Adding a Touch of Grass

Continuing on from last time, we will be adding in the necessary decoration and transfer events to get the Market Town into our game for testing. One of the biggest problems with large maps such as with Market Town, is that it can be very hard to fill in all the space without undermining the map. We have several large open areas which the player will be able to see, and we really need to break these up some how.

For a start, the town lacks any sort of vegetation besides the plain grass terrain, so to start with, we can break up some of the plain areas by adding a mixture of trees, bushes, and flowers to these areas. However, we shouldn’t over do the vegetation here – this is a town in a grassland plain, which is highly frequented, so the civic authorities will most likely keep the town clean for the most part.

Thinking about civic authorities, we can consider another common feature to highlight that this is a market town – street lighting. By placing a few street lamps by key locations, we can show what areas are considered important. In particular, the area by the market place will have many street lamps, even if the market isn’t present. This means that it is a good civic location for people to gather and talk throughout the year.

Finally, we can add some decorations so that each area can be considered unique, while giving some indication of what is going on there. For example, the warehouses can have crates outside, the Inn has ale barrels outside, as does the tavern, and so on. The area for the market is specifically marked out with a stone border, and to prevent it looking like a blank paved area, a pool and some stone statues have been placed in the centre. The statues can be used to add more background of Market Town.Market Town Map 3

Having added some more static decorations, it is now time to finish the decorations off by adding decorative effects. This includes adding signs to the relevant buildings, chimneys and smoke effects, and even some effects to the fountain.Market Town Map 4

Now that the decorations are done, we can focus on setting up the transfer events required to connect this map to our world map. Now, the easiest events are going to be those leaving the Market Town, because these will be simple transfer events. When you leave via a gate, you know which direction you are travelling in.

We will be wanting to have the player appear outside the gates when they enter the map. This will allow the player to encounter gate guards in the game. We can use these guards as a means to control where the player can initially go. Because of this, we will have to place our transfer events at the very edge of the map, so that they trigger when the player attempts to leave.

Now, to enter the town, things get a little bit tricky. For the west bank, there is only one entrance, to there is only one way that the player will enter the town, thus we can easy position the player outside the main gate regardless of how the player enters the town. but for the east bank, there are two different possible entrances, and therefore we would need to record which way the player enters from in order to get the player outside the correct gate.

However, this is fairly easy to do by setting a simple switch depending upon which route the PC takes, and then checking this switch when the PC enters the Market Town. A switch works perfectly since there are only two entrances, and is virtually impossible to break. We can set the switch to be on whenever the player enters the square by the mountain trail, and switch it off if the player enters either of the other two spaces surrounding the east bank (we  can assume that the player walks around to the east gate if they enter from the south). The event for the actual town sees the state of this switch checked, and the result determines which transfer command is used to have the player enter the village.

In the Market for Maps

Having created the maps for the first part of our game, it is time to start planning and drawing the maps for the second stage. During this stage, the PC has reached the Market Town, which is an important stopping off point on his journey to the Adventurers’ Guild in the Port City. Here, the PC gets to start purchasing Tier 2 goods, and can prepare for the greater challenges ahead.

However, most settlements require many different maps, as there is typically a separate map for each store and service in the settlement. This was noticeable in the development of the Mountain Village and it’s associated maps. As such, we will need to consider exactly what services the Market Town needs to provide.

Looking at our World Map, we can see that the Market Town is actually split in two halves either side of a bridge across the river. This layout will need to be copied in our design of Market Town, but means that we can actually consider the settlement in two different parts.

On the side closest to to the Mountain Village, we should include the market area that the town is actually known for. The fact that the path from the Mountain Village meets here on the path going east to west via the Port City means that this area would be the most frequently populated area of the settlement.

The market area needs to be fairly large, and would dominate this area. Since this is where most travellers would be, it makes sense that we place the town’s Inn here as well, so that the travellers have somewhere to stay.

Since the eastern bank has the market area, it would be wise to put the remaining services on the western bank. Thus, the two commercial areas are not strictly in direct competition, and it gives people a reason to visit the other bank. The services here should include a Smithy, to deal with weapons and armour, and a General Store, to deal in other equipment and supplies. Finally, a Tavern can be included, to provide a social area away from the Inn.

If we consider the two sides of Market Town to consist of a 2 x 2 block area, we can easily fit all of these services in each side. With each service taking up a single block, apart from the market area, which we could consider to take up two blocks to allow for multiple stalls, we still have a single block in each area that is left to be filled.

One idea is to have a warehouse by the Market Area, so that the traders can store their goods to sell at the market or to send to the stores. The other area could be a residential manor for the town Mayor. While the Mayor doesn’t play a part in this adventure, it does allow for some flavour text and a means to expand the game later on.

It should be kept in mind that the settlement maps, like many other aspects of the game, can always be updated later on. They can be expanded upon, as future adventures require. There is no need to plan out every single dwelling or inhabitant of a settlement at the beginning. While this approach means that various features may change and evolve over time, it helps keep the game itself down to a minimum size during development. With the idea that this will be a “living game” the game can be updated as needed at any time, to provide fresh adventures for the players.

One last feature needs to be considered – on the World Map, the path to the Mountain Village leads straight into Market Town, as does the main east to west road that goes through Port City. To avoid the disconnect of the player turning up at the main gate when they enter from the Mountain Village route, we would need to devise a way to record which way the player entered when we come around to considering the transfer events for the settlement.

Market Town Map Properties Screen

It is time to get started with actually drawing the map for Market Town. The first step, as always, is to define the properties for the map. As you can see, I chose the ever popular Exterior tile set, just as we used for the Mountain Village. For the size, this map will be much bigger than the Mountain Village, at 100 x 50 tiles. This is the same map size as for the Mountain Caves, and should allow us to get everything we need on to just a single map.

I chose a nice jaunty background tune for the Market Town, as it represents a nice festival theme which goes well with the market atmosphere of the settlement. I also added the sound of the river, since it is to be a dominant feature on the map. As for the battle background, I kept with the same theme as the Mountain Village, but changed the floor to that of a paved floor, to demonstrate the paved road that runs through the town.

Market Town Battle Background Screen

Having decided upon the appropriate map properties, it is time to start actually drawing the map. Since this is an exterior map, the first step is to fill the entire area with the basic terrain – in this case, simple grassland since the Market Village is located in the plains to the the south of the region’s mountain range. Looking at the world map, there is no other terrain, besides paths, that need to be considered. Even though the majority of the areas will be paved, these will be put in at a later point.

Once the basic terrain is in place, it is time to consider the most dominant feature – the river and the bridge that crosses it. The river is roughly straight, dividing the map into two large areas. I then created a simple wooden bridge as a crossing point roughly in the middle of the river. The bridge is simple, but looks extremely flat, but we can deal with that later. After all, the river is cutting through a flat plain, and as such the bridge across it doesn’t need to be spectacularly high.

Market Town Map

Although in most cases, I would add paths later on when drawing a map, I added in the route for the main road, and the path to the Mountain Village. This game me a decent framework to use when it came to placing buildings.

When it came to drawing the buildings in, I altered my normal procedure, and drew the roofing in first. This allowed me to establish a rough guide to the amount of space each building would take. I then added in the walls, so as to make the buildings complete, and I also placed any necessary doors. Because of the isometric viewpoint, I was forced to place the doors at the front of each building, for easy visibility.

Next I surrounded the Market Town with a small fence, to prevent entry into the settlement. I added small wooden towers to form a gateway at each entrance. The fence extended and blocked off the river, and I completed the look with similar wooden towers by the bridge. Because I added the towers, I actually created enough of a sense of depth to justify adding some supports to the bridge itself. This makes the bridge look a little higher than before, but not high enough that it would necessitate a height change tile.

Finally, I added decoration, and I neatened up the paths so that they look more cohesive. I also added shadows and some decoration. The market area is simply a paved area occupying the southern part of the eastern bank. I also added a small dirt courtyard to the Inn, to vary up the map.

Market Town Map 2

This map is coming along very well, and all that remains is to add the necessary decorations and transfer events. We will continue with these aspects next time, and then move on to creating the interior maps for the many buildings that we have placed in Market Town.

What a Beautiful World

The first part of our game is almost mapped out – we have functional maps of the Mountain Village, the Inn, Uncle’s House, the Mines, and the Caves. This means that the majority of the encounter areas have been created, and the storyline for the game is beginning to take shape. Having made their way through the Caves, under the well in the Mountain Village, the hero emerges out to freedom – in the first time they should have seen the World Map.

For many people, world maps in CRPGs simple serve to provide filler between various encounter sites along the story. There is very little of use to them in a linear storyline, as a fade out from one site to the next is often more dramatic.

