GCL latest features 2010.XII.10.

So, last time I told I would talk in detail about those other features I only mentioned, but, starting last weekend, I also made some fundamental design changes.

First, those features from last week:

Gem Anvil:
To further ease the wrist pain, you can clone any of your gems. Drag it over the Anvil (the middle section of the gem creation/types panel), and release it. If you have enough mana, an exact copy will appear in your inventory. It costs the same mana amount as if you crafted a new gem manually, there is no penalty for using this shortcut.
If you’re short on mana and that very last giant monster will reach your orb inevitably, you can smash any of your gems to the the Anvil (drop a gem bomb on it), and you’ll get back 70% (or more, depending on a skill level) of the original mana cost. Rapid gem bombing works too, you can wipe your inventory out quickly to get some emergency mana. (You don’t even have to do it quickly, just freeze the time and sit back.)

Time freezing:
Just 3 minor things to mention here:
In the Options screen, you can select to automatically freeze the time when a stage starts, so you can prepare your defenses without losing any time. It’s unchecked by default, because players new to the game might get confused by the game never starting.
The vfxes are not frozen when the time is, partly because all the glows and sparks would make the scene too chaotic, and partly because it gives a nice “bullet time” effect. :-)
And third, originally I set the shortcut key to cycle through frozen, normal and triple speed, but that was a bad idea, not it switches between frozen and normal. (If you are in trouble and want to freeze time fast, pressing the key shouldn’t switch to triple speed and make things even worse.)

Unleashed vs Free edition:
Many of you asked what the difference will be, so here is a short comparison:
In the free version, you can access all the stages (and thus finish the game), but there are many limitations on the content.
-There is a player level cap (haven’t decided yet how high it should be, playtesting will tell).
-The bottom line in the skills panel is locked (the more fun, nasty and powerful skills).
-The two bottom lines in the settings panel (the toughest settings) are locked.
-The challenge amulets are locked.

What are challenge amulets, by the way:
-They have a high requirement to meet
-They are tied to a particular stage
-They remember your best try, even if you have already acquired them.
An example: “Kill 100.000 monsters on field L8 in one battle”.
The purpose of these amulets is to provide you a new way to challenge the other players.

Shrines:
You can build shrines in GCL, and they don’t have a use limit, although they take a long time to recharge. There are two types, that differ mainly in their range. The Charged bolts shrine has a range of 4.9 units (1 unit = 1 piece of path stone), while the Lightning shrine strikes in a 3 units wide row and column, in four directions.
First they take away a ratio of the actual (not total) hit points of _all_ monsters in their area of effect. Then they hit a number of monsters (depending on gem grade) as if the gem hit them, but with increased damage. Special effects also apply.

Amplifiers:
A gem placed in an amplifier doesn’t shoot, but boosts the surrounding gems. A part of the gem’s damage, as well as its specials are added to the adjacent gems’ attributes (if they have an active special of the same type).
How much the gem gives to its neighbours, depends on how many there are (if there’s only one tower or trap next to the amplifier, it gets 30% of the gem’s damage, range, firing speed, and its specials. If there are 8 neighbours, all get 9%. (This can further be boosted with the Magnify skill.) How to get the best results, depends on the situation, but is mainly up to you to experiment.
What amplifiers are good for:
-bringing down heavily armored monsters, boosting your powergem with other gems to give it more damage.
-giving your powergem just a bit more range to cover a long path and become much more powerful effectively.
-if you face a huge horde of swarm monsters, placing 6-8 towers around an amp, placing weak gems in them, and boost them with a powerful gem, can give you lots of adequately powerful shots, that are much better than a single powerful gem, and can make all the difference.
-you don’t have to combine your gems, so your defense can be much more flexible.

Ok, so these are the things from last week, but why did this blogpost take so long if these were already implemented before?

