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Caravel Forum : DROD RPG Boards : RPG Architecture : Journey of Piracy (DROD RPG with a twist: Root for the enemy!)
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azb
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icon Journey of Piracy (+2)  
In order for the plot in this hold to make sense, as mentioned on the Oceanic Oligarchy thread, you should have completed up to the seventeenth combat level, as the plot of this hold takes off directly from that point.

Perhaps, however, this particular villain will have a change of heart...

Although this hold is not critical to the Bongthro series, it will help make sense of the plot in the final part of the series, so you could consider it a side-quest to help immerse you in the canon.

09/30/2018: Fixed:

* Altar rendering the game trivial via spamming DEF/backtracking

* Water not being connected in Fifth Level and Fourth Level exit

* Health in Island of the Cult 1N1W being rendered trivial by flippers.

* Potential frustration near the end of the game by adding a subtle clue in the final dialogue in the first visit to the Director's District.

* Altar HP costing an excessive amount compared to DEF and ATK, although it is still higher than either (just slightly instead of radically)


Added:

* HP in later stages in the game to help balance things out after cutting the excessive DEF

* More RPG-oriented rooms as opposed to trapdoor puzzles, and warnings when backtracking is rendered undoable.


10/04/2018: Fixed:

* Tar Mother in UT giving an excessive amount of GR and REP
* Slight changes to Altar's new HP grant, and updated scrolls accordingly

10/05/2018: Fixed:

* Tar Mother in UT draining an excess amount of HP, and added bonuses in the room as well (HP behind 1 GR gate, and treasures for killing the Tar Mother.)

10/25/2018: Fixed:

* Wyrm Smiter being dropped upon getting the RBS
* Altars costing one extra than stated
* Final encounter with Mysterious Swordsman bypassable

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[Last edited by azb at 10-25-2018 11:45 PM : Update 8]
09-30-2018 at 01:27 AM
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Nuntar
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icon Re: Journey of Piracy (+2)  
Stats after killing the Slayer: 6890 HP, 535 ATK, 684 DEF, 6/6/0 keys (score 5079).

This suffers from a lack of playtesting. The first level is fine. The second level has so little health available that the player is forced to get DEF from the altar, making the Mud Mother almost free. Then the third level is filled with more Mud Mothers, even though they are certainly free by now. It also has the same problem that very little HP is available, so the only realistic choice is to pump up DEF so monsters can't hurt you.

After that... the altar cost never increases, while the monsters give an increasing amount of GR/REP throughout the game, so I just kept pumping DEF and pretty much nothing was able to hurt me for the entire rest of the hold.

It's not clear where to go after killing the Slayer.

I should also mention that Island of the Cult 2N has a weird orthosquare at 1,5, and it's pretty annoying that none of the room edges lead anywhere when you have the Flippers -- not even the conspicuous land passage at the north edge of 2N.

EDIT: Okay, I worked out where to go, and completed the hold. With the Oremite Shield, the pre-final boss didn't hurt me either. Then the final boss was bizarrely hard, after how easy the rest of the hold was. I had to go right back to Level 2 and scrounge up some of the gems I'd left behind doors to win the fight. Okay, I'm not exactly complaining that the final boss was a challenge; it's just... oddly disconnected with the rest of the hold :?

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[Last edited by Nuntar at 09-30-2018 03:31 AM]
09-30-2018 at 03:07 AM
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azb
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icon Re: Journey of Piracy (+1)  
It is intentional for the hold to have "free points" at odd places, such as the Mud Mothers in the third level, because of the difficulty in the final stage. I did, in fact, play through it, and designed the hold intentionally in the manner you described. However, I should probably cut back on the DEF the altars give, if it rendered you immune for the rest of the hold until the final level (that didn't happen with me). I will also add a feature to "lock" an altar after you complete the level it is in, a' la how it already is after beating the Slayer.

I will get rid of the orthosquare in 2N of the Island of the Cult, and add rocks to indicate that you aren't supposed to leave from the edges.