However, world maps are a significant staple in tabletop RPGs, as they provide a geographical framework for the rest of the campaign setting. On world maps, the many geographical features that are used as story dressing can be displayed, and may even provide inspiration for adventure. There is no need to just talk of the lands “far to the east”, when you can create a map (or several) showing exactly where they are, as well as the fast amount of features in between them. Sure, these maps are mostly filler, but it is possible to make them fun filler in a storyline revolving around travelling and exploration.

For our purposes, the World Map is used to place the foundations for the three stages of our game – The PC’s escape from the Mountain Village, the PC’s arrival in the Market Town, and the PC’s eventual arrival in the Port City, where they can join the Adventurer’s Guild. The World Map needs to be able to convey the path to these locations, while giving a fair sense of distance. If the journey from the Market Town to the Port City only covers a handful of squares, then there isn’t really much of a challenge, or a storyline, while travelling between the two places.

As well as a sense of distance, we should also note a few other features that are quite important to our storyline. Firstly, the underground river from the Caves needs to emerge at some point, relatively near the Mountain Village. The river itself can serve as a formidable barrier – with perhaps the Market Town being the only crossing point in the region. The Port City could be on the coastline by the river mouth, but on the other side of the river, forcing the PC to have to pass through the Market Town to cross the river and reach the Port City.

With this outline in place, we can begin to work on our World Map. As always, the first step is to create a new map file. We are using the Field tileset, which is the common scale used for World maps, as it creates a more representative, rather than realistic scale, for the map. Unlike other tilesets, the Field tileset does not include any height modifying tiles, creating a purely 2d world experience, rather than an isometric 2.5d viewpoint as seen in the other maps.

One mistake here would be to make the map too large for the scale of our game. For now, we are looking at approximately a single journey between three sites, so a World Map of 50 x 50 should suffice – the same map size as the Mines. We can always expand on the map later if necessary, but for now, this should create a smallish region from mountains to coastline.

World Map Map Properties Screen

It can be rather daunting to come up with a world map all at once, so the best approach is to try and focus on what you need, and then embellish any details later on. For now, since the adventure takes place mostly on land, I filled the entire maps with a green “grass” tile as a basis to work from.

Since the storyline features as Port City, the world map must therefore have a coast line. I decided to position this to the south of the map, since it is often easier to portray height as going upwards (i.e. Up and North are often the same thing). This principle has been used mostly in the map for the Caves, so there is no need to change this arrangement and confuse the player unnecessarily. A few wavy lines to get the sort of feel for the coastline was included in a blue “water” colour, and once I was happy with the boundary, I filled the rest of the coast in.

The storyline also features a Mountain Village, so obviously we would need a mountain region for the world map. Although mountains are treated quite differently in the Field tileset, the idea of a high, rocky, mountain range led to the formation of a terrain belt that was largely rocky, rather than grassy. Thus, I put in a rough boundary of where this mountain belt would be, using a brown “rocky plains” colour, and when happy with it, I filled it in.

This led to a world map which is defined largely by three different bands of terrain – Mountains, Grassland, and Coast. I haven’t added any embellishments at this point.World Map

The next step was to actually add the mountains to the world map. In the Field tileset, there are two types of mountain – Mountains and Foothills. Although impassibility traits can be changed in the database, you generally cannot cross mountains, but you can cross foothills. I followed similar processes as before to create bands of mountains and foothills over the map, creating a relative height map from north to south.

World Map 2

Now that the majority of the terrain had been roughly mapped out, I added the central feature to the map – the river running from the mountains down to the coast. Since the river is tied up in the story of the game, it essentially dictated the three points where the Mountain Village, Market Town, and Port City would go.

I started with Port City, creating a river inlet by the cove on the coastline, in order to define a natural harbour where shipping trade would largely gatherer. I created a wide area of the water, with a point emerging into the inlet to create an ideal place for a large fortified city with a dock.

Having created the Port City, I then created a stretch of water in the middle of the flat grassland area. This part of the river was to be largely straight, with a simple crossing going east to west. This area would be the site of Market Town, a place where trade would gather at the southernmost crossing point of the river. The reason for the Market is because this is where the goods from the Mountain Village would be sold, in order to be delivered to other settlements in the region.

Finally, I sited the Mountain Village. Because the PC emerges by the river somewhat south of the Mountain Village, I created a little hidey hole for the Mountain Village to sit in, set within the impassable mountains. I then had the river reach up to a point a little south of the Mountain Village, but with the direct path blocked off from the village by more impassible mountains. With this as the site for the cave exit, it now looks like the river is flowing out of the Cave from under the mountains, and there is space that the PC can emerge on the appropriate side of the river, ready to travel south towards Market Town and the bridge.

With the sites in place, I added roads to define paths for the PC to follow, so that they are not forced to wander across the map looking for the next settlement. I used stone roads to create an east to west path through Market Town, with a detour so that the main route travelled through the Port City. I then created an easier dirt trail from the Mountain Village to Market Town, roughly alongside the course of the river.

World Map 3

Looking at the map so far, we can see one glaring question – Why does the route east to west detour via Port City? While it might be understandable that people want to go to Port City for it’s shipping trade, those going east to west and just wanting to cross the river may be far better off simply cutting across country to Market Town. Clearly, there needs to be some for of obstacle that means that people who were building the road felt that it was better to go via Port City than straight across to Market Town.

This is easily remedied by adding the one feature that we have yet to include – trees. It makes sense that roads would avoid dangerous forests where possible, given the tendency for wild animals and bandit attacks. There is another possible area far to the east, although it is outside the scope of this game, which could also be easily represented by a nice forest.

With the trees added to create a form of deterrent that justifies the path the roads take, it is simply a case of adding the necessary transfer events to allow the player to reach the Mountain Village and the Caves from the map. Once again, the transfer events from the Village are largely for testing purposes, since the connection should be in place, even if we include events to prevent the player from leaving via this route.

World Map 4

One last concern – The map simply ends at the edges of the map. There is no explanation why the map does this. We could create reasons why the PC is limited to the area in which the map is set, but it may just be easier to leave it as it is – we can always expand upon these areas in the future, and who knows, maybe the mystery of what lies beyond will drive players to want to explore more of the world! As always, there is plenty of scope to add or change things in this region, as well as create many other worlds for the PC to explore.

Escape to More Mapping

Last time, we covered the mapping process for the Mines, which goes alongside the maps for the Mountain Village, the Inn, and Uncle’s House. With four maps done, we are creating quite a useful little area for our game to start out in. This leaves us with only two more maps to go – the world map, and the map for the caves beneath the village well, which we have already decided the player will have to explore to escape the village.

Since we have already done the mapping process several times already, I will spend less time describing the step by step details, and more time focusing on the decisions I have made when making the maps.

The first step is to create the map file for the caves. Since the Caves are so similar to the Mines, we can simply make a copy of that map file to form a basis of our map. There are a few differences though. The first is that the dimensions of the map have been changed, so that rather than a 50 x 50 tile map, we have a 30 x 100 tile map. This allows us to create a long passage that follows the path of the underground river that the well draws it’s water from. In addition, because of the underground river, we can change the background sound to that of a river, representing the constantly running water in the area.

The Caves Map Properties Screen

Another important change is the Battleback screen. Although similar, the caves are not going to have the worked appearance of the mines, and thus the wall background has been changed to that of a stone cave, rather than a mine. The battle floor remains the same, however, because the encounters will largely take place on the ground of the caves, which are otherwise identical to the mines.

The Caves Battle Background Screen

Having set up the map properties, the next step is to draw the basic layout of the map. Once again, since this is an interior dungeon map, I filed the entire area in with rock, so that I could draw the map by carving out of the stonework.

There were a few important features that I wanted to include in this map, so that it would serve the purpose it has in the story. I had envisioned that the caves would feature a passage leading down the mountain, to a cavern exit south of the mountain village. This passage would be roughly similar to the underground river, but would cross over the river at the mid-point of the map, thus putting the hero on the other side of the river in the world map.

To fulfil these aims, I created three main chambers. The first of these was at the top, and was off-centred to the left, and would represent where the player would enter the caves from the well. The second chamber was halfway down, and in the centre of the map, representing where the major crossing for the river would be. The final chamber was at the bottom, off-centred to the right, and represent the exit from the caves to the World Map. Once these chambers were created, I proceeded to create a fairly wide, vaguely winding passage connecting these chambers. This created the main passage through the caves.

I next added the river to the map. I simply drew another winding, fairly wide river down the centre of the map, making sure that it when through the middle of the second chamber. The route of the river was drawn in such a way that it crossed through the right-side of the first chamber, and the left side of the third chamber.

