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Xindaris
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icon Prometheus & Demetrius (+3)  
I think it's time to get some other people's eyes on this.

This RPG level-set has 6 essentially feature-complete levels (plus a brief tutorial) out of a planned 7, and development has more or less stalled for me on that last level. The last time something like this happened was with Funky Grapple, where I stopped working on it for quite a while before coming back to the last "tier" (level equivalent) with little memory of what I'd been doing before. Rather than have the exact same thing happen to me here, I'd like for some of the down-time to be spent with other people taking a look at what's here so far and maybe me refining that a bit.

The main gimmick of this level set is laid out in the first, "tutorial" level. Basically you have a "party" of two player characters who each have their own HP/ATK/DEF and equipment. One of them always has a grappling hook; the other always has flippers. They share keys, GR and REP, the latter of which can be used in the late game to trade HP between them and (in the barely-started final level) to trade ATK and DEF at an even higher price. This basically means that a lot of monsters and prizes implicitly include a choice of who to benefit and whose HP to spend. Most rooms contain a special tile which you can step on to swap between the two party members, but some areas are deliberately restricted to one or the other to require some degree of stat balancing.

Scorepoints are designed a bit specially to accommodate the gimmick. For the most part, bosses who only one of the player characters can kill have one scorepoint for each choice which only considers the stats of the one who killed the monster, plus a separate scorepoint measuring the combined stats of both player characters. Bosses who require cooperation from both brothers will track both of their stats plus the combined stats with 3 separate scorepoints.

There are two skeleton keys available throughout the level set. The plan is for the final level to include two bonus bosses, each of which requires a skeleton key to reach and has a scorepoint for beating it, and to have a special scorepoint for beating both of them and then killing the final boss. For this reason, I'd appreciate testing out (after you're done doing the level set 'normally') of a "challenge run" where you hang on to both skeleton keys; I know for a fact this is possible.

Aside from that, just some stats from other people for the end of the 6th level, Twisted Maze, would be useful to know for eventually setting up the final level. That's in addition to, of course, general feedback.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 05-26-2021 07:30 PM]
11-03-2020 at 12:15 AM
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Someone Else
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+1)  
Analysis paralysis, thy name is Someone Else.

In all seriousness, though, this is a brilliant idea and I don't know whether I'm okay with it. I'll let you know if I make any headway.
11-03-2020 at 03:35 AM
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+1)  
I do not think the current engine (for the score verification purpose) can handle two or more scorepoints in a single turn correctly. It might be better to separate such scorepoints.

For example, at Ground Floor: 1N3W, after killing the mud mothers from west/east and then stepping south, two scorepoints will trigger at the same time. This can cause some score verification issue.
11-03-2020 at 04:22 AM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+1)  
Well, you're not really supposed to activate them simultaneously; they're not intentionally designed to do that. I can probably idiot-proof 1N3W by just extending the black door to also go over the mud mother eyes, though. It'll be in the next update.

Someone Else: I'm not sure if my playstyle is "right", but I basically just think up a heuristic (like "buff Dem as much as possible until I get a sword" or whatever) and use it to make all my decisions for a while. It wouldn't optimize, probably, but there are fairly simple heuristics that can make it through the bosses. After all, I was able to do it.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 11-03-2020 04:30 AM]
11-03-2020 at 04:27 AM
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+2)  
After a couple months of trying (and largely failing) to enjoy Tactical Nexus, it's nice to have a hold that's just fun to play. I'm in Second Basement and, while I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to start over and try to balance my characters a little differently, it doesn't feel like it's going to be a chore. I'll try to have more feedback once I've spent some more time with it, but overall, this is an interesting mechanic and you've implemented some effective puzzles with it.
11-03-2020 at 12:31 PM
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mrimer
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (0)  
Neat concept!
Xindaris wrote:
There are two skeleton keys available throughout the level set. The plan is for the final level to include two bonus bosses, each of which requires a skeleton key to reach...
As an aside, I've been brainstorming ways to enable skeleton keys to do more unique things in RPG 1.3. Not wanting to derail the topic, but if you have thoughts on what unique things skeleton keys might be made to do in a future game version, please share them.

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11-03-2020 at 03:52 PM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+1)  
Well, it'd be interesting to have a "skeleton door" I guess? At the moment, the way I'm requiring skeleton keys is by making a room with an absurdly high multiplier and putting a greckle gate in it (and no stats, obviously). Since the player can never afford the toll, the only way to open the gate is with a skeleton key. This workaround has the disadvantage of looking slightly silly, maybe being unintuitive to a player unfamiliar with the relevant mechanics, and of course not allowing stats to be in the same room as such a "skeleton gate". Unless you want to suddenly give the player some 5000 ATK or something.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 11-03-2020 06:12 PM]
11-03-2020 at 06:10 PM
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+1)  
Isn't there a script variable like _ItemGRMult to change the cost of GR gates alone? If you use that then it would be fine to place stats in the same room. Add a little lighting or something around the GR gate to make it clear it's special since the level multiplier would be normal.

