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Caravel Forum : DROD RPG Boards : RPG Feature Requests : Journal (a simple substitute for demos)
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CuriousShyRabbit
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icon Journal (+4)  
By now, we're all familiar with Tendry's love of words. Of course, he must keep a journal. Not only to preserve his clever repartees for posterity, but also to record the nitty-gritty details of his adventures. I would just love to see this record.

The thing I've missed the most after playing around with the new RPG game for a while is the ability to review what I've done. After struggling for several hours through a hold and finally getting close to where I'm trying to go, I can't for the life of me remember what exactly I did to get to that point. Even a simple chronological text list of monsters fought, treasure collected, and doors opened would be so helpful to me. I know that I could get a pen and paper and make this list or journal myself, and I tried that. But since manual record-keeping made the gameplay take 15 times longer, it sucked the fun right out of playing in the first place. Additionally, my journal wasn't entirely accurate, as it got so tedious I forgot to write some things down. I would very much like the game to record what I've done for me, please. :)

If the game would record a simple text list of what I've done to solve an RPG hold:
1. Beta testing and HA testing would become easier. When holds are updated, I could use the journal to help me test if my previous solution still works, rather than figuring out the entire puzzle again from scratch.
2. I could help answer H&S questions on RPG holds. I haven't posted in RPG H&S yet because I don't trust myself to give the correct answers from memory.
3. I would be able to compare my puzzle solutions to other players' solutions. This is fun and interesting when comparing with other highscoring players, and just plain necessary when testing beta projects for unintended solutions.

A related feature request that would be helpful together with the journal is the ability to use the restore screen or minimap to review room images for any rooms I've visited, whether or not I saved in them.
09-21-2008 at 10:14 AM
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Dischorran
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icon Re: Journal (+2)  
I'll second this. As an incompletely skilled architect, it would be very nice to see what people pick up when so that I don't need to rely on testers' sense of things that might be wrong with the hold.

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09-22-2008 at 06:45 PM
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mrimer
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icon Re: Journal (+2)  
CuriousShyRabbit wrote:
If the game would record a simple text list of what I've done to solve an RPG hold:
Um...I have no idea what format or content you're actually hoping for here. Something like:

I killed a roach.
I killed an eye.
I picked up a small health potion.
...

Or something like

NWWWWWWWNNNN...

?

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09-25-2008 at 04:07 PM
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aztcg7
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icon Re: Journal (+2)  
I would personally like text format that consists of a number of lines. Each line would denote an action that has been taken, along with where it has occurred. In addition, it could have have some metadata at the beginning of the file. For instance:

Starting, Ending, Change

HP: 1500, 1048, -452
Yellow Keys: 2, 4, 2
Green Keys: 2, 1, -1
etc...

After the metadata, there would be some sort of generic line, in which a number of things could be omitted. The first keyword would describe what occurs with regard to an attack, a change of rooms, or an NPC interaction:

Attack Monster_Type[ at Position]
Move Direction[ at Position]
Get Object[ at Position]

The optional position statements are there because in some cases, the first argument is all that's needed to unambiguously perform a certain action.

I understand that my keyword list isn't complete, but in general, I think it would be a good idea to log anything that changes stats, inventory, or HP, as well as moving into different rooms.

EDIT: I just realized that it's important that you know the orientation of Tendry, seeing as he fights with his sword. Perhaps add another argument, such as facing NW or so would be usable to make it unambiguous.

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[Last edited by aztcg7 at 09-25-2008 04:49 PM]
09-25-2008 at 04:46 PM
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Dischorran
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icon Re: Journal (+2)  
I think that individual moves would be dispensable for this. My ideal case would be something like this:

[Initial stats on entering Rule 2]
Moved to Rule 2 1N.
Moved to Rule 2 1N1W.
Rule 2 1N1W: Engaged roach at (12, 14). HP: 230.
Rule 2 1N1W: Opened yellow door at (12, 16). Yellow keys: 0
Rule 2 1N1W: Picked up health potion at (15, 25). HP: 280.
Moved to Rule 2 2N1W.
Rule 2 2N1W: Struck by evil eye at (15, 23). HP: 258.
Rule 2 2N1W: Stepped on hot tile at (11,10). HP: 240.
Rule 2 2N1W: Stepped on hot tile at (11,9). HP: 234.
Rule 2 2N1W: Picked up attack gem at (13,2). ATK: 42.
...

Basically, I'd be looking for a record of each action that changes attributes or room states (excluding complicated problems like moving platforms or mimics). Seeing actual moves would likely only be necessary for a few very complicated rooms, and saving one-room demos as per standard DROD should be sufficient for those.

Also, it would probably be necessary to have the option of turning logging on or off to keep these logs from multiplying like, well, rabbits.


