago | (4)
maybe you should take off the advertisment of "mardek 3 keystones coming out feburary 2010"or something like that
ismartman`s Avatar
Rating Orb ismartman 19 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic 16C 10F
8 years ago | (3)
I guess this means that all the beta tester slots are full. Oh well, there's always Mardek 4...
The AP concept sounds intriguing. I can't wait to try it out! The more variety there is in special attacks, the better. And the idea of combining several reactions in one attack is making me even more excited! Just don't let us get in the way of time with your girlfriend. If it's a choice between her and us, then I think I can wait a couple more months. I mean, this is nothing compared to the wait for Half Life 2: Episode 3!
sstar1134`s Avatar
Rating Orb sstar1134 14 United States MelancholicSanguine 28C 1F
8 years ago | (3)
Speaking of items. . . I'm not sure if this is natural, or just some sort of glitch on my computer, but in Mardek 1 when I did the side quest and got the necklace that stops you from being put to sleep, it worked just fine in that chapter, but in Mardek 2 when I tried using it again, the feature didn't work, and it was pretty much like I wasn't even wearing it. So, I was just wondering if the necklace didn't work because I was in the next game, and it could only be used as a kid, or if something went wrong. . .
Cephrir`s Avatar
Rating Orb Cephrir 17 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic 10C 0F
8 years ago | (3)
I do end up just mashing A, but it seems like this system sort of makes it less interesting... what if you gave the player more time to react, so maybe they would have a chance to think about which reaction to use?
vinnie879`s Avatar
Rating Orb vinnie879 19 Netherlands MelancholicCholeric 79C 0F
8 years ago | (2)
pseudo, there is a new confirmation that pixelated graphics aren't a turn off.
on kongregate, the most popular game is infectenator.
poeple also like it becuase it is easy, and short.

but i still hope that mardek will get the frontpage once
edojedad`s Avatar
Rating Orb edojedad 27 PhlegmaticSanguine 5C 0F
8 years ago | (2)
Psudo, excellent idea, one thing I really liked about FF IX was the skill system, got it here, next, the reaction system of Legend of the Dragoon, got it here plus reactions for defense, good and long story, got ir here, FF VI graphics, got it here... and I could keep going all night... All the things I like from different games are here, the only one I'm missing is the combined skill attacks from Chrono Trigger/Cross, but well, you can get everything you want in life.

Man, this game should be awesome just by what you are telling us here... I'm loooking foward to it...
Polymeron`s Avatar
Rating Orb Polymeron 29 Israel 108C 11F
8 years ago | (4)
I sort of like it! But for pretty complicated reasons!
I see a lot people have already voiced their opinion plus you're already done implementing it; you may still want to read what I have to say, because I think tweaking this will turn out to be important (you jump straight down to the end if you're not interested in the rationale!).

From a game-designer perspective, the reactions system was the one thing I took from the previous two games as truly innovative and successful - a lot of games have the Final Fantasy style combat, where (if done poorly - see games like *shudder* Adventure Quest) you don't really need any skill at all, just need to repeat the same action over and over again and in fact makes you wish it was all automated - player not really needed in order to play. The reactions system gave the player something to do during even the most mundane of attacks... And gave them a way to customize attacks, too.

I actually did very well with the old system, except that I had a hard time knowing in time which defense skill button I should use - you don't know who's getting attacked, in what way, until it's too late - so you choose randomly. So there's some room for improvement there.

However, some things that should be noted:
1. Customizing the attacks was an important part of why I liked the old system. Being able to use either a poison strike or an extra powerful one in the same combat, depending on what I needed at that point, is important to die-hard tacticians like me. Sure, you could do that with same-old same-old different attacks and spells... But having some variety is nice. So something along these lines needs to be kept.
2. I like the idea of being able to build up stronger reaction abilities! The amount of RP needs to be possible to increase though, either with level or something similar. This would make us all drool ever more over improving our characters (what my brother and I fondly call "the Munchkin effect", which is important in making a game addictive.
3. The skill aspect is important. The reaction wouldn't hold any interest if it could always succeed; even when I got so good at it I almost never failed, the *possibility* of failure kept me alert and engaged throughout battles. To fight using just basic damage was unthinkable, so I had to pay attention. This aspect is reduced in a single-button scenario, and anyway can be expanded upon.

