On Balance

This post was edited on 09 April 2017 to better clarify my vision for consumables.

Hey there.

It's been a while since I made one of these posts actually discussing my content plans, sorry about that. I hope you can see that my time has not been wasted though, I've been working harder than ever these last few months!

Anyway, so what's this post about? It's about my plans for how to make TQ more balanced. What does that mean? That means trying to avoid any particular strategies being too dominant and 'the obvious right way to play'. Right now for example, potions of strength and speed are just so critical to gaining power. Moreover, pacifism isn't really a sensible or often even viable option. So, here's what I plan to do to address some of these issues:

Some liquid colours are overpowered

Potions of might are just too core a requirement to build yourself up. Furthermore, once you've identified the colour there's no risk vs reward, it's just about how much of it you can find. This is, quite frankly, lame.

What I really like is way that tinctures of strength (a craftable item for those that haven't found them before) have found a cool way of making windows of power available to the player. Anyone who plays League of Legends avidly will know that Riot keeps attempting to balance their game by giving characters mechanisms to have windows of power, and I think this could be a way forward in Trap Quest too. Whilst wearable items cause permanent stat changes whilst worn, consumables should, more often than not, cause temporary but more noticeable changes.

My current plan is to still tie most of this to food and drink. The game will provide the player with more consumable items that can be eaten and drunk until the player is too full. There will be a few different types, and they will all be net-positive but unreliable. For example, one particular food might have a 75% chance of increasing strength for 50 turns and a 25% chance of instead causing a huge jump in arousal. Eating another one of the same type while the first one is active can double the effects, but if you get the unlucky result then you lose the strength bonus that the first one gave you as well.

Another (maybe an existing candy) might reduce body soreness and fatigue but also have a chance of causing dexterity loss for 50 turns. Maybe there's a drink that reliably improves dexterity (temporarily) but also has a reasonable chance of filling the player with semen. And so on. I haven't thought of the effects yet, but I've made the decision that this is the direction I want to go.

My vision for these items isn't something you'll always use at the start of combat, which is boring and not particularly fun. There will be a steady supply of consumables (at least foods) which closely follows a hunger stat. Essentially, you'll be forced to always be eating something. Obviously it won't be this clear cut in reality, but I'm imagining the player often walking around with 3 to 4 food items and when they're getting hungry having to choose which one(s) they eat next. In this manner your stats will fluctuate over time, influencing whether your combat decision is fight or flight.

So yeah, that's food, but also drinks being available via tanks are not really working how I initially envisioned them 5 years ago. It is too easy to have an empty stomach and then drink four or five units of a beneficial potion. So I will likely be addressing this too, either by preventing repeated dipping within short timeframes or by introducing diminishing returns for the same type of drink being consumed too close together.

So how do you train your main stats, and get permanent increases? Well you'll still be able to gain strength and dexterity through exercise (which includes defeating enemies). The other ways should all be through optional risk-reward mechanics, like the throne and stage and modification machine and so on. And there should be a non-combat way to "train" your stats. Which brings me onto...

Pacifism needs more rewards

Recently(ish) I added the ability to offer items to NPCs, who have set lists of what they like to receive. Gifting an NPC can not only get you out of a sticky situation but even make an ally. I did create a really shitty mechanism by which you can get slight dex and intelligent bonuses by running away from NPCs the first time they turn unfriendly, but it is very insignificant and needs a big overhaul.

My goals for pacifism are the following:

  • You should slowly gain intelligence by making NPCs allies.
  • You should slowly gain intelligence or dexterity by avoiding fights (running away, avoiding nearby hostile NPCs) or bailing from fights when you realise you're losing (running away on low HP).
  • You should be able to gain valuable items / effects by having sex with friendly NPCs.

Overall I expect a pacifism route to require at least some slutting it up in order to be successful. The idea is that instead of managing your physical health stats, you're more concerned with managing all your other stats, from sex addiction to soreness.

Also right now loads of items are inaccessible to a pacifist player, for example you can't get royal sigils without killing a guard. If the player could get one via sex or trading then we could make crafting a little more integral to the game. Essentially, the gifting mechanic needs to be expanded so that using it is more worthwhile.

Damage reduction is toxic

In combat, NPCs have always had damage reduction. The more powerful the monster, the more damage it would ignore each turn. However having thought about it properly I've realised that damage reduction is a pretty horrible mechanic when trying to balance a game. It really screws over people with low combat stats in a way I never intended. Imagine a player is dealing 6 damage a turn and an enemy has 18 health. They can do that damage in 3 turns. If the enemy has 2 damage reduction, then they only do 4 damage a turn so it takes them 5 turns instead. Seems reasonable. But now, imagine a player dealing 3 damage a turn. It would take 6 turns normally, but thanks to the damage reduction it instead takes 18 turns. And a really strong player dealing 8 damage a turn doesn't even care about the damage reduction at all, it's going to take them 3 turns either way. So damage reduction has minor impacts when the player is strong, but huge impacts when the player is weak. Which is just totally unfair. So I'm going to get rid of damage reduction and instead just vary the health of NPCs, since then improved combat stats will affect your prowess in battle in a linear fashion rather than polynomial.

Bitches be trippin

I still feel like kneeing and kicking need more of an identity, and more of a risk-reward feel to when you use them. I also feel that NPCs can end up using tripping attacks way too often when RNGsus is unkind. In one-on-one fights this is just boring, and when getting ganged up upon it's often an instant loss. But I think I can address both of these at the same time. At the moment kneeing and kicking risks falling over as you attack, but I think I'm going to change this to instead increasing the chance of being tripped if an enemy uses a trip attack on their turn. At the same time, I'll make it less likely that an NPC uses a trip attack if they've used one recently. Never 0%, but less likely. I'll return slapping to being the weaker attack overall, but make it much much harder for an NPC to trip you if you slapped. And finally, I'll probably make it so that an NPC's successful trip allows them to punish you immediately, rather than giving you a turn to stand up. This way, every single turn in most combats there should be a meaningful decision to be made between "which attack do I use".

Doc Johnson would not be proud

While there's a framework for sex toys, they're not used enough and they're not interesting enough. They don't really add much to the game, except for the throne scene which now puts you on a horrible race against the clock thanks to the new creampie mechanics. Also, cursed sex toys are really really annoying (but then again, they would be in real life).

I think that there are a few areas that we can make sex toys more interesting:

  • More ways to get rid of cursed ones - maybe NPCs have a chance of not replacing them after sex.
  • More ways to obtain cursed ones - maybe some NPCs like to plug you after sex, to keep their gift inside. Or maybe it's an alternate punishment to sex that some NPCs (e.g. mannequin?) can apply.
  • More reasons to want to collect uncursed and blessed ones - maybe masturbating with them gives beneficial effects. Maybe they give bonuses when worn. Etc.

In Conclusion

Expect some significant changes to appear slowly in the next few versions. By the time I'm done the game will probably feel quite different. Hopefully I can do a better job than Blizzard did when they introduced Jade Idol.

This combined with the fact that I need to spend significant time fixing the layering bug means that the next couple of versions might not have as much shiny new content as usual, and I apologise in advance for that. But it'll be worth it, I promise!