One another note, 5000 ATK is not a weird amount to see in Tactical Nexus.
11-03-2020 at 06:42 PM
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (0)  
You can set the value of greckle gates independently from the main multiplier, so increasing the value of power gems shouldn't be a problem.

As for skeleton keys in general: they have an obvious problem. They can open any colour of door or greckle gates, but almost all the time, opening a blue door is the best you can do with them, unless the architect has required them to be used for separate doors. This prevents blue doors being used for "hard" end-of-level doors that absolutely require a blue key to pass.

However, if the hold already makes surplus blue keys available, skeleton keys can be interesting -- you could use them on a yellow door if you run out of yellow keys, but obviously you want to avoid that if possible. Tendry's Tale (first half) is the only hold I know of that both contains skeleton keys and has yellow keys in such short supply that this really arises as a choice.

Adding more uses for skeleton keys won't solve this issue; it will just mean that architects have another way to make skeleton keys required for something else so they can't fulfil their intended role of a choice between opening a yellow, green or blue door.

I think it might be best to just accept that skeleton keys can be interesting but are hard to use, and therefore won't be used often.

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11-03-2020 at 06:48 PM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (0)  
That's all true, I guess I could make use of that for sure.

As for this level set, I more or less intentionally use skeleton keys here as a way for the player to choose to skip getting some blue keys until later, in exchange for not being able to reach a bonus boss at the end/the relevant scorepoints to that. I'm alright with that use in this particular case, anyway.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 11-03-2020 07:34 PM]
11-03-2020 at 07:33 PM
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+1)  
I'm really enjoying this hold, but I've hit an impasse due to a possible bug/oversight. The Mud Wyrms in First Basement 6E are scripted to only die when the player's sword is on them, which requires cutting the mud blob twice and then fighting the Wyrm. I had assumed I would be able to cut the mud blob once, then fight the Wyrm by bumping it, accepting the extra hit instead of an entire extra fight. (This does work with normal tarstuff mothers.)

Other than that, the gimmick leads to very interesting choices and gameplay so far. I feel that my choices are a bit railroaded because high-DEF bosses force me to concentrate ATK on one brother in Ground Floor and spread it evenly in First Basement; but perhaps that's a deliberate decision so the player isn't overwhelmed by too much choice right from the beginning?

* * *

I realised I'm not stuck, because I can use the speed and invisibility potions in the obvious places to get enough health for the Mud Wyrms. Moving on....

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11-03-2020 at 09:16 PM
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Xindaris
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I think I based those things' programming on the mud spider from Escape From Monster Jail, which I think I in turn cribbed from someone else's level set somewhere. It looks like what it actually does is check that it's standing where the player is facing (effectively, where the player's weapon would be if they stabbed it that way), so a disarmed player could bump-kill it if they were facing it. Maybe there's some way to detect the player is properly "attacking the eye" without doing that?
I didn't really think about bumping the "eye" during testing, of course, which is why I never caught this before. Maybe there's a good example somewhere I can just crib from that'd fix this...

It might come as no surprise that my choices for boss monsters and custom boss monster stats was semi-arbitrary, just sort of plonking down what seemed right and testing until it felt sensible enough. Intentionality is kind of hard to gauge for me with RPG stuff because does "I built this without think about it hard, then tested and decided I liked it" count?

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 11-03-2020 09:44 PM]
11-03-2020 at 09:32 PM
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Alternate solution (no scripting required): Just place arrows/orthosquares so the player can't directly bump the mud wyrms. Since I never really tested for/"intended" that to be a strategy, this would hide the buggy behavior from being a problem/abusable. (It's abusable in that you could kind of farm for GR/REP by repeatedly bump-but-not-killing them...)

I think I'll do that next update unless there's a good way to reprogram it to not have this kind of bug, or the alternative bug of the mud wyrm dying because the player cut nearby mud while standing next to it.

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11-03-2020 at 10:14 PM
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Nuntar
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+2)  
Xindaris wrote:
Alternate solution (no scripting required): Just place arrows/orthosquares so the player can't directly bump the mud wyrms.

Doesn't work; you can bump-fight against arrows. The simplest solution is to make both blobs 2 tall and 4 wide, so it's clear that you have to fight 3 tiles to reach the mother.

