Here's my line of thoughts...
My first thought was "well, you can't please everyone". Then I thought "But why not try? Just do it in a gradual way and don't enforce one style of play". So ADOM II 0.3.1 will introduce a lot of functions to make the game tremendously more newbie friendly while retaining all the options you know from ADOM. They just will be much easier to learn. How's that going to be?
- ADOM II 0.3.0 already will differentiate between a main screen for beginners and for experts. Starting with 0.3.1 they will be functionally very different. In order to do that I will introduce the technical notion of game configurations (which technically already exist but were planned to be used for something else). The specific configuration will affect how the game plays and behaves.
- Options to configure include the following:
- Should the game use small maps?
- Should the game allow diagonal movement (for both players and monsters)?
- Should the game display extra hints about possible keyboard commands?
- Should hunger be activated?
- Should you be allowed to select your skills individually?
- Should you be allowed to select your talents [once implemented] individually?
- When you start a new game from the beginner main screen you will be asked for race, class, name and be done. You can play right away. Extra hints will be activated and hunger will be deactivated. ADOM II 0.3.1 also will memorize your selection and some hot key (ENTER?) will auto-start the game with your previous configuration.
- When you start the tutorial the game from the beginner screen you will be asked for race, class and name (and receive information about good beginner combinations) and will start the game in a configuration that (a) displays hints, (b) deactivates hunger, (c) only uses small maps and (d) deactivates diagonal movement up to level 3 (when gaining level 3 diagonal movement will be activated and you will be introduced to that additional complexity). Some hot key (SPACE) will activate the previous tutorial combination.
- On the screen starting the game will offer a lot more options:
- Start tutorial game (as under #3, SPACE restarts the previous selection).
- Start basic game (as under #3).
- Start standard game (select race, class, name and be done; ENTER uses the last selection; the normal game starts).
- Start expert game (select race, class, name, skills, star signs and talents [once implemented]). The normal game starts.
- Start customized game. Allows you to select which options mentioned under #2 you want to activate and then proceeds with starting the configured game. ADOM II will memorize your selection and ALT-ENTER will restart your previous configuration. CTRL-ALT-ENTER will restart both your previous configuration and selection of race, class, ...
- ADOM II 0.3.1 will add a context menu to the full screen mode that can be activated by right-clicking. It will add both the possible commands for the current position as well as all the configuration options from the configuration menu available at the top of the window in windowed game mode.
- SPACE as a contextual action is probably the one thing that fascinated me most as I for whatever reasons failed to ever think about it. SPACE in ADOM II 0.3.1 will check all reasonable actions for the current context (e.g. pick up items, eat food when hungry, drink potion if having one available, read scrolls if available, open doors, close doors, attack enemies). If only one option is available it will be automatically selected, for more than one you will be prompted about your choice.
- Contextual hints will be displayed in a sidebar to the right (in the default screen configuration).
- The inventory system will be simplified in that pressing 'I' (to get to the stuff list) and then selecting an item will allow you to choose among all reasonable actions for that item (drop, eat, read, process, use, ...).
- The new manual will be a beautiful and hyperlinked PDF manual with charts, diagrams and pictures.
- The new manual will be accompanied by a cheat sheet with all the important keyboard options. Maybe two cheat sheets (one for beginners, one for experts).
Avoiding perma-death will remain a feature of ADOM Deluxe though.
So what do you think? Is all this clearly explained :-) In my mind I now see a simplified and gradual game experience and can't wait to implement it for ADOM II 0.3.1. So I'm now off to work and tonight will start to put the finishing touches on ADOM II 0.3.0. Still shooting for a weekend release...