With the main caves finished, there was still a great deal of solid space, so I decided to create several smaller chambers in the more solid areas, to create side rooms where the player could explore. I had several of these side rooms cross back over the river, so as to reinforce the idea that there was this raging underground river passing through the area.

I then finalised the map by adding the crossings, and by adding two-tile high walls to the bottom edges of the solid areas of the map. In this case, I worked downwards, and used my common sense to keep the passage rougher, without blocking it off or having impossibly thin walls on the map.

In addition, to better reinforce the fact that the passage is heading downhill, I placed several one-tile high walls across the passage and river, to create a sense of depth. Where these ridges crossed the river, I added waterfalls, to enhance the idea of flowing water even more. I then added stone staircases in the passage to enable the player to climb down the ridges, and added the final touch in the way of a rope to represent where the hero can climb back up to the village.

The Caves MapMoving on, the next step is adding some decoration to the map. I decided to leave the map quite sparse, particularly in the passageway. I added some moss to the walls by the river, but I used this sparingly, so that the moss stands out. I also added cobwebs, to give the caves that old, musty feel.

According to the lore that we have created in planning, the caves below the mountain village were once used by smugglers. I therefore added a number of broken crates, pots, and barrels in the side chambers, where the smugglers once stored their illicit goods. In one particular area, I went a bit further, and added some ruined furnishings, such as a bed and a table, as well as some skeletons, to create an area that was the last hideout for the smugglers in the past. This is simply thematic, but it is highly possible that side events could be added to such an area in the future to flesh out the lore of the caves.

The Caves Map 2

I finished off the last steps of the map fairly easily, since these were more tedious than anything. I added decorative events to the map – namely, I added splashing effects to the waterfalls, to give a better sense of running water. I even added these events to the waterfalls that the player might not be able to see, just in case they came into view, or the player has the opportunity to visit these areas in the future.

I then filled the whole map in with shadow, so that the caves become dark and gloomy. With the only natural light coming from the exit to the cave at the bottom of the map, I used a similar process from the Mines to work out how far the light would realistically reach. However, I did decide to limit the light to the bottom chamber, so that the player can see that they have reached the end of the map as they reached the lighter chamber.

Finally, I added a set of quick transfer events to the map to enable playtesting of this area. It is important to not that these simple events are for debugging purposes, as the actual scripted events will be slightly more tricky to implement. Because the player enters the caves through the well, and can return to the surface by climbing the rope that has been left, both of these transfer events are based on the player pressing the action button while facing the event.

In the future, the player will be able to discover the caves beneath the well from Uncle. However, since we are still designing the maps, simple transfer events work the best at this point, so that the connections themselves can be tested.

The Caves Map 3

“Hi Ho! Hi Ho! There is More Mapping to Go!”

Having mapped out the Inn, to go alongside the Mountain Village and Uncle’s House, it is time for us to move on to the next map – the Mines. Although many of the principles to designing the map for the Mines are the same, there are quite a few differences, so it is better to work from scratch, even though I may skip a few of the steps that are similar.

As always, the first step is to create the file for the map and select any relevant options in the map properties screen. The main differences here are that we are going to be using a larger area for the mines – 50 tiles by 50 tiles. This will give us plenty of room for providing the tunnels needed for the mine layout to create that sense of exploration. Although the Mines are not relevant to the storyline as such, players seeking to escape the Mountain Village are quite likely to attempt looking through the mines for a secret way out.

The Mines Map Properties Screen

Other changes include the fact that we are going to be using the Dungeon tileset for the mines. This tileset is best designed for underground and/or ruined locations, with many features that can add a sense of false danger to the map. In addition, we have also changed the battleback for the map to RockCave2 and Mine, so that any battles taking place on this map will reflect the atmosphere of the Mines.

The Mines Battle Background Screen

The next step was to draw the mines themselves. I started out by filling the entire map with rock, since this is an underground location carved out of the mountain itself. Then I draw a rough mine layout using the rock floor tool. The rough mine layout consisted of an entrance at the bottom of the map, several large chambers at the bottom and middle, with some smaller pocket chambers to the sides and top. I connected these chambers with a series of tunnels, creating wider tunnels for the passages connecting the larger antechambers. Finally, I added some tunnels extending to the top of the map that were simple dead ends.

With my rough layout set, I then added the rock walls to make the map look more isometric and match the rest of the game. Since we are using a scale of walls being two-tiles high, I simple added two-tile high walls to all the bottom faces of the rocks, so as to preserve as much of the open space as possible. In some cases, this led to areas of rock that were wafer-thin, so I simply removed these areas of rock to widen such areas. This had the effect of smoothing a lot of my rough layout.

Since I was using rock floor to carve out of solid rock, the auto-tiles created shadows naturally for me along the floor. However, given that this area is underground with no natural light, the shadows were inappropriate at this point, since it indicated a light source high above the cavern complex. Because of this, I removed the shadows to help finish up drawing the map.

The Mines Map

The next step is for us to place paths through the mines. This is because we’ve skipped two common steps in mapmaking which don’t apply to this map. Firstly, because the Mines are not essential to the storyline, there are no specific sites that need to be placed. Secondly, since the mines will have been carved out of the mountain by the villagers as they worked, there are no height variations. On such a map, such height elevations represent ledges and plateaus that have been carved into the rock walls. While natural rock caves might have them, such tunnelled rock as in the Mines are much less likely to have such features.

As for adding the paths, I took a relatively simple approach. I filled the rock floor with the dirty rock floor, and then drew patches of the rock floor in the centre of the larger chambers to represent the work areas that have been heavily travelled. I also drew in paths between the entrance chamber, and the two chambers either side of it, and the central chamber to the north. The main path is from the entrance, through the entrance chamber, and up through the wide tunnel into the central chamber – it is two tiles wide, so there is no visible dirty rock along this route. The passages either side of the entrance chamber are only a single tile wide, and are kept as straight as possible, even though the tunnels themselves aren’t straight. This allows for a somewhat less clean look to these paths. The rest of the mine tunnels don’t have any paths, even when they head to other working chambers that do have clear patches – this gives the impression that the chambers are fairly heavily worked, as people move around inside them, but the tunnels themselves are less heavily utilised.

Rather annoyingly, by opting to fill the floor in with the dirty rock autotile, the editor replaced all the shadows that I had previously removed. However, it didn’t take long to remove it again, and although this seemed redundant, I still saved time doing things this way.

The Mines Map 2

Now it is time to spruce up the map of the Mines by adding in some decoration. Firstly, I decorated the walls with mining slats, as is common in mines of the era, and also in our battle background. Since this is a working mine, the majority of the slats are in good repair, although I did have a few areas fall into disrepair, particularly at the back of the mine, for the sake of variety.

With the walls done, I then added a liberal dose of decoration to the floor of the map. I used rock formations and debris piles towards the edges of the map, while being careful not to obstruct the pathways I had designed. I added discarded tools and boxes to the map, to create the impression of working areas. I also added clusters of crates in the entrance and central chamber of the Mines. Thus, even without anybody in the mines, it is possible to get a sense of the general processes of the mine – the ore is dug out, stored in piles, and then placed into crates which are then sent off from the village. Although this is a working mine, the entire process is done by hand, with no wagons around – as befits a small mine in a remote village.

The Mines Map 3

With the static decorations done, it is time to start thinking about what decorative events need to be placed. In this case, the Mines simply need some form of lighting, so it was relatively easy to add lanterns to the walls in key areas. I added lanterns to the main chambers, highlighting the exits. For the entrance chamber, two lanterns either side of the main passage highlight this route as particularly important. Only the tunnels to the two side chambers have any light along them, as does the tunnel connecting the two back chambers. None of the dead ends have any lanterns. This should hopefully create an interesting pattern for creating shadows in the next step.

The Mines Map 4

The final stage was to add shadows to the map, and that was a really tricky stage. It was very time consuming as I tried various methods of shadowing to see what I preferred. In the end, I settled on some very basic shadowing by having all the rock in shadow, but the flooring and walls of the Mine lit up. This assumes that the light from the entrance and the lanterns is powerful enough to reach everywhere in the mines. Although not realistic, it was good enough to create a basic shadowing template, and I was sorely tempted simply to leave the map like this.

The Mines Map 5

However, I persevered and added more realistic shadows to the map, based on where the light sources were. This process was as much guesswork as it was logic, and allows me to tinker with the map so that all the dead ends were in shadow, thus adding to the idea of a working mine with dark areas in which danger could lurk.

Having finished with the shadows, I polished off the map by using a few of the tricks I have learnt previously. I moved the crates directly onto the walls they were near, covering the base of the walls. This is because these tiles have their own sense of depth in their isometric representation, so they look like they stick out from the wall even though they are actually in the same space. It is a trick used in interior locations to provide furnishings. By using this trick, I could add more crates to make it look like the mine was producing more material.

