Update 35: We’re Still Listening

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Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Brother None » September 12th, 2013, 3:43 pm

Update 35 discusses the feedback on the Prison video and the iteration we're doing following on it, as well as providing a new piece of Mark Morgan music.
Combat Systems

On to some of the gameplay points. One often seen discussion was the change from hex grid to squares. This is one of those points where crowdfunded games are unique; in a standard development cycle you would not get to see how mechanics like that work until they’re fully tested, iterated on and polished.

Here is a little backstory on the change. Originally, we didn’t intend to have any hex or square grid during combat. It was going to be more free form movement. One of our engineers added a hex grid as a debug test to approximate spacing of characters in combat encounters. When we saw that grid turned on, our mouths watered. A few days prior to recording the first video, we made some tweaks to get our movement working with the hex grid. It worked great for our early combat. One unfortunate side effect was that since it wasn’t in our original design, we didn’t account for it from the beginning of development. We had already done tests and created our tile set sizes, including doors and surrounding props. We could have redesigned the size of the tile sets and doorways (which would have been a huge amount of work since we had grey boxed many of the levels) or look into other options. Squares came next. We had introduced cover at this point and squares lined up nicely with the doors and cover.

Of course, while the advantage in positioning, production time and map layout is there, many of you justifiably pointed out you’re losing flexibility in movement, from a grid’s six-way movement to a square’s four-way movement, and that creates undesirable situations where you move four squares east and four squares south to move to a relatively close position. With the help of backer suggestions, here are two points we have already implemented to improve the mechanics and feel:
  • Moving around the world in combat is much more free form. Your player won’t just follow the exact grid, which created an unnecessarily artificial look. They will take the shortest unblocked distance from the point they are standing to the point you are moving to. Movement is still calculated based on an underlying (optional on/off) grid and is displayed to you in your AP cost.
  • Moving diagonally in the calculation costs 1.5 times as much as a straight movement. Do note that your speed attribute changes the AP cost used as movement for all characters, so the calculation is never very simple.
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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Ronin73 » September 12th, 2013, 4:00 pm

That music track rocks!

Then again I'm a sucker for guitar twangs for some reason :)
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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by McDougle » September 12th, 2013, 4:33 pm

Thanks a lot for this intel. :D It's always awesome to hear official input. :)

I'm interested to see how many of our proposed options will make the cut. :D

The song is grand btw.
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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Ranger1 » September 12th, 2013, 4:44 pm

I don't suppose you could add stance in cosmetically without putting in additional mechanics; for instance when a sniper is on high ground rather than the stock animation? I think most of us just want it to look a little cooler.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Grotesque » September 12th, 2013, 4:49 pm

map design revolving a square grid base. RIP a more natural look to maps!?
Bugs can be fixed but shitty design is forever.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Darkzone » September 12th, 2013, 4:51 pm

Very good update, addresses and solves my main problems, with the system.
And i hope that even due to the much work that results, with the implementation of the two additional stances, they will be made.
To the cost of 1.5 for the diagonal movement, it is in this kind of system the best solution, despite the distortion, which can be neglected and that is even less then with a hexagonal tessalation.
Also that the movement not following slavishly to the grid makes me very happy, because this was the first thread that i have opend here, to address this matter. :D
If you would call it the Darkzone system that would make me even more proud, because it would kick somebody in the nuts ( but this is not necessary, honestly, i am only happy about that you will make it ). :lol:
If you adjust the movement speed according to the derivation from the angular movement, it should look really good, but because i am no animation specialist i don't know how the animation will look like, if you decrease the speed analog (time dilation). And i don't know if you can allow yourself the productions costs for different digital movement speeds.
Everything else seems to be rational. I approve it (not that i had something to say, but i will not speak against and i will even defend this).

About Mark Morgan as always fantastic. I am very glad that he has been chosen to make the music.
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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by boldan28 » September 12th, 2013, 5:03 pm

Ranger1 wrote:I don't suppose you could add stance in cosmetically without putting in additional mechanics; for instance when a sniper is on high ground rather than the stock animation? I think most of us just want it to look a little cooler.
My reading of the update is that the majority of the time/expense in adding stances is from the animations, not the mechanics. If anything I'd rather see the mechanics than the animation, but that would admittedly be damned odd :lol: I can definitely see how stances would change the entire cover system dynamic though and require major rebalancing.

