Super Glyph Quest Dev Diary 01

Ah, a Dev Diary, or at least, the beginning of one. Within these posts I shall try to keep you updated with the progress of Super Glyph Quest. That is to say, such is the intention. I fully expect me to run out of time or forget to do it after a while. Still, it's worth a shot, yes?

Spell Parser

I spent a day knocking up a new spell parser to do all of the things that I mentioned in my previous post. The version in the original Glyph Quest was super clunky - especially when it came to combo spells. If you imagine each spell was like a Special Move from a beat-em-up and had a 'recipe' of element types for the player to follow. The parser would simply compare the player's list of selected glyphs to this recipe book and cast the longest version of whichever spells it could match. When it came to Combo spells, this meant that there were actually two versions of each - one for each element involved. Hardly what you'd call elegant. But now I've got a much better way of doing it.

Regular spell casting has changed in so much as you can start with whichever element you like as long as your glyph list includes a consecutive chain of similar glyph types. So both Light, Fire, Fire and Fire, Fire, Light will cast a Fire cantrip. There was a version working which would simply total up the glyphs and pick the dominant one, meaning that you could go Fire, Fire, Light, Fire and actually cast a 3-glyph Fire spell, but we decided against it as it made things a bit too easy.

Similarly, the Combo spell parser has changed a bit. It too allows you to start on whatever element you like so long as it finds an alternating chain of two non-opposing elements that it can call a combo. Again, there was talk of just having it tot up the element types and not give a hoot about glyph ordering - meaning you could cast Fire, Fire, Light, Light or even Fire, Light, Light, Fire - but we decided against it.

The chaining has also been improved by keeping track of both elements used and, so long as the following spell includes one of those elements, allowing your chain to continue. This is going to make our lives a bit easier as we can happily retain all the healing type spells in Light (where they kinda make narrative sense) and not worry about the player not having access to them when chaining other elements. Reversals also use the same logic so you could follow up a Fire-Light combo with Water-anything or Dark-anything and you'd still register a Reversal. Of course, with Reversals being easier, we've had to introduce some kind of restriction to them and that takes the form of a chain penalty. Casting a Reversal cuts your Chain in half*.

Upgrades

League Of Legends masteries
Instead of the old system where you'd increase in level by continued use of a particular element, we're going to adopt a more traditional XP one. I've written a basic Tech Tree system that's going to allow the player to tinker with his stats as he levels up. We're talking about simple things like Elemental attunement, maximum health or resistance to damage and the like. There's a rich vein of stuff here that should give us plenty of depth**.

The system works a bit like WoW or LoL. There are a series of upgrades that players can activate whenever they level up. Some require a single point - like activating Aftertouch or Reversals in the first place - whilst others will allow players to feed in multiple points. The upgrades are tiered and some will even require points to have been spent in specific previous upgrades. Hopefully, this will give us a bit of depth and even promote discussion amongst our community over what constitutes a good 'build'.

Other things will be automatically upgraded based on the player's level. Things like combos, maximum spell length and the size of the glyph board. These are things that we just wouldn't want players to miss out on and nerf themselves, especially in later quests.

Elements

We've added new elements - two of them to be precise. It seemed like a decent thing to do. Of course, coming up with names and effects for them is proving to be somewhat tricky. Likewise, finding two new elements that can be neatly opposed to each other.

Spells

There was talk of moving the base requirements for spells from 2 glyphs to 3. That way people could actually pigeon hole us as a Match-3 game and relate to us a bit better. This would mean that we'd have to up the largest spell size to 6 to retain all of the spells.

What we've actually decided to do is retain the 2 glyph spells but start the player out with the ability to cast 3 glyph spells from the beginning. Oh, and moved the Summons up to require 6 glyphs, meaning we've had to include new spells for 5 glyphs. This means that each element has 4 different levels of spell as well as the Summon. With the 8 elements, that's 40 spells.

Then there's the combinations. The 2 extra elements have moved that number up to 24 giving us a grand total of 64 spells. There was talk of having two different combinations for each pairing, but I don't think we've got the resources for that.

Also, Leanne raised a concern that, with the extra elements, the board would be simply too crowded and players would never reach the required number of glyphs for the more powerful spells. To this end, I've spent the day re-integrating the glyph board with 8 different elements to see what it looks like. It's getting crowded, sure, but we've removed individual Loot glyphs - instead, Loot will be attached to regular glyphs like a bonus.

It's not all plain sailing though - this level of crowding and the ease with which players can increase their chains is something we're going to have to keep a close eye on. The Tech Tree and the player's level of attunement can be used to skew the types of glyphs that get generated at any one time, which should also help. That way, Billy Maxxed Fire Wizard will never be short of fire glyphs, although he might find himself at a loss when he needs to break out an Earth spell for example.

Re-Using Code

Ack. I really don't like doing this - especially when the original was so shonky. In fact, I've never met a coder who wouldn't want to re-write something from scratch rather than re-use something they've already done. Unless they're up against a time constraint, I bet you they'd already thought of a better way of writing it before they even finished the first one.That said, there are certainly a few modules that we'll be able to pull across.

The Spell Parser I've written from scratch but I've pulled the old Glyph Manager from the old version over, mainly for the board generator so we could see one with 8 glyph types. Having the grid appear on the screen made me feel right at home again. The main game loop will be completely re-written from scratch so that everything runs a little cleaner. The effects system may well make it over completely unscathed though.

I picked up NGUI with a view to using it for our UI stuff, but TBH, I can't make head nor tail of it. It looks like it's really good, but there have been so many versions and revisions, I can't find a single relevant tutorial online. Also, the guy's stopped supporting it as Unity have snarfed him up so that he can re-write their own in-house one. Now that I've also sussed out the font scaling issue, I think using the system I wrote before will probably be the safest bet and certainly allow us to get something up and running sooner rather than later.

I'd still love to be able to do sprite fonts though...

* Reversals cut your chain by a prescribed amount that may well be half.
** For example, enabling Reversals by a lower prescribed amount.

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