First, the design issues I wanted to address:
-Ok, that now you could pick what kind of gem you want to create, but each stage has it’s different types, and what if you wanted poison or shocking? Pumping up your gem type skill and transmuting your low grade gem is all you had.
-Some skills were sloppy. Two different skills to increase minimum and maximum damage, and raising initial and initial maximum mana (mana pool size)? What if I push my minimum damage above the maximum? Or if I go above my mana pool size with my initial mana? Then my skill points get wasted?
-How about epic bosses as a battle setting? (Many of you asked for it and you were right.)
-Special caps are so annoying? What’s the use of amplifying a chocking gem if I can’t go above 70% chance anyway?
-Splash damage is just too powerful. Hitting just any amount of monsters in the splash range makes all the other gem types no match for it.
-What’s the thing with juggling? If I demolish a wall and build one at the other end of a long path, I can have the brutally tough last monsters march up and down endlessly while I can shoot them as I please. It takes all the challenge away.

And the tough decisions I made and implemented (started working on them last Saturday, they are all done and working by now):

Unlockable gem types:
All stages start with two available gem types, but you can unlock any of the 8 types with mana. First unlock costs 1.000, then 4.000 etc, the last one costs 36.000 (in case you want all 8 gem types at your disposal). The “lower cost of increasing mana pool size” now lowers the unlock cost as well.
Free low grade gems for gem type masteries, as well as the transmute feature, are taken out.

Shadow clash:
At last! You can face shadows, formerly only known from the title “GemCraft 2: Chasing Shadows”. This is not the news, it was planned already, but now that the “all gem types granted” setting is made obsolete by gem type unlocking, the setting at the bottom right of the settings panel lets you mix the second most powerful archenemies of the GC universe into your battles! The guardians from GC0 are no match for these guys…

Changes in the skill system:
Min-max damage is merged to increase both in one skill, same for initial mana and mana pool size.
This gave more room for more fun skills.
There’s a skill again for gem bombs, which increases the number of monsters you can summon with a gem bomb, with the same hit points and armor level penalty. It also increases the refund rate for the Anvil.
Shrine builder is merged to the generic Builder skill, making all building types cheaper.
New skill: Demolition (more info below).
Deadly traps skill: initially you have -80% to damage and +80% to specials. With this skill you can move up to -50%, +110%.

Demolition:
You can demolish your own buildings 3 times per battle, by dropping a gem bomb on your wall, (empty) tower, amp or trap. (Shrines are so expensive that you can’t demolish them, to avoid the huge accidental loss). With the demolition skill, you can increase it to 13 times, so you can have juggling as part of your strategy.

Gem types rewritten from scratch:
This was the most drastic and probably the most disputable change. First, the bad news for splash damage fans: Due to the unfair advantage splash had against densely crowded summoned monsters, it was removed, and instead red gems have the “bloodbound” special, which means, a ratio of the kills the gem has, is added to the damage. Combining gems won’t reset the kill count, but add them up.
All skill cap has been removed, but to do that, I had to modify the nature of some of the gem types.
Poison: stayed the same, get a bit stronger.
Mana gain: the same, got a bit weaker.
Bouncing shot (now officially: “Chain hit”): the chance of hitting more nearby targets can go above 100%. In that case, the gem has 100% chance to hit 2 targets, and x% chance to hit a third one. Having no cap, at very high grades, it can get so strong that every hit bounces onward to 4-5 targets, so this can be seen as the new splash damage.
Critical hit (“Multiple damage”): same as above, having 345% chance means you have 100% chance to deal 4x the damage of the gem, and 45% to hit 5x as hard.
Shocking: How can it go above 100%? If a monster is shocked, it gets some immunity against being shocked again. The more shock, the more immunity, and after a while, even 250% chance to shock has an effective chance of 10% against a 240% immunity. This means, most monsters can be shocked multiple times with ease, and it will save some time against tougher ones, but won’t make them a frozen statue.
Slowing: it can make monsters, say, 500% slower, but that doesn’t mean they will go backwards with 4x speed, but that they’ll have to spend 5x the time to move any given distance. So their actual speed will never reach 0%, but it can still hold them back seriously. (The formula is 100/(100+x)% instead of 100-x%.)
Splash -> Bloodbound, as described above. Works the best when you have lots of monsters to boost the gem’s damage (like lots of swarms).
Armor piercing (now “Armor tearing”): instead of a chance, each hit consumes a small part of the armor of the monster. This special ignores the armor level (you don’t have to deal any actual damage to damage the armor), so pull up a dozen of purple gems with the giants come!

