The Commander

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Hi there, I'm back, experimenting with a new engine for one of my fusterclucks of game series I'm developing. This latest project is going to be huge...too big to fit on one game. So I have an unusual request, and one that I'm hoping is possible, but unsure, since I haven't quite seen it anywhere else.

For those familiar with the Mass Effect series (bad tidings from a certain ending aside), I'm wanting to know if its even remotely possible that, pending all games in this series (set in an episodic format), share a common folder in the hierarchy (be it the "RPGVXA" folder or even a folder to hold all games in the series), or something other, can share a character. In other words, like what the Mass Effect series accomplished, save imports.

For example, say you complete the first game in the series, would it be possible to somehow call upon the character details (such as equipped weapons/armours, level, and gold amount) from game one, into game two? That way you begin Episode two (or into, say, Episode three, episode four, etc.) with the same character that you had from the previous installment.

Say I have a character named Bob in the first game of the series. I beat the first game, Bob is level...42, has 1,000,000 gold, and has the most badass weapons in the game. Starting from game two, would there be a way to get Bob into Episode 2, starting off with being level 42, equipped with the most badass weapons in the game, and 1,000,000 gold? Unfortunately, this new series is going to be...eh...very big. I'd squeeze it into one game, if I could, but the problem is that the likelihood of doing that would be difficult because of its size, with imported music and sound effects, almost everything completely customized (though still working on getting some modern tilesets), and I think it would deter players to have their character completely reset. If this is beyond the capabilities of the engine, then I'll build the story to explain the reset (writing as I go anyway).

Although my primary engine is RMVX, this series is, in fact, being developed on Ace.

Sorry if it's confusing to understand, I'm not real good when it comes to wording things, if clarification is needed, I'll be more than happy to do so. Thanks for your time.
 

Warpmind

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Far as I know - the only way to do it is to

1) have the database, scripts, switches, variables and the map with the last save point from the first game included in the second (this can be in a post-credits event), and

2) having the player manually copy the savegame from the first game to the second.

It CAN be done, but it's a little bit of work.
It will, on the other hand, save you quite a bit of work on rebuilding various mechanics between the games, unless you plan on making significant modifications (such as was seen in the Mass Effect games) between iterations.
 

Kes

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The save file doesn't have to be copied over.  You would need to have the first game (and all subsequent games) use an AppData save script.  Shaz, for example, has one, but I think there are others.  This puts the save file into a named folder inside the AppData folder.  Your second game will have a command on the title screen menu e.g. 'Import'.  That command will look for the folder from the first game and pull up the last save file and open it.

This may sound like it's more work for you to set up, and that is true.  However, if you don't do it, you can be sure that there will be players who don't know where their save files are, or paste the wrong one, or who decide it's too much hassle and so don't bother with your second game.
 

Warpmind

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I stand corrected.

Hmmm, I'll have to look into that AppData save script, myself for later projects. Make things a lot easier, should I start on an actual series. o_O
 

Andar

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The main problem with this is that the database is ID-structured. No matter which way you go, you have to either have identical databases on all programs (the easy way) or use a script to convert the IDs on import (a lot more work).


Just an example: let's assume the first weapon in your database of the first program is a short sword. The program stores that the player has three pieces of item #1 if he purchased three short swords in the first game.


If the database is identical for all programs, then the import will result in three short swords again. if the database of the second program begins with dagger and has short sword as #2, then you have to check the import for each ID and change the number of item ID#1 in the first game to the number of item ID#2 in the second game.
 

Zeriab

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Warpmind explains the RM2K(3) way which allows import of saves without any scripting.

Identical databases is not required. Any new content can be placed in IDs unused on the older versions. You can also modify and just the carryover items and equipment. Structuring your game elements in a way that highlights which elements belong to which game is definitely a good idea.

The RM2K(3) way is annoying for the player. So I suggest having a default save location such as %APPDATA% where you can lookup saves from the old game. Allow optionally to check for a different location like an Import folder in the game directory. Normal saves should also follow this pattern where first you try %APPDATA% and follow back to a game directory Save folder.

Originally, I thought up this pattern for people playing games on libraries. Generally, I find it to be quite good. Any kind of weird save issue I've seen were in the worst case solved by copying the entire game to say C:\Games\[GameFolder] and going from there.

Version your save files. It is simple and can potentially save you much headache. Create a new Import scene for dealing with the import scenario. Do not reuse the normal load code. Duplicate it even if there are no differences. Keeping it completely separate is a very good idea from a maintenance standpoint. After all, when releasing a series of games over time you will encounter all sorts of application life cycle problems not usually encountered when releasing one single full game.

During import you can load the game verbatim which is game design-wise the same as the RM2K(3) solution, just with a prettier interface. You can also do all sorts of data migration. The simplest is to define a new starting point, but there are no reason why you cannot do all sorts of transformation. Depending on how much you want to keep, change and throw away considering the Import as starting a new game where you deliberately pick certain information from the Import save-file can be an easier perspective to work with.

Be aware not to underestimate the difficulty of balancing. Say, you third game have a specific starting position from which players not importing start. Then you have a huge amount of different combinations of equipment, items, etc. that imports can start with. This makes balancing much harder, particularly when previous games have been released while further games are not yet finished. Personally I feel the technical aspect (programming) is by far the lesser issue.

*hugs*

 - Zeriab
 

Warpmind

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Warpmind explains the RM2K(3) way which allows import of saves without any scripting.
That... sounds plausible enough.

I think I only encountered this in... what was the series' name...

Ah, Legion Saga.

Don't recall offhand which Maker version it was made it, but thinking back to *when* I played those, 2K sounds likely.

Hmmm, maybe I should see if those games are still around in some form; I seem to recall they were pretty good... o_O
 

The Commander

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So...how would I go about doing all that Zeriab? I have like zero knowledge in scripting.
 

Zeriab

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Before you even begin consider whether you actually want to go through the massive extra effort. Size alone is not a reason for splitting up a game. Splitting up a game changes the pacing.
Ask yourself whether players can start from game 3, i.e. does it make sense for them do so. Is the answer no? Then don't do it. Such players do not know the lore as players who played the previous games do. Yup, you need to get new players into the game while also keeping things interesting for players who have played the previous games. Ask yourself whether it really is worth the extra effort.

Shaz and Indinera on this forum has both created series where import is supported. You can ask them about the work required.

As for scripts? You do not need any. You can perfectly fine follow the RM2k strategy. Once the first game is completed, you can request a script for making the import nicer.

*hugs*
 - Zeriab
 

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