Saturday, October 18, 2014

How to Make an RPG: Advanced Combat Update

Time for an update! As you may or may not know I'm writing a book about creating old school RPGs as found on the SNES. Thanks for the continuing patience, for anyone who is actively following this book-writing sojourn.

Basic combat has been working nicely for a while now. You attack enemies - special effects fire-off, numbers bounce ... all that good stuff is working. The game over state is in (when you're defeated) and combat summary states (when you win).

The combat summary has two screens; a screen showing XP and any level-ups, then a loot screen breaking down the gold and sweet, sweet loot you found.

There's a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes; enemies have loot tables, there's a lot of state handling and hooks into the inventory and levelling system. I've been writing all that up for the book too.

Getting that XP!

Sweet, sweet loot.
After basic combat comes .... advanced combat! 

Basic combat takes the attack stat of the attacker and subtracts it from the enemy HP. It was very simple and did the job but a real game needs a bit more flavour.

The new combat system handles Missing, Dodging, Critical and Counter attacks. Check out the video at the top to see it in action. The new combat system shows text when special events occur such as "Miss", "Dodge" etc

Next up I'll be adding fleeing, items, magic and special attacks. Then that's combat done ... apart from the end of section mini-game.

A Look At the Marketing 

I've been reading where patio11 blogs the creation and marketing of a software product, sharing the numbers and strategy along the way. I found it addictive reading.

I'm obviously not a rational actor in the economic sense - I'm writing this book and I will sell it but it's not the most profitable side project I could have undertaken. Still it's one I'm enjoying and at the end I'll have a nice codebase.

My basic plan
  1. Validate that there's some kind of market
  2. Write the book   →  where I am now ... still
  3. Sell the book
  4. Do marketing
Currently I have 1,674 people on the mailing list, which I think is great! My goal is to sell at least 1000 copies and I think that could be hard work but it's the goal.

I'm not actively building my mailing list because after I registered 1000 people I'd proved there's some interest. Best practice is to actually have people put money down in step 1 but I didn't feel comfortable doing that. Also I've been in step 2 for over a year now ...  people would definitely have become impatient at this point :D

All my focus is on writing the book currently. Nearly every morning I write a bit more of the book, build a bit more of the code base and keeping pushing things forward. There's a lot of work just surrounding that; formatting the final .pdf (or epub .... maybe not right away), ensuring the underlying engine builds on all platforms, proof-reading it all, adding illustrations etc etc.

Then I'll probably add a blog to the howtomakeanrpg site and actively do a bit of SEO. I'd really like to be on the first page for "how do I make an rpg" but it's not happened :D (despite there being pretty much no competition!) As fun as it might be to tinker with SEO now, my focus is on book writing (apart from when I'm writing multi-page blog posts... obviously)

The website gets about 150 hits a month (100-200) all from organic search and I get 23.25% conversion to the mailing list; which actually seems pretty crazy high. And a 18% abandonment rate which also seems high ... I'm not going to fiddle with these though, not yet! This means my list grows by ~35 people a month, which sounds about right. This growth rate suggests I've been collecting emails for 4 years! It has not been that long - thankfully -  I had a sign-up-burst at the start because when I was in step 1 I was actively building the list. 

I use Google Analytics to track the "funnel" which I vaguely remember being:

  1. Visit my page (you can only sign-up)
  2. Type in your email
  3. Confirm the email 
  4. Get redirected to my thanks page.  
 I track these steps and that's how I get my numbers. Well, hope that was a fun update!

I'm going to be buying art for the combat section soon, so if you're an awesome pixel artist contact me!

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