I will also add a bit of dialogue indicating where you must go after killing the Slayer.

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09-30-2018 at 12:06 PM
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azb
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icon Re: Journey of Piracy (+1)  
Also, on the note of the conspicuous land passage: I know it is weird once you posses the flippers, but it's a reference to the way the island looks in the main series (the Oceanic Oligarchy hold).

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09-30-2018 at 01:29 PM
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Nuntar
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So I just had another run through the hold, this time on an ATK path, to see how it differed. Level 3 was more interesting, because I had to work a bit harder to be able to one-shot Mud Babies; after that it was the same story of one-shotting everything up to the final bosses. Because the water level contains Pirates placed so that you have to step on their swords, and so little HP is available, I had to switch to DEF for a while to make this manageable; also, knowing how many Serpents and Adders were on the final level, not to mention the Slayer, it was an obvious choice to get my DEF up to at least 600. I finished with 763 ATK and 740 DEF, and the final boss was much easier this way, given that his "No enemy DEF" property strongly encourages ATK. (To be precise, I had 7940 HP and his expected damage was 2800.)

Of course, if you want to change the gameplay away from one-shotting everything, you must provide more HP. The way the hold stands, there are so few HP refills available that one-shotting everything is the only way to progress at all.

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09-30-2018 at 02:26 PM
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azb
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Did you perhaps download the second version I uploaded, or did you choose an alternative path on your first copy? It should really not be possible to get up to 600 DEF before encountering Adders or the Slayer in the new version, owing to cutting back on the DEF upgrades from the altar (while still preserving them being more expensive than ATK). From your mentioning the water level containing pirates, I would assume you probably still have the first copy: I removed them and replaced them with Gel Babies, and added pirates/guards to the city level in place of Swordsmen and Rock Giants.

Also, you can always buy lots of HP at the altar, it just costs more than either DEF or ATK. In addition, there are "HP checkpoints" in the second version, where you can gather a ton in a certain amount (IE: City Catacombs 1W). It is intentional you can one-shot, for example, the Water Skippers in the water level, the mud monsters, and the Chaos Men under the city, but you shouldn't really be able to one-shot the Slayer or the second fight against the Mysterious Swordsman.

Finally, since the altars lock themselves after completing the level they are featured in, I do not think spamming any upgrades is as possible as it was before.

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[Last edited by azb at 09-30-2018 02:37 PM]
09-30-2018 at 02:34 PM
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Nuntar
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icon Re: Journey of Piracy (+3)  
Okay, playing through the new version on an ATK path:

Level 2 - I get 72 ATK to one-shot Mud Mothers before leaving the level.
Level 3 - As soon as I have 133 ATK to one-shot Mud Babies, there's a lot of free GR/REP. This allows me to leave the level with 176 ATK, enough that Goblins will be free with the Goblin-Biter.
Level 4 - I ignore the Mutants as there's no incentive to tackle them (I'm not short on green keys, because I ignored most of the houses in Level 2). The first Goblin King is free, the second does a little damage.
Level 5 - Here I have to get some DEF, since there are so many sword-users who will definitely get a hit on me. I get 250 ATK for Soulless first, then some DEF, then go back to UT 1W and kill Mad Eyes for another DEF boost, then I can get the shield. Now Mutants are free, so I kill those for more DEF, making Peackeepers free. I get the sword, and boost ATK to 343 for Goblins and Waterskippers. However, I have only 7 HP at this point.
Level 6 - Okay, Goblins are free (even brained) so I can regain HP, kill the boss, and get the new HP refill.
Level 7 - I kill one Gel Baby for the Hook, and now everything is free except the boss.
Level 8 - Stuck, so I restore to the Level 5 altar and boost ATK as much as possible. Now I'm not losing HP even to the first Gel Baby, and with 470 ATK when I reach the Master Swordsman, I take one hit less. Back to Level 8, it's apparent that everything needs DEF rather than ATK, so I get four DEF boosts, kill the Soulless for the large potion, get the Wyrmsmiter, and... nearly stuck again, but I remember the potions behind green doors in Level 5. Oh hey, those are actually free now I have the flippers!
Level 9 - There's a huge HP cache, which is nice, but killing an Adder for the blue key is draining and I don't have enough left over for the Slayer, and no way of getting more.