Anyway, I've reached the end of currently accessible content (killed both Adders). My stats:

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Really, really great hold so far. If it stopped after the Adders it wouldn't feel unfinished, but I can see why you'd want to do one more level bringing the two brothers together for the grand finale. In the early levels, it was often better to kill the boss as early as I could reasonably do so, leaving some things behind until later; but to survive the Adders I pretty much had to exhaust the resources available. (I still have four 800HP potions available in Natural Vault 1S3E, two in the open and two on doors. I never obtained either Hand Bomb, but of course those can't be taken to the next level anyway.)

For the most part, balancing was really good; I always felt that I was making real choices, and had to make some hard decisions about killing some monsters at a time that wasn't ideal to improve my standing against other monsters. The only thing a bit weird was money -- after the 600GR sink in Second Basement I was never short, and even that one wasn't a big deal as I wanted to kill everything on oremites before getting metal swords for both brothers, and once I'd done that I had nearly enough.

The only thing I would strongly urge you to change is Frozen Catacomb 1S -- you could put the altar on one side and the save point on the other, so they are both out of the way of the ctrl-move route across the room. (There are a lot of instances where switch points are on ctrl-move routes, but those didn't bother me as much as it is always easy to switch back.) (Incidentally, I never used the altar.)

Can't wait to see what you do with the next level :thumbsup

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11-04-2020 at 12:41 AM
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Xindaris
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Nuntar wrote: Doesn't work; you can bump-fight against arrows.
No you can't? By which I mean, I tested and you objectively cannot. Actually, I tested a little more after reading your post and realized the probable source of the confusion: You can bump-attack a monster standing on a force arrow in a direction that would be against said arrow. But you can't bump-attack from an arrow or othosquare into a direction that you wouldn't be able to move to because of it. The latter is what I'm talking about using. Hopefully neither of those things is a bug, but I feel like it's something that must come up often enough to have been noticed by now if it was...

Anyway, I'm glad you like the level set so far otherwise.

The main reason I'd object to moving Frozen Catacomb as suggested 1S is that I really like the symmetry aesthetically, but I also agree autopathing through is a pain. Maybe I could find some reconfiguration of the room that's still symmetric, but forces the auto-path to go around the altar and save instead.

As for the greckles, maybe I can shore that up by making some really expensive but valuable stuff in the last level so that spending all possible money prior to then at least forces you to fight more final-level monsters before getting that stuff?

Finally, the HP altar isn't really a big deal, but it's an option and for all I know may be useful to optimize, say, one of the Adder scorepoints. It may be relevant for something I'm planning with the final boss, as well as sort of foreshadowing the possibly-more-relevant stat-trading altars in the last level.

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11-04-2020 at 01:03 AM
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Nuntar
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+1)  
Xindaris wrote: The main reason I'd object to moving Frozen Catacomb as suggested 1S is that I really like the symmetry aesthetically, but I also agree autopathing through is a pain. Maybe I could find some reconfiguration of the room that's still symmetric, but forces the auto-path to go around the altar and save instead.

You could add an obstacle immediately south of the altar, and move the save pointup to just below that obstacle.

As for the greckles, maybe I can shore that up by making some really expensive but valuable stuff in the last level so that spending all possible money prior to then at least forces you to fight more final-level monsters before getting that stuff?

This would be possible, but don't try to do it with greckle gates, since I finished with 7000GR, so it would take 100 gates to use that up :P A better option, I think, would be to have the greckle gate cost go up faster than the main multiplier, so that the greckle gate chains in Twisted Maze become interesting choices. (You could also add more things to buy with greckles in the earlier levels -- but don't overdo it since the balance is pretty good as things stand.)

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11-04-2020 at 01:24 AM
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Xindaris
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Alright, so..
(Minor) Update:
-GF 1N3W: Extended black door to prevent player from triggering two scorepoints on the same turn (hopefully)
-FB 6E: Added arrows and orthosquares to "hide" the buggy behavior resulting from trying to bump-kill the mud wyrms, at least for now.
-FC 1S: Added some obstacles and arrows so that autopathing through the room won't put the player on the altar or save point, and even autopaths from the altar won't hit the swap tile or save point.
-In general: Changed the way the script that sets hot tile damage works slightly. Should have no visible gameplay effect, but this is in preparation for something else.

I'm uploading this minor update before I go trying to set the greckle multiplier and playtest to see what'd be a good formula for it.

