SWGEmu – Motivations for Modding and other Ramblings

I’m sick and tired, literally I am afraid to say, I… I have a “man-cold” and while my body may be exhausted for really no good reason at all, my not so very sleepy mind desires more than to stare into the darkness. So… I may as use this down time to post about why I spent most of November working on an “Armor Upgrade” for Legend of Hondo.

Feature Documentation:

I suppose the primary motivation was to solve the problem of composite armor being the only really useful design. In part, because it’s ugly and let’s face it, even we men like our digital dollies to look cool (yeah, I went there). But I also looked it at from the perspective of, “gee, wouldn’t it be nice if these other dozen or so armor suits and looted armor parts were actually useful?”. And yes, I did change the white palette so I could run around in a hot pink suit of bone amor when no one is around.

Having the good fortune of playing Star Wars Galaxies in all its incarnations (and not being religiously obsessed with any particular version), as well being exposed to many different computer games and gameplay systems over the years, I went about creating an armor crafting system that is kinda sorta like what was in the final NGE version, but not. I knew that I wanted to nerf the cheese that was Armor Slicing (that thing where any idiot playing a Smuggler can use a piece of garbage to get a 37% bonus to armor, when the Armorsmiths of the galaxy have fight tooth and nail for every single percent), and that I wanted the looted pieces to play a prominent roll in the process. 

Why loot? Well, given that loot comes from enemy’s you need to fight, having a use for the loot encourages the player to go out and get it; In an open-ended single player game like LoH, it’s important to provide opportunities for the player to create generalized goals, such as, “I wonder if can make a piece of armor with low Encumbrance and good Stun resistance? Hmm… What parts would I need to make that happen and where would I get them?”. I like that sort of content, especially the exploration aspects, so I looked at armor crafting as an opportunity to provide that sort of “emergent gameplay”.

At one point I was going to create draft schematics for all the armor types that are available, but upon completing one item I realized that the boring tedium of all that paper pushing (OK, “data entry”) would be a health hazard. I mean, I am quite capable of focusing on the job, but…. JOB people – creating Lua templates and editing IFF files felt like a day at the office, rather than an enjoyable hobby. So, I did something different and made a system that allows the player to upgrade looted and NPC purchased/rewarded armor instead. Honestly, it probably took about the same amount of time, but at least I had fun making it and I added some more variety to the game (and crafting in general, as to upgrade requires a crafted armor segment). When I add the Merchant System, amongst other things the player will be able to purchase all the armor suits in the game, depending on their reputation with the various world factions. Then if they like, they can level some Armorsmith to make segments to upgrade that armor or they can take advantage of the standardized crafting system to make their own from scratch.

Thrax emailed me and asked if I had planned on doing anything with the Armor Rating system, which I had not. I never really got into the high end combat in SWG, so I wasn’t really aware of the details of the system. All I can is, yup, I totally understand why SOE had to do the CU and NGE. The pre-CU combat system and profession system are as unmaintainable and spaghetti coded as systems come. I’m all for complexity, but people, there’s a difference between being complex and being convoluted. The latter is bad and SWG has no shortage of it! After reading the guides in good o’l Biophilia’s Notebook, I concluded that it would be in my best interest to remove both Armor Rating and Armor Piercing entirely. Dumbing down the game? Yes, if you can call dealing with more combat variables than most other games even without those systems, “dumb”. 

I spent a couple days taking it apart and testing combat against various high level MOBs and when all was said and done I found that when no one had Armor Piercing and everyone had Light Armor, the player took far too much damage, far too frequently. It threw off all the calculations I had made in my previous “Life and Death Changes” patch and it became obvious that the only way to truly balance it would be to … Edit every MOB template in the game. You know, just get them all lined up reasonable-like with sensible damage values and… What do I look like, some kind of insanity-man! 

I might, but that’s beside the point. 

So, I scrapped that testing and went about testing it in the opposite direction, by embracing the Dark (convoluted…) Side and allowing the player to upgrade their Armor Rating. Turned out it wasn’t half bad after all! And that’s good, because as much as I mod the crap out of Star Wars Galaxies, I do it because I love the game; I don’t hate it and wish it was something else, I just want it to be something I understand and enjoy – completely (because, hey, I can actually DO that!). Anyway, I wanted the upgrade process to require time and effort, but also be another potentially diverse goal, rather than just the typical slap some resources together BAM we have a Landspeeder? …! With that in mind, I repurposed the looted armor segments that I had previously removed and brought back a reason to hunt them thar Peko Peko Albatrosses, etc. And I suppose now would be a good time to mention that with the two Armor Upgrade procedures, there is finally a real reason to craft an awesome Clothing and Armor Crafting Station! 

Ah, the cough medicine induced ramblings of a middle aged game modder who has nothing better to do with his smartphone as he lay helplessly man-colded in bed… Now to figure out how to make more weapons useful without jacking up SWG and bolting a whole new game underneath. Or sleep… Yeah, maybe that…