Overall very informative update, I think that a lot of concerns are addressed here and personally I'm very happy with the overall direction of the game. The only thing I didn't really like about the video was the linearity of the environment and the floaty speech bubble dialogue UI, but those are pretty minor quibbles. Glad to see that diagonal movement will be possible with the square grid system, 8 movement directions is better than 6 anyway :-)

Keep up the hard work and communication.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by ffordesoon » September 12th, 2013, 5:05 pm

Very satisfied with this update. Then again, I thought the video was very good, too, if understandably rough. Hopefully, this will go some way towards satisfying those concerned by the demo.

I doubt it will satisfy everyone, but then, neither will the game. I don't expect every single rough edge to be beveled smooth by the time the game comes out, and I don't think anybody else should, either. Polish costs money. But if the devs can get it to the point where it comes off as charmingly scrappy rather than simply rough, that will be quite enough polish for most players, including many of the most vocal critics.

EDIT: Just listened to the Mark Morgan track. As someone who is not crazy about Morgan's past work in the way some people here are, I gotta say, he is killing it on this soundtrack. Shit, even if I end up hating the game (a remote possibility, but still a possibility), I'll be happy I backed it just because of the soundtrack.
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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Lucius » September 12th, 2013, 5:22 pm

I agree, this update was satisfying and alleviates some concerns. I'm most excited about the grid and more free form movement. It almost sounds like the grid will be under there for mathematical purposes only. Am I understanding correctly? Does this mean characters will end their turn facing any direction and not just 90 degree angles such as it is now? A more free form feel will definitely be a plus. I'm hoping we won't be able to tell there is a grid under everything at all by time game is released.

Glad to hear there will be many more animation improvements and I'll keep an open mind about the map design of the demo.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by kungfujoe » September 12th, 2013, 7:26 pm

Brother None wrote:
  • Moving diagonally in the calculation costs 1.5 times as much as a straight movement. Do note that your speed attribute changes the AP cost used as movement for all characters, so the calculation is never very simple.
I know this is a really picky math point, but with a square-based grid, shouldn't diagonals cost sqrt(2) as many action points? Since that's about 1.4, the 1.5 multiplier results in a small penalty for going diagonally. With this penalty removed, the result is a movement system that's arguably MORE flexible than a hex grid, because instead of getting 6 directions to move, you get 8 directions, with AP costs equivalent to proper euclidean distance.

I know in Fallout 2 (which I'm replaying right now thanks to Killap's recent release of the Restoration Project v2.2), the hex grid results in moves in certain directions costing a lot more per unit distance than others. A square grid with properly weighted AP factors reduces this problem, even if it's still slightly more limited than truly freeform movement with AP costs calculated based on linear distances.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Brother None » September 12th, 2013, 7:29 pm

kungfujoe wrote:I know this is a really picky math point, but with a square-based grid, shouldn't diagonals cost sqrt(2) as many action points?
Yeah, we've looked at that. We might do it. Depends on the balance between ease-of-use and what works best. Just a matter of iteration, we'll see.
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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by kungfujoe » September 12th, 2013, 7:38 pm

Brother None wrote:
kungfujoe wrote:I know this is a really picky math point, but with a square-based grid, shouldn't diagonals cost sqrt(2) as many action points?
Yeah, we've looked at that. We might do it. Depends on the balance between ease-of-use and what works best. Just a matter of iteration, we'll see.
Even if you just changed 1.5 to 1.4, it'd be closer (but a ~7% difference is hardly worth exerting a lot of effort over). Even with 1.5, I think the square grid is perfectly flexible, and don't understand why I'm seeing a bunch of people complaining about it being inherently worse than a hex grid. I really liked the demo and am looking forward to further improvements. Usually, when I buy/receive a game, it gets put on the backburner until I get to some other high-profile games I haven't played yet, but I'll be eagerly tearing into this one as soon as it's released! Keep up the great work!

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Felixg91 » September 12th, 2013, 8:24 pm

See steady hands on the helm, listening and doing something about it.

