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Jutt
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This is my latest project: Salamander. A short hold introducing a new element: a scripted monster.
This is the product of an idea I have been playing with for ages but never managed to implement correctly. The new monster is the 'salamander', a creature that can move both on water and normal floor, and has the habit only to move diagonally, unless when attacking. The salamander is a required target, so, like any other normal monster, in a room all of them must be killed in order to clear the room.
The hold is mainly an introduction to the monster and a demonstration of its puzzle potential.

The script for the salamander is pretty huge, not in the first place because of the lenghty chunk to determine its own location. I do hope any room in the hold runs smoothly on other computers. It does for me, but I haven't tested with very large hordes of salamanders (not that you'll find any in this hold).

The thing is ready for beta testing, so comments on the puzzles, scripting and texts/dialogues are welcome. I'm convinced the scripting for the salamander is fully stable and bug free. You are however free to test its behavior as well, or, in case you're into it, suggest script improvements or optimazations.

I may want to tweak some of the speech and the timing in cutscenes, but that shouldn't affect any of the holds functionality.

As soon as this hold gets promoted, I'll post full instructions on how the salamander can be imported into other holds.

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Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture, Salamander, Elusive Exhibitions, Leftover Levels, Six Times Six
Collaborative: Way Forward, Advanced Concepts 2
Styles/Mods: Basalt, Sandstone, Garden, Clock using game elements

[Last edited by Jutt at 07-03-2008 03:15 PM : Attached new version (beta03)]
06-04-2008 at 05:22 PM
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Vike91
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Wow! This is a pretty good idea!

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06-04-2008 at 05:44 PM
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Someone Else
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Wow. This is an amazing hold.
06-04-2008 at 07:21 PM
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Chaco
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Very interesting monster. Has a lot of interesting properties, starting with its completely new (yet quite intuitive) movement, and its ability to move on both water and land (unlike a water skipper which prefers to move only on water) and its other odd properties from being an NPC monster.

You also have some very nice puzzles - I've managed to solve everything on the Intro level and Level 1 except for Once North. I'm rather stumped by that particular puzzle and could use some help putting those decoys to work.

This is shaping up to be another Jutt masterpiece :)

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06-05-2008 at 02:38 AM
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Ezlo
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I think I know what to do with the decoys, although I can't quite get it to work.


Click here to view the secret text


[Last edited by Ezlo at 06-05-2008 04:27 AM]
06-05-2008 at 04:27 AM
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Jutt
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Not sure if either of you is still stuck on Level 1, 1N. If you're desparately in need of some hints, here you go.
Click here to view the secret text


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06-09-2008 at 12:09 AM
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Someone Else
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:offtopic
I just looked at your signature. What is it with you and alliteration?
"Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture"

Also, you should rename this hold to "An Amazing Animal".

[Last edited by Someone Else at 06-09-2008 12:49 AM]
06-09-2008 at 12:48 AM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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These Salamanders are beautiful and tricky beasts indeed! I sailed through the Tutorial, struggled through the First Level and am now working on the Second Level.

Tutorial
Beethro as test dummy. That plot's been done before, but not like this... I'll note that sometimes the characters have completely empty lines of speech. While this might add clarity and organization to a written script, it does not look good on the game screen.
1N1W - A nice zoo exhibit. "When you're ready to proceed, move to the southern door," would add clarity here.
2N1W - Not only does this room show what floor types the salamanders can move on, it also shows that their movement is more like "flexible beelining".
3N1W - The first time I tried this room, I tried only the pressure plates on the grass. When I came back to it a second time, I tried both. It might be nice to force me to try both ways of leading a salamander.
4N1W - The next level shows the value of this room. Orthogonal sword directions do indeed work best. Particularly north, it seems, or that may just be a coincidence related to which puzzled I've tried so far.
5N1W - This was even more like what I ended up doing on the next level.
6N1W - The point about invisibility was not really made here, as I waited before the invisibility potion until the skipper came around to a killable position. It doesn't matter much, as calamarain has already taught us about custom monsters, brains, decoys, and invisibility with his warbas.
7N1W - I kept trying to time things to save the stalwart, and it didn't work. TCB has trained us to do the wrong thing. What worked better was using a salamander to ... uh ... get the stalwart's sword out of the way.