About the release date:
The game is now very near to be completed, but that doesn’t mean it’s only a few days left, and that’s what we have before the holiday season arrives, so simply put, it won’t be released in December. Additional sound editing, additional art, playtesting (plus balancing the game mechanics and fixing any errors), promotion/meta materials, business negotiations, serverside connection/loading-saving to/from server, and tutorial panels are yet to go.

I’ll write as soon as there’s any major advancement, but there’ll be at least one more post this year.

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251 Responses to GCL latest features 2010.XII.10.

  1. Doug Negri says:

    After reflecting about the payment, I got an obvious conclusion that some people have already exposed here. Even not paying the US$5 fee, this GemCraft seems to be as amazing as GC0 and GC1 are.

    I won’t pay for two reasons: I depend on my parents to deal with money. And they don’t agree on paying for a game like this (when I say ‘like this’ I mean it’s an Internet game). The second reason is that I’m not used to use these paying systems like PayPal. I’m from a Latin country and something “far” from this. These are my reasons.

    But for everybody that loves GC and recognizes Peter’s work, and more, can and would pay the fee, please, PAY FOR IT. I’m sure that there will be no regrets.

    • Einfach says:

      If he uses Mochigames, you will not need to depend on your parents for money – they allow you to take surveys and stuff to get credits, which will allow you to get the game.

      See Bloons Tower Defense 4 to see what I’m talking about.

      • Doug Negri says:

        Oh, thanks! I don’t play games at Internet, so I really don’t know much about these paying systems.

        Anyway, I’m really anxios for the game :)

        • Einfach says:

          Alternative payment options will allow you to get more revenue because people who are not able to use one method may be able to use alternative methods.

  2. Doug Negri says:

    Oh, a question: does the effect area of the Charged Bolts Shrine increases depending on the sacrified gem level?

    My English is not perfect and so I couldn’t understand a point: you can BUILD those 2 shrines and other may appear in the field as in GC0 .::OR::. only Beam and Bolts shrines are available?

    • Robert Keller says:

      Only beam and bolt shrines are available. They differ primarily in their area of effect, the area where they hit. The bolt shrine has a certain range, like a circle around it that it will attack. The beam shrine hits everything in the 4 directions (and will work much like GC0).

      • Doug Negri says:

        Oh thnx :)

        I guess I’ll miss Mana Tap Shrine :(

        • Robert says:

          Me Too. Agree completely here. Hopefully they will make a return appearance in this one with a patch or in the next one. :)

          • Einfach says:

            The Experience Shrine was great. With GC0′s system, the mana tap shrine was actually negative worth :( . Anger shrine was nice, too.

          • robertjekeller says:

            Why was it a negative value?

          • Einfach says:

            It was negative value because it raised the Max Mana capacity, and the limit for mana pooling was 95% of max mana, so you would be paying MORE for every mana pool.

  3. hilbert says:

    Your games have provided me with a lot of fun. I will surely pay what I see is a very small fee for now 3 games worth of content. I feel lucky to have played this series and experienced your original very creative games. No one else makes games this well, than kyou!

  4. Daedalus says:

    Out of curiosity, can GCL be distributed via Steam? I wonder if that supports flash game distribution. I know someone was concerned about the long-term viability of some distro sites…Steam seems pretty rock-solid to me.

  5. Bill says:

    I have both Gemcraft games on my Steam games list. I saved the swf file, wrote a batch file to launch it, used a batch-to-executable compiler, and added it. Also, thanks to Adobe’s new hardware-accelerated Flash Player 10.2 (beta), I can run it full-screen with all the eye-candy and no lag.

    Well, thanks for awesome games. I can’t wait until the next one comes out! :)

    - Bill

    • Ankit says:

      will you share how to do this?

