First, I would like to thank my wife for giving the time to play test The Scroll in its single-player (SP) mode, enabling me to be able to iron out any new bugs that may have been introduced since our testing/updating of the multi-player (MP) sessions a the few months previously. She is finally coming to the end of the story (for a second time) after playing for another 70 hours (according to the in-game timer).
I would also like to thank all of you who have been waiting patiently for the latest version after the many updates I had been doing to overcome MP issues (and some updates), which may have introduced their own problems in the course of the latest changes. In some tests, I had even had to reverse/adjust some updates, as they did cause some issues of their own. Thankfully now, however, I believe the work has now paid off to allow me to present the latest v2.65, which should be relatively sound, even with the latest adjustments.
THE UPDATE INFO
Of all the changes, the main thing is that the latest code has been finalised with respect to module swap-overs. While this will not have any immediate obvious effect on playing The Scroll , it does now enable the player to keep either, in order of preference (a) A final save game, or (b) An exported PC, with which to start play with any of my modules released in the future. e.g. The Scroll (Part 2). And while this may appear to be a long way off, I am still trying to write this latest module when my health and time allows. It is my hope to release both modules 2 and 3, but time will tell.
The good news with respect to later modules is that the core campaign code is in place and means adding new material is somewhat more easy simply because I am not having to rewrite the core code, allowing me to concentrate on plot and any dedicated story scripts instead.
NB: I need to point out that due to a core change in one of the module’s areas, this latest version is definitely NOT compatible with any previous editions of the game. I apologise for that, and can only recommend you start afresh - and hopefully are able to enjoy the game in its more completed state.
During the course of many updates since withdrawing the module for repairs, it has undergone probably a further 100 or more updates, ranging from simple typos, to some significant code changes. And while I know it is unlikely that I will have squashed every bug (even now), I do hope the critical ones have finally been put to bed. Some of these have included:-
1) JOURNAL ENTRIES: In some unusual circumstances, in the course of testing, a journal entry sometimes failed to update. Most of the times it was non-critical, but was still misleading. The ones that may have not fired that were critical often related to other areas of code problems, such as critical item drops (need to be acquired to update the journal). Such areas of the code have now undergone some rigorous testing to ensure the journal entries stay up to date. I also had to reinstate some “double” update code to accommodate TOKENS usage in journal entries, so varying journal entry info updated correctly.
2) ITEM COLLECTION: Various aspects of the code surrounding the acquisition of plot items was the most critical area of updating this patch addresses, as it could potentially be the biggest cause of broken quests. From item drops on the death of creatures, to items passed from NPC/PC to others, the code has been looked at very closely. As always, most of the issues were caused by timing of the code, which I have now streamlined.
3) FORCED CONVERSATIONS: Addressed some rare issues of some important conversations failing to fire if the player was either “compromised” or the player was not playing their Main PC. While these conversations could often be recovered (by manual player interaction), this could, nevertheless, not be relied upon.
4) TRANSITIONS: The last of the critical aspects addressed were transitions, which one would have thought to be the most straightforward from the very start. However, due to the number of checks the module makes when a player exits an area, a timing issue caused some failures if the transition was from a conversation. It was a simple enough fix when found, but still required testing to ensure I had caught all places it was required. There was even one last requirement in the last session my wife play-tested, which was pretty much well after she had been everywhere. Thankfully, this is one of those issues that once fixed, will stay fixed.
Going forward, I hope now that all my critical hook scripts, On(UN)Acquire, On(UN)Equip, etc, are now fully settled and tested sufficiently for both PCs and NPCs/Monsters to such a degree that any “additions” are now only made to those linked executable scripts, which do not interfere with the general functionality of the main ones. E.g. The On Area Enter now calls its own dedicated executable script for events that happen on entering the areas, including any new ones I have to cater for. Therefore, in theory, the existing code (including those parts already in the additional executable) will not be affected as I continue to update with newer modules/areas.
Many of the last updates I was uploading previously was to do with changes related to the MP side of the game, and the alterations I was having to make for both MP and SP support. This is why (in the end) I made the decision to stop the many updates and concentrate on a SP testing to allow me to re-release the module after further updating/testing.
1) TB SYSTEM: I believe those issues that MP testing highlighted gave me some important pointers on where I needed to improve the SP code too. In particular (and I know not all will be using this aspect of the game), was the Althéa Turn-Based Combat System. I provided a video to show how the newer update allowed better switching between AI and PUPPET MODES for all or individual PC control. As my wife used this system with every battle, I was able to overcome all the issues that she encountered, including such things as “compromised” PCs. I believe I have ironed out all major issues with this system now, and hopefully even the minor issue we had of “ghosted” ammo appearing in an ammo slot when it clearly is not actually available. (Let me know if you experience it.)
2) RIGHT-CLICK INVENTORY: After recognising that the right-click was missing the option to open an inventory, I decided to add it. The default is the Main PC, or the PC you right-click on.
3) RECIPE BOOK INFO: The information for a recipe book now falls inline with other inventory items, in that you now have to left-click on the book to have the feedback in the chat window, rather than simply hover as before.
MINOR ISSUES OVERCOME
As I implied above, there has also been a large number of minor “annoying” bugs fixed, from (a) intermittent problems with the automated inventory item collection system and stacking; (b) the Summon Clockroach horn failing; © placeable damage feedback; (d) Cutscene encounters not firing; (e) Sound files not firing, and even (f) Encumbrance values, among some others I do not mention here.
Now the challenge remains for both me and you! For me, it is to try to persevere with the next module, especially now that my wife and friend are awaiting the next instalment. And for you, if you feel encouraged to do so (and when it is finally uploaded), is to try out The Scroll for yourself!
Be warned, however, that among other things, I have addressed creature balancing, which my wife found more challenging on her SP game, second time around. I believe it can still be possible to run through the game without taking a “defeat”, but the path you take will affect the odds.
Furthermore, The Scroll is as much a thinking man’s dungeon as well as a dungeon-crawlers, who usually like to simply hack their way through. You will come across puzzles that require player input, even if there are often short-cuts too.
However, the game CANNOT be beaten unless the player takes note of what is provided by the story, and is involved with what is going on. It is the closest “PnP feeling” game to D&D on computer that I know of, and I have played my fair share of computer games. It was designed as a D&D campaign from the start; and as a DM of pen and paper for many years, I used to design puzzles for my players to overcome within the game as a matter of course. This aspect remains within The Scroll , and would require your attention!
As the advert says in the first Ripped Puzzle: "Illiterates need not apply!"
I will update the title of this blog when the NEW RELEASE finally becomes available.
EDIT: by the way, for those interested, I was considering updating my own blog with updates on building the second module. I find that helps me to concentrate, and any feedback on that always helps me along. I will tack a link on the end of this edit after I write the first one, which I will do shortly. (The first will be the post after the link above.)