#pentagram@irc.freenode.net logs for 12 May 2015 (GMT)

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[21:49:32] <MasterReaver> Hello
[21:49:37] <MasterReaver> Anyone active in here?
[21:50:12] <MasterReaver> Had a couple of questions about the intended final capabilities of Pentagram
[21:52:01] <MasterReaver> In my opinion there are a lot of things in Ultima 8 that don't work as they might have originally been intended - most likely because of EA's deadlines - and I was wondering if, in its finished state, Pentagram could be used to create a patch or mod to address some of those.
[21:52:20] <MasterReaver> Some examples:
[21:52:49] <MasterReaver> The hammer called Skullcrusher appears in the game (since the first patch) but is useless againt Skeletons since it can't kill them permanently
[21:53:02] <MasterReaver> Monster corpses from the Summon Monster spell permanently remain in the game world
[21:53:21] <MasterReaver> Most Thaumaturgy spellbooks have infinite charges (except Mind Blast)
[21:54:24] <MasterReaver> Except for Summon Demon, all summon spells (including Golem, Skeleton and Monster) are a waste of time because even if targeted correctly, the monster will come after the Avatar once its target is dead... meaning that you're probably fighting something worse than what you were up against to begin with
[21:54:59] <MasterReaver> Devestate (I think that's what it's called?) leaves permanent lightning/explosion sprites in the game world if the spell is interrupted
[21:55:51] <MasterReaver> Spell targeting is handled inconsistently, with Grant Peace pausing the game so that you can target the enemy, but most spells not doing so (making Sorcery attack spells nigh-useless)
[21:56:21] <wjp> I don't think we currently have any plans to significantly alter U8, but you're certainly welcome to use our tools and code to patch or mod these things
[21:56:58] <MasterReaver> So Pentagram would provide a means to somehow mod the game?
[21:57:16] <MasterReaver> (ie, changing flags on weapons/items/spells)?
[21:59:42] <MasterReaver> Or is that not really in the design scope?
[21:59:58] <wjp> design scope is up to people writing code
[22:01:48] <MasterReaver> Unfortunately I'm not much of a programmer - only know some simple Python stuff. These apparent bugs in Ultima 8 have bothered me for years though, and I've always wished there was a way to fix them.
[22:03:13] <wjp> none of us are currently spending much (or any, to be honest) time on pentagram development
[22:03:20] <MasterReaver> How exactly does Pentagram work anyway? Does it take the assets/scripting of Ultima 8 and pass it through its own engine (I think that's kind of how Exult works)?
[22:03:30] <wjp> yes, that's the idea
[22:06:48] <MasterReaver> It's a shame that interest has waned, though I can understand why. Ultima 8 isn't exactly the best of the series.
[22:07:48] <wjp> it's quite a nice engine internally
[22:07:51] <MasterReaver> I still felt it was pretty unique and interesting though - just wish it was more polished.
[22:10:14] <wjp> it was the first Ultima game I played (except maybe UW1, actually), so it's still special :-)
[22:11:02] <MasterReaver> Probably the fourth one for me. I played Ultima VI first, then UW1 and 2 (still think UW2 is one of the best things ever), then Ultima VIII
[22:13:49] <MasterReaver> Anyway, if I had some way to view and modify the properties of objects in the game, I'd totally give making a bugfix mod a shot.
[22:14:17] <MasterReaver> I feel like a lot of could be improved with just some small tweaks.
[22:16:07] <wjp> some of the things you mention will require engine code changes; others need scripting
[22:16:34] <MasterReaver> True, but some are pretty simple.
[22:16:43] <MasterReaver> Take the Skullcrusher hammer for example
[22:16:44] <wjp> the scripting bits may actually be the trickiest due to a lack of real tools
[22:16:59] <MasterReaver> All you need to do is change its damage flag and change it to the type used by Daemons
[22:17:00] <wjp> if you want skullcrusher to kill skeletons permanently, that's not too hard
[22:17:06] <wjp> that's just Fire, actually
[22:17:13] <MasterReaver> Yeah, exactly
[22:17:36] <wjp> https://sourceforge.net/p/pentagram/code/HEAD/tree/pentagram/trunk/data/u8weapons.ini
[22:17:48] <MasterReaver> Similarly, the infinite charges on the Thaumaturgy books - surely that could be modified by duplicating it to whatever Mind Blast uses?
[22:18:04] <wjp> if you're using pentagram, you can just change our u8weapons.ini to change the damage type of Skullcrusher
[22:18:19] <wjp> (those things were hardcoded in the .exe, but we moved them to an .ini)
[22:18:48] <wjp> Thaumaturgy will be scripting
[22:18:55] <wjp> because the spells are entirely scripted
[22:19:09] <MasterReaver> Gah, ok.
[22:19:51] <MasterReaver> I thought the 'charged' books were just items with certain properties (like, 'number of uses before revert to inert state') which hadn't been set properly.
[22:20:17] <wjp> not impossible
[22:20:34] <wjp> if the scripts indeed behave that way
[22:20:38] <wjp> but I don't know
[22:20:48] <wjp> I don't think I ever looked at those functions
[22:22:31] <MasterReaver> Well, I'm impressed with what Pentagram's managed to do so far - my understanding is that old games like that are notoriously hard to reverse-engineer.