First Level
Aiee! The two horde rooms in the tutorial level left me feeling completely unprepared for this level, particularly 1S and 1E, which took me hours of trial and error.
1S - I tried and tried and tried to find a way to get both wubbas and the orb to protect me orthogonally... but then you've got both white and black salamanders here. I ended up treating this like a brained roach horde room, backing into a corner with one wubba to protect me.
1S1E - Manipulating salamanders from a distance was much more my speed. It's possible to make small mistakes without dying. And it gave more practice with predicting their "flexible beelining" movement. I liked this room.
1E - This room took me hours, even after Chaco told me which sword direction to start with. I ended up solving it in the editor with UU, writing down each of my moves on a piece of paper, and finally solving it in game.
1N1E - This room I liked. I used the lines of roaches to prevent the salamanders from walking into traps. It showed their non-response to invisibility much better than the tutorial.
1N - This is a very clever room. I found the second part of your hint completely unhelpful, though, as I think both decoys helped to block both kinds of salamanders. I used the fact that
Click here to view the secret text
What was the water skipper nest for?
06-12-2008 at 05:41 AM
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Chaco
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icon Re: Salamander (+1)  
As calamarain has pointed out in his Wanderer contest and others have pointed out in Bugs threads and Architecture board threads, required target monsters only cause the room to turn red (there are monsters to clear) if there is also at least one actual monster in the room.

If not, then the room is evaluated as empty and then the salamanders or whatever turn into required targets, which does the same thing as creating tar babies in an empty room (i.e. nothing).

I'm going to agree with CSR on most of her comments. More comments once I finish up Once North and get to the second level.

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06-12-2008 at 08:26 PM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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I've completed Level 2 now. These minimalistic lynchpin rooms are pretty tricky. I liked them rather better than the horde rooms on Level 1, as they seemed less random to me.

1N - Getting the salamander stuck between two corner obstacles seemed the major theme of this level.
1W - Getting rid of the stalwart right away was key.
1S - I used the given monsters to make a three square wall where I could kill the goblin.
1E - I killed the goblin right away, and then used the roach to position the wraithwing so it would break up the crossing line of salamanders.
1N1E - I needed the gel baby to block the salamander in one particular spot.
2N - I had to start over and over and over and over and over because the checkpoints are in the wrong spots. Can I have one on the center line please? I moved the mirror traps so both salamanders would travel over the pressure plates. Moving east along the center line released first the upper salamander and then the lower one, at just the right time. Since the lower salamander had to do it twice, I set him up so he could be toggled indefinitely.
1N1W - I finally got the movement order correct by accident, and moved the roaches and salamander simultaneously to the hot tile trap in the center.

[Last edited by CuriousShyRabbit at 06-13-2008 05:03 AM : typo]
06-13-2008 at 02:34 AM
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larrymurk
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Level 1 done!

1S- Were we supposed to use the wubbas? I didn't.
1N- Yeah, what was the point of the skipper nest?
06-14-2008 at 12:38 AM
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Jutt
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Re. CSR:

Introduction:
The empty lines in 1N1W were intentional, but ended up not looking as good a s I'd hoped. I'll consider removing those.
1N1W Agreed, will probably be added.
3N1W Will see if there's an elegant way to force both methods.
6N1W I can probably stretch the room a bit and make the invisibility properties more apparent.
7N1W I hadn't though this room would be that hard. There are after al not that many choices in which order to strike the orbs.