I then added a few more decorative events, namely the top parts of the crates and taller rock outcroppings, so that they could be layered on top of other tiles. This makes the mine look a bit more crowded and realistic, while allowing a bit more depth to the map that would otherwise be lacking.

The Mines Map 6

All that is left to do is add the transfer events to allow the player to enter and exit the Mines. This is identical to every other transfer event so far. With those events added, another map has been completed for playtesting.

More Maps Than Ordinance Survey

With the last of the equipment finished, it is time to move on to something completely different, yet also completely the same – fleshing out the world with even more maps!

First, we need to plan out what maps we are going to need, as there will most likely be quite a few that need to be designed and developed. However, with each new map, we should see the game world slowly expand before our eyes, and as if by magic, the game will start to knit itself together into a more fully fleshed whole.

We’ve already created a map for the Mountain Village in which the player begins. Looking back at that map, we can see that besides the main exit from the village, there are three other visible exits – the Inn, Uncle’s Home, and the Mine. A fourth, invisible exit is the Well, which we have decided contains a secret passage out of the Mountain Village.

We have already created Uncle’s House, where our PC gains the inspiration to leave the village in search of adventure at the Adventurers’ Guild in the big city. This leaves us with the other maps to create for the village.

The main village exit leads out into a World Map for the region, as does the exit for the caves under the Well.

On the world map, two more major features must be present for our storyline – The Market Town and the Big City.

The Market Town will serve as the base for our PC upon escaping the Mining Village, and will have a number of stores and services that the PC can use. These stores will need to be designed.

Likewise, the Big City, which is actually a Port, will also feature a number of stores for the PC to use, as well as the fabled Adventurers’ Guild, which the PC has to join to complete the game (for now).

The maps for the Market Town and the Big City will be developed further when greater consideration is given to the game play for those stages of the game. It should be noted that they mill most likely feature a number of maps in their own right, depending upon the layout of the settlements, and any other features that are added in.

For now though, we’ll tackle the maps for the first stage of the game – escaping the Mountain Village. As stated above, we need to create maps for the Inn, the Mine, and the Well, as well as the World Map which the Mountain Village exits to.

The Inn

The Inn is probably the easiest map to create, because we have already created a map for Uncle’s House. Both maps will have largely the same aesthetic, since they are both structures in the Mountain Village. We can tell from the map of the village that the Inn will be slightly larger than Uncle’s House.

Because of the similarities between creating Uncle’s House and the Inn, there is no need for the laborious step-by-step detail that I used last time. Instead, we can skip ahead to the important bits, while noting any major differences between the two maps.

The Inn MapAbove is the finished map for the Inn. This map is slightly wider, so it doesn’t fit entirely on a single screen in the game, but it does mean that the Inn reflects the size of the building exterior as shown on the Mountain Village map.

While the map is roughly the same as Uncle’s House in theory and design principles, you will notice that a few changes have been made to accommodate the different functions of the Inn.

The most notable example of this is the fact that the building has been divided into two main areas, allowing for a back room in which two beds exist. While typically used by the PC and his father, guests can also use this room. When guests do stay, it is assumed that the PC and has father sleep elsewhere, either bunking down in the common room, or staying with the PC’s uncle. Of course, this isn’t an issue for us, since there are currently no guests in the Inn right now.

The main room has been split into two parts as well – by the use of a counter to form a bar. Counters are special tiles that block movement, but allow the player to trigger events on the other side of the counter without needing to touch them. They are typically used to allow PCs to communicate with sales staff, without letting the PC have access behind the counter.

In this case, however, a gap has been left so that the PC can access the area behind the counter. Since the PC’s father owns the Inn, it is assumed that the PC is allowed behind the bar, and may be able to serve customers across the bar.

Although it is barely noticeable, the area to the bottom left of the Inn has been left empty, just in case a cellar is to be added to the Inn at a later date. The cliché of the PC clearing rats from the basement is long established in the genre, and when we look at giving the player different routes to solve the problem of escaping the village, this possibility may allow for a means to have the PC get on their father’s good side and gain permission to leave the village, rather than having to run away through the caves beneath the Well.

The PC can easily enter and exit the Inn through simple transfer events, just as we did with Uncle’s House. Finally, some decorative flourish has been added through events just like before.

Suited and Booted – Part 2

Last time, we got halfway through designing the different types of armour that our hero can wear in the game, covering body armour and footwear. Now we get to finish this off by designing the relevant armour for the remaining two equipment slots – footwear and hand armour.

Headgear

We have already established that there are to be four tiers of armour for the hero to acquire, as this relates to the four main areas of the game so far. There is little reason to change this for headgear.

Headgear represents everything that is worn to protect the head of the user. However, most people do not wear headgear day to day, so we do not need to create any starting headgear for our hero to begin with.

Following the already established pattern, we can come up with a cloth cap for stage 1 (the village), a hide hood for stage 2 (the town), and a leather helm for stage 3 (the city).

We can use the same advancement as footwear, with the exception that since there isn’t any Stage 0 headgear, the bonuses advance from stage 1 instead of stage 0. Thus, the stage 1 cloth cap can provide +1 Defence, the stage 2 hide hood can provide +2 Defence, and the stage 3 leather helm can provide +5 Defence. This works out to roughly half the Defence bonus provided by equivalent stage footwear, and a quarter of the Defence bonus provided by equivalent stage body armour.

We could leave headgear at this, making them even cheaper than footwear, but it may be better to add something extra to help differentiate the role that headgear plays in our game.

In many games, critical hits are often referred to as headshots, and quite often headgear can be used to reduce or prevent such attacks. In RPG Maker VX Ace, there is a parameter called Critical Evasion Rate (CEV) which is the chance to avoid a critical hit, turning it into a normal hit. We could apply this rate in very small doses to protective headgear to provide an additional advantage besides a simple defence bonus.

Given the scope of our game, we don’t want this to be too prevalent, especially since our hero is supposedly untrained in combat and therefore unlikely to have any experience using armour to it’s best effect. More importantly, we are using low-level armour here, and we want to allow for the increased scope of this mechanic as improved armours are introduced in to the game with future updates.

Thus, if we want the CEV effect to appear to be a lucky happenstance, rather than something that the player can rely on to protect themselves, we should keep the Critical Evasion Rate quite low. Since the Defence bonus is also quite low, we can consider making the Critical Evasion Rate bonus the same as the Defence bonus. This gives us CEV +1% for the stage 1 cloth cap, CEV +2% for the stage 2 hide hood, and CEV +5% for the stage 3 leather helm. This means that, at the maximum stage 3, there is still only a 1 in 20 chance of evading a critical hit.

Armour Screen 4This means that our headgear goes as follows:

  • Tier 0 (Starting Armour): None (+0 Defence, +0% Critical Evasion Rate).
  • Tier 1 (Village Armour): Cloth Cap (+1 Defence, +1% Critical Evasion Rate).
  • Tier 2 (Town Armour): Hide Hood (+2 Defence, +2% Critical Evasion Rate).
  • Tier 3 (City Armour): Leather Helm (+5 Defence, +5% Critical Evasion Rate).

Gameplay wise, this further reinforces the geometric progression of armour through equipment, but gives the player more decisions when faced with limited funding, as with footwear. Once again, it is assumed that the player will progress through the tiers of headgear alongside both body armour and footwear, resulting in the following total bonuses:

  • Tier 0 (Starting Armour): +3 DEF, +0% CEV (Body: +2 DEF; Feet: +1 DEF; Head: +0 DEF, +0% CEV).
  • Tier 1 (Village Armour): +8 DEF, +1% CEV (Body: +5 DEF; Feet: +2 DEF; Head: +1 DEF, +1% CEV).
  • Tier 2 (Town Armour): +17 DEF, +2% CEV (Body: +10 DEF; Feet: +5 DEF; Head: +2 DEF, +2% CEV).
  • Tier 3 (City Armour): +35 DEF, +5% CEV (Body: +20 DEF; Feet: +10 DEF; Head: +5 DEF, +5% CEV).

You may notice that the geometric progression from equipment is currently slightly more than doubling with each tier, as a result of stacking multiple geometric progressions that are double. However, because the effects are staggered, there is a considerable amount of off-set for the progression curve.

Hand Armour

The final armour slot is slightly more complex than the previous three armour slots, as we have designed two separate purposes for this slot. Typically, the slot will be used for additional hand-based defences, such as shields or gauntlets. However, we has also allocated a second usage here – ammunition for ranged weapons can also be held in this slot, giving the character an Attack bonus. Thus, the player is forced to make a choice – do they use the slot for attack or defence. This choice is also further reinforced by the fact that many weapons prevent the use of this slot. Such weapons are typically more powerful to compensate, however.

