A lot of things are changing/have changed between the once-familiar version of Hedgerow Hall and what I'm working on now. Part of this is that I've mysteriously become a better coder during my absence. Part is just that my feelings on certain things have changed. Part is that I no longer feel as much need to accomodate the wishes of others in my own game (yes, it's possible for me to be less accomodating than I was)... after all, this is Build Your Own Net Dream. I have a game in my head which is Hedgerow Hall... nobody else has to want to play it. :P
So, here's a bunch of randomish notes on what to expect. A public test is probably a good two months away. There's a chance I will ask for volunteers from among familiar players before that.
--Do not fear the fractions: last time around, I only dealt with whole numbers, so I either had to make some activities more exhausting than they should have been, or make whether you lost endurance/mind for some activities largely random to "approximate" losing a fraction of a point, etc. Now, I pretty much don't round anything. Your stat output is rounded to the nearest hundredth, but smaller values are tracked. This is mainly true for your point pools (endurance, mind, health, and... if you're a mage, power), and skill points.
--The rate at which you learn skills is no longer tied from each skill to a specific attribute. Rather, each race has a skill chart listing their aptitude in each skill, with typical values being 3, 6, or 9... at character generation, each skill point sunk into a skill gives you that many ranks, with up to three skill points for an initial investment. Points invested in a skill after generation grant diminishing fractions of the aptitude, until the fifth increase to a given skill, which gives you 1/10th of your aptitude... again, decimal values are not lost, though only full points really count for skill rolls. 1/100th of your Intelligence is also added to skill improvement... with an average Intelligence of 10, this means that an aptitude of 9 will always give you another rank when you put a point into it (1/10th of 9 == 0.9, 1/100th of 10 = 0.1... adds up to 1)
--Experience system still completely time based. Some slight skill improvement through use, but even that is regulated by time. My philosophy is still that the game should never give you an incentive to perform a repetitive action just so you can gain points. In addition to gaining character points (at the rate of 1 every half hour of play... yes, you no longer gain points slower the longer you play, though there is still diminishing returns) over time, there will also be various social rewards accumulated for playing through multiple seasons.
--One huge continuous map. The chief virtue of the smaller region-based maps was that it allowed me to develop the world one piece at a time while restricting movement to finished areas. I've kind of decided now that as this sort of arrangement depends on invisible arbitrary barriers around the edges of the regions, indicated usually by trees, which aren't any sort of perfect barrier in a game with squirrels... I might as well make a visible arbitrary barrier enclosing the finished zones and have one big map anyway. The barrier is called "the pale" (as in the phrase "beyond the pale"), and it will mark off the areas that have been cleared for colonization.
--Time scale still the same: one hour equals half a day, 28 "days" (56 hours) equals a month, three "months" (1 week) is a season, four "seasons" (roughly a month) equals a year.
Movement and action speed is generally slowed down, compared to the original HrH and to most BYOND games and online games in general. This is intended to encourage socialization and roleplay... moving even 1 tile every 2 ticks, somebody could cross the view screen in 3 seconds... barely enough time to see them, much less greet them.
Base walking speed is now the extremely sedate pace of 1 tile per second. It is possible to move faster, but it has to be done with some level of deliberation.
--More visual indicators. When somebody leaps, it actually graphically indicates a rough arc of movement (dear God, this makes jumping from tree to tree fun to watch... though leaping is exhausting exercise, to make it less suitable for overland travel) Movement is still tile-based rather than pixel-based, but when you initiate a step, it shifts your icon to indicate your intended direction (so that others can react). Getting an item isn't instantaneous, and when you go to pick it up, its icon is "pulled" towards yours... somebody faster can try to snatch it away. Speech is indicated by your icon "twitching" up and down (small icon indicators may also be added), and so on.
--"Short long" actions for crafting and such. Not the insanely comlicated, twenty-seven-skill roll roulette system I'd described for the previous attempt at restarting the game from scratch. Instead, there's a single skill roll for most complex actions such as crafting, and an interruptable delay before execution that will still always be well under a minute even for the most difficult tasks. Only a critical failure will result in destruction of materials. The end result, in terms of item quality, will also be more consistent. I'm not prepared to describe everything that goes into such decisions here.
