6/27: Standard Actions hotkey bar and some other usability upgrades

Link to the builds: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-sx_4eW-B5hWnhNZlRPclZLeUU&usp=drive_web

Yes, another UI patch. I know, I know. I want to get back to content too! And, soon enough, I will. :) Anyway, here are the notes. :P

Update Notes, 6/27/2014

- Added a hotkey bar for general summoner abilities.

- Weigh Sin is now smite-targetted, cheaper SP cost, and has a short Light cooldown.
- Dark Omen is now smite-targetted, cheaper SP cost, and has a short Dark cooldown.

- Hotkey buttons that are ‘in use’ now light up (and all others dim)
- Items are now automatically picked up when you enter a cell containing any. This does not take any game time.
- As a result, there is no longer a pickup/get command, so g no longer does anything.
- Portal search is now shift+P instead of ctrl+P.
- Auto-explore now takes you to portals on the level when used after the level is fully explored.
- Added a reminder about how to use portals when you enter a cell containing one.

Bug Fixes
- Auto-explore now finds all items in a level, for real this time.


A screenshot of the new standard action hotkey bar:



And one of a new feature where “in use” hotkey buttons light up and dim the rest:



Dry stuff. :P But, I’m planning to invite more new folks  to play soon, and this sorta thing is kinda important for that. :) Next build (barring any horrible bugs) will be content though. :D

6/23 Build: In Game Manual And Some Tweaks

Link to the 6/23 builds: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-sx_4eW-B5hWnhNZlRPclZLeUU&usp=drive_web

Update Notes, 6/23/2014

- Added in-game documentation! Hit ? to check it out!

- Madevra and Zaji’s normal spawn locations have been swapped.
- Cynocephali are now slightly more threatening.
- Herd Humans are now slightly more threatening.

- Fixed a bug that caused the AI to ignore Guilt, Pariah, and Sleep status when choosing targets.
- Made the AI less likely to swap based on moderately low health.
- Made the AI more likely to swap based on critically low health or “disabling” status.

- Added a few helpful messages for input fail cases.
- Added a distance indicator to portal listings.
- Activate Link will now default target demons who object to your party makeup, but are otherwise recruitable.
- Made all Discard menus consistent in appearance.


Not the most exciting of builds for current players, but it’s an important step before opening the gates a bit more. :) Here’s some screens of the new in game manual in action:




New Build Up: Consumables and AI Swapping

Link to the 6/12 builds: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-sx_4eW-B5hWnhNZlRPclZLeUU&usp=drive_web

Major changes:

  • The AI is now capable of using the “swap” manuever and uses it quite often.
  • Generally speaking, level, stats, ability set, and current condition of the two entities involved determine whether the AI will swap.
  • In regards to abilities: direct combat abilities (melee attacks, ranged attacks, etc.) make an AI more likely to swap.
  • A large number of new consumables have been added to the game as well, with a corresponding increase in item spawning of 50%.
  • Demons that require you to discard all allies of certain ‘types’ now force you to do it manually before allowing you to speak to them: this way you can spend training points and what not as you please. Use Shift+D to discard allies (this list shows the ‘types’ of demons as well, for easy comparison to the types your potential ally objects to.) A demon’s types can also be viewed on page 3 of its character sheet (use <- and -> to change pages when viewing a character sheet.)
  • Demons that ask you to feed them allies of your choice now allow you to use that ally’s training points before completing the sacrifice. Isn’t that polite of them?

Other changes/fixes:

  • Kill Order (‘c’ key) is now a free action: it does not take a turn to use.
  • The AI is somewhat better about not getting “stuck” around corners during combat.
  • Poison Breath has been nerfed a bit.
  • Fire Breath has been nerfed a bit.
  • Lucky Dodge has been taken outside and beaten soundly with a nerf bat… and may yet be too powerful. :P

Apparently it’s good to post some screenshots when you do new builds, so here’s a couple. :)


The full list of available consumables. What do these things all do? :D


The new discard demon interface (shift+d to access.)

Have fun, and please lemme know if you run into any problems. :) Thanks!

Philosophy, and a new version coming soon

There’s a few principles guiding Demon’s development that I think of a philosophy. I’m going to ramble a little about one of them today, namely: challenge should not derive from ignorance, but rather from attempting to choose the correct responses to a given encounter for which all the relevant information is available.

So: why?

I find ignorance-as-challenge to be a fairly terrible way to go about encounter design. It is, for me at least, very frustrating to lose a game because of a caveat of the rules or a particular encounter that was not “announced” until you had been defeated by it: consider times when you’ve ever been learning a new board or card  game with a friend and tripped over some rule they forgot to mention or that you misunderstood. Even if they’re a good friend and teacher and let you take back the mistake, it still feels crappy. It feels much worse in a computer game when the computer (not being a good friend) doesn’t let you take back the “newb mistake”, and a hundred times worse still in a game like Demon which features permanent death and no reloading of past saved games.

Defeats caused by mistakes of tactics or strategy, on the other hand, feel differently to me. I don’t like losing in general, of course, few do. :P But, in these cases, I usually feel like I had a chance (i.e. it felt “fair”), and at least as importantly, I can potentially identify ways to meaningfully improve as a player by analysis of the my plays and the choices I made to find the mistakes. I think these are important factors in helping a player accept defeat, which is definitely going to be important in a game that will likely hand players that fate over and over again, and with the added sting of permanent death to boot.

Alright, we’ve got why? So how do you fight it?

The main methods you can use to fight this are: 1) making sure your game provides all the information necessary to play it, and/or 2) giving the player the opportunity to safely learn the information before being truly penalized. The second is a shakier approach, since that “leeway” will often make the encounter unnecessarily easy once the player learns what is required, so I tend to prefer the first method. To a large degree, Demon already meets this goal in its major elements: players have access to wiki-like information to any demon they can see, including stats, resistances, and abilities (including detailed descriptions.)

But, I do still make mistakes on this point regardless. It’s difficult to pretend ignorance about my own game, which leads to things like the recently added negotiation mechanic where a monster will demand you discard all monsters of certain types (such as undead, demonic) without giving you the chance to spend their training points. A player who knows this is going to happen would of course spend the training points before beginning the negotiation. A player who is unaware this will happen will walk in and suddenly be faced with either failing the negotiation by refusing, or giving up the opportunity to spend training points by accepting, and their only mistake was not knowing something the game made no effort to tell them. This can be highly frustrating, particularly if you *would* be willing to give up the monsters had you spent their training points first, in which case the game’s failure to provide this vital information up front has caused you harm through no fault of your own.

The next version of Demon will fix this problem, by making having no monsters of “bad” types a pre-req for even beginning a negotiation with monsters who care about such things: it will not be possible to even initiate the attempt without manually discarding the “bad” allies (which of course means you have plenty of opportunity to spend their training points as you like.)


With this change, the information is now being provided up front: the player knows exactly what the stakes and rules are. Mistakes can certainly still occur (wouldn’t be much of a game otherwise :D ), but they will now be mistakes in the player’s decision making processes: mistakes that the player can accept and learn from.

P.S.: The next version, btw, will also have a greatly expanded collection of consumable items. More on those with the new version announcement post!

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