Yes I am happy about diagonal movement, I understand about the stances, and I like the music as well, but mostly what I wanted to hear ( and did) was that most of the video was cobbled together for the demo and the game will be much improved and tweaked, which I really was not so worried about, I figured as much.

But thanks Inxile for the update and the reassurance.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Damedius » September 12th, 2013, 9:05 pm

I'd rather you didn't listen too much to be honest.

You have a vision for this game and listening to us too much would take away from that. The first Wasteland was a masterpiece without any input from the fans. I'm confident if you stay true to your original vision for the game it will be great.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by boldan28 » September 12th, 2013, 9:09 pm

1.4 might be more accurate than 1.5 but it makes it a lot more difficult to calculate in your head while you're playing. I'm sure the game will give you feedback on AP expenditure, but it would still be annoying. Not sure if it's worth the bother for such a minor difference.

IMHO and all that :)

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by elmigranto » September 12th, 2013, 9:10 pm

What was really bothering me in Prison video is the fact that, when battle started, enemies were instantly aware of where The Rangers are. In particular, 2 Rangers behind the fence at the bottom of the screen.

I hope that ability to sneak behind the enemy lines with couple of Rangers before the fight starts will be in the game. Because for me it's like the most fun tactics in party-based games — draw all the attention to the well-covered group and slay hostiles from behind with others.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by SagaDC » September 12th, 2013, 9:27 pm

elmigranto wrote:What was really bothering me in Prison video is the fact that, when battle started, enemies were instantly aware of where The Rangers are. In particular, 2 Rangers behind the fence at the bottom of the screen.

I hope that ability to sneak behind the enemy lines with couple of Rangers before the fight starts will be in the game. Because for me it's like the most fun tactics in party-based games — draw all the attention to the well-covered group and slay hostiles from behind with others.
Honestly, I was under the impression that the enemies were instantly aware of the rangers BECAUSE the player didn't use the Silent Move skill. Throughout the Demo, there were several moments where the player could have presumably used one of the various (what is it now, thirty?) skills.

Since we know there's a skill called 'Silent Move', I think its safe to assume that we'll be able to sneak about. It's just that they haven't opted to showcase it yet. :)

EDIT - As an aside, I absolutely understand the reasoning behind the Stances issue. Although I would certainly like to see Stances still make it into the game, I can live without them. Taking shortcuts and 'skimping' on the animations just to push stances into the game will only draw fire from the 'better animations' crowd, so its not a terribly viable solution.

EDIT 2, Electric Boogaloo - Also, I've already stated that I actually prefer the Square Grid for its simplicity of use during encounter design. As an avid tabletop gamer, I've tried using both, and I can very much agree that building maps on top of a square grid is far simpler than working with a hex-based grid. Hard to blame the devs for their decision, and I'm just fine with Square Grids. Personally, though, if they were to change it again I would rather see the return of gridless freeform movement over the re-implementation of Hex-Based movement.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by dorkboy » September 12th, 2013, 10:33 pm

fallout sample at 2:38 is really unsubtle and seems highly unnecessary to me. other than that i can't complain.

glad inxile are taking advantage of the fact that they're not using prerendered sprites, though sitting in front of a piece of equipment capable of doing lotsa computations double-johnny-quickly i'm kind of astranged by the need for a square grid in order to determine LoS/cover. oh well.

stances schmances. nobody likes stances anyways. stances are for stance people! etc..
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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by Yuri » September 12th, 2013, 11:14 pm

Grotesque wrote:map design revolving a square grid base. RIP a more natural look to maps!?
In battles were you supposed to use cover - yes. That is exactly what you can see in the last video. Tetris design.
ffordesoon wrote:Very satisfied with this update. Then again, I thought the video was very good, too, if understandably rough. Hopefully, this will go some way towards satisfying those concerned by the demo.
I don't really care about stances. Other problems are going to be resolved or at least bearable. But there is no word on using party in dialogues again. So no, not satisfied yet. Especially when it's the easiest to do and most logical thing to have.

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Re: Update 35: We’re Still Listening

Post by devastat » September 13th, 2013, 1:09 am

Regarding the stances, if there is no time to implement crouching AND prone, please at least implement one of the two stances, preferably crouching.

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