      • Bill says:

        I believe saving Flash games is a function of Orbit Downloader. Full-screen mode in Internet Explorer is the F11 key. Steam disallows adding anything that’s not an executable file afaik, so to fake it I wrote and compiled a batch file with Bat to Exe Converter by Faith Kodak. (If anybody here managed to miss out on writing batch scripts–just type the filename in plain text and save with a bat extension).

        Btw, the in-game ads run full-screen just like everything else, so I don’t feel like some kind of software pirate. :)

        • Daedalus says:

          That’s awesome…I will have to do it.

          I was thinking if Peter was able to distribute it via Steam, he could also have steam achievements…I may be wrong, but I think Steam can also store some save games to their cloud…

    • Warmonger says:

      Hardware acceleration is just what I always wanted :D Good to know it’s finally avaliable.

    • Einfach says:

      Question – how many creatures did you have on a screen before it started to lag? 100? 300? 1000?

      Could you have prismatic traps with max speed and the game still playable?

    • Robert Keller says:

      Is doing this even legal though?

      • Warmonger says:

        You are free to decompile legally purchased (free!) copy of program to see how it works or modify it to handle new platforms, as the case. Also, I don’t believe Peter really cares about your efforts, so sleep well.

        • Robert says:

          Maybe you could help Peter get it on steam. :)

        • Procne says:

          First time I hear about decompiling being legal. usually all EULAs or TOS’ explicitely state that reverse engineering / decompiling or modifying the program in any way is strictly forbidden.

          Can you provide a link to any source stating otherwise?

  6. David says:

    one question, is the price 5$ per household or per person?

    • pbhead says:

      well, its not distributed by a *something else* company, and you prolly got 8 save files… so…

      Now, you most likely could not play it on two different computers at the same time, but, i dont see why one could not play at different times.

      Depends on internets dependance most likely really, if it disconnects from the server… and then you start up a second copy on a second computer, your going to have save issues…

      But purposfully programming the game so that an offline game needs an internet connection at all times (like, say, steam)… = evil.

    • Peter says:

      “one question, is the price 5$ per household or per person?”

      is that a joke?

  7. problems found says:

    the one problem i face is when you get up to harder monters, gems in traps start to do no damage…

    • Robert says:

      They don’t seem to do a lot of damage, but they still are hitting. The damage for traps in GC0 was quite low.

      • Einfach says:

        Actually, that’s funny you say that because I put my best gems in traps. Like I had 2.75 mil. fp in a trap one time.

    • Matthew says:

      How about later waves = better armor = blocking more dmg?
      And with “low” grade (I guess <6 at least) NON-supergems dealing <20 damage in traps (that's a rough estimate, but the point is they won't really do much), no wonder they only "tickle" the monsters, eh? (apart from specials, of course)

      Personally I don't believe the GC0 traps were intended to be a primary damage dealer (more of a support via specials); but they can (evidently) deal massive dmg when equipped with a powerfull supergem (with seriously increased min/max damage), while "ordinary" gems keep only a fraction of their power.

      • GreenToast says:

        i haven’t evem beat the 1st boss in chaer 0.one proplum is the little trap damage

        • Bill says:

          On the boss, IRC I used either slow or stunning traps and built all my towers in very close proximity. The way I see it, an expensive hi-level slowing gem is only worth the investment if nearly every tower on the map is in it’s range…and so they were.

          Apparently not many others use this strategy. It might not be the best, but it was easy and it always worked.

        • Matthew says:

          @GreenToast: hmm, what wizard level are you?
          I, for one, didn’t even tackle the 1st guardian until I was, say, lvl ~20-ish (can’t remember exactly, deleted the savefile – yay :) – and gone “what have I done” right afterwards), though I could probably beat him sooner (he never even reached my tower and I finished with ~6k spare mana).

          Anyway, at this wizard level, the traps are unlikely to be damage dealers; that (obviously) demands serious supergems, which in turn require a “decent” mana farm + a “nice” pool multiplier. And even so, they’d probably still be of much better use in towers.

          well I’m sure the whole thing *does* change once you get the red mastery, but um… 20 levels to go?…
          Until then, (just a suggestion) do use traps – but mainly for specials (mana gain, poison, slow, armor reduce, etc.), with the towers doing the “dirty” work.

