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ZC's future - the elephant in the room


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#31 venrob

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 03:44 PM

I'd also say that most scripts past a certain level of complexity will have nuances that will be slightly different based on the scripter. For example, I can tell the difference between your fast walk floor and my own because of collision differences when interacting with walls, also because of how items move around along with the player due to the use of convenyors. Similarly with Mero's pit script there's certain quirks that make it easily identifiable. Everybody brings their own unique flavor even when creating the same things.

Script nuance is certainly a thing; you can even tell my older scripts from my newer ones, because how I script has evolved greatly over time. For instance, my OLD ice physics (now replaced by a new one) was not that good, mainly in the collision; I do believe you could JUST SLIGHTLY clip into walls. Now, my new one will have a hint of Moosh in it; because I used LinkMovement.zh for my collision checks (PushNoEdge() specifically)

Some database scripts are certainly undesirable but that varies based on quality and implementation. I loved Slipstream which used mostly database scripts. It also uses an older script of mine that I'm not very proud of, so I somewhat lament that that made it in. But I'd never hold it against RedTribeLink. He did his very best with the tools he was given. It can also be hard to pick which database scripts are best for your project, and I think a lot of people just look to other successful quests first. This does create a sort of feedback loop where some flawed scripts get reused over and over because at one point they were the only option. I'd really encourage questmakers who use database scripts to rate and review the scripts they used more. And if a script gives you a bad experience either in the setup or execution, don't hesitate to make it known.

ALWAYS make it known if you have issues with a script. If someone puts a comment or review on one of my scripts saying it had issues (Or perhaps DMs me / pings me on discord) generally fixing whatever issue jumps to the top of my scripting to-do list, as I pride myself on having scripts that WORK. So, in that case, you may have just found a particular bug I missed, and I can quickly patch it and upload the fix for EVERYONE to have.
If you never tell anyone about the issues, nothing can be done about them. Even if they AREN'T going to be fixed (i.e. inactive user), leaving a low review (with description of what issues you had) will deter others from falling into the same issues; and perhaps indicate to other people that another (better) script that does THAT THING whatever it may be that was SUPPOSED to happen, and someone else may make another one for the database.

As far as script requests go, I can only speak for myself, but I try to write a little bit of something for everybody, whenever I can. I won't become a dedicated scripter for just any project, but as long as you haven't been vilified by the questmaking community (plagiarism, rampant shitposting, unforgivable acts, ect) I'd write a script for you. I've written scripts for people I don't like at all in the past because I still respect their questmaking ability. I haven't written many scripts for quests I haven't liked, but I also tend to look at just the script in isolation. So long as I'm not opposed to the core concept, how it's used is none of my business. So in my case, I'd absolutely write a script for Insanity Unchained...y'know, if it wasn't already released. I sure hope you didn't just learn scripting on your own because you assumed nobody would ever do it for you. If you ever start a LoH3 and there's a script you need, feel free to give me a call.

Personally, I'll do easy requests, and requests that peak my interest. A lot of simple script requests I can knock out in like 5 minutes; more complex stuff I'll make the time for if it interests me enough (See again my Wind Waker Stealth script, made for Sans)

And sandwiched in between the more important points, you're absolutely right about the difficulty of setting up scripts. I can't blame some people for giving up because I was there too. A quest can still be great without scripts, if you're willing to put in the work to excel in other places.

This has already been mentioned multiple times, and I wholeheartedly agree. As for things being difficult, they will get easier with 2.55; instead of item scripts needing, say, a constant modified and a global script merged, or an item script set up and a global script merged, item scripts can now simply run for multiple frames directly from the item, meaning all you need to do is attach it in the item editor. Passive item scripts also exist, allowing an item to run a script as long as you hold it, which prior would have needed to be part of your merged global. As for things being doable without scripts, again, totally possible, it comes down to having good ideas and executing on them. Rehashing the same old ideas and standards of Z1 repeatedly will bore people quickly, as that quickly becomes a list of Z1 clones.


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#32 NoeL

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 06:02 PM

NoeL, James24 praised Mike's Fun House, never Lost Isle. He dislikes and disrespects most quest as type A, of course LI, too. If he thinks MFH should be played more, he should make PV or playvideos like Lordkronos and I did.

To clarify, I was saying OTHER people brought up Lost Isle, not James himself.