Because of the versatile nature of this slot, it is vitally important that we strive to strike the appropriate balance, to avoid creating “no-brainer” decisions when players are forced to choose between differing equipment strategies.

Because we gave two different gameplay objectives to weapons and armour, we must also work to combine both strategies in this slot, so that neither objective is undermined by the versatility for this slot. This means that we need to combine the element of player choices with the element of advancement, without rendering the other aspect pointless. Luckily, the aspect of player choice is already covered by the fact that this slot is so versatile with so many different uses – either for attack or defence.

This leaves us with just having to deal with the idea of character advancement, which we have already established for the other armour slots, but that we have yet to really apply to weapons in any meaningful context.

The easiest way to do this is to create several types of ammunition for the different ranged weapon categories that we established, so that it is possible for the player to advance through simple tiers, similar to armour.

By starting with the armour aspect first, we can provide ourselves with a framework for balance. We already have a very good established armour advancement framework, and to help make the decision easier, we can simply re-use the Defence bonuses we determined for headgear to provide a decent progression.

For story interest, we’ll limit hand armour to simple handwear, both to explain the light Defence bonuses, and to help show that the hero isn’t combat trained. Although anyone can pick up a shield, which is considered the most iconic hand-held defensive item, and the staple of the “sword and board” adventurer, it is tough to use in combat without training. This is because, while improvised shields are simply used to put a barrier between blows from the enemy, they are often heavy and cumbersome, and require conditioning to be able to wield and carry without losing the ability to fight back. Just as we’ve decided that the hero will need to acquire a sword to enter the Adventurers’ Guild for training, we can also determine that they need to acquire a shield as well. This means that the last stage of the game is largely the hero trying to earn the funds to get the items they need to gain admittance to the Adventurers’ Guild.

Like headgear, people are not disposed to wearing hand protection of any kind in their day to day activities. As such, there isn’t any starting hand protection, leaving Tier 0 empty. For tier 1, we can use simple cloth gloves as protection, while tier 2 can be hide gloves, and tier 3 can be leather gloves. This mirrors the progression of headgear superbly, so we can also use the same Defence bonuses as headgear: +1 Defence for the tier 1 cloth gloves, +2 Defence for tier 2 hide gloves, and +5 Defence for the tier 3 leather gloves. Given that there is to be a choice between these defensive items and offensive items, we won’t need to add anything else to our hand protection.

Armour Screen 5This means that our defensive hand protection goes as follows:

  • Tier 0 (Starting Armour): None (+0 Defence).
  • Tier 1 (Village Armour): Cloth Gloves (+1 Defence).
  • Tier 2 (Town Armour): Hide Gloves (+2 Defence).
  • Tier 3 (City Armour): Leather Gloves (+5 Defence).

Ammunition

Currently, there are two different types of ammunition that we have defined – Sling Ammunition which is used by Slings and Slingshots, and Bow Ammunition which is used by Bows and Shortbows.

There are two major differences between Sling Ammunition and Bow Ammunition, as well as between the weapons that use each type of ammunition, and this should be taken into account when designing the various tiers for the actual ammunition types.

For Sling Ammunition, the most important aspect to remember is that they are designed to be shorter ranged, but higher damage weapons. Although only the Sling gives any Attack bonus (+2) when used, both weapons using Sling Ammunition should have this feature.

As for Bow Ammunition, the arrows they fire are supposed to be longer-ranged weapons. In game mechanic terms, this translates to both a higher Attack Speed and a bonus to Evasion (EVA) as the character has an opportunity to avoid being hit by their opponents.

As well as these differences, something else also needs to be considered – these ranged weapons do not actually require any ammunition to be used. It is assumed that the character has enough ammunition to use their ranged weapons effectively in combat. This means that the Ammunition types are to be considered as a supplemental bonus to ranged weapons.

We already decided that the Hero does not start with any weapons, since finding weapons is part of the adventure, and many of their weapons will be either improvised natural weapons or tools put towards combat use. As such, we do not need any Tier 0 Ammunition, since the character won’t have any ranged weapons to use that allows them to equip ammunition.

In addition, since ammunition is considered supplementary, rather than required, we can assume that the Tier 1 usage of such range weapons would be without any such ammunition, as the character uses whatever improvised ammunition they can find. This also means that the character can still use Tier 1 hand protection at this point.

Thus, we only need to design two tiers of each ammunition – Tier 2 (the Town) and Tier 3 (the City). This works well for us, since we can have these as crafted ammunition that needs to be bought from town.

For Sling Ammunition, we can have Tier 2 as stone bullets, while we can have Tier 3 as iron bullets. These are specially shaped Sling projectiles designed for increasing impact in combat. Thus, the stone bullets provide a +1 Attack bonus, and the iron bullets provide a +2 Attack bonus.

Armour Screen 6This means that our sling ammunition goes as follows:

  • Tier 0 (Starting Armour): None (+0 Attack).
  • Tier 1 (Village Armour): None (+0 Attack).
  • Tier 2 (Town Armour): Stone Bullets (+1 Attack).
  • Tier 3 (City Armour): Iron Bullets (+2 Attack).

The most powerful weapon and sling ammunition combination is the Sling and Iron Bullets, which provides a total +4 Attack bonus, along with the ranged benefits of slings.

For Bow Ammunition, we can have Tier 2 as wooden arrows, and Tier 3 as iron arrows. In order to differentiate Bow Ammunition and Sling Ammunition, we can further refine the differences between Bows and Slings. Since the main difference is the range, and the benefits this provides, we can have the arrows provide increased Attack Speed (representing range), in exchange for reduced Attack bonuses. Thus, the tier 2 wooden arrows provide +5 Attack Speed, while the tier 3 iron arrows provide +5 Attack Speed and a +1 Attack bonus.

Armour Screen 7This means that our bow ammunition goes as follows:

  • Tier 0 (Starting Armour): None (+0 Attack).
  • Tier 1 (Village Armour): None (+0 Attack).
  • Tier 2 (Town Armour): Wooden Arrows (+5 Attack Speed).
  • Tier 3 (City Armour): Iron Arrows (+1 Attack, +5 Attack Speed).

The +5 Attack Speed bonus of arrows stacks with the already high Attack Speed bonuses provided by bows and shortbows. This means that when combined with a bow, the hero will have a total Attack Speed bonus of +30, meaning that they will most likely attack first in every round of combat. However, even with the iron arrows, the hero will only have a total +1 Attack bonus from equipment, so this is very much a choice that represents speed over damage.

The main question that needs to be asked is – are the following equal in balance: Leather Gloves (+5 Defence), Iron Bullets (+2 Attack), and Iron Arrows (+1 Attack, +5 Attack Speed). Numerically, there may be some imbalance a first glance. Is +2 Attack worth +5 Defence? In a game where Attack bonuses are rare, there is some merit to the argument that this is the case – especially when Defence bonuses are abundant. Is +1 Attack worth +5 Attack Speed? Possibly, although we do need to be wary of diminishing returns from increased attributes – if you are already going first with the +25 Attack Speed from the Bow, the +5 Attack Speed from arrows isn’t actually adding much. But, in some situations, that +5 Attack Speed may make all the difference.

This does imply that there is quite a bit of balance between the items that go into the hand slot, as this is largely dependant upon the players’ own priorities and choices for their character.

Yet, there is another factor to consider as well – that the Slings, Slingshots, Bows, and Shortbows all replace the opportunity for using other weapons. As such, a Sling may allow for the +2 Attack bonus from iron bullets, but how does this compare to other weapon combinations? We already have much heavier, more powerful, but more unwieldy weapons that don’t allow the use of the hand protection slot. There are also powerful weapons that do allow the hand protection slot, so the character can get the +5 Defence bonus along with such weapons.

In these cases, it is quite clear that if the player wishes to focus on damage with Attack bonuses, they are recommended to use other weapons besides Slings and Bows. However, Slings and Bows do have their own advantages – namely range (as reflected by Attack Speed). Thus, this makes ranged weapons unique, and give the player a choice – go all out for Attack Speed with the Bows, or use Slings as a compromise so not all of the characters’ Attack bonus is sacrificed for Attack Speed.

As such, I am happy that for the initial design stages, this is a good rate of balance, and that things can continue to be tweaked later on as the game is developed further. This brings us to the current end of equipment, and we now get to move on to develop other areas of the game.

Suited and Booted

Having worked on the weapons available in our game, it is time to move on to another aspect of equipment – Armour. In the game, Armour actually occupies one of four equipment slots – Shield, Armour, Helmet, and Accessory. We’ve renamed them to better emphasise our categories – Off-Hand, Body, Head, and Legs. This is because we’ve opted to have each type cover a specific area of the body.