  8. Einfach says:

    As we near 200 posts by the end of the week, it becomes clear we either need a better system for commenting or we need more regular posts. I don’t have time to read everything, and I often can’t tell if I’ve read something or not.

  9. robert keller says:

    we could always do our best to organize things by categories. Each major thread could have its own top level post and then everything dealing with that could be found under it. That would help out a bit as far as looking at what posts are new. I just usually skip towards the end. Sometimes you miss a few, but if it is important, you will hear it again or see it again later.

    If you want to do longer discussions, we would need an actual forum like phpbb. Peter said he was going to look at that. It is free and easy to set up along with being relatively low on resource needs. :) Definitely a good option.

    And a thought:

    Dear Peter,

    for a Christmas present, would you post a video of a level like here or on youtube? It could be one of the levels towards the beginning but where you are able to showcase some of the great features of the game?

    Thanks
    Robert

  10. GreenToast says:

    too bad the ballon invasion series is gone. :(

  11. Van says:

    less wrist pain? I like it!

    another problem I have is my computer. It’s not that old but wasn’t that great when I bought it. In say, an endurance mode where I’m going to have hundreds of gems on the screen and hundreds more monsters, I’d favor a mode that decreases the graphics to the absolute bare minimum – a gray screen with lines where the paths are and dots where the monsters are, no indication of bullets moving I just know they’re happening. Of course, I doubt any designer, proud of their visuals, would allow that(I’m a graphic design student myself, I know how we fall in love with what we make) – but it would probably extend the life of my processor fan, as I watch my core temp heat up to 85 degrees C.
    That and high scores in GC0 became a matter of “who left their computer devoted to processing the game the longest”.

    No, it’s Flash, it isn’t your fault. In general, for graphics that are about on the level of the original starcraft, flash needs 10x the processor and memory, why? Who knows.

    Just know that, whatever flexible range your graphic settings have, I’ll look at the highest and admire them, but once I’m high level in the game and challenging the scores, I’ll be on the minimum and wishing it could go lower.

    • Warmonger says:

      But lag has nothing to do with graphics, it’s all about inefficient flash engine, including omniscent references and garbage collector combined with massive interrupts and frame synchronization issues.

      • Van says:

        *sigh*
        life is taking the good with the bad

      • fractalman says:

        You don’t know what you’re talking about.
        put 500+ monsters on the screen,place a maxed R/O trap in every track slot, and graphics on maximum (showing every trap shot, etc), and watch your computer freeze up…or leave it on lowest, and watch your computer slow to a crawl.

  12. iamagemtdfanyay says:

    you will keep updating it after it comes out, right?
    if not, take your time, don’t release it too early

    the longer we wait, the better the game gets ^^

    • pbhead says:

      he had multiple patches last time, so i expect a few if they are needed, or if he has a really great idea and wants to add something in.

  13. xneon says:

    looks absolutely fantastic, I’m thrilled to say I await the release date much more nervously than concerning many of “full scale”, non-Flash PC games (actually, there aren’t any competitors, to tell the truth! well, maybe another S.T.A.L.K.E.R.).
    it’s great that calling waves early now produces mana rather than score.
    keep up the good work, don’t rush it, this game totally needs to be perfectly made.

  14. asfgh says:

    it would be best if u realese on christmas

    • Einfach says:

      At least give a post by Christmas – a great present!

    • celestior says:

      peter said not for december and i wish him to take some rest with his familly too ! and we can wait january !

      (yes i wait for it for monthes too …)

      peter keep the good job ! no ETA is fine till you give us new like you actually do !

  15. Tommmmmm says:

    Peter you are doing great !!!

    As far as paying is concerned PayPal itself is limited to only ‘biggest’ countries (not mine) so as long as you suppor DotPay or Moneybookers it’ll be fine!

    • Peter says:

      Your IP address says (but it might be wrong) that you’re from Poland, and PayPal is available there with (almost) full functionality, just like here in Hungary, so you should have no problems.
      Here is a full country list of how much of PayPal is available where:
      https://www.paypal.com/worldwide/