The newest feature to make it into Noble’s Land is the Region System. When using the World Editor you can assign sections of the world into different regions. Regions currently control three important settings: the name of the region, if it is a safe zone or not, and what music to play.
When you enter different regions the name of the area will display across the playing area. I’ve come across a lot of MMOs that do something similar, but not quite the way I’d have done it. Most of the time the name of an area will only display the first time you enter it. When it does display, it is usually pretty small. Every time I’ve pictured how this would work I pictured the text being very large and dominant. I want the world itself to be a major character in the game and I want players to learn about it as they play. By having the text large and dominant I feel people will not only be more likely to read it, but also remember it.
Having the music change as you walk around the world is very welcome. Although my resources are limited I’m trying to match songs to areas they best fit. Cities will have more uplifting songs while places like caves and forest will be much more somber. I’m so grateful for people like Kevin MacLeod who has hundreds, if not thousands, of royalty free music available on his site. One day I’d love for Noble’s Land to have a custom soundtrack but in the meantime I’m thankful to have such great options to work with.
Lastly, assigning an area as a safe zone will prevent players from attacking each other while occupying that space. Being an open world, always on, PVP heavy game there won’t be many safe zone, but they are a necessity. Major cities and spawn points really need to be combat free. If spawn points weren’t safe there would be guilds that send parties out to kill someone, and then send parties to a spawn point to kill them over and over again. If major cities weren’t safe then players would never be able to idle safely, or even just stand around and talk carelessly.
2013 Indie of the Year Awards via Indie DB
If you feel up to it, I’d be grateful if you would head over to Noble’s Land’s profile on IndieDB and vote for the project. No registration is required and it only takes a few seconds, just click on the big red button on the banner. To get there you can click on the green banner above this paragraph. It’s highly unlikely I’d win, but it would be awesome to at least place in the top 100. I would be going for the Unreleased Game of 2013 award which has a cash prize which would go directly into funding the game.
For a long time now I’ve been conflicted when it comes to the subject of player advancement. Up until now I have been using a class based system. I had intended to have a mix of skill and class progression. With this system you could freely change your class in towns. Classes would limit what weapon and armor type you could use. After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to change this completely. The main reason I used this system was to make paper-dolling for avatars easier and require less resources and that’s just a bad reason to do it. Instead, Noble’s Land will use a true skill based system for character advancement. The more you use a particular skill, the more experience it gets. The higher a skill level is, the more effect it becomes.
Now when creating a character, instead of picking your starting class you’ll pick a weapon skill to start off with. To put this new system to use, I’ve programmer-arted a new weapon type, axes. Axes hit slower then swords do but also deal more damage. You can only equip weapons if you’ve learned that weapon type’s skill and have the right amount of experience with it. Although new characters get one weapon type, there will be NPCs around the world that you can do quests for to learn different ones.
With this system, characters have a lot more customization options. Everyone has the ability to be a jack of all trades, the only thing required is time. This way you can also mix and match equipment to create as many custom builds as you can think of. I’m not sure yet how this will effect avatars. For now, avatars will change when you wear a full set of armor, with weapons no longer being included in the decision. Avatars will also be shown holding a sword, even if an axe is currently equipped.
After leaving the starting city, Quarantine Hold, the first area players will enter is The Glowing Woods. During the day, The Glowing Woods are occupied by aggressive Wood Spiders. At night, Fireflies give the forest it’s name.
Creatures can now spawn at different times of the day. When placing a creature spawn in the World Editor you can choose to have that creature spawn during during either the day, night, or anytime. Creatures now also have the ability to emit light. When creating a creature in the Resource Editor you can specify a light range, in tiles, of how far their light reaches.
One of the latest features I’ve added to Noble’s Land is the “One Out Of” system for creatures. What is that? It’s item drop support. When designing a creature in the Resource Editor you can now assign items and the chance they will drop to them.
For those that aren’t familiar with the project, I love coming up with ridiculous bullshit terms for systems I add. The “One Out Of” system is in reference to item drop support for creatures. When I read about other MMOs item drop chances it’s always a percentage. Looking at 0.01 or 0.002 just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I went with a more simpler one out of whatever system. How likely is it I’ll get a bat wing? One out of ten. What about a Azurite Shield? One out of Three hundred and twelve, or 1/312.
Tonight I added the second AI personality for creatures: aggressive. Creatures that are aggressive will start attacking any character that gets too close. Creatures have different ranges they can see a character from. Flying creatures, like Blue Bats, can spot a character from far away, whereas smaller ground creatures, like Wood Spiders, can’t see as far. Creatures now also use the same rules as characters when it comes to valid movement.
I’ve been working on the first city players will visit when entering Noble’s Land with a new character, Quarantine Hold. The city acts as the training grounds to get player familiarized with the basics of game play before they are thrown to the wolves.
The first thing I did, after designing everything on grid paper, was placing the buildings. After that I started connecting them with roads, adjusting the buildings’ positions and sizes along the way. Since then I’ve been programmer-arting some accent pieces, furniture, and a variety of other detail pieces.
In this picture you can see counters for banks and shops as well as building signs. The gold sign designates a bank, the pouch a trader, steaks for taverns, an anvil and hammer at the blacksmith, and an exclamation point for the embassy. I’ll go into more detail about the specifics of these buildings in an upcoming Developer Blog.
Tonight I added transparent pixel detection when trying to interact with an item. All items are 32×32 pixels in size, even if an item is smaller then that. The unused parts of the images are filled with one particular color which is turned transparent when loaded into the game.
Now when you interact with an item it will check if you are clicking on the transparent part of the image. If you are, it will do nothing. With this new functionality you can grab items underneath others, as demonstrated above. Items on the map still have to be picked up in order. If you try grabbing an item under another, even if it’s visible, it won’t allow it.
Finishing off my marathon of a night with the first AI personality, Passive. Creatures that are passive won’t attack a player until provoked in one way or another. For now, simply attacking a passive creature will provoke it’s attack.
In the animation you can see creatures have different movement speeds. Some creatures you might not be able to run away from, others you can leave in the dust. Tomorrow I’m going to add the next AI personality, aggressive.
Been working on creatures so far tonight. The first thing I did was have creatures use a display name above their head instead of their programmatic name. This basically means instead of a “spider” it can be a “Wood Spider” or a “Red Spider”. After that I started on enemy AI. I’ve just finished the first part, wandering.
When a creature is added into the world it is given a spawn_x and spawn_y coordinate. If a creature doesn’t have a target to attack they will wander around. They can move in a 3×3 box centered on their spawn point. They also wander at different speeds, based on their walking speed. This gives them some personality, instead of them just standing there waiting to attack. I’m moving onto targeting and attacking now.
For the last few days I have been working on Custom Chunks. World Chunks are prefabricated and used to build the land itself. With worlds the size of Noble’s Land’s there is a lot of duplicating patterns of tiles. World Chunks make building large scale land easier and more efficient.
Custom Chunks are used for Points of Interest like buildings, cities, camp sites, etc… Custom Chunks are made to serve one purpose and aren’t reused anywhere else in the whole map. The animation above is of the newest version of the map editor. The red outlines are for World Chunks, the green ones are for Custom Chunks. If at any point I delete a Custom Chunk, the World Chunk underneath will reappear.
Now that I can start building real content I have started working on some furnishings, as well as wall connecting pieces. In the building above you can see a few potted plants and a counter which is mainly used in shops. These furnishings are similar to the stumps that have been in game, where players and NPCs can walk behind them to be partially obstructed. There is also now separating walls which can be used to build individual rooms inside of a building.