(warning: complaining below...)
It's already clear from just a little testing that this is less straightforward than it really should be because any change to the greckle multiplier is stacked multiplicatively with the level multiplier instead of just overriding it.
So if, say, I want the formula for greckle cost to be 10+(level number - 1)*15, I can't just set _ItemGRMult to 100+(level number-1)*150, oh no. I have to also divide by level number to undo the extra multiplication thanks to the level number afterward, and then probably add some weird small amount to overcome resulting rounding errors and not get, say, a cost of 49 on level 3 instead of 50. Most likely it'll be impossible to just set the variable to some clean formula of the level number and I'll have to add some tiny amount that depends on what level it is in every single calculation for any of the kinds of formula I have in mind.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 11-04-2020 05:36 PM]
11-04-2020 at 05:35 PM
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greenscience
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (+1)  
Are you developing this in 1.2.7 or the 1.2.8 alpha? The alpha contains a fix for multiplier rounding that should also affect gr gates.
11-04-2020 at 06:20 PM
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Xindaris
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I haven't updated any of my game clients to the new alphas yet, but I was under the impression that the fix you're referring to was about fixing floating point errors when dealing with large numbers or something. Here the problem is essentially that I'm dividing by 3, it's getting rounded down, and then the regular multiplier comes in and multiplies by 3 and winds up with a smaller number...or something like that. I'm having trouble describing it in words, but I'm under the impression the source of the issue is different here.

Still, I could try downloading the alpha before doing any of that testing to see if it helps.

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11-04-2020 at 07:04 PM
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I've played several different runs with different approaches to splitting stats between the players on the first floor and it ends up with wildly different results, which is interesting and offers a lot of options for future development. So far, nothing has worked as well as my first try, but the likely explanation there is that the completionist in me is trying to get all the stats in FB: 1N1E without getting locked out of one set or the other. It's obviously possible by killing the two Ant Lions without a sword, but nothing I've tried so far makes it anything other than absurdly expensive. I'll probably give up and go back to trying to actually complete the hold tomorrow.
11-04-2020 at 08:07 PM
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Xindaris
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Yeah, FB: 1N1E is intended to be a straight choice between the attack and the defense; I didn't even think about getting there without a sword. I wonder whether it'd be better to reconfigure it to force it to be a choice always since it doesn't generally seem to be optimal to try to take both, so players aren't trying really hard to do something that isn't beneficial?

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11-04-2020 at 09:59 PM
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Xindaris wrote:
Still, I could try downloading the alpha before doing any of that testing to see if it helps.
Yes, I'd try out the latest dev build to see if it addresses the issue you're experiencing.

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11-05-2020 at 12:32 AM
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Xindaris wrote:
Yeah, FB: 1N1E is intended to be a straight choice between the attack and the defense; I didn't even think about getting there without a sword. I wonder whether it'd be better to reconfigure it to force it to be a choice always since it doesn't generally seem to be optimal to try to take both, so players aren't trying really hard to do something that isn't beneficial?

As a setup for a choice between two options, it seems unnecessarily complex, which made me think you had intended for it to be possible.
11-05-2020 at 01:50 AM
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Okay, so I still have the problem in the new version, but it's easier to fix. So now the formula:
Set var "_ItemGRMult" = (100+(LevelNum-1)*150)/LevelNum

(along with the level multiplier being equal to the LevelNum) makes the greckle gate cost 39 (off by 1) as soon as LevelNum is 3, but by just adding 1 after the formula, it fixes it for LevelNum 3,4, all the way up to 7, and doesn't seem to break it for 1 or 2 either. So I'd say there's definitely more success here than before. I think this is fine, a bit of rounding error in this situation is probably inevitable as far as I can tell. This does still inspire a feature request from me, though...

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 11-05-2020 11:32 PM]
11-05-2020 at 11:14 PM
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mrimer
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Glad to hear the situation is getting better.

Can you walk me through the scenario you're talking about here to ensure I'm understanding what you're experiencing?

You're saying that where LevelNum=3, you'd want the greckle gate cost to be 40, instead of the default of 30, but with this formula, it's coming out at 39, correct?

That is:

133.3...% * 3 = 399.999...%
so
(10 greckles x 3.999...) ==> 39 greckles

Do I have this right?

If so, I agree the result should be 400% = 40 greckles, not 39. I can fix this once you confirm I have this right.

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[Last edited by mrimer at 11-05-2020 11:59 PM]
11-05-2020 at 11:58 PM
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Xindaris
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I don't know for sure if I can speak to what the result should be, but my interpretation of what the variables are actually doing is this:

-The level multiplier is x3, which is like a value of "300" for an invisible variable.
-The _ItemGRMult is being set to 400/3, which is 133.3 repeating, but of course that's getting truncated somewhere--I don't know if it's to 133, 133.33, or what.
-Then the level multiplier applies, multiplying the previous value by 3, to get 399, or 399.99, etc. depending on how far down it got cut off.

