Well, let's try to start this year off right, eh? I'll try to do some semi-regular progress updates on the game's progress, hopefully every 1-2 weeks. So, here's a quick look at some interface improvements I've been making.
Random Loot and Popups
Unto the Breach uses an item randomization system that applies random prefixes and suffixes to weapons and armor, giving them all manner of random buffs, as pioneered in the Diablo series. Much like most modern RPGs as well, items of different quality levels have their names tinted various colors so you can get an easy sense of its relative value. Additionally, I've added a popup system so that whenever you bust open a chest full of phat loot, the names of all the items will get listed above your head.
As-is though, these plugins had a few issues. The text color based on quality wasn't being applied properly, it was only applying the text color of the most recently applied effect (i.e. the suffix's associated color would always overwrite the prefix's, regardless of relative quality level). Additionally, the way the system works is the game creates a basic copy of an item before its modifiers are applied, and the actual (potentially) enhanced item is added to your inventory. As such, the popups would list both the base item and the item you actual receive, leading to confusion for the player. Also the popups wouldn't alter the text color appropriately, everything was plain old white.
I spent some time implementing entirely new prefix and suffix rarity parameters, along with the logic to handle those parameters and give the item the appropriate text color based on whichever modifier has the higher rarity (with the rare negative modifiers always overriding any enhancements to make sure you're aware of them).
After this, I added a few lines to the popup system to handle the text colors, and bam! Now they show up when you're looting stuff, so you can instantly see if that sword you got is awesome or just vendor trash. Plus I fixed its filtering to show only the finalized items you got.
A similar issue was happening in the battle aftermath screen, with it listing just the base items before modifications. This took a bit more work, having to redo a fair bit of logic in the process involved (there's, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of steps involved in generating the info for that screen), but eventually I got this one figured out too, so now you'll get an accurate assessment of drops after a battle. While I was in there, I tweaked some formatting a bit to improve the overall look of the screen. And I decided to rename the Class Points, or CP, used for all your progression instead of a leveling system, back to XP for easier understanding. Functionally it's identical though: Kill monsters or complete quests to get XP, use the XP to improve your stats or learn new skills, in whatever order you choose.
Speaking of learning skills, I also put some work into improving the skill learning menu. This is a submenu of the Tactics screen, and is where you'll improve all your party members. I removed the money window (Since you only need XP to learn new skills) and some empty space to fill it with a readout of each character's basic parameters, so you can more immediately see changes in them by purchasing upgrades. I started actually implementing the skill "tree" logic as well, since I have to manually set each skill for each character. That's nowhere near done, but is mostly some straightforward grunt work (Plus one bug I'm investigating currently).
The "skills" that improve your basic parameters will be different for each character, as well. The main differences will be cost and strength of the effect. Essentially, while you'll be able to improve each of the basic parameters for every character, allowing you to strengthen some weaknesses, some will clearly be ill-suited to extensive growth (e.g. you can buff Lucy's ATK so she can auto-attack for more damage when you want to conserve SP, but it's going to take a lot more XP than buffing her SPI). So it's possible to grind out stats on everyone, but it'll be prohibitively expensive in a lot of cases. Even a stat a character is well suited for will require, at current values, around 20,000 XP (give or take a couple thousand) to max out (the amount you need to increase it goes up every time you increase it, FYI). As you can see from the aftermath screen up above, you don't get a ton from fights.
But all these values will, of course, be adjusted for balance as needed.
And that'll do it for today! Hope everyone enjoyed the update. Let's make this year great!