So, same problem really. Most of the hold is killing things for free, and the parts that aren't are too difficult.

I haven't tried the DEF path in the new version, but buying DEF has been made so much more expensive that I suspect it isn't a viable path at all. Using the second altar as a benchmark, the rates are 7 REP per 1 ATK, or 15 REP per 1 DEF. Remember how in Tendry's Tale the same amount of money would let you get twice as much DEF as ATK? So DEF is roughly four times as expensive in this hold as in TT.

I'm not even going to discuss the altars' HP option, because it's a joke. It's so much more expensive, and you get so little HP for it, that it surely can't be worth considering. But okay, I'll play your game. I reload my Level 8 save and buy HP instead of DEF. I can only afford two boosts, so that's 1600 HP. I have to take seven hits to complete the level, and eight to get the blue key on the next. With 100 less DEF, I lose 100 HP per hit, so one hit from the Slayer and that's all that HP gone already.

* * *

Now, some constructive feedback for how to improve this.

Standard altar systems, like in TT, have the altar cost in a variable, and every time you use an altar, it increases (usually either linearly, quadratically, or exponentially). Later altars use the same variable, so that if you overuse an early altar, the next altar -- which would have offered you more ATK or DEF per cost -- is more expensive. That is how you discourage overspending on early altars. What you've done in your hold -- all altars have roughly the same ratio of ATK/DEF to cost, and early altars are locked once you enter the next level -- actually does the opposite; it encourages the player to spend as much as possible at each altar before moving on.

When I said "there isn't enough HP", I didn't mean you should throw a few large potions into Level 9 and call it a day. I meant that throughout the hold there should be more choices involving HP being behind monsters (or behind doors). That means there is always an interesting timing decision: do you need the HP badly enough to take it now when the monster is expensive, or can you gain stats first to make the monster cheaper?

Intentionally free monsters just don't make for fun gameplay. Killing all the waterskippers in the water level is tedious busywork (just like dropping all the trapdoors in your trapdoor rooms), and if you need to reset to change an earlier decision, it all has to be done again. It's especially bad when you get to a greckle gate room, and it feels like the hold is saying "Oops, I gave you too many free monsters so you got a lot of free cash -- hang on a sec while I take it all away again."

Sorry if I come across as too negative. I think you have potential (as I said, the first level is very good) but RPG balancing is a very difficult art to master. :P Good luck if you decide to keep working on this!

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09-30-2018 at 04:21 PM
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azb
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icon Re: Journey of Piracy (+1)  
I know this may seem like heresy to traditional DROD RPG fans, but I made the "health checkpoint" style intentional: the hold is centered around having a low amount of HP, and as such you focus more on ATK/DEF. The parts that are over-the-top in comparison to the trivial moments are intentional: I am encouraging the player to save up for those moments. Do you think perhaps, to reduce frustration, I should give the players not a spoiler, but a sort of foreshadow or warning-in-advance?

Just like the series on the vanilla Architecture board is more about slaughtering monsters en masse (but with flavor, rather than mindless combat) rather than traditional lynchpin styles, this hold is taking a similar approach: more about plot advancement and the satisfaction of defeating tough opponents rather than traditional RPG balance. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear at first.

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09-30-2018 at 04:49 PM
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azb
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In addition, even though I locked each altar after you advance, I made backtracking available for the exact reasons you stated: racking up greckles and REP to spend on the altar in your current level, and greckle gates.

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09-30-2018 at 04:53 PM
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hyperme
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It's almost possible to get through using DEF, but then you reach the final boss which makes DEF useless. And then you die. Turns out I should have gone for ATK, which is worth more points anyway.