Level 1:
1E There are actually several sword directions that work.
1N Ah, that's not the way I inteded to block the salamanders. My solution is placing decoys at (7, 4) and (11, 5), both facing NE. I'm not sure whether I want, or even can prevent your solution. Will give this some thought.

Level 2:
1E The roach is not needed to manipulate the wraithwing. Did you lead it into the centre area at all? That may be a US.
2N An extra checkpoint is no problem. I think you set up the traps differenty, because I always have at least one checkpoint reachable without releasing the salamanders.



Re. Larry:

1S I just found out how it's possible without. I'm happy with either way. Using the wubba's was intended, but doing without them adds an extra challenge.
1N What Chaco pointed out: having the game recognize the salamanders as required targets. If you look in the editor at the Itroduction level, you'll find some rooms with skipper nests sneakily placed on the room entrance for the same reason. As the nests are removed on entrance, you'll never see them in game. Unfortunately this trick looks odd when you can enter somewhere else, so I decided to place the nest in 1E in a more prominent location.

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Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture, Salamander, Elusive Exhibitions, Leftover Levels, Six Times Six
Collaborative: Way Forward, Advanced Concepts 2
Styles/Mods: Basalt, Sandstone, Garden, Clock using game elements
06-14-2008 at 01:41 PM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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First Level 1N - Wow! I never would have come up with your solution on my own. I think my solution is easier, as I am allowed more space to deal with the first group of salamanders. While not as clever as your solution, my solution also hinges on the unique properties of salamanders.

Second Level 1E - When I enter the central area, the goblin is dead and the roach and wraithwing are already inside. I couldn't do it with just the wraithwing inside. Before I enter the central area, I have this configuration:
Click here to view the secret text

Second Level 2N - We must have set things up really differently. I've attached a screenshot showing what my solution looked like one turn before the eye woke up.

All I can say about the Third Level is... uh... it's really hard.
06-15-2008 at 08:01 AM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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So, the Third Level is... uh... still really hard. Time for a progress report. I've solved 1S, 1W, and 1E.

1S - It's possible to keep three wubbas from frying, and I needed all three of them.
Click here to view the secret text

1W - I used the salamanders to shut the aumtlich out completely. After dispatching the goblins, I dealt with the aumtlich at my leisure. :)

1E - Just got this one, after finally figuring out how to go north and west, when the salamander usually prefers to be on that side of me. Being able to step away onto a black square while blocking with sword created a brief 2-square separation that made things possible.

[Last edited by CuriousShyRabbit at 06-20-2008 08:56 AM : 1E too]
06-20-2008 at 07:27 AM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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... and mastered. Whew! That was a workout. (Why doesn't the forum have a smiley wiping sweat from its brow?)

Third Level 1N - After a lot of trial and error, I finally managed a very messy solution to this one. I had originally wanted to grow the tar as much as possible and then "dive in" 3 squares so that a salamander would protect my back, but that plan didn't work. After opening the door, my solution didn't rely on the unique properties of salamanders at all. I was able to time things such that I could back away to the south side of the southwest tar blob and smite from safety.

Introduction secret room - Now that is absolutely gorgeous! What a treat! I hope you will consider placing artwork in secret rooms (or possibly a postmastery area as a reward for completing everything) in your future holds.

Introduction 1N - After reading the scroll in the snake secret room in Artful Architecture, this ending is not surprising. It does make me wonder about their initial motivation for "hiring" Beethro in the first place. Story to be continued in a future hold?

I noticed a couple spelling mistakes... "concider" should be "consider". And in English, the prefixes "Mr.", "Ms.", "Dr.", etc. are always capitalized, so "mr. Budkin" should be "Mr. Budkin".

I think my main concern about this hold is the big step up in difficulty from the Introduction to the next levels. By now, we're all familiar with the signature Jutt style of never repeating a lynchpin twice. That's been fine in your other holds, as I can go elsewhere to get more practice with snakes, tarstuff, whatever. But for the salamanders, if I get stuck on a room, I don't have much experience from which to draw ideas. Maybe other players don't have this problem, but for me, adding more easy-medium rooms on to Level 1 would help.
06-21-2008 at 01:44 AM
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larrymurk
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Lvl 2 solved..