So, you'll still be able to craft a sword in the equivalent of game minutes... but that's balanced against the fact that a conversation which in the real world lasts 5 minutes will eat up 1 hour of game time. You can assume the time lost to the latter is actually spent doing the former. :P
--No birds. Sorry, guys. There's balance issues... flying would have to be so badly restricted that the birds would hardly qualify as birds, and the idea of birds always rubbed me the wrong way in a manner I couldn't figure out how to express. Sonya helped me put my finger on it... and curiously enough, it's fingers. We can imagine small, toe'd mammals evolving to walk on their hind legs and having their forepaws evolve into hands for grasping and manipulating. But birds? Yes, I know they have the framework for hands buried somewhere in the genes of their own "forelimbs", but the point is, they'd require more alteration... more anthropomorphization... than the mammals do. So, within the world of HrH, there are birds... and other animals... but they're just animals.
Note I said "in the world"... not "in the game." In keeping with the "no NPC robots" thing, of course, birds will not be showing up as mobile objects.
However, Sonya's insight into the evolution of the intelligent animals did help me get past one of my major mental stumbling blocks regarding meat eating... having a clear delineation in my head between what makes some animals simple animals and others "folks" did a lot to help the weird, surreal feeling I got from the idea. So, there will be hunting and fishing skills, and related fish and fowl food types. This will be one of the uses of cooking, as meat will be extremely nutritious but difficult to consume raw.
--But... swimming is in. I no longer need water to act as a total barrier. Though it will be a... disencentive to travel. None of the eight classic animals are particularly good swimmers. There will very likely be otters and beavers added.
--Semi-customization of icons. By this I mean, each animal will have multiple fur color schemes (I'd prefer to have five a piece, but I may have to settle for a minimum of three decent ones on some of the icons), and a customizable eye color.
Somebody, way back, made a little proof-of-concept demonstration for me of variations of some of the HrH icons with adustable body attributes, and it was impressive at the time, but I don't think it would work very well with all of the animals already present, much less any future ones, so I'm not going to be doing any thing like that. Especially as it would make it harder to do body-part-specific overlays...
...which is a real possibility. My SHN collaborators are both into fashion design and better than I am with pixel art, so while my instincts are still against full scale clothing, Sonya and I devised an "accessory" system where the number of garb pieces (Mostly things like sashes, boots, and hats... it was the hats that sold me on the concept. Anybody who knows me in real life will understand.) you have available is based on your prestige... essentially, a combination of subscriber status and time spent playing. :P
So, the fur color schemes and eyes are a definite thing. I'm sold on the accessories, but they depend on people other than me doing work so I'm going to call that a "maybe" for now. No reflection on my faith in them... I just don't feel like making commitments on the behalf of volunteers.
--Magic... the previous magic system was very much made up as I went along, though it was based on some long standing ideas of mine. This time, I know up front what I want to do, so it will be much more systematic. Crystal, circle, and a few other types will all use the same "spell lists" for each color of magic, though with differing scopes (i.e., line of sight vs. global) and magnitudes.
In addition to crystal and circle magic, the following magical methods are definite:
Witching Magic: The simplest form of magic, requires no focus/tool to use. Essentially, bestows a status effect on the target, with different effects available for different colors of magic. Some will overlap... for intance, Slowness will be available to both black mages (it's a curse) and purple mages (it deals with movement.) All witching magic does status effects... nothing else.
Alchemy: Create potions that bestow personal effects (same list as Witching Magic.) I always got bogged down trying to come up with a "Mix potion X with potion Y to make potion Z" system and never got anywhere with Alchemy. This time it'll be more like any other craft skill. The resulting potions will not be mixable.
Staff magic and scroll magic are planned, both using the spell lists that crystal and circle magic use. My ideas for them are more nebulous at this point, so I can't say much about them for sure, or even if they'll definitely be kept.
--Mining is now a multi-stage operation. First, one must prospect for ore... successful prospecting uncovers (creates) a vein of ore, of varying quality, on the prospected square. You no longer "mine a rock" (that was always meant to signify mining an area of rocky ground, not actually taking a pick axe to a rock and hoping to find gold)... instead, the number of rocks in the area indicates fertileness of mining ground. You can stand on top of exposed rock (the climbing skill is much expanded) and prospect, which actually gives the best results compared to mining bare ground.
--Height/elevation system. If you look at the screen shots in the other post, you can sort of see this in action. The main thing this affects is climbing and leaping, though high ground lets you see farther with the scout command (move viewpoint around... your level of elevation squared is added to the range, if you're above sea level), and Squirrels with levels of the Glider trait ("flying squirrels") can add the difference in elevation times their levels of Glider to their maximum leaping distance (ideally, extreme long jumps will be targeted via scouting, though leaping can also be done with relative coordinates.)