There's a bunch of design decisions here that make the hold way more annoying to play, or are just kind of bizarre:

*Sometimes GR is basically worthless, because you're using standard monsters but altar boosts are based on REP. Then suddenly you need a few thousand GR to progress.
*There's three points where you can't backtrack with no warning. Enjoy the fun of reloaded.
*Speaking of reloading, sealing the altar just adds more busywork since it might turn out that you need to buy more boosts at the previous altar to reach the next one.
*No one is spending a yellow key for 15HP.
*Trapdoor puzzles belong in regular DROD. Trapdoor busywork, like in UT: 3W, belongs nowhere.
*Nuntar is right about HP. There's barely any, there's no nice free HP to help you keep moving, and like half the HP trades are laughably bad.

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09-30-2018 at 04:54 PM
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azb
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icon Re: Journey of Piracy (+1)  
I should have definitely included a warning for backtracking. I apologize for that as well.

The "spring cleaning" of monsters is actually intentional in this hold, as mentioned earlier, although it might not be traditional for DROD RPG. The theme to this hold is "skewer as much as you can", but with limitation: in this case, you have to wait until each battle does as least harm as possible.

I will replace the trapdoor puzzle with a more RPG-oriented puzzle to reduce tedium.

For all the rest (IE: HP trades), I will just reiterate that this hold is deviant from the RPG norm, so it might not be traditional fans' thing, just like the series on the vanilla board would not be traditional DROD fans' thing.

However, I am not discouraging feedback in general. I would just like to alert the general public that the paradigm I had in mind is non-traditional. I appreciate the feedback, however! :)


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[Last edited by azb at 09-30-2018 05:21 PM : The puzzles I replaced the trapdoors with involve monsters]
09-30-2018 at 05:10 PM
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Nuntar
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You've at least got to be consistent. In my playthrough of the first version, I got enough DEF to one-shot everything, and you said "I don't want that; I'm going to reduce the DEF gained at the altars so monsters will still hurt." Very well. If monsters still hurt, then the player needs HP to progress. There's nothing wrong with deviating from the norm and trying out new gimmicks; but the particular gimmick of "monsters hurt, and there's no HP" is one that simply doesn't work.

I've tried a DEF run in the new version, and it dead-ended at the second Goblin King, who does 385 damage, and there are no HP refills on the level. One of the main reasons why altars are an interesting feature and keep being used is that they add replay value: if you took an ATK route last time, you can try a DEF route this time, and the same hold can play out very differently. If you're going to make one route simply not viable, then instead of a choice, you're setting a trap for the player and punishing them for making the "wrong" choice. (Although as I said, given the Adder and Slayer fights in Level 9, I don't think the ATK route is viable either in the new version.)

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09-30-2018 at 06:23 PM
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azb
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Okay, looking back, I can definitely see that having the altar cost the radical amount it does now for HP is not a viable solution, although I would object to the amount being called low: it is reasonable considering how much HP you would earn in each level otherwise. I shall reduce the cost to make getting HP more viable.

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09-30-2018 at 06:32 PM
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azb
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icon Re: Journey of Piracy (0)  
The main reason I had the HP cost an excessive amount of REP in the first place is because I was still using the initial version's idea of "backtrack to the altar after killing more powerful monsters later in the game", so for the version I uploaded just now, I realized I had to adjust the cost to accommodate the anti power-leveling change.


Of course, I still preserved the HP boons in the non altar levels (the one after the Guardian Golem, the one in Ninth Level 1W, etc.)

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[Last edited by azb at 09-30-2018 06:50 PM : Extra info]
09-30-2018 at 06:38 PM
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Midootje
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EDIT: this is based on Journey of Piracy 2.drh. Dunno what you've changed since.