1S- pretty easy
1E- I just used the ww
1W- got salamander to kill stalwart
1N- I just got 2 salamanders to stand on pps while beethro stood near eye to awaken it.
1N1W- Seemed to take a little sort of random playing around.
1N1E- not bad, can deduce where salamander must travel.
2N- unlike csr, i got both salamanders to be freed from the corners at the same time basically.

onto lvl 3 i'm afraid..
06-22-2008 at 01:32 AM
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larrymurk
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Level 3.. almost done

1W- like csr, i had salanders blocked all 4 entrances
1n- Pretty easy, probably us
1E- ugh, i dunno if i can figure this out
1S- i only needed 1 wubba to solve this

overall comments-
Salamanders are cool. I think the hold is good overall, I even solved all the rooms but 1 w/o help. Like csr, i don't like trial and error type rooms. The room that i thought was the worst offender was first lvl:1E. Nice effort Jutt!
06-23-2008 at 12:45 AM
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Jutt
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icon Re: Salamander (+2)  
Thanks for the numerous comments. I've been busy last week, but I've finally made some changes to the hold.

Re. CSR:
L1: 1N I like your solution as well and as either way teaches the player some aspect of the salamander I'll leave the room as it is.
L2: 1E Your solution is based on the same idea as mine, so that's ok.
L3: 1S Precisely the way I intended it to be solved.
L3: 1W Also done the intended way.
L3: 1E Just wondering, which direction did you face most of the time while solving the room?
L3: 1N Although there are probably a few different ways to accomplish this room, the idea was to let the tar grow such that as many salamanders as possible would be trapped behind a wall of tar. You'd have to group the salamanders in the corner of a box and let the Tar grow around it in an L-shape, which protects you when you hit the pressureplate.
Thanks for finding the speling mistakes.
You make a valid point about the step up in difficulty. See below for a change to L1: 1E. Other options will be considered as well.



Re. Larry:
L2: 1N Seems unintended, but also more difficult than the intended way. Could you post a demo?
L3: 1N If you assume a US, again a demo would be nice.
L3: 1S Ah, I think I found your trick. Should be fixed now.



You can find a new version of the hold attached to the first post. Made the following changes:

Int: 1N & 1N1W Modified some of the speech (e.g. spelling errors).
Int: 3N1W Following CSR's idea, I now made both ways of controlling a salamander required. This way I could also add a new illustration how a salamander can get stuck behind an obstacle.
Int: 6N1W With the puzzle area increased, you have more space to play with the salamanders behavior while invisible. It should be a bit more apparent that once you open the door, the salamander moves towards you, even though it's outside you smell range.

L1: 1E This room seemed to be a bit of an obstacle. A bit too random and difficult for this level. However, in an earlier version of the room, the puzzle was set in a larger area, such that you had more time and space to deal with the salamanders. I put this old version back in place and like to hear if it's a bit more accessible.

L2: 2N Checkpoint added, as requested by CSR.

L3: 1S Fixed US (At least, I hope so).

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Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture, Salamander, Elusive Exhibitions, Leftover Levels, Six Times Six
Collaborative: Way Forward, Advanced Concepts 2
Styles/Mods: Basalt, Sandstone, Garden, Clock using game elements
06-25-2008 at 04:56 PM
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larrymurk
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icon Re: Salamander (+1)  
l2:1n demo
06-25-2008 at 11:51 PM
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larrymurk
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icon Re: Salamander (+1)  
l3:1n demo, i think this is what you intended in general, but timing the spawn makes this very easy.

