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Re: CF: What do you want?

David Sundqvist wrote:
> On Wed, 26 May 1999, Mark Wedel wrote:

> >  The question to be asked could also be 'what should crossfire be like?'  I
> > think even if it 'stays like it is', there will still be gradual improvements
> > and new features added.
> Agreed. I'm asking it in several ways :). In my opinion, it should change
> towards more of an adventure/questing rpg. The question is, do other
> people agree? I can certainly see the charm in the action type crossfire
> game, but I think it's extremely hard to balance such a game, and it will
> have inherent tendencies that work against the production of non-action
> maps and quests. The crossfire engine could work well for both kinds of
> games, so if there isnt agreement on the direction, perhaps the code
> should be forked before starting such modifications.

 The decision to be an action game or adventure/exploratory gain is certainly a
major point.  I think that right now, it can move to either direction without
requiring a rewrite - right now, that split could pretty much be determined by
the maps.

 To me, both seem to be viable games.  I don't think an action game would have
quite as much long term staying power - to me, an action game means going back
closer to the gauntlet type games - very fast action, more limited option of
items and spells, and I would probably make a more direct path of the maps.

 I think the game has been moving towards being more of an adventuring game in
the past several years.  Most features and maps that have been added have been
in that flavor.

 Note that the code is under the GPL, so in theory anyone can grab it and make
whatever game they want out of it - so no matter what decision is made, that
doesn't limit what can happen - it just limits what some people (those that
agree with the direction chosen) will work on.

> The most painless way to deal with that would be to dump the maps, decide
> on 'correct' server functionality and balance and reintegrate the useable
> ones into a new mapset. Most of the crossfire maps are *old* and in sore
> need of both artistic and plotline improvements. There are a couple of
> mapsets that would survive with minor changes, mostly the ones where there
> is a lot of plot already and that are not dependent on hack'n'slash.

 I agree that map set needs to be revisited.  A couple years, the mapset was
pretty much dump and the 'chico' maps were chosen instead (the chico set
integrated some of the older mapset), on the basis the chico maps were much
better.  However, I don't think the maps have kept up with code improvement. 
This isn't the clarification of just bugs/features, but additions to the code
can change the map in many ways.  New skills or spells can make a map that used
to be difficult much easier.  If you look at developement, it is new code
features that tend to get added - the maps tend not to get updated (although the
cleanup of the city maps recently was a nice change from that.)

> As far as the maps go, currently I'm of the opinion that we should scrap
> the scale concepts, and move to a single unified scale for maps. Stick
> with the current indoors scale for everything.
> There are several reasons for this.
> An 'indoors' scale would allow monsters and NPC characters hanging around
> in towns without it looking weird. The towns in themselves, rather than
> just the houses, could become parts of plotlines. The same pretty much
> goes for outdoors.
> It would also prevent the 'closed houses' problem, since it would be a lot
> harder to add a new house to a town. A new house would match the indoors
> size of the house, but just contain the outside walls, and have a normal
> passage through doors as a mapswitch point.

 One of the ultimas (or maybe many of the ultimas did that).  However, there
were still at least a few scales - a town was still only a single space on the
larger world map.

 I think to do that for crossfire would require some improvements.  In ultima,
shops were typically just the shopkeeper and some furniture - in crossfire, a
shop is a large area with stuff on the various squares (ala nethack.)

 The idea of a shopkeeper that has the stuff is I think nice.  With a better
scripting language, or perhaps just improvement in the archetypes, the
shopkeepers could have different wares and different personalities.  The full
plate might not be available in just any shop - you may have to go to the
shopkeeper in that other town to get it.  but the shopkeeper in the dwarven city
may have some superior armor and weapons.

> The 'world' would become a lot larger. The current mapset is very large,
> but the tendency to space dungeons closely over a small 'world' gives the
> impression of a much smaller world.

 True.  I had plans to double or triple the outside scale, but I wanted to try
and wait until after I made map tiling a bit less painful than the way it is
done now.

 I think in any case, you still probably want at least 2 scales - an outdoor
scale and an indoor scale (otherwise, a 40x40 city in the world is basically a
40x40 block literally in the world.)  I don't see a larger outdoor scale that
big an issue - things like furniture don't really show up there, and putting a
house image beside the road I think is still a nicer touch than wondering upon a
20x20 area integrated into the world map.

 I think a 'map scale' attribute would be useful.  A dimension door on the world
map should do less than it does on on an indoor scale map, as should many other
things like missiles and other spells.  Depending on preferance, this scale
could also increase travel time (but not below some point so the character still
moves with at least some reasonable speed)

> A possible problem would be the server side handling of large maps,
> preferably with natural boundaries such as different 'zones' (countries,
> dominating archetype mix, etc).

 There are a few issues with big maps:
 1) memory usage.  Probably not as big an issue now, but with how crossfire
deals with memory and the maps, I am not sure if the OS would actually swap out
a portion of the map, since the program may access areas of it.
 2) CPU usage - currently, crossfire animates all objects that are active, so
having huge maps with potentially huge number of monsters would slow things
down.  With faster cpu, this may not be as much an issue.  However, what may
work better is to only process areas of the map - for example, maybe  only stuff
within 22 spaces of the player (double view area so if the player wanders back
in, the monsters have had at least a few ticks to move around so things don't
appear identical to how the player left).  But how to handle a player leaving a
map is still a problem - you probably don't want to freeze that entire map if
the player steps out, but if large maps are standard, you probably don't want to
start processing all the objects on the map.

 That problem could probably be handled by adding a list of the exit the player
used and when it was used, so you know what areas of the map to animate.

> The concept of generators could be replaced with invisible random monster
> appearance zones in the outside world. These would have a certain chance
> to generate a monster in a certain interval. The type of monster would be
> tied to the map type (goblins, orcs, dwarves in mountains, elves and
> animals in forest, random guards or something in countries, etc), and the
> monster could have a certain lifetime during which it will wander around
> on the map (or behave differently in some cases).

 Yeah.  The type of monster to generate could more easily be done by something
like a treasurelist.  A treasurelist of forest monster types or hill monster
types or the like.

 One big thing that was not mentioned would be to increase the viewable area. 
11x11 (or is it 13x13) seems downright small - in many cases, you can't even see
accross a relatively small room.  If a major change is done, then increasing it
it something larger would probably be in order.  For some areas, let the
darkness and/or line of sight limit viewable areas.  For other things, the map
could perhaps have a viewable limit set

 I think if we are going to evolve the game, we really need to decide what
features should this new game have.  If we can identify what we want the game
like, then we can identify if we can take crossfire there and perhaps what to
get rid of.  If nothing else, it might at least identify what features are
important and should be coded soon and what stuff isn't really a big deal and
not to worry about it.
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