Okay, so I've played through this hold as well. Let's begin with my final stats: 15976 HP, 1099 ATK, 356 DEF, 3/1/0/0 keys (GR and REP don't matter at this point; they're both OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAND!!)
So I have a lot of pros and cons about this. I don't really even know where to begin. I'll go through the Levels one by one, ending with the altar mechanic. Note that I followed an ATK route.
The Mighty Jungle is very good IMO. Not much else to say.
The Azabian Village shows in unmistakable terms that HP has a much higher value in this hold than in others. 15 HP for a yellow key is never going to be an option, though. Pretty straightforward, I have a neutral opinion about this one.
The Village Dungeon is a bit goofy. If you have enough ATK to oneshot Mud Mothers (which is very easy to obtain before this point), you can get quite a bit of free REP here along with free stats in 1S1E. Seems a bit unnecessary. This does, however, enable you to go for the 130 ATK threshold for the Mad Eyes, which IMO is a good thing.
The Underground Tunnels are fine. Not great, not bad.
The Island of the Cult is literally all about getting the Shield and enough ATK to kill the Leader in two hits. Bit one-dimensional.
The Goblins (Tar Babies as well) in the next Level can all be oneshot. Not much of a choice, let alone a challenge. Killing the Golem in 2 hits is also really easy.
It's almost impossible not to get the Hook for free in the Ancient River (the Long Sword on the Island of the Cult is redundant unless perhaps you follow a DEF route?). There are no goals in this Level, nothing deals damage except the Swordsman. That's bad, mkay.
In the Abandoned City I had to get one HP altar upgrade in order to get the Wyrm Smiter. This is good; it forces me to think about when to get this HP instead of just going no-brainer ATK every single time. The City Catacombs are really, really easy because of this though. There is a ridiculous amount of HP stashed behind virtually non-existent greckle doors, making the rest of the Level trivial (except those 4 Serpents with the large potion; even with the Wyrm Smiter they aren't worth it, especially since there is no Altar to be used after entering this Level...) I understand the Chaos Men are there to be a challenge on DEF routes, but oneshotting 50 of them in a row with 500 ATK to spare is quite silly.
The Greckle Doors in the last Level might as well not have been there. I'm overflowing with greckles at this point. The Green door was good, though; you have to take a bad HP trade through a Swordsman or a Serpent to get through it. Please note that the Swordsman can be avoided here if you open the greckle doors. Doesn't seem intentional, and if it is, it's not a good thing. The final boss was laughable; the three of them cost a combined 2288 of my 18264 HP.

Saving the best for last: what's up with the Altars? The exchange rates from the first to the last go: good, medium, best, bad, worst. I don't really see why, except maybe if you want to stimulate the player to save their REP in the first few Levels so they have to spend more HP in order to gain more stats. The reversal in the later Levels counteracts this though.
And yes, the DEF route really seems to be made unviable at this point. Its price is exorbitantly high in comparison to ATK, and it's not like you don't need ATK to get through the hold, so you might as well always take ATK.

This hold has potential, but it needs a lot of balancing. Some Levels might even need a complete overhaul, since they are just fillers right now.


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[Last edited by Midootje at 09-30-2018 07:24 PM]
09-30-2018 at 07:18 PM
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azb
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A little disclaimer about some of the levels that appear to be filler: The three I think people are talking about (Sixth, Seventh and Tenth levels) pretty much are, for story purposes and in Seventh Level's case, for REP/GR/ATK(Hook) purposes. I am pretty certain, however, with the new version, you will have to dodge the waterskippers on your first visit, as you cannot "clean" them for free until after you visit the city (so there is a mini puzzle in that).



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[Last edited by azb at 09-30-2018 07:51 PM : Grammar: subject-number agreement]
09-30-2018 at 07:46 PM
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Midootje
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quote:
azb wrote:
I am pretty certain, however, with the new version, you will have to dodge the waterskippers on your first visit, as you cannot "clean" them for free until after you visit the city (so there is a mini puzzle in that).