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[Last edited by Dischorran at 09-26-2008 02:07 AM]
09-25-2008 at 05:32 PM
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eb0ny
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icon Re: Journal (0)  
Dischorran wrote:
Also, it would probably be necessary to have the option of turning logging on or off to keep these logs from multiplying like savegames.
Fixed.

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09-25-2008 at 06:11 PM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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icon Re: Journal (0)  
I'm sorry about the vagueness of my request; the game is so new to me, I hadn't quite figured out the details when I posted it. I'm glad mrimer, aztcg7, and Dischorran jumped in with additional ideas. :)
axtcg7 wrote:
I think it would be a good idea to log anything that changes stats, inventory, or HP, as well as moving into different rooms.
I agree with this.
mrimer wrote:
I killed a roach.
I killed an eye.
I picked up a small health potion.
...
I was thinking that the journal might include more information than this. In particular, in a large or complex hold, I'd need help remembering which roach I killed and which health potion I took. Adding the level, the room, and the (x,y) coordinates of stuff as suggested by Dischorran would work for this. If it also showed the changes in stats, then I could use this journal for a fourth purpose: optimizing my solution.

NWWWWWWWNNNN...
This would be more difficult to read in text format. If it's easier to store my hold solution like this, I would prefer to watch it, like watching a multi-room multi-level demo.

[Last edited by CuriousShyRabbit at 09-26-2008 01:59 AM]
09-26-2008 at 01:58 AM
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Someone Else
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icon Re: Journal (0)  
I don't think that it should show which rooms you moved to, only stat changes that occur. Therefore, killing anything or picking up anything would record. Things like "I stepped on a hot tile" or "I got hit by a 50% explosion" shouldn't be recorded. I say this because I know that I just run around a lot sometimes, and it would get quite cluttered after a while, without saying anything.
09-26-2008 at 02:19 AM
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Mechadragon
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icon Re: Journal (+1)  
Someone Else wrote:
I don't think that it should show which rooms you moved to, only stat changes that occur. Therefore, killing anything or picking up anything would record. Things like "I stepped on a hot tile" or "I got hit by a 50% explosion" shouldn't be recorded. I say this because I know that I just run around a lot sometimes, and it would get quite cluttered after a while, without saying anything.
How about it records a room that you move into, but erases the line if you move to another room without anything significant happening in the last one.
09-26-2008 at 02:41 AM
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Someone Else
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icon Re: Journal (0)  
Yeah, that works.
09-26-2008 at 04:47 AM
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TFMurphy
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icon Re: Journal (+5)  
I'm going to note that I've been delaying going through the second part of Tendry's Tale simply because I'd rather do it with a demo or journal being recorded - I'd rather not note down the route I eventually take myself. (Although I have done it for smaller holds)

But let's be a bit more specific. How would people *like* this journal to be formatted?

Me, I'm looking for a sparse informative document that can be exported as text and read and searched through easily.

As an example of what could be generated, I've transcribed a route I take through the first two levels of Tendry's Tale. Keep an eye on how it's formatted - maybe you can see ways to improve it.

EDIT: While writing my own personal journals, I found that enclosing the results of each action in square brackets seemed to make it easier to read. So I'm editing this to reflect that, to see what other people think.

Click here to view the secret text


You'll note that once my ATK/DEF is high enough to kill roaches without HP loss, it no longer displays the HP in my journal. Also, walking on and off a plate both make messages - this would be the simplest way to deal with these since they're both distinct events that could mean different things in other rooms.

Note that it doesn't mention trapdoors dropping (Trapdoor *Gates* toggling would likely be mentioned though) or platforms being moved or what rooms I move through inbetween. It would also likely not mention Mimic movement (unless the Mimic attacked something or triggered something). It would mention Evil Eye/Seep/Goblin/Waterskipper attacks (as seen in the example), and Hot Tiles are likely best done via something like this:

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That is, groups of hot tiles that you cross would be counted together, and would stop counting and produce the journal message either when you left the hot tiles, or you produced another Journal Event (like attacking an enemy whilst still on hot tiles).

===

Anyways, that's a few ideas I had about all this. Note that this is not really a substitute for a demo - it won't be able to deal with some of the really tricky movement puzzles that can arise. It's more to help deal with the stat-management side, which is part of the entire hold puzzle, rather than the fine details of movement. As such, in the example, I included everything that seemed to make sense towards the stat-management side, and if nothing happened in a room, it simply wasn't mentioned - even if I used a platform to cross it or dropped some trapdoors.

Anyways, if you have things to add or suggestions to make with regards to this, feel free. There's quite likely a lot of room for improvement with regards to the clarity of the formatting - it needs to be informative, but it would be good if it was easy to read and to tell what things are at a glance. I just wanted to bring an output example up so that it could be refined now rather than later.

===

Additional things of note after talking a bit on CaravelNet Chat:

* This is an event-driven journal, and in my example, you'll note that any sort of wandering around or walking in circles is not recorded. This helps cut down to only the important things that happen.