l3:1s- you have indeed prevented me from using my single wubba solution. Wahhhhhh :~(
06-25-2008 at 11:54 PM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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Jutt wrote:
L3: 1E Just wondering, which direction did you face most of the time while solving the room?
North. I found that is was possible to manipulate the salamander in all four directions when facing north or west. It's easier to start the room facing west, and that's how I learned the most about how to solve it. But you can't finish the room facing west. So I went back and redid it facing north, which puts the most difficult part of the manipulation right at the start of the room.
L3: 1N Although there are probably a few different ways to accomplish this room, the idea was to let the tar grow such that as many salamanders as possible would be trapped behind a wall of tar. You'd have to group the salamanders in the corner of a box and let the Tar grow around it in an L-shape, which protects you when you hit the pressureplate.
That's what I did... except my solutions are always messy, and I had a bunch of tar babies in there too.
Int: 3N1W Following CSR's idea, I now made both ways of controlling a salamander required. This way I could also add a new illustration how a salamander can get stuck behind an obstacle.
Int: 6N1W With the puzzle area increased, you have more space to play with the salamanders behavior while invisible. It should be a bit more apparent that once you open the door, the salamander moves towards you, even though it's outside you smell range.
Good job! These rooms both provide a richer educational experience now.
L1: 1E This room seemed to be a bit of an obstacle. A bit too random and difficult for this level. However, in an earlier version of the room, the puzzle was set in a larger area, such that you had more time and space to deal with the salamanders. I put this old version back in place and like to hear if it's a bit more accessible.
Yes, either that or I'm better at dealing with salamanders now. I solved the new version in about 5 minutes on my 7th or 8th try. I think the difficulty is now more appropriate for the first level.

All my demos for the second and third levels survived. :)
06-26-2008 at 10:11 AM
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Jutt
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icon Re: Salamander (+2)  
Thanks for both demos, Larry.
L2: 1N That solution was easier than I'd expected. Moved the pressureplate you are supposed to step on yourself to a dark square, such that the salamaders cannot do it for you. Yay for parity!
L3: 1N I actually didn't want you to leave the centre area before you kill all slamanders that jump at you immediately. So, I added some experimental arrows which prevent you from retreating. I hope that doesn't make the room too develish.


CuriousShyRabbit wrote:
North. I found that is was possible to manipulate the salamander in all four directions when facing north or west. It's easier to start the room facing west, and that's how I learned the most about how to solve it. But you can't finish the room facing west. So I went back and redid it facing north, which puts the most difficult part of the manipulation right at the start of the room.
L3: 1E Excellent, those observations were exactly what I wanted to hear.


New version available with the two US's fixed.

____________________________
Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture, Salamander, Elusive Exhibitions, Leftover Levels, Six Times Six
Collaborative: Way Forward, Advanced Concepts 2
Styles/Mods: Basalt, Sandstone, Garden, Clock using game elements
07-03-2008 at 03:17 PM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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icon Re: Salamander (0)  
All done again. :)

I've re-solved Level 2 1N and Level 3 1N. I'm attaching my demo for Level 3 1N just to give you an idea of the kind of mess a Rabbit usually makes out of rooms like this. I didn't exactly kill all the salamanders that jumped out when I opened the doors. Instead, I managed to hide behind them.
07-04-2008 at 12:50 AM
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Jutt
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icon Re: Salamander (+1)  
I wouldn't hold you responsible for the mess, it's just the room design that makes things look ugly, no matter what you do ;).

Anyway, your method is still somewhat different from what I do. I've attached a demo, which shows the idea of my original solution. I don't really mind multiple solutions for this one, as long as there aren't any trivial solutions and the available options are all challenging enough (I don't think your solution violates this).

All in all, if this room is done and no more issues arise, I'll submit it for HA review.

