Devlog 2021-03-28

  • Brainstormed about how I want to handle skills
  • Start implementing that


I wrote some last week about the trouble I’d been having with deciding how I wanted skills etc to work. I waffled a lot, and eventually started building pros and cons lists for various approaches. I ultimately ended up going with a fairly traditional route, and deferred a lot of the more unusual ideas I had for future games. I certainly could change my mind, but for now I at least have a way forward.

And Finally, Progress

I spent basically all week reaching the decision and finally came to it today. So I started implementing SOMETHING so at least I’d have a little to show off.

I’ve had a “Status” section in the menu just kind of hanging around with debug information in it. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but I realized that I could finally put it to use. The status section will have three (for now?) sections in it: the default info section, the “spend XP” section, and the attributes section. I may actually move these around and change what the default is, but that’s going to need some playtesting to figure out how these actually flow in practice.

The info section is pretty straightforward – it shows you info about the character. I’m undecided exactly what I’ll put here, but I’ve written a couple sentences of backstory for each character. I may add more random “demographic” information here, or I may add other interesting stuff. Not really sure yet.

Spend XP is where you’ll be “levelling up” your characters. There isn’t a traditional level system in Black Mountain; instead you use XP to buy skills and passive upgrades and such. It isn’t displayed super well at the moment, but there’s a hierarchy of upgrades you can buy, as well as levels of each. The available trees of upgrades depend on the character’s available classes and equipment. I had actually built this interface a while back, but it lived under “Skills”. I’ve moved it here, though, and will repurpose the Skills section into where you actually use your skills outside of combat.

Speaking of skills based on equipment, as I rambled about on twitter a while back, Black Mountain and later games will not have the standard jRPG equipment “treadmill”. I wanted to avoid the classic jRPG silliness of “Here is this amazing legendary sword! … That you will sell to a merchant in two hours because the sword you bought at a merchant in the next town is better”, and strive for something a little more in line with epic fantasy books. A characters' core equipment will be a part of them, and will grow along with them – equipment will happen only very infrequently, and usually as an “upgrade” to an existing piece of equipment or as an expansion of options, rather than replacing them. In Black Mountain, for instance, Kiel uses the sword that her father left behind when he died; it would be ridiculous for her to just toss it aside partway through the journey. Since the equipment is more-or-less fixed (or, in later games, a very small pool), it functions partly as the character’s “class”, and so the character will have skills associated with that particular weapon. (Coincidentally this also happens to mean that I don’t have to worry about inconsistent art for different weapons.)

The last section, Attributes, isn’t done yet. It’s where I’ll show the character’s stats, but I haven’t started work on it yet, so no screenshot. I’m considering switching this to be the default screen, rather than the info section, since the info section will be (relatively?) unchanging, while Attributes may have things the player wants to check on every now and then.

At Least I’m Moving Forward Again

The last two weeks haven’t been great, but I’m glad to have made a choice. Hopefully I’ll be back to my usual productivity next weekend.