[22:22:50] <wjp> old games are the only ones I have experience with :-)
[22:23:21] <wjp> (reverse engineering of old games, I mean)
[22:23:38] <MasterReaver> New games tend to be vastly more mod friendly, for the most part.
[22:24:26] <MasterReaver> Warcraft III had one of the best editors ever. Let you change pretty much everything on everything and write your own scripts.
[22:25:00] <MasterReaver> (I spent 6 years to create a single-player action RPG campaign for that - pretty much everything except the assets were custom)
[22:25:45] <wjp> hm, did a Confusion Blast book just have a single charge?
[22:25:51] <MasterReaver> That's right
[22:26:02] <MasterReaver> After that it reverted back to a normal book
[22:26:05] <wjp> so the scripts really do just use the Frame of the book
[22:26:06] <Dark-Star> In Ultima 8 they left the debugging info in the .EXE which made reverse engineering a bit easier ;-)
[22:26:25] <wjp> Confusion Blast does: if (getFrame() == 11) { cast spell; setFrame(1); }
[22:26:27] <MasterReaver> What are the Frames of the other books?
[22:26:43] <wjp> Meteor Shower does: if (getFrame() == 11) { cast spell; setFrame(11); }
[22:26:50] <MasterReaver> Haha oh wow
[22:27:02] <MasterReaver> I don't know if you've ever tried it...
[22:27:26] <MasterReaver> ...but in the game you can literally just hammer a charged Meteor Shower book to make it rain meteors all over the entire screen
[22:27:31] <MasterReaver> At no MP cost at that.
[22:27:33] <wjp> heh
[22:27:44] <MasterReaver> (It doesn't even have a casting animation)
[22:28:13] <MasterReaver> You can do the same thing with Devestate but at least that one has a long casting animation
[22:28:56] <MasterReaver> (Summon Monster too, though as stated even after a successful cast the monster will come eat you. And if you kill it the corpse is permanent unless you dump it in water)
[22:31:58] <MasterReaver> I always wondered if for summoned monsters, it was possible to automatically apply the same effect as Confusion Blast on them once they kill an enemy.
[22:32:18] <MasterReaver> There must be some sort of 'trigger' when a monster kills its target - after all, Daemons vanish if they kill their victim
[22:32:59] <MasterReaver> If that trigger could be utilized, perhaps it could be used to set the monster 'behaviour' flag - either back to 'friendly' in the case of a Golem, or at least 'confused' (so they're not hostile)
[22:33:41] <MasterReaver> That way, after killing its target, a summoned monster won't turn on the Avatar.
[22:33:54] <MasterReaver> (And golems can be 're-used', which would be awesome)
[22:36:24] <wjp> This will all be very heavily scripted
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[22:36:51] <MasterReaver> Probably, yes. The positive side of things is that the scripts for most of it exist in other elements.
[22:37:00] <MasterReaver> Confusion blast scripts changes to AI
[22:37:09] <wjp> I'm guessing here, but for a summoned Daemon, probably the way it disappears after killing its target, is it there is a separate 'watchdog' script that keeps an eye on things, and unsummons the daemon if the target is gone
[22:37:11] <MasterReaver> Summon Daemons scripts the detection of 'kills target'
[22:37:37] <MasterReaver> Maybe. But perhaps that same watchdog script can be used for other summons too.
[22:38:09] <MasterReaver> At worst it would re-create the Daemon's disappearing act for other creatures, which is still preferable to having them come and kill you.
[22:38:32] <MasterReaver> (And it would be THAT unnatural, since they appear out of thin air too)
[22:39:09] <wjp> I'm sure it'll be possible, but it'll take significant scripting
[22:39:23] <wjp> the actual action to perform is in a sense the easy bit
[22:40:14] <wjp> you can probably kill it, make it vanish, give it a Loiter schedule, ...
[22:40:31] <wjp> but hooking everything up will need some way of adding new scripts
[22:40:56] <MasterReaver> Ah, so there's no way of adding scripts yet?
[22:42:57] <wjp> we had some beginnings of tools like that, but to be honest I have no idea in which state they were
[22:43:55] <wjp> (we're talking 2003...)
[22:44:37] <MasterReaver> Yeah. Oh well.
[22:45:00] <MasterReaver> I'm on a bit of an Ultima bender at the moment (currently playing V for the first time) which is why this occurred to me.
[22:45:22] <wjp> I should replay V...
[22:45:35] <wjp> only played it once
[22:45:45] <wjp> but it's a bit hard to get into
[22:45:46] <MasterReaver> I'm really impressed with a lot of the stuff they had working back in 1988
[22:46:04] <MasterReaver> Schedules for NPCs, and what I consider a pretty cool conversation system.
[22:46:15] <MasterReaver> Spellcasting more involved/complex than in 6
[22:46:40] <MasterReaver> (you still had to mix spells beforehand)
[22:46:51] <MasterReaver> Pretty enjoyable so far.
[22:46:56] <MasterReaver> Eats up a lot of time though. :P
[22:47:50] <wjp> bedtime for me; good night
[22:49:54] <MasterReaver> Good night.
[22:49:56] <MasterReaver> Was good chatting
[22:50:14] <MasterReaver> Hope you guys will resume development at some point - I'd help if I knew what I was doing. : /
[22:50:23] <MasterReaver> Bye!
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