Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Targetting, bump to attack, and player's preferences...

Some of the feedback I received during the last tech demo includes a few complaints that when they'd hit 'a' to attack, the screen centering on the first available target was disorienting. While I personally didn't have this issue (or else I'd have coded it differently), I could see where they were coming from. Since I'm handling "low hanging fruit" early in this iteration (or procrastinating, depending on your point of view), this seemed like an easy thing to handle.

I've covered this issue with two different fixes. The first being the inclusion of "bump to attack". This is a common feature in roguelikes, where moving into the same space as an enemy invokes a melee attack. I personally don't care for it. I've lost more than one character in games without "run in direction" when I held down an arrow key for a half a second too long and melee'd myself into oblivion.

Magecrawl also has weapons with "reach" such as the spears, and bump to attack can prevent people from noticing their longer reach. In addition, some weapons either can't attack certain directions, or attack at lower strength; the attack key shows overlays making both these facts obvious, while bump to attack doesn't. Despite this, it is a convenient option, so I added it as a preference one can turn on.

The second fix is a preference to disable all "auto targeting". When you request an action that requires targeting, magecrawl will try to pick an intelligent initial targeting position. This preference just skips all this code, and all targetting starts at the player's position.

I'd like to spend a minute talking about preferences. Magecrawl isn't even a full game yet, and in addition to keyboard settings for every key, magecrawl has more than 15 preferences so far. A few are debugging settings, but most are documented in Preferences.xml. Each of these brings different behavior to magecrawl in some manner, which in theory requires additional testing and maintenance. The trick is to find a balance of providing great defaults, so people don't have to touch the preferences, and enough knobs that people can change the settings that are important to them.


Todd said...

I actually loved having the 'a to attack' functionality. Bump to attack works for a certain kind of game; but if you don't want to make that kind of game feel free to leave it out. I certainly got comfortable with this 'new' way very very quickly.

I also liked the chests. I'd rather they NOT dump things into my inventory automatically. I mean, how many pairs of sandals do I really need?

donblas said...

'a' to attack still works, and will always work :). If you happen to set this preference, it just means that in addition to that you can bump to attack.

Chests I keep going back and forth on. I fixed the chests to stop dropping a bunch of newbie armor, so you shouldn't see so much duplication. Why don't you like things getting dumped in your inventory? Would you rather have a dialog of things you could select to get from the chest?