Looking back at the gameplay reasoning behind equipment, we will recall that it serves two main purposes with regards to Character Development – Character Growth and Character Choice. Since we have chosen to have the weapons in the game to help establish Character Choice, by giving the player a range of different weapon options and tactics in combat, it makes sense that we use Armour to establish Character Growth.

This is actually quite easy, since basic armour does one main thing – it adds to Defence by providing additional protection to absorb or deflect damage in combat. They are generally worn, and makes it harder for blows to penetrate.

There are many different kinds of armour, but these normally involve trading off agility and mobility for protection, as they become harder and more cumbersome to wear in combat effectively. While the iconic knight in full plate armour is a staple of the fantasy genre, it took a lot of dedication and practice to be able to move in such metal armour, let alone fight effectively in combat. Wearing armour that is too heavy was dangerous – as the wearer would tire easily, and could collapse on the battlefield exhausted, leaving them vulnerable to attackers who could then kill the wearer. Even full plate would not protect someone from having their throat cut while they were unconscious.

Since our hero is assumed to have no real combat experience before their attempt to become an Adventurer, it would be unreasonable to think that such a character would be able to wear such heavy armour without issues. With the fact that even the lightest armours featured rigid plates to provide protection, which could easily hamper someone not used to fighting in armour, we can rule out all but the most basic of armour for our hero.

The most basic form of armour, however, are basically little more than items of clothing. Practically everyone knows how to act effectively in a tunic and trousers, as they would have often grown up wearing such garments as a second skin, to avoid the effects of exposure, as well as going along with the customs of civilised society. Nudeness is almost universally frowned upon, so from an early age we have learnt to cover up.

As such, we can create a selection of basic armour that is taken from these lightest of armours. Many materials were used in clothing – from linen (flax cloth), through to wool and hide, and even leather. Leather itself is normally soft and supple, but can be treated to become hard and rigid, as was used in the creation of Leather Armour. What we often see as Leather Armour is in fact soft leather combined with rigid Leather plates for added protection.

This range from cloth to leather creates a nice little niche of basic armour that we can use to define the early adventures of our hero as he strives to become an adventurer. If we refer back to our original storyline, we can see that there are three distinct points in our story:

  1. The Hero attempts to escape from the Mountain Village.
  2. The Hero travels to the Market Town.
  3. The Hero tries to join the Adventurers’ Guild in the Port City.

These three steps give us a good arrangement for designing tiers of armour that help to define the power level of the character, and show some form of character growth beyond experience rewards. If we add in a fourth “starting” tier of armour that the hero can begin with, we should have a well rounded set of armour for the player to acquire. It may also be possible to acquire a fifth tier, which covers what a basic adventurer is assumed to need for training – similar to how we’ve decided that the Hero may need to acquire both a Sword and a Bow to gain admittance to the Adventurers’ Guild.

Body Armour

Since there are four main areas to cover for armour, let’s look at each individually, and decide what tiers to include. We should start with the body, since this is the most common, and the most prevalent area for armour.

First off, we should start with the starting tier – Tier 0. This is the common clothing that every character should have, since we don’t want characters to be nude. While it is taken for granted that all characters wear some form of clothing – you only need to see the character graphic to know that they are not naked, by providing some form of initial armour, we can provide a starting bonus for the character – and given how fragile our Hero may be, they may need all the help that we can get.

Armour ScreenIn game terms, we can create a simple piece of armour that provides minimal protection (+2 Defence) and is equipped in the Body slot. We can also set the player to begin with this armour already equipped.

Now, we can work on creating our three tiers of armour. The highest tier – Tier 3 – is to be Leather Armour. As stated, this will be the heaviest armour that Hero can wear. Since the heaviest weapons that Hero can use provide +20 Attack, let’s go with Leather Armour providing +20 Defence, which is a significant amount of protection right now.

Now that we’ve set the limits for our armour, let’s work out what Tiers 1 and 2 should be. An idea for Tier 2 immediately springs to mind. Seeing as Leather comes curing from animal hides, we can have uncured animal hides for tier 2. This means we’ve got Hide Armour, being a mixture of hides and fur. We can have this armour provide +10 Defence, so it is only half as effective as Leather Armour, but still provides significant protection.

Finally, this leaves us with Tier 1 – which needs to be somewhere between normal clothing and hide armour. Since hide armour is fashioned armour, where as clothing isn’t, we could have Tier 1 as being Cloth Armour – that is, a type of armour that is made from using layers of thick cloth. This is often known as Quilted Armour or Padded Armour, and is the lightest type of formal armour available, often used as an underlay for other armour types. However, we can stick with the more common name of Cloth Armour, which is easily recognisable. We can have Cloth Armour provide a +5 Defence bonus.

Armour Screen 2This means that our body armour goes as follows:

  • Tier 0 (Starting Armour): Clothing (+2 Defence).
  • Tier 1 (Village Armour): Cloth Armour (+5 Defence).
  • Tier 2 (Town Armour): Hide Armour (+10 Defence).
  • Tier 3 (City Armour): Leather Armour (+20 Defence).

As you can see – there is a clear progression in Defence which results in Character Growth as the player progresses to each stage in our adventure.

Footwear and Leg Armour

Next up, we can create the armour for the Legs equipment slot. We can use the same tiers as above for our guide to creating these boots. Ultimately, such footwear will provide a smaller bonus to Defence, compared to body armour, since they serve as a supplemental Defence bonus, and can be combined with Body Armour.

We can start the character with simple Sandles, which provide a +1 Defence bonus. Tier 1 could be some Cloth Boots, which provide more coverage, and therefore provide a +2 Defence bonus. Tier 2 could be some Hide Boots, providing a +5 Defence bonus. Finally, we have Tier 3, which are Leather Boots providing a +10 Defence bonus.

We don’t really need more for boots, since they do not have to be comparable to Body Armour in terms of power. Currently, the Hero will not have to ever choose between wearing Armour or wearing Boots, although they will be likely to be forced to prioritise their purchases depending upon their finances. It’s likely that if the price of Armour and Boots are the same, that the player will choose to buy the Armour first, since it provides twice as much Defence. This gives us an indication that maybe  we should look towards setting the price of Boots to half that of Armour, so that the decision is slightly tougher, and allow a choice for a cheaper upgrade when funds are limited.

Armour Screen 3This means that our footwear goes as follows:

  • Tier 0 (Starting Armour): Sandals (+1 Defence).
  • Tier 1 (Village Armour): Cloth Boots (+2 Defence).
  • Tier 2 (Town Armour): Hide Boots (+5 Defence).
  • Tier 3 (City Armour): Leather Boots (+10 Defence).

As you can see here, there’s a secondary Character Growth progression with footwear that works similarly to body armour. The two slots can be combined, and it is generally assumed that the player will choose to advance through both the types of footwear and the types of body armour at the same time, so both sets of bonuses stack.

Thus, currently, Tier 0 will see players with a total +3 Defence bonus (+2 Armour and +1 Boots), and Tier 1 will see players with a total +7 Defence bonus (+5 Armour and +2 Boots). Tier 2 should see players with a total of +15 Defence bonus (+10 Armour and +5 Boots), while Tier 3 should see them with a total of +30 Defence bonus (+20 Armour and +10 Boots). This provides a somewhat geometric form of Character Growth, to contrast with the more Arithmetic form of Character Growth seen from gaining levels through experience.

Tooling Up – Part 3

Last time, we got roughly halfway through planning the range of weaponry that our hero can use in our game. Now, we are going to fish up with the rest of the weaponry.

Picks

As well as clubs getting blunter to increase the surface area of their impact zone, quite a few tools and weapons evolved the other way – they reduced their impact zones so that they become sharp points. Such points meant that the pressure applied by the tools became much more focused, to the point that they could pierce and puncture skin, leather, rock, and eventually even metals. These tools would become the picks that we know of today.

In game terms, a Pick is simply a weapon that can pierce their enemies, leading to massive amounts of damage. While this could be simulated by a hefty Attack bonus, since Attack relates to more damage, a better approach is to have such weapons have a higher chance of inflicting Critical Hits. In RPG Maker VX Ace, a Critical Hit results in double the normal amount of damage being inflicted with the attack.

Weapons Screen 6We can therefore create a Pick as a two-handed weapon with an Attack Bonus (+5 Attack) and an improved Critical Hit Rate (+25% Critical Hit Rate). We can create a Small Pick, which is a single-handed version that as a +2 Attack Bonus, and a +10% Critical Hit Rate.

