This week I'll delve a little deeper into the non-combat mechanics of 'The Last Road'. At it's core the game is centred on resource management, be it time, health, or some of the more obvious resources like food and water. Since this is a text-based game it's important that A) gathering resources is fun and varied, and B) the use of resources is abundantly clear (by use I mean both purpose and interaction between resources).
During play your characters will periodically consume Food and Water when available, and starve or dehydrate when unavailable. A starving or dehydrated character will, if no food or water is provided, die after a period of time. Additionally when a character becomes starving/dehydrated, they receive a penalty to Endurance and Stability respectively, thus reducing their ability to travel and explore.
Scrap can be found in the environment and used for a variety of purposes. A number of 'buildings', such as a water collector, animal traps, and shelter, can all be constructed from scrap to reduce the need characters to spend their time collecting the more vital resources of food and water. Scrap can also be used to improve weapon durability, thereby increasing their effectiveness in battle, and to craft magazines for weapons.
Magazines can be found in the environment, but are primarily crafted from scrap. Magazines are weapon-specific, and have varying scrap costs depending on their intended weapon type. 'The Last Road' deviates from the formula used by most combat mechanics, in that magazines are the primary resource in combat, rather than units of ammunition. If you choose to reload before a magazine is fully emptied, you lose the remaining ammunition for that combat encounter. At the end of the encounter you can recover a number of magazines proportional to the amount of ammo left in any magazines discarded during combat, so the ammo is not permanently lost. The reasoning behind this decision was to bring the resource management element of the game into the combat.
Fuel is the last major resource. It is the least immediately useful resource as it does not directly impact play, but is required in order to travel to a new area in your vehicle (fleeing the oncoming storm in the process). The quantity of fuel required to travel depends on the total weight of the items you choose to bring with you. All characters, items, and resources have an associated weight and fuel requirement. If you want to bring more characters or resources with you, you must spend more time collecting fuel at the expense of the other resources. Deciding when is the right time to leave and what should be brought with you should be a major decision within the game, and will have a strong impact on the player's ability to survive.
Temporary logo designs and first pass at a proper fog/mist effect
On the practical side of things, this week I have implemented the magazine crafting menu. I've also done a lot of work with other menu functionality, particularly the tabbed menus to ensure that when two tabbed menus are open the tabs can be navigated individually.
Magazine crafting menu with moon in background
The sleep and energy mechanics have also been implemented. When awake, energy is used at a constant rate of 1 unit every 2 hours, or 1 unit every hour when travelling. The amount of energy available to the character is limited by the endurance of the character, and can be recovered by sleeping.
Weapons can now be improved and equipped, though weapon improving is currently instant, where it should take a duration og 0.5 hours. All actions in the game will have an associated time cost, so I guess I missed time out when I was talking about resources before.
When at low health there is a heart beat sound and image effect on the edges of the screen (to reduce the amount of information the player needs to actively take in).
A number of behind the scenes features to make it easier to work with opacity and menu elements- hopefully reducing the opportunity for bugs to exist!
Changed the combat UI layout to keep the list of enemies central in the player vision, and move the player info to a less intrusive area. This also helped to centralise the entire layout to be more in keeping with the symmetrical/centred theme.
New Combat Menu with low-health effect around edges
Made a proper logo for the game! In case you didn't notice, it's supposed to be a compass rose, tying in with the themes of loss (geographical and emotional!). I've also made some (hopefully exciting) progress on the story, which I'll continue working on over christmas.
I won't be working next week, so Happy Holidays everyone! Very pleased to say I met my deadline to have all major systems implemented by christmas, and even managed to get the combat system in which I hadn't anticipated. My next milestone is that I hope to have a fully playable alpha by March, leaving April-August for balance, refining features, steam achievements, and content.