So based on all this, here are my recommendations.
- Make it so a character's RP amount can be increased; either regularly with levels, or through rare prizes, or quests, or what have you - anything but static.
- Set up multi-button sequences for reactions, depending on what you're trying to perform. For instance, when attacking, "Z" or "X" (determined randomly) could appear above the character's head; pressing the corresponding key would result in successful reaction; the wrong key would not. This keeps the players on their toes.
Special effects might make this harder - for instance, +30% damage is good, but adds +1 to the sequence length, so you'll get something like "XX" or "ZX" to type in succession. Other additions could increase the number of buttons (Suddenly "C" is an option!). This way really basic reactions would have only X, which would be easy and maybe even preferable to some players. In theory this makes the whole RP mechanics unnecessary, but you could well keep both in place, if only to draw some upper limit for ability piling other than the player's skill.
- I would still keep the ability to activate some optional special abilities. If using the above system, this would entail extra difficulty for the strike but would do something the ordinary reaction does not.

Hope this can still be of some use to you! Like I said I really like the reactions system, it's the one thing other than the plot making your game truly unique! So think well on how you want to run it and never get rid of it!
Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar
Rating Orb A β Pseudolonewolf 23 United Kingdom MelancholicPhlegmatic 2257C 559F
8 years ago | (6)
Reactions were only ever added in the first place to add something to do while attacking to slightly hold attention and improve some attacks; they were never meant to be complex or difficult to do. Simple is better, as far as I'm concerned, because the game's about plot more than combat; people who prefer combat above plot should go and play Sonny...
So when I came up with the A, S, D thing, I was never satisfied with it because it wasn't simple, clear and 'neat' enough or something... and I was really excited about this new idea because of how much SIMPLER it made things, and easier too, since I was terrible at using the old system... Anyway, keeping that in mind:
RP definitely increases based on level; it'd be silly not to, since you'd acquire loads and loads of reaction skills and it wouldn't be balanced if you could equip as many of them at level 1 as you could at level 100.
Though the idea of using some sequence of button input is drastically overcomplicating the system, the idea of the key being randomised is not unappealing to me, since it'd certainly hold attention more than just using X all the time... Perhaps, since A, S and D used to be used, I could make it so that reactions randomly use A, S *or* D, and you have to react to what the screen specifies... HMM.
As well as changing the way of firing reactions and what reactions DO, I'm also going to add a visual display, a 'bar', with a moving pointer thing and an area you have to stop the pointer on to trigger the reaction, giving some clear way of checking your timing... which could be seen as further simplification. Hmm. Anyway, I could add an A, S or D icon on that bar showing which key you need to press...

So anyway. I'd never get RID of the reaction system, but nor do I want to make MARDEK's combat system overcomplicated because I don't want to make players interested in story but not high in 'skill' to feel in any way turned away by the game; I suppose I would rather make the... highly 'tactical' players feel that combat is effortless instead because they're not my target audience.
Polymeron`s Avatar
Rating Orb Polymeron 29 Israel 108C 11F
8 years ago | (5)
Fair enough; this is a good set of considerations! Knowing your target audience is a good thing. And of course the game can never be a perfect fit for any and all demographics - what I'd find a fun and challenging addition would be someone else's frustrating game-breaker, I suppose.

Keep up the good work :)
sstar1134`s Avatar
Rating Orb sstar1134 14 United States MelancholicSanguine 28C 1F
8 years ago | (3)
I would have to say no, because most people will already be used to the old reactions. And besides, unless you use the mouse to click on moves when you are battling, then you use X, so it would be a little confusing to have to push X to attack, then push it again right away as a reaction. That's only if you're using an offensive reaction, though, so otherwise the defense would be alright i guess . . .

But still, I think that you should just leave it the way it was before, with the A, S, and D reactions, because that way, you can actually "react" to it, rather than just pushing one button, and knowing that X would work no matter what type of action was being done.

My only suggestion would be to make the reactions you get from items a bit easier to learn, because in my opinion, it takes a little too long for you to learn a reaction, from, let's say armor. If you have armor that is kind of weak, but has a reaction you can learn, and later you find armor that has a higher defense that you can buy, but doesn't offer you a defensive reaction to learn, then you would most likely keep the original, weaker armor so you can learn the skill. So, I'd say instead of having to use the reactions 20 times to learn it, just make it about 10, or 15.
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