Axes

The use of sharpened points to focus impact zones evolved from picks, to become lengthened edges that were used to hack at objects to cut and chop them. Early tool makers used a lot of materials like wood, and a tool to chop them down was quickly developed. The sharp edges spread the impact zone of such weapons along thin lines, allowing for items to be split easily. This led to the development of axes and hatchets, which were amongst the first types of blades to be created.

States Screen 2In game terms, an Axe is simply a Pick with the ability to cause deep cuts, as well as to sever limbs. The loss of such appendages, however temporary, would hinder an opponents ability to fight back. Thus, we can create a state which provides a penalty to Attack for opponents who are hit, until the end of the battle. Reducing the opponent to 50% Attack should be enough.

Weapons Screen 7As for the actual weapons, we can create an Axe as a two-handed weapon with an Attack bonus (+5 Attack) and a 25% chance to inflict the Severed Limb status. We can also created a smaller one-handed version called a Hatchet, with a smaller Attack Bonus (+2 Attack), and only a 10% chance to inflict the Severed Limb status.

Knives

With the creation of the blade, and advances in metal working, came the next major development in hand-held melee weaponry – the knife. This was a simple single edged blade, that was used to slice at an opponent, as opposed to hacking at them. This made them useful for cutting materials and flesh alike, and they were often capable of creating heavy cuts that could cause their opponent to bleed profusely as their flesh was torn. However, they were often small, and required their opponents to get in close with an attack, making them vulnerable to counter-attacks by other weapons.

States Screen 3In game terms, a Knife is a weapon that has a chance to inflict a Bleeding state on the opponent, causing them to take damage every turn until the end of the battle. Rather than inflicting damage, this is best achieved by adding a negative HP Regeneration Rate to the target. If we set it at -5%, then the character will bleed to death in little under 20 turns, if not attacked further.

Weapons Screen 8For the weapon itself, the weapon has a 25% to inflict the Bleeding state on an opponent, but does not provide any Attack bonus.

Other Melee Weapons

There are plenty more types of melee weapons available in the world, but those that remain typically require training to be used with any effect in combat. The most obvious of these is the Sword, which is the mark of a warrior or adventurer, and serves little or no use outside of combat. Given the context of our Game, it makes sense that our Hero wouldn’t have any Sword training and thus be unable to use such weapons. More importantly, we could expand upon this, in that we could set up part of the entry to the Adventurers’ Guild being that the Hero needs to acquire a Sword.

Throwing Weapons

Melee weapons weren’t the only types of weapons to be invented, even though they are the most common weapons due to the fact that they were simple to use, and easy to make, especially to begin with.

The earliest of weapons, Rocks, were also able to be thrown in combat, providing the first ranged attack weapons. The initial throwing rocks were ineffective, but eventually it was discovered that rocks which were small and rounded were better able to be used for this purpose, which leads us to the Throwing Rock – a weapon ill-suited for melee combat, but able to strike opponents at a distance.

Weapons Screen 9In game terms, Throwing Rocks are essentially Small Rocks which provides a bonus to Attack Speed as it can be thrown in combat before an opponent. It is assumed that anyone using Throwing Rocks will carry enough on them to have replacements in combat, so that they can use Throwing Rocks indefinitely. We can also provide a smaller version of the Throwing Rocks, that don’t provide an Attack bonus, but don’t have the penalty to hit that Rocks generally have. This gives us Throwing Rocks with +2 Attack, -5% Hit Rate, and +10 Attack Speed, and Small Throwing Rocks with +10 Attack Speed.

Throwing Spears and Javelins

Rocks weren’t the only weapons to be thrown at an enemy. Another simple thrown weapon was the Throwing Spear. The Throwing Spear was developed from the same idea as a Spear, in providing a long-reach weapon with a sharpened point. However, it was discovered that it’s reach could be lengthened even further if it was thrown in combat. Soon, lighter Throwing Spears were created, called Javelins.

As well as having a longer reach, it was discovered that Throwing Spears and Javelins had another benefit as well. Quite often, opponents would attempt to deflect thrown missiles. However, when they tried to deflect Throwing Spears and Javelins, such missiles would embed themselves in the defences of the target, hampering their ability to defend themselves in combat.

States Screen 4In game terms, we can create a state to reduce the Defence of the target, making them easier to hit in future. This is similar to the Attack Reducing state we created for Axes. A successful Impaled attack will reduce the enemy’s Defence by 50% until the end of the combat.

Weapons Screen 10As for the weapons, we’ll give the Throwing Spears an increased Attack Speed (+10), and a +25% chance to apply the Defence debuff from the Impaled state. However, they only have a +2 Attack Bonus because they aren’t as powerful as Spears. Javelins can have a higher Attack Speed (+15), but only have a 10% chance to apply the Defence debuff, and do not provide an Attack Bonus. In both cases, it is assumed that the hero will have enough Throwing Spears or Javelins to use them in combat indefinitely.

Other Throwing Weapons

These aren’t the only Throwing Weapons available. However, of those that remain, virtually all other throwing weapons require specific training for any effective use in combat. This is mostly because such weapons only cause damage when thrown in a specific way, and an untrained user is extremely unlikely to get the technique right without such training.

This training might be the finesse required to get a Shuriken and other small missiles to hit with enough force to penetrate the opponent, the skill to throw weapons such as Throwing Daggers and Throwing Axes to consistently hit their opponents with their impact areas, the strength to throw weapons like Throwing Hammers in combat repeatedly, or the reflexes to catch returning weapons like Chakram and Boomerangs in combat.

In each case, our Hero will not have the training to use these types of weapons before becoming an Adventurer, and indeed, they may need even further training to be able to use these types of weapons.

Slings

After the early ranged attacks of thrown weapons were developed, there soon became a second type of ranged attack – the projectile weapon. These types of weapons would use simple devices to propel projectiles at an enemy. Such projectiles afforded the greatest ranges of combat available.

The earliest projectile weapon was the Sling, a simple leather strap that was loaded with a rock, and then held in one hand and swung around the attacker’s head, until one end of the strap was released, propelling the rock towards it’s target. These were clumsy devices, that had few advantages over Throwing Rocks. Essentially, these were a slightly increased range, and slightly heavier damage, but at the expense of accuracy in combat.

Although slings could be wielded in a single hand, they typically required a second hand to load in combat, to allow repeated use.

Terms Database 2In game terms, the Sling allows the use of Sling Ammunition – such as rocks, stones, or metal pellets. These can be held in the Off-Hand, and used to provide additional bonuses in combat. To do this, we need to create a new category of Armour called Sling Ammunition. This is because the Off-Hand slot is defined as an Armour slot, not a weapon slot. For thematic purposes, we’ve also changed the definition of Armour in the Terms screen to Armour / Ammo, so that the player knows that this is where any Ammunition that the character can use will be stored.

Weapons Screen 11For the weapon itself, we can have the Sling provide a +15 bonus to Attack Speed, similar to a Javelin. The sling can also provide a +2 Attack bonus, even though it retains the -5% Hit Rate penalty for being unwieldy. However, the main use of the Sling is to allow access to Slingshot Ammunition that is held in the Off-Hand.

We will be working on the Ammunition in a later post, as it is an Armour type that shares the same slot as Shields. This makes the Sling essentially a two-part weapon, that requires two hands to use. However, for convenience, we won’t actually restrict the use of the other hand when using a Sling, so that it can still be used to wield a Shield if the player desires, even though the Sling won’t be as effective.

Slingshots

A variant on the sling is the Slingshot. This device features a strap held between two handles, which was loaded with Slingshot Ammunition. Early Slingshots had the attacker propel the ammunition by whipping the Slingshot forwards towards the target, allowing for more control and further range as the projectile would be flung forwards towards the opponent. Improvements on this design saw both the handle and the strap become more flexible, which allowed the attacker to physically pull back the strap and release it to propel the ammunition, rather than whip the slingshot itself forwards. However, since the strength of the shot was limited to the pull of the Slingshot, the weapon tended to have less strength than earlier Slings.

Weapons Screen 12In game terms, the Slingshot is a Sling that has increased range, resulting in an increased Attack Speed (+20), while no longer suffering from any Hit Rate penalties. It does not provide any Attack bonus, but since it allows for the use of Slingshot Ammunition, an Attack bonus from this source is possible. As with the Sling, the Slingshot is essentially a two-part weapon, requiring two-hands to be used effectively.

Bows

The evolution of early projectile weapons such as the Slingshot resulted in what would become the most iconic representation of ranged combat in the pre-gunpowder age – the Bow. The bow had two major advancements over the Slingshot.

Firstly, the strap of the Slingshot was made thinner, and more flexible, to increase the pull of the weapon. However, this meant that it was no longer able to propel sling stones, so a new type of ammunition was created – Arrows. These worked similar to Javelins, although they were much smaller in size, increasing the range of the weapon further, as the thin spear-like projectiles were fired through the air.

