Hi everyone,

Okay, here is the deal. Beta 17 is almost ready for public release and
it may appear as early as Friday/Saturday barring any unforseen
issues/problems. Which brings me to the point of this e-mail.
Basically, if there is any last minute comments, suggestions, or input
you would like to give before the release goes public. In particular a
few issues I didn't quite get too in my last e-mail on Mysteries of
the Ancients last week.

A few days ago I sent a post regarding new Mysteries of the Ancients
levels. Most of you understood this as a question of keeping old
levels or creating new ones. Unfortunately, I didn't make myself clear
in that e-mail but I was looking more for suggestions and input on
various aspects besides that question. So I'll address each of them
hear directly.

Random Items/Monsters --- I know back in the early days of MOTA this
was one of the number one requests for the game. Ever since I added it
some time back it remains one of the top selling points of the game,
but what you may not know or have considered is that like anything
else it has pros and cons. As I sit hear thinking about the future of
the project as a whole I can't help feel like the cons outway the
advantages of a more triditional mainstream side-scroller without
random monsters, items, etc.

For one thing I've been playing mainstream games all of my life, and
the majority of games do not have randomly placed monsters and items.
Instead monsters and items are usually placed in the same general
location each and every game with the same general stats. There are a
number of advantages of doing it this way.

For starts balancing game play. When you have a fully random game like
we have now you don't really know what monster you will be facing, or
B, what its stats will be when you do face it. While I don't doubt
this adds replay value for some gamers I also know it makes it
impossible to test and balance correctly because I never know from one
moment to the next what to expect from the game.  Games that have
fixed monsters and challenges don't generally have this problem.

For example, in the original Tomb Raider game there is a Greek temple
Lara Croft has to explore in order to find one of the lost pieces of
the scion. There is a chamber inside the Greek temple with two
centaurs that were transformed into stone centuries ago. When Lara
accidently lifts the spell on the centaurs they come to life, and she
has to fight them to get the missing piece of the scion. Besides being
a major element of the plot/story they just wouldn't fit anywhere else
in the game as an enemy. In this case those enemies generally wouldn't
be good to randomly place in the game.

When it comes to mysteries of the Ancients I often find myself in a
similar situation. There are certain rooms or areas were one monster
or enemy is better than another. Rooms were it might be practical not
to randomize anything and just place items there by default.

For example, imagine swimming underwater. Putting treasures like gold
coins and gems in the water is perfectly fine since the water couldn't
damage them. If we were randomly placing items, as we do now,  it
would put things like ammo, swords, scrolls, etc in the water were we
wouldn' want those items randomly placed. by all rights the water
should ruin a scroll rendering it unreadable and worthless so
randomizing in this case is not cool.

Diddo for the monsters. it is perfectly fine for a skeleton or maybe a
zombie to be swimming around in the water trying to kill you but it
wouldn't work for a centaur, harpy, or several other enemy monsters I
could name.

Plus a lot of games I know have a lot of one kind of enemy on one
level, and a lot of a different kind on another level. For example,
level 1 might have an army of skeletons because they are fairly easy
to kill/fight and while there might be a lot of them around they still
aren't a serious threat. Later levels might feature harpies, and
another one centaurs, and another one zombies.

The reason I point this out is that mainstream games often use miner
enemies in lower levels and progress to more difficult enemies as you
progress.In Tomb Raider Prophecy, for example, it starts you out with
fighting gray wolves and ax wielding skeletons. Later levels introduce
you to more hostile/difficult enemies such as black fire breathing
wolves, undead priests that cast fireballs, and even the skeletons
will throw fireballs and stuff at you. Point being there has to be
some sort of natural progression rather than just randomly mixing it
all up the way we are doing.

Bottom line, it is hard to write a plot, balance game play, with too
much random stuff going on. So I really need to know how many really
think random items and monsters is worth it. Is it a deal braker for
you personally, or shall we create a more triditional side-scroller my
way.  Before anyone asks doing both is not an option. It is one way or
the other here.

Scoring and Arcade Mode ---- Ever since I have converted MOTA to C++ a
number of you have asked about a standard and arcade mode. While this
is possible and fairly easy to add I'm wondering how many people
actually are interested in this. It isn't that hard to add, but if
there aren't many really interested in this feature I'm not going to
take time away from other things to add this feature. So I'd like to
know how high this ranks on your wish list.

Puzzles and Traps ----- There has been a lot of talk about this issue
both on and off list. So I think we need to open this up and hash it
out once and for all.

A few versions back I remember there were a number of complaints about
no warning step sounds in front of fire pits, spike traps, and other
things to let you know when and where to jump. Unfortunately, I have
always maintained this is sort of like a classic case of x marks the
spot, and in my opinion jumping fire pits, spike traps, chasms, etc is
far too easy. Therefore what I think needs to be done is add some
ability to jump higher and further depending on how long the keys are
held down. Perhaps some jump system like Q9. The reason i say this is
you have the mud indicating the edge of the pits, but i've often
screwdd up and fell to my doom too. So that system is more than fair
for jumping traps.

What worries me more is puzzles. I've seen cases where some people
have complained that they couldn't unlock a certain door/statue
because they couldn't find the proper lever to pullin the current MOTA
releases. Strictly speaking that's pretty simple compared to some of
the puzzles I could use to open certain doors.

For example, in a lot of the interactive fiction games I've played
they use passwords, riddles, and other puzzles of that kind to open
certain doors. In the Tomb Raider games puzzles range from using a
specific lever/switch to unlock a door to more advanced puzzles like
jumping on certain pressure switches,hidden in the floor, in a certain
order, to unlock a hidden passage, etc. All pretty cool, but I fear
might be too advanced for most Vi gamers. What do you think?


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