2.0 Developer Spotlight: Flour!

on Nov 16 in Blog tagged by

We’ve already gone on in several posts about the wealth of changes and improvements for 100 Rogues.  Today we’d like to go into detail about one monster in particular – Flour!

Pictured: Magical Flour, in a less magical Sack.

In open combat, the Flour Sack is a pushover: it has no damaging attacks and relatively few hit points compared to other monsters in Hell. Its main purpose is to act as healing and support for other monsters in nearby mobs, which makes it a challenging target for players to prioritize.

To accommodate many of the new abilities that monsters have, we recently added a basic implementation of Utility Theory that allows monsters to decide what abilities to execute or where to move. Previously, monsters simply attempted to use whatever ability worked, executing the first on they found that could execute at all, and defaulting to movement if none could be found.

The Flour Sack is the first monster to make full use of Utility, as it needs to understand the overall ‘goodness’ of an action and the need to consider whether a support action like healing or debuffing should be used instead of a defensive action like running away (and, if so, it must decide which support action should be used). By tweaking some numbers in some code that calculates the utility of his support actions, the Flour Sack can be made more or less self-sacrificing for the good of those around him.

Another great thing about utility theory is that it functions independent of context within our system, specifically the context of ‘Player’ and ‘Monster’ teams. What this means in game terms is that Flour acts as effectively in a support role no matter which team he’s on; if the Fairy were to confuse a Flour, he would automatically begin healing the player and debuffing nearby monsters for her. The same goes for a confused Vandella that in turn confuses a flour. Similarly, a Bully that misfires and hits a Flour may quickly find himself with a negative armor rating.

This is why I think Hell monsters are the most interesting and challenging monsters that have been included in the game so far; the monsters are dangerous alone and devastating in a team, but not nearly as much so as when you’ve got them working for you.

"Who is the Darhm PmhphMMHM...?" (Townsperson silenced for questioning the Council)

Finally, we’ll leave you with this mysterious image of the new Dungeon boss.

Aerial photographers have bravely entered the Bandit Hole of Mine Town to explore its many secrets from above, against all sense of self-preservation (and, frankly, logic). One such brave soul has posthumously given us this photo of a single, rogue, lone, rogue rogue, facing an unspeakable evil.

The photographer’s body was returned by the pictured Crusader. Due to what appeared to be electrical damage, this was the only photo able to be retrieved from his camera. What’s more, it appears that the exact frame of the Dungeon’s evil master was blackened out (again, against all logic).

When asked what he saw in that room, the Crusader responded “It was… hrmm. There were all these huge gold buttons, right? And then he appeared. He was this, umm.. well, he was bluish, I think. You know, it’s really really dark down there. But he was big, that’s for sure. So big! And I would have murdered him, and kept murdering him, but… well… you know, the photographer and all. It was my job as a Crusader to bring back his body. But I’ll go back and murder him soon!”

Who could it be?  Who’s behind all the hordes of undead?!  Where did they get those robes!? What madness IS this?!

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