* Only the HP outcome of a battle is noted in the example. Yes, I know you have things like whether Tendry struck first with his sword, or whether he surprised the enemy from behind. It could be argued that what happened is self-evident from the recorded stats of the battle and the resultant HP. But it's possible to add flags for uncommon events like this if needs be: "Killed Evil Eye (surprised, body attack) -> [353 HP]" as a quick example. Decide which you'd like best.

* It'd be nice if the ingame Journal colour-coded things, to make it easy to read at a glance there. However, the most important feature this journal should have, to my mind, is exporting as text. Since text files won't have colour and will tend to be view most often in a non-proportional font, the journal should be built around that.

* A plate event could possibly not be recorded if it doesn't change anything in the room. If it only opens or closes doors and those doors are already opened and closed, then we could leave that out of the Journal (and could also be safe to auto-travel over, as remarked in that other thread about Ctrl+Direction). Plates that trigger lights only shouldn't be recorded.

* Doors opened with Skeleton Keys should be marked especially to stand out - it's an uncommon event, so it's important to make it distinctive.

* Scripting shouldn't really be recorded much unless it causes a change in the player's state (like collecting the shield in Rule 2).

[Last edited by TFMurphy at 11-09-2008 01:14 PM]
10-08-2008 at 12:39 AM
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Mikko
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icon Re: Journal (+1)  
Looks good, I had no problems following those instructions. One addition I'd make is to note when the hero uses the stairs. I know this is technically just one way of moving around, but think it's important enough to be included, at least the first time each staircase is used.

The player should also be able to manually make entries into the log. Something like "Use the Western passage" can be very important information that isn't included automatically and doesn't become evident until much later.
10-08-2008 at 07:57 AM
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Sillyman
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icon Re: Journal (0)  
Hmm... the only reason I can see going up stairs would be important applies to exploring any new room... so for example "Rule 1: 2S discovered"?

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10-08-2008 at 08:21 AM
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TFMurphy
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icon Re: Journal (+3)  
The reason I didn't mark level exits is due to late-game backtracking, which often has many rooms *and* levels traversed simply to collect stuff in earlier levels - in such a case, entire levels can be skipped in the journal providing no event occurs in them. First use could be interesting, but remember that stairs are not two-way objects - you have a Stairs Up which connects to one Level Entrance, and (usually) a Stairs Down which connects to another Level Entrance. If the Journal recorded first use only, it would record both the first use of the Stairs Up, *and* the first use of the Stairs Down even if it was many many moves later.

EDIT: How about a compromise? If a level has an event occur in it, the level will also have Begin and End marked, as follows:
Rule 2: Courage - 323 HP, 22 ATK, 10 DEF, 21 GR, 31 REP, 0/0/0/0
===============   Short Sword / --- / Pocket Roach

 Ent.:   ( 3, 8) Entered Level
 1N1E:   (11, 6) Struck Orb
  .........................
 2N:     ( 9, 5) Opened Blue Door -> 0x BKey
         (12, 2) Left Level
In this way, it marks how a level is entered and left, but *only* if an event occurs in the level. The game would have to remember where I entered each level until an event occurs though.



I do like the idea of being able to add notes to the Journal as you play though.

One note on re-reading my example journal - I had the co-ordinates for "Plate Released" marked by the player, but in retrospect, this should probably be the co-ordinates of the plate that got released, since the player is not the only thing that can trigger or release plates.

And another thing: I'm not sure how cutscenes would work, or the brief interludes that takes Tendry to levels like "Flashback" and then lands him back where he left when the cutscene ends. No event occurs in those interlude cutscenes, so that might help, but it's still "leaving the level".

Also, introductory hold cutscenes... I'm of the opinion that the stat and event recording should begin *only* when the player is first given control. If you start with three Green Keys but use them all up in the very first cutscene, then it seems like unnecessary clutter if everyone will be starting the hold like that. This also covers first turn scripting that sets your stats to various values and the like.

[Last edited by TFMurphy at 10-08-2008 12:57 PM]
10-08-2008 at 12:28 PM
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silver
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icon Re: Journal (+1)  
"Imperative: No Journaling"
could be used in scripts that will have no effect, such as flashbacks or mean-whiles


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10-08-2008 at 04:41 PM
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CuriousShyRabbit
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icon Re: Journal (+1)  
*Looks wistfully at this request*

I've finally found some time to come back to the RPG after about a month of intensive TCB hold testing. It looks like one of the already-published RPG holds will need an update, which means it will need to be re-tested, which somehow always seems to mean me. The problem is, after 7+ weeks, I've completely forgotten how I beat it when I first tested it. It would be so very nice if I had a "journal" of my previous solution, so I could check that everything still works exactly as it did before.

The format suggested above by TFMurphy would be wonderful. :)
11-09-2008 at 04:07 AM
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