____________________________
Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture, Salamander, Elusive Exhibitions, Leftover Levels, Six Times Six
Collaborative: Way Forward, Advanced Concepts 2
Styles/Mods: Basalt, Sandstone, Garden, Clock using game elements
07-04-2008 at 05:07 PM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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Thanks for the demo. Your method of growing the tar is indeed "cleaner" than my attempt. I agree that both solutions are nontrivial.

I can't find any other issues with this hold... would anyone else like to try playing through?
07-04-2008 at 10:20 PM
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Jutt
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Very well, then it's time to submit this thing :).
Thanks for all testing!

____________________________
Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture, Salamander, Elusive Exhibitions, Leftover Levels, Six Times Six
Collaborative: Way Forward, Advanced Concepts 2
Styles/Mods: Basalt, Sandstone, Garden, Clock using game elements
07-06-2008 at 03:18 PM
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Jutt
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File: salamander_resources.zip (3.8 KB)
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License: Public Domain
icon Re: Salamander (+2)  
Using the salamander in your own hold.

The zip file attached to this post includes everything you need to use the salamander in your own hold. After you have extracted the contents to a convenient location, follow these steps:

1. In the hold you want to use this monster, create a new custom character called salamander. To do this, place an NPC in a room (or click on an already placed one) such that the 'Customize Character' window pops up. Go to the 'Character Management' screen by clicking the 'Characters' button. Here you can enter a new character name, in this case 'salamander', and add it to the list of custom characters.
Now select your custom salamander in the 'Characters' list to modify some of its properties:
In the 'Graphic' list select 'Water skipper'. This ensures the character can move on both floor and water.
Click 'Custom Tiles' and then 'Import Image' to import the salamander tiles (salamander_tiles.png).
There's no avatar available, but if you have one you'd like to use, import it similarly by clicking the 'Custom Avatar' button.
Click 'Okay' to exit the management screen. Your salamander character is now finished and should appear in the list with characters.

2. To use the salamander in a room, you must also have one supporting NPC. Place this one in the room before any of the salamander characters, because the wrong movement order may result in erratic movements of the salamanders. You can use an invisible character. Next copy the code from player_finder_script.txt to the clipboard and paste it in the characters commands box with Ctrl+Shift+B. That finishes the supporting character.

3. You can now start putting salamanders in the room. Place a new NPC in the room. In the 'Customize Character' menu, select 'salamander' from the characters list and set it to be visible. Then copy the code from salamander_script.txt to the scripting commands box and your salamander is finished.
It's easiest to copy the first salamander NPC instead of making new ones, such that you won't have to go through these steps every time.

It's as easy as that, the scripting will do the hard work.
If you encounter any problems, feel free to post about them here or to contact me through PM.

____________________________
Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture, Salamander, Elusive Exhibitions, Leftover Levels, Six Times Six
Collaborative: Way Forward, Advanced Concepts 2
Styles/Mods: Basalt, Sandstone, Garden, Clock using game elements
07-09-2008 at 10:47 PM
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Jutt
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File: Salamander.hold (406.7 KB)
Downloaded 9 times.
License: Public Domain
icon Re: Salamander (0)  
Sorry for the emergency double post.

A bad continuation issue occurred after release in Intro:3N1W: exit south and you cannot continue. I propose a fixed version, attached to this post, which has a small chance to break any demo's.

How should this be dealt with? Should I simply resubmit it to the HA's?


____________________________
Holds: An Architects Audition, Artful Architecture, Salamander, Elusive Exhibitions, Leftover Levels, Six Times Six
Collaborative: Way Forward, Advanced Concepts 2
Styles/Mods: Basalt, Sandstone, Garden, Clock using game elements
07-10-2008 at 01:19 AM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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icon Re: Salamander (0)  
That's all you need to do. We'll check it and then Schik will need to update the hold manually.

EDIT: Sorry for the miscommunication. Posting the fixed hold is all you need to do. Don't submit it to HA.

[Last edited by CuriousShyRabbit at 07-10-2008 01:48 AM]
07-10-2008 at 01:29 AM
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