Monday, March 19, 2012

Way of the Monk: Unarmed Overhaul, Mod Diary #1

Mod Diary #1

If you haven't heard about my new mod project Way of the Monk: Unarmed Overhaul, check it out, because that's what I'm going to be talking about. :-)

So, one thing I decided about making this mod was that I was going to use the opportunity to help other modders improve their mod. As I make the mod I am going to be writing a Mod Diary of what, how, and why I add or take away features from my mod. I hope that you enjoy my diary and learn from it as much as I had to learn to write it. :-D

Please keep in mind that this all takes a lot more time than it seems from reading it. For those of you trying to decide whether to get into modding, realize that it will take up a huge amount of your time. While it only takes a few minutes to write a paragraph about a step in the process, that step could have taken hours or even days to complete. Consider this both a warning to new modders, and a request to please understand why I take days to do what may it may appear should take minutes or hours. :-)

Note: This is going to be a pretty long and detailed post. Just giving you fair warning...

First steps:

The first step in any process is always the inception of the project, and the planning. I started having an idea that I wanted to make a new Unarmed mod over several weeks. During those weeks I saw that, while my Unarmed Warfare mod did improve the Unarmed gameplay, it was extremely buggy and felt too much like a workaround. So, I decided to build a new mod from scratch, following a different concept and process from the first one. 

Scripts:
One of the main desires I had was to have a scaling system for Unarmed damage, as well as having a "skill" and perks for Unarmed combat. Now, the CK does not allow the creation of new Actor Values, which is the class of object that skills are. So, that meant I was going to write a script that ran in the background as the user plays the game. Here is the basic concept of the script:

There are three main variables that the leveling-system/skill runs off of:
1. Use
2. Mod
3. Level

Use is the progress towards the next skill. Mod is the amount of XP that is gained each time the player makes a successful Unarmed attack. Level is the level of the skill. These three variables are stored as global variables.

(The entire script can be found here. The font might not be acceptable to the CK, though.) The equation :

when the player makes a hit
then Use = Use + Mod
if Use >= 100
then Use = Use -100
        Level = Level + 1
        Mod = Mod - .01
endif

So, every time you hit an enemy, your Use (level progress) increases by Mod. When this has occured enough times so that Use equal to or greater than 100, then your level increases by one. When your level increases, Mod goes down by .01 so that the speed of leveling decreases over time.

Practical application:

At Unarmed level one: It will take 100 hits to advance to level 2
At Unarmed level ten: it will take approximately 110 hits to advance to level 11
At Unarmed level 50: It will take approximately 200 hits to advance to level 51
And so on...

Now, the number of hits would get unmanageably high at higher levels, but only if you did not have any perks or items that sped up the process. If you are playing an Unarmed character, though, I expect that you would, since they are available.

The Unarmed Damage scaling is rather simple. It is multiplied by (1 + Level/20). Thus: At level 20, you would do twice Unarmed Damage, at level 40 you would do 3 times, etc. To get the script, click here.

Now this all might sound relatively simple. But it took me a lot of time to plan, balance, and translate into Papyrus syntax. I started out knowing very little about Papyrus. I still do not know a lot, but I have certainly improved my knowledge.

Perks:

Overall, I want to have 20+ new perks/enchantments. That may sound kind of bold, and maybe a bit imbalanced, but the whole goal is to build an entirely new combat style within the game. To do that, I'm going to have to add a lot of new options. As far as perks go, you will be able to choose a new perk every 5 levels. There will be both an "Unarmed" and an "Unarmored" branch that crossover on occasion. 

There will also be a number of more significant perks that you get from special Pillars. Across the landscape of Skyrim there will be a number of Pillars that are similar to the Standing Stones. You will only be able to have one active at a time, but each one can significantly change your gameplay. So far, I have ideas for several pillars, which you can read about here. Each pillar will have a perk that modifies Unarmed gameplay and a perk that modifies Unarmored gameplay.

So far I've only copied the perks from my Unarmed Warfare mod, but I will work on adding new ones as soon as I have them planned out.

Managing your stats:


Now, you might be wondering how you will be able to manage your stats. Across the road from the Guardian Stones will be a set of Pillars that perform that function. One pillar will add the perks start the scaling scripts, and will allow you to view your level, level progress, and amount of perk points.

Another Pillar will allow you to choose new Perks, and a third will let you reset your perks. If you're worried about managing your stats on the go, don't fret! You'll also get several Balls that let you do the same thing as the Pillars. Between the Pillars will be a table with a book on it that shows a tree of perks and explains the mod and its concept.

Making this and the perks functional is what I am currently working on.

Enchantments:

I will create a series of new enchantments that can be used for Unarmed combat. They can be added to any piece of armor, jewelry, or clothing. Now, I know the objection that the player will be losing an Equip Slot by doing that. Since you won't be using any weapons, you won't be able to enchant them. I am going to work around that by making new items called Focus Crystals. They will be equipable and enchantable. In the world they will look like crystals, but when you equip them they will not appear on your body.

The work on Enchantments will begin once I have finished all of the perks, scripts, and managing work.

Items:


Along with the new perks and enchantments will come Items to implement them. There will be a number of new gloves, clothing, and Focus crystals that you can find or purchase. They will not use new textures or models, but will have unique enchantments.

Items will be added once I have created the Enchantments for them.

Enemies:

Don't be surprised if you encounter enemies with the same abilities as you! I am going to create a new Combat Style for enemies that focuses entirely on Unarmed combat. I will also create varieties of the standard enemies that are Unarmored and fight with their hands. These enemies will provide a way of finding new items, as well as providing an interesting challenge and aspect to the game. Around the

The enemies will be added once all other work is completed.

Feedback is appreciated!


What I need the most is feedback. I can only come up with so many ideas for perks and enchantments. Please share with me your ideas!

Keep in mind that I won't be adding new animations (at least for the first version). So, please don't ask me to create an entirely new, awesome ninja attack. :-)

If you have any questions about the technicalities of how I am adding certain features, feel free to ask. I will answer them to the best of my abilities.

For the next Diary I am only going to share what is new since the last update. This one is only really long because I wanted to let people know my plans for the mod.

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