So, I like the concept of having a blog dedicated to spilling random design concepts, but I also want to blog my actual game development. So my solution: get a membership for my alternate key, Rightley, and use that for my idea bin from now on (I'll slap up some more ideas sometime, honest!) and use this blog space for game development updates. This also solves another conundrum I've been having: I want my games to have a decent ranking, but I don't want to appear crassly self-promoting by filling up my favorites list with my own stuff. So this gives me the best of both worlds: I can feel good about promoting other people's games with my favorites list, but I also get another list to show off my own stuff. I'd feel kind of guilty loading the rankings like this, but at least I'm not cross-listing my own stuff on multiple member sites (unlike some people who shall remain nameless!)
So, on to the updates. Champions of Vargacet has had troubles picking up players since it came back from hiatus--momentum, I think, and my connection difficulties lately probably aren't helping, but it still irritates me. I've invested some work in glitzing things up a bit (at least half the new keys I'd seen logging in logged out within 10 seconds) and also tried improving the game's accessibility to new players, but I'm starting to think that the game needs some kind of hook. Back in my day, of course, all we ever needed was the good 'ol spirit of competition and inventiveness, but these durn kids today are spoiled--everything is "RPG this" and "RPG that", and nowadays they don't even want to play a game if it doesn't give them something they can hold on to. I tells ya, I don't know what the younger generation is coming to these days! But it's awful hard to rigorously test a multiplayer game by yourself when you've got limited time, which means I ought to get something to draw them in. "Levels" are the bane of my existance--it has to be something small, without a huge impact on the game. I want to keep it simple--something pretty modular. And random--randomized rewards are a great hook to keep players coming back.
So my thought is this: runes. At the end of every combat, or randomly roughly every other combat or so, you'd get a random rune which you would collect. The idea is that you'd place runes on your characters, up to 3 runes per character, and they would have different subtle effects: +1 to a primary attribute, or +5 health or mana, or a small bit of elemental resistance, etc. Not a huge effect, but not an unnoticeable effect--stacking 3 of the same rune would have almost as much boost as picking an equivalent skill, and as much or more impact as having an extra accessory slot. The runes themselves would be all more or less equal in power, but they would all have different uses, so the trick would be collecting the specific runes you need to tweak out your dream team. To keep things equal, new characters would probably even get to start with at least a rune or two, but they wouldn't necessarily be the runes they need--probably an AP boost rune and an MP boost rune (and perhaps an HP boost rune too, for a full set), so everybody gets something but most characters would have one "dead weight" rune they could replace with something more relevant.
In other news: Yes, it's been ages since Treasure Quest was updated and there are bugs remaining and it's cold and there are wolves outside. It's kind of in the middle of a very large and very awesome development, for I just recently started converting it over to XML (using some people's awesome library), which makes the whole thing a lot cleaner. And more importantly, more customizable. Here's the plan: when I get everything (or most things, anyhow) over to XML and working in that format (circa 2009) the new version will allow BYOND members to edit data files to add their own classes, monsters, items, etc. for their server. I think this is a great perk to help encourage people to support BYOND, because in addition to simply being a really cool feature it would be something everyone can share. Not only can anyone log into a customized server and enjoy the new changes, but since it's just XML, anybody would be able to write custom stuff and share it for their friends and the community to use--the new player-created stuff would just only be accessible on a BYOND member's server. New stuff would probably be somewhat limited in complexity, but it would be possible to at least get variations on most existing effects.
So, them's the news. Now I'm off to bed.