In response to your reply about swimming to the one question that was raised during the chat. I would like to add that it would be very simple to implement swimming, as well as jumping and climbing skill sets, to the game without adding a huge new set of game mechanics, or game play dynamics, that would drastically change game play focus from all the other core game elements.
Instead of thinking that swimming means you have to be able to see a first person view underwater all you simply need to do is pull the camera out to a top down view when your character interacts with a deep enough body of water to swim in. This would also only allow you to swim along the top of the water as to not break a design point of interacting with things on a single plane/level. A few examples of how these skill interactions could work with interactive objects/places only are as follows.
Ransor the fisherman is out at his favorite steam for the day. He loves that this stream has a nice 50 foot section of stream that jets out from the bank that is only a few inches to a foot deep, so he can set up bait traps and hunt frogs amongst the rocks through the day. While he also fishes in the 3-20 foot deep sections of the stream just off shallows. Towards the end of the day his favorite longtime fishing poll gets pulled from his grip by a powerful catch. Being the adventures man he is, he jumps in the stream and looks around for his poll. While on the bank and shallow waters the camera is over the shoulder/3d view, but when he jumps into the deeps the camera backs out and goes to more of a top down view. While in the deeps you, the player, will only see your character at the top of the water, but you could have a few options of exploration/viewing while in the water, such as swimming with your head under the water, actively searching, or diving straight down. While performing these different actions you would get bonuses to receiving prompts, as to what you see/discover in the water. You will never have the camera looking under the water, but you will receive messages of interest. While Ransor is searching for his fishing rod he notices it stuck along a set of rocks next to an underwater cave entrance. He would then have the option of entering this underwater structure, which if he does he would come up out of the water at the entrance of this cave structure where the exit is a pool of water he must swim back out of. Inside the cave could also be various other pools of water that lead to other parts of the cave, and obviously there could be rare creature and resources inside this structure.
A swimming skill could also be used for shallow water combat to make sure you don’t loose your footing.
Climbing and jumping could work similarly where objects such as trees, cliffs, structures designed to have multiple planes could potentially have interactive holds or surfaces you could interact with if your skill level is high enough. This way you cant just climb or jump on anything at any time, and you wont get the bouncing effect where every kid you run past is hip hopping their whole way from point a to point b. Climbing for rogue/assassin types would work directly with the hide ability in this following way.
As physically hiding differs from magically hiding one could say that in order for a non magic using rogue to hide out of sight in a forest and get the best bonuses to stealth/hiding they would need to climb a tree to stay out of the normal range of ground level vision since they cant physically disappear. As where a magic user casting hide would have to go up against someone else magic resistance level to keep from being spotted and they would not need to climb a tree to keep from being spotted. A benefit to climbing a tree might be gathering various bird eggs or harvesting certain resources.
Great chat, and I hope this provides an alternative method to being able to implement some of these design elements without breaking what has been created so far.
On a side note, I really hope the main continent gets a little more height variation without breaking the single plane concept design.
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