So my best guess is that it's being truncated or rounded twice, once when _ItemGRMult is being set and again after that value is multiplied by 3 and divided by 10 to get the actual number of greckles. I don't expect perfection from rounding twice, but how much I'd see that as a genuine error would depend on how many digits the rounding is actually trying to keep around.

EDIT: Brief testing in the editor suggests that _ItemGRMult is an integer, in which case 133*3=399 is technically 100% correct, and I assume that the greckle gate is just truncating the ones digit off of the result. Also, 134*3=402 is getting truncated to 40, which is why just adding 1 works. If that's right, then rounding instead of truncating would at least make this sort of thing a lot rarer.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 11-06-2020 01:33 AM]
11-06-2020 at 01:20 AM
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mrimer
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icon Re: Prometheus & Demetrius (0)  
I appreciate the further analysis.
Xindaris wrote:
So my best guess is that it's being truncated or rounded twice, once when _ItemGRMult is being set and again after that value is multiplied by 3 and divided by 10 to get the actual number of greckles. I don't expect perfection from rounding twice, but how much I'd see that as a genuine error would depend on how many digits the rounding is actually trying to keep around.

EDIT: Brief testing in the editor suggests that _ItemGRMult is an integer, in which case 133*3=399 is technically 100% correct, and I assume that the greckle gate is just truncating the ones digit off of the result. Also, 134*3=402 is getting truncated to 40, which is why just adding 1 works. If that's right, then rounding instead of truncating would at least make this sort of thing a lot rarer.
Ah, yes. You are correct that _ItemGRMult is being set to "133" by your calculation because it is indeed an integer. Multiplying it by three does set the greckle gate cost to 39.9, which is truncated to 39.

I consider this working as designed (see the calculation in the codebase).

All multipliers are truncating floating point values; no rounding is ever applied. All I added recently is an affordance to deal with floating point imprecision, when a multiplication should end up at a whole number, but is off by ~0.000001 due to the way the computation logic works.

The solution is basically for you to do what you're doing so variables like _ItemGRMult will end up at 134, 167, etc., instead of 133, 166, etc.

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[Last edited by mrimer at 11-06-2020 06:17 PM]
11-06-2020 at 06:17 PM
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Since the issue is just that the long greckle gate chains in Twisted Maze aren't expensive enough to prevent the player clearing them all out immediately, maybe just increase _ItemGRMult for that level instead of throughout.

You could also do what I did in Castle Repton: _ItemGRMult is set separately for every level, to a value in a simple ratio with the current multiplier, even if the values don't cohere as a series. (The specific values for greckle gates in each level are 10, 20, 40, 50, 60, 75, 80, 100, with an odd inconsistency in the sizes of the gaps. It bothers me a little, but like many things in CR, it is what it is and I'm okay with how the hold turned out overall.)

Of course, you don't really have to do anything -- this is a minor issue and doesn't stop it being an extremely fun hold.

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11-06-2020 at 09:11 PM
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Xindaris
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I somehow just find it personally more satisfying for the greckle gates to scale by a sort of single formula, so I'm going with "10 in level 1, +15 for each level after". That makes the gates in TM cost 85, and the gates in the final level will then cost a flat 100, which is also personally satisfying. After a test I found these prices to still be quite reasonable; I liked that it makes buying things in SB to be a bit tougher of a choice. And I ended with around 4800 GR (after killing basically everything I can and spending all the money I could in the first 6 levels), which means that some 50 gates, which seems to me a pretty reasonable number to spread throughout the fairly large level 7, would be too much to afford everything right when you get there. (There are 65 gates in TM, for example, and they're concentrated among 4 particular rooms.) Since I'm happy with this change, I'm adding it to the update below.

UPDATE:
-New Greckle Gate cost formula (10 + 15 per level after the first one), along with a scroll explaining said formula in FB 1S4E (the first room it's relevant in).
-Added map scrolls I realized I'd forgotten to put into TM, in The Entrance and 1E (the other entrance).
-Corrected a bug with the save point in FC (its script was still pointing to the save point's previous position, now it accurately matches its displayed location).

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 11-07-2020 01:41 AM]
11-07-2020 at 01:39 AM
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Gordius
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In SB:2N2W, you can avoid the lower Soulless's sword by angling diagonally through the adjacent arrow. If that's intentional, it's a cute trick to save a small number of HP. But if it isn't intentional, now you know.

The new greckle rate still seems like it's going to allow me to open, maybe not everything, but most things I will want to. But I'm having to try harder to get to that point, which is good.
11-07-2020 at 06:00 PM
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