Secondly, the handle was changed so that the bowstring could be pulled further, imparting even more energy to the ammunition. As the bowstring got longer, the handle itself became straighter, until it was essentially a curved stick with the bowstring attached to each end.

The first bows, known as Short Bows, we able to be used held either horizontally or vertically, which enabled them to be used on the move, and even while mounted. However, soon larger Bows were created as people started using the bows vertically.

Weapons Screen 13In game terms, we can represent bows similar to Slingshots, except that they have even larger bonuses to Attack Speed. Secondly, they use different ammunition from Slingshots, so we need to create a new Armour type to reflect this. However, this is identical to creating Sling Ammunition.

To create the Bow, we’ll simply give it a very high bonus to Attack Speed (+25). However, since Bows can be fired such a long way, and because they can be used on the move (or rather, because they can move away before others attack), we’ll also include a +10% Evasion Rate. We can also create a Short Bow, which has a lower bonus to Attack Speed (+20), but a higher Evasion Rate bonus (+25%).

Other Projectile Weapons

There are many other projectile weapons available, especially as technology advanced. Some of these required specialist training – such as the Longbow, which was capable of hitting opponents at extreme distances, but attackers needed to learn how to handle the high arcs of their projectiles to get any form of accuracy at such ranges. Others, such as the crossbow and firearm, were often so technologically advanced that while they may have been simple “point and click” projectile weapons, they often needed a lot of expertise and professional upkeep to avoid deadly mistakes.

Either way, these projectile weapons are outside the scope of our Game, as it is unlikely that a novice such as our hero will have encountered them, let alone used them.

Conclusion

Three parts later, and we’ve created no less than 22 different weapon types of the same basic power level for our Hero to use. This is a vast range of customization, although there is little in the way of power growth as far as weaponry is concerned. The fun here is to have the player pick up different types of weaponry, which does different things, and combine them to suit whatever play style they prefer for their Hero.

Admittedly, the primary use of weapons – attacking and causing damage – is quite limited, with the most powerful weapon only providing a +20 Attack bonus, while most provide Attack bonuses of +0, +2, or +5. However, in comparison, the creation of ranged weapons have resulted in weapons providing a hefty bonus to Attack Speed, which equates to a bonus to Agility when making normal attacks – with the highest bonus being a +25 Attack Speed. This means that most weapons can be placed on a scale of Attack bonus vs. Attack Speed bonus.

Becoming an Adventurer

As hinted at earlier, we can have the Hero required to acquire a Sword, as the default weapon of an Adventurer. However, an Adventurer is defined as being versatile, and thus we could also them to have acquired a Bow as well – since this is the most iconic ranged weapon of the genre.

Tooling Up – Part 2

Last time, we looked at and planned the role that equipment was to play in our game. We can continue with this planning, and start working on actually creating equipment for our game.

We chose to have the five equipment slots relate to the five areas of a character – Main Hand, Off-Hand, Body, Head, and Legs. The main hand is reserved for weapons, while the other four are used for armour. We also noted that our “Unclassed” class only allows access to Basic Weapons and Basic Armour – the simplest items of each type that any character can normally use.

Now, we need to plan the actual types of equipment, and the roles that each type will play. There are two main roles for equipment, Character Growth and Character Choice, as we saw last time. These two roles are not mutually exclusive, although we might find that we can make the game simpler – at least in the beginning – by only focusing on one of these choices at a time.

Weapons

Since the Weapon equipment type consists of a single slot, let’s start there first. Seeing as we have only a single character, the type of weapons and attacks they can use will typically define how the game plays out. Thus, we can easily have weapons focus on character choice – that is, the available weapons largely define how the character attacks, but are of relatively the same strength. This is ideal, because the majority of the weapons will be weak, improvised tools that the PC will find in their travels.

There are many types of weapons in the world, but they all generally serve the same purpose with the same means of use – you hold them in your hand, and then use them to hit your enemies in an attempt to injure and kill them. There are a few differences though, and these differences are what provides the player with choice.

Rocks

The first ever weapons were, presumably, rocks used by our early ancestors. Although technology has evolved to the point where we have much different expectations of what a basic weapon is, the humble rock pretty much started off the arms race, once we moved beyond simple brawling. It fulfils the simple requirement of being held in the hand and hurting people struck with it. Rocks can be found anywhere, and many other things use the same purpose – skulls, short pieces of wood, and so forth. Even lumps of metal will do in a pinch.

Weapons ScreenIn game terms, the Rock is simply an unwieldy weapon the provides a bonus to the attack parameter, because increased attack equates to increased damage potential. They can be very hard to use effectively, however, since they don’t tend to have easy hand-grips. Thus, we can create a Rock with +10 Attack and a -10% Hit Rate.

To allow some choice here, we can also add a Large Rock which causes more damage, but requires two hands to use, while being even more unwieldy (+20 Attack and -15% Hit Rate), and a Small Rock which is easier to use (+5 Attack and -5% Hit Rate).

Clubs and Sticks

After rocks, clubs and sticks are often considered the simplest weapons of all. In essence, a club is essentially a rock with handle, allowing for easier grip. However, they were typically made of anything that a person could get their hands on – so bones, wooden branches, and eventually metal bars worked just as well. However, it was noticed that handles increased the size of the weapon, and this sometimes made weapons of denser materials harder to use.

Weapons Screen 2In game terms, a Club is a simple weapon that provides an attack bonus. It works similarly to a Rock, but without the Hit Rate penalties. Thus, we can create a Club simply by providing a +5 Attack bonus. We can also provide a Large Club that requires two hands (+10 Attack).

Staves

Another simple weapon is the staff – which is basically a long club. Although a staff is designed to be held in two-hands, the purpose of the second hand isn’t to provide extra power needed to cause more damage, but to provide more stability for the weapon. In such a two-handed grip, the staff can also be used defensively to block attacks, as much as it can be used to actually attack.

A staff can also be used in other ways, including the ability to trip opponents or to strike them multiple times, but it is worth noting that these uses often require training. Thus, they are better represented by skills than being included as part of the weapon.

Finally, magic users often use staves to power spells. Since these staves aren’t often being wielded for combat purposes, they can usually be held aloft in a single hand, but this requires training, and such staves are often unique items in their own right and thus are better represented by their own weapon category.

Weapons Screen 3In game terms, a Staff is a two-handed weapon that provides a bonus to Attack and a bonus to Defence. Thus, we can create a staff by giving the weapon +5 Attack and +5 Defence.

Spears

The implementation of staves as a weapon led to another development – the spear. This is the original pole-arm, and is essentially a staff with a point on the end. Although they could be used like staves, their main purpose was to jab at their opponents from further away, and thus enable the character to deal damage to their opponent before their opponents could reach them. While this did not provide as much of a defensive benefit as a staff, striking first could mean the difference between life or death.

Weapons Screen 4In game terms, a Spear is a two-handed Club that has an improved Attack Speed. This feature is a value added to the character’s Agility when making a normal attack, which means they often act fast then their opponents. Thus, we can create a Spear by giving the weapon +5 Attack and +5 Attack Speed.

Hammers

While clubs evolved to become longer, eventually becoming staves and spears, these weapons also evolved in another way, depending upon their use as tools. The area of impact on the weapon changed was changed over time in a number of ways. One of these ways was to become blunter, to provide a larger surface area for impact. This was useful when larger areas needed to bit repeatedly, as was the case in metalworking.

Although primarily a toolworking development, rather than a military one, there was a useful side effect to creating blunt impact areas that lead to hammers and sledgehammers. They were easier to use to send their opponents reeling, often slowing them down or even stunning them in combat. Such blunted weapons were often considered less lethal then their more primitive cousins, and used to subdue, rather than kill, their enemies, and were often used for weapons training where sharper and pointier weapons would prove very lethal.

States ScreenIn game terms, we can create a state called Knockback, which slows down a character when they attack (-5 Attack Speed). We can also create a state called Reeling, which slows down a character, whether they attack or not (-5 Agility). Finally, we can create a state called Stun which prevents the character from acting at all. Each of these states lasts for 2 turns, so that they aren’t too debilitating in combat.

Weapons Screen 5For the Hammer, we give the weapon a 10% chance to apply each of these three states, and a slight Attack bonus. Since we already have the Club providing +5 Attack, the Hammer should be balanced to provide less than this amount. A +2 Attack bonus should suffice.

We can also create a two-handed version – A Sledgehammer, which provides a greater chance for each of the states (25% chance of each), and a higher Attack bonus (+5).

Now we have created no less than nine different weapons for the character to choose from. This is quite a lot of variety, but still doesn’t represent the full range of basic weapons which the character may use. Thus, we will continue to work on weapons next time.