Would I be correct in guessing you forgot that the Tar Mother in the Underground Tunnels now gives absurd amounts of REP? I was able to exit the Island of the Cult with 1115 ATK. I'd say that's enough to oneshot waterskippers. As a bonus, I oneshot all three Directors at the end too. I had 2039 ATK. ;)

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10-01-2018 at 10:39 AM
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azb
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Yep, I sure did overlook that in favor of getting rid of the trapdoor puzzle. :blush

I am correcting that right now, and the game should be more balanced.

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10-03-2018 at 01:22 AM
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Gordius
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My playstyle is pretty much always geared toward DEF path, which doesn't seem possible at present. I reached the Tar Mother in Underground Tunnels with 85 ATK and no option to obtain more at this point. If I trade DEF for ATK at past altars to get up above 110, I'm going to have a low enough DEF that I'll do better to trade all of it.

I'd also note that, despite what the scrolls say, the purchase cost of health at the altars is fairly reasonable (usually around a quarter of what the scroll says). I still don't do it unless I really need to, but it isn't as absurd as it appears.
10-04-2018 at 10:07 PM
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azb
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I was noting that with the old case, which is no longer true. I will fix that promptly.

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10-04-2018 at 10:53 PM
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kieranmillar
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I played through this. End stats:
17,408 HP
1,209 ATK
388 DEF
Gigantic REP and GR
2 yellow keys, 2 green keys
Score: 7,704

* Altars do not work if you have exactly the amount of REP needed, which happened to me a few times. This is because the script only checks if you have more than the required REP cost.
* My strategy was to use the current altar to the maximum amount, taking ATK as often as possible, except in the Island of the Cult where I took DEF about 4-ish times to make the Stalwart enemy free so I could farm them for more REP to feed into ATK. At no point did I buy HP from the altars.
* In the Abandoned City I just rushed for the Wyrm Smiter and then I could kill Rattlesnakes for free, and ignored all other non-required sworded enemies, although I killed the 4 pirates guarding shield gems while passing through after returning from the next level because at that point I had the health spare. On the next level, Adders were free on arrival.
* In the Abandoned City when you pick up the Really Big Sword it drops the Wyrm Smiter down a pit, but the rest of the snake enemies on the level are signifcantly more dangerous when you have the RBS, but if you don't realise at first its too late to swap back. Would be a bit more player friendly if you didn't put the RBS on a trapdoor.
* The Mysterious Swordsman in the last level can be skipped by stepping around him by opening one of the greckle gates.

During this playthrough I took almost zero damage from the vast majority of non-boss monsters after the first level. The altars are so hilariously skewed towards Attack. Typically altars need to give around 150-200% as much DEF as Attack to be a viable option vs Attack, and in this case when DEF could be as much as 33% of the Attack option, as well as being more expensive to boot, it was so far away from being a viable option most of the time, why would you ever bother? It was merely the fact that health was almost non-existant that I bothered to ever pick up any DEF at all.

RPG is about the player having to figure out what order they want to tackle things and giving them choices. This hold offers very little in way of choices, it's mostly one long railroad with pretty simple and easy choices given how going for the obvious altar choice makes most enemies free.

[Last edited by kieranmillar at 10-14-2018 09:28 PM]
10-14-2018 at 09:27 PM
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kieranmillar
Level: Smitemaster
Rank Points: 1713
Registered: 07-11-2014
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icon Re: Journey of Piracy (+1)  
I played through this again for laughs, this time, I never took DEF or HP from the altar at any time, and also skipped the bronze shield, steel shield and long sword, they are simply not worth picking up!

HP: 16,780
ATK: 1,255
DEF: 363
4 yellow keys, 9 green keys
Score: 8,003

[Last edited by kieranmillar at 10-14-2018 10:12 PM]
10-14-2018 at 10:12 PM
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Caravel Forum : DROD RPG Boards : RPG Architecture : Journey of Piracy (DROD RPG with a twist: Root for the enemy!)
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