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Alchemy to alter arrow properties?


snatcher

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EDIT: This mod is now part of the TDM Modpack.

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We all at some point have thought of different arrow types, haven't we?

Well, me too: Smoke arrow, Frost arrow, Poison arrow... Thing is I (didn't have the experience and) never found a proper justification for a mod but all that changed the moment I read about the Flash arrow by @MirceaKitsune. The initial idea is okay in my book but what really caught my eye was the Light arrow afterthought. See, fascinated as I am for light (and fire) in this game many times I wished I could be able to light up an area while looking for something, or simply to take a better look at the details and textures. The lantern does its job but in some occasions I would have liked to have an alternative.

A Light arrow alone doesn't justify a mod but good ideas often lead to great ideas and I though, how about an anti-light arrow? what if we could create our own shadows? I sought advise in the boards and @OrbWeaver pointed me in the right direction and it turned it can actually be done, and rather easily I must add. This light and anti-light combo probably deserves a mod after all but, how do I sell this?

Enter Alchemy.

alchemysymbol.jpg

By making use of Alchemy our protagonist can alter the properties of an arrow type. Just add a substance / powder / mixture / goo to an arrow type and its properties change. We could do anything if the idea is accepted and the mechanic works but more importantly, we would naturally limit the number of uses per mission.

Broadheads and Water arrows are the most common arrows and it is guaranteed players will almost always have a few of these. Since water arrows have a very specific role I decided to go for Broadheads and I created a system that allows us to have an unlimited number of different Broadheads. The system isn't perfect yet and needs more work and refinement but it works. The idea is that players make use of an "Alchemy" skill or ability to cycle through different (custom) Broadhead types.

Back to the lore, here are a couple of examples of new arrow types or properties:

  • White arrow or "Moonlight": a recipe based on luminescent mushrooms and other exotic herbs. The resulting powder produces, for limited time, a dim but steady blue-ish glow when mixed with the right reactive.
  • Black arrow or "Darkburst": widely believed to be a myth, little to nothing is known about anti-light matter. Where did our protagonist get his formula from? When this substance is subject to strain the particles implode and the residual component absorbs light until it dissipates completely.

I just made that up and I haven't figure out all the lore yet but you get the idea.

Feel free to participate: expand the lore, come up with new arrow types or names, the effects they produce, pros and cons... anything you wish to say or add.

alchemy.jpg

Edited by snatcher
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TDM Modpack 4.0

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11 hours ago, Sneaker said:

Can this "fix" holy water arrows?  :)  They're weak, time limited, and kind of have a fiddly mechanic.

I agree. I tried to replace them with throwable holy water bottles, but while this works nice in my patch, it can make some missions really hard because you would need more bottles than you have. So why not make one holy water bottle make a certain number of water arrows holy without a time limit? I would suggest the same mechanic for the alchemy arrows, like not using the broadhead arrows but the water arrows. Use any potion on them to get the desired effect, for example using the invisibility potion on an arrow could create arrows to darken an area!

Edited by wesp5
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14 hours ago, Sneaker said:

Can this "fix" holy water arrows?  :)  They're weak, time limited, and kind of have a fiddly mechanic.

They could alter the gas arrow instead, creating a cloud of holy gas. Or alter the moss arrow to create a patch of holy moss (this does make it a bit like a mine, except if zombies know what it is).

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Thanks for comments.

How do we visually tell custom arrows apart? I cannot do 3D and I am limited by the models we already have. Any support with the modelling is more than welcome.

The idea is that our protagonist customizes Broadheads on the go by spreading a powder or substance. Ideally (I think) Corbin would attach to the arrow a small pod with the home-brewed recipe but I cannot model that. What I can do is to remove the tip of the arrow and alter the color of the textures to, let's say, visually mark an type. This approach remains kind of realistic or at least, reasonable.

Custom-Arrow.jpg

Should I perhaps base the mod on a different arrow type? I would like to explore the "small pod or thingy attached to the tip" idea, if only, in theory. Would it make sense? Would it look any good?

Oh, and the "Moonlight" and "Darkburst" aren't by no means final names. Actually, nothing is remotely final so please, keep comments and ideas coming in all domains.

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An explanation of what's going on and the limitations.

I basically am replicating what the holy potion does: use an item and an arrow gets new properties. It works but since the holy water hardly changes anything the developers didn't have the need to add more functions/methods/events for weapons and we basically are limited (as far as I can tell) to:

  • setModel() to change the model
  • changeWeaponProjectile() to change the outcome

The outcome is most important factor and we are free to do whatever we wish in that area WHICH IS GREAT but I would have like to have a fancy light emitter on the tip of the arrows and I am afraid it is not possible because I am unable to change args on the fly for some reason, as if all ammo args are permanent and need to be "reloaded" for changes to apply.

TDM Modpack 4.0

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15 hours ago, snatcher said:

Should I perhaps base the mod on a different arrow type?

As I wrote above, I believe the water arrow makes more sense: 1) There are plenty around in each mission, but still not as many as the broadhead arrows which might overpower the player if they can use them to make special arrows. 2) The player already knows the trick to use potions on water arrows from the holy water arrows. 3) The big blob on the tip would be much easier to color to show what effect the newly created arrow would have. 4) There are multiple potion models around which could be used as reagents, maybe it could even be possible to use their textures on the water arrow tip.

Edited by wesp5
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Thanks, @wesp5.

I managed to dynamically add a particle emitter to the tip of the arrow, independently of anything else. This means we can have a different effect depending of the recipe, a colored puff of smoke in example, or something fancier. This also means I no longer have to deal with models or arrow textures and that's a good thing because some missions come with custom models and we now respect the mapper's vision. Everything is heading in a good direction.

Broadhead arrow vs Water arrows... points taken. I am not sure, though. The model is no longer a concern and it now boils down to numbers and usage.

I personally never buy (or use) many broadheads mainly because I rather not kill anything (with two legs). Broadheads are cheap though, and if there were other uses I might reconsider them.

Water arrows have a specific purpose, and besides, water arrows already have an extra feature (holy).

Broadheads perhaps, deserve an extra feature.

TDM Modpack 4.0

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On 1/19/2023 at 8:02 PM, snatcher said:

... args on the fly for some reason, as if all ammo args are permanent and need to be "reloaded" for changes to apply.

Sorry if this was already explained but this was something I also doubted for a time but then I realized the answer was there all the time, I just didn't noticed, is on the name of this args, they are called entity spawnargs by the engine for a reason and this reason is, they are updated at entity spawn time only.

What made me so confused for a time was that script has functions to read and write into spawnarg's, so I thought, if I can write into them, then they should update immediately and when I read the spawnarg again the value is updated but like you found that is not what happens.

So imo If you want to keep some special state volatile/updatable, during a entire gameplay section, use a global variable in your script instead.

And if you need to save this state, to pass it on to a next level for example, then save the value on a entity spawnarg, you then read it at next entity spawn and it will work. just my two cents.

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Thanks for the good advice, HMart.

I think all actually are spawnargs? Args are read once as soon as an entity loads but then some args are read on the fly when an event takes place. It is up to the engine and what it is capable of / programmed to do. We can say some args are static and some dynamic.

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I'd just like to say I think this is a really cool idea, and I hope some enterprising FM author will pick it up and run with it. 😀

If there is any part of the Thief formula that really shows its age it is the arrow ammo system. A lot of arrow types are only useful in specific situations and for specific playstyles. Consequently most players never even have an opportunity to use most of their arsenal.

And more perversely, even the arrows that would be useful often get hoarded, unspent. Having to restart the mission because you didn't save that one water/fire/moss/rope arrow is the most punishing fail state that the game supports, bar none. Thus arrows are most valuable as insurance against the rare situation where you absolutely need one, so using one in any situation where it is possible to do without represents a major risk.

The ability to alchemically transmute spare ammo into more useful variants would do so much to remedy this game design flaw. Bravo.

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Thanks for the comments @ChronA !

Icons... difficult stuff.

Alchemy-Icons.png

I first thought of an arrow theme but upon testing it in a mission I found it confusing for some reason. We end up with icons with arrows on both the right and the left and I am not sure where I am supposed to look at. Besides, this particular arrow icon brings a kind of magical feel.

I then opted for something less descriptive such as the mortar and while the icon doesn't look as good as the arrows it feels more grounded.

I don't know 🤪

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TDM Modpack 4.0

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45 minutes ago, snatcher said:

I then opted for something less descriptive such as the mortar and while the icon doesn't look as good as the arrows it feels more grounded.

I like the mortar better. But how does this work? Do you get different mortar icons for different powders? Do you need to have the arrows active when using it?

Edited by wesp5
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On 1/23/2023 at 5:09 PM, snatcher said:

Anybody wishing to give a beta a try? Preferably someone used to toying around with TDM files or used to mods.

Sign up here or privately.

Will this be a part of a modpack or a .pk4 that mappers can include in their FMs?

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@Frost_Salamander

By releasing it as a .pk4 for mappers to include it in their FMs players might have it in a handful of missions in an uncertain future. By including it in a ready-pack players can use it right away in all missions. It will be part of the TDM Modpack, and it will be maintained and evolve there.

TDM-Modpack-Skills.jpg

Regardless, mappers and modders can extract the relevant files and do whatever they please without hesitation. No need to ask nor credit. Furthermore, I remain available to assist if required.

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2 hours ago, snatcher said:

@Frost_Salamander

By releasing it as a .pk4 for mappers to include it in their FMs players might have it in a handful of missions in an uncertain future. By including it in a ready-pack players can use it right away in all missions. It will be part of the TDM Modpack, and it will be maintained and evolve there.

TDM-Modpack-Skills.jpg

Regardless, mappers and modders can extract the relevant files and do whatever they please without hesitation. No need to ask nor credit. Furthermore, I remain available to assist if required.

Okay.  I'm just wondering how it's going to work though.  It looks like you are still deciding what arrow type to base the functionality on?  For example, say it's broadheads and a player has 10 broadheads in their inventory.  Does that mean they will be able to create 10 light arrows?  Will you need 'reagents' or something in order to craft them?  If so, where does one get those?

As a mapper I want to understand how this will affect gameplay.  Will it neutralise a carefully crafted electric lighting scene that is meant to be challenging?

By the way, it seems like a cool idea though.

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