 

EDIT: Oh, and another thing that enhances "sellability" is community engagement. If you make a lot of friends and get them to follow along with the quest progression you can build a lot of hype. Like with anything, people only have so much time/money and they're going to spend the bulk of it on things they're familiar with. Some random quest dropping from a nobody is going to get passed over in favour of a project people have been following for months 99% of the time, irrespective of quality.


Edited by NoeL, 20 October 2019 - 06:25 PM.


#33 Stray Sheep

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 06:47 PM

NoeL, I read James’s first post in this topic again, he seemed saying need to improve ZC/ZQ to make quest more easily, never blamed script things, so I and you misundetstood it.


Edited by Stray Sheep, 21 October 2019 - 08:05 PM.


#34 Geoffrey

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 07:03 PM

It's my opinion that, if anything will truly limit ZC/ZQ's potential for growth, it's the GUI. The thing is obviously built for DOS and looks the part, acts the part. It's not resizable like a Windows program (except in multiples of two, an expedient but limiting hack that does not play well with all resolutions) and it does not allow for moving elements like most modern programs (think GIMP 2.0). Many of its internal systems are so insufficient that no one uses them, and external programs are substituted (e.g., GraphicsGale for the tile and palette editors).

 

I'm cautiously optimistic about modules, which I don't fully understand yet. They sound like a limiting version of Quest Rules. What if I'm using the Z1 module but want to use something from the Z3 module? Will I require scripting knowledge then? I am profoundly incompetent with scripts.

 

I said at first that the GUI (in addition to general compatibility issues arising therefrom) is the greatest impediment to growth, but I don't think that ZC/ZQ needs growth. We're doing just fine, and people will continue to trickle in, as they always have, and trickle back out, as they always have. Let's just keep doing what we love, eh?

 

I'd also like to take this opportunity to say, yet again, that Linked Seasons is my favourite quest, in and out, of the last decade. Thanks, NoeL. It tickled that part of the heart which craves for childhood simplicity, dressed up in something novel and complex enough to satisfy the grown mind.


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#35 NewJourneysFire

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 08:07 PM

I always made the joke that I'm spending almost a decade to make a quest nobody will ever play. My life is of great accomplishment. Lol

Poor Zelda Classic's state of affairs, but that's how the pages turn.

#36 Stray Sheep

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 08:11 PM

Edit:Using any game making tool to make great game need a lot of times to learn, anyway.


Edited by Stray Sheep, 20 October 2019 - 11:14 PM.

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#37 venrob

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 09:25 PM

It's my opinion that, if anything will truly limit ZC/ZQ's potential for growth, it's the GUI. The thing is obviously built for DOS and looks the part, acts the part. It's not resizable like a Windows program (except in multiples of two, an expedient but limiting hack that does not play well with all resolutions) and it does not allow for moving elements like most modern programs (think GIMP 2.0). Many of its internal systems are so insufficient that no one uses them, and external programs are substituted (e.g., GraphicsGale for the tile and palette editors).

Firstly, I have seen many a modern program that cannot be resized by clicking the edges of the window. This might be something that could eventually be changed, but it would require a large amount of rewriting, so it's not an easy feat.

Moving elements of the gui.... I don't even want to begin explaining how awful that would be to get working. That is not an easy thing to do.

Internal systems are 'so insufficient'? Personally, I have never used anything BUT the ZQ tile editor, and would far rather use that than an external tool, as it knows my palettes innately.

I'm cautiously optimistic about modules, which I don't fully understand yet. They sound like a limiting version of Quest Rules. What if I'm using the Z1 module but want to use something from the Z3 module? Will I require scripting knowledge then? I am profoundly incompetent with scripts.

So, modules. You know the '.dat' files? A module can set ZC/ZQ to use custom .dat files. This means custom fonts and such, but also 'qst.dat' is actually a stored quest file data; which is what you get when you click 'File->New' in ZQuest. Modules such as the Z3 module will simply have a tileset in here, probably with pre-compiled scripts. So, using a module for that would be the same as using any other tileset.

The OTHER things modules can do, though, are change a lot of things IN ZQ; for instance, you can rename the names of item classes. For instance, if I wanted to make an MM2D module for my MM2D quest, I could rename 'Custom Itemclass 1' to 'Masks' (because that's what that itemclass is used for). This also allows for custom help text when you press the '?' button to get info about an itemclass. So, if you have a pre-packaged quest with pre-packaged scripts, you can name itemclasses based on how you have it set up in the scripts. This has no actual effect on the quest though, it's just for ease of use; actual feature-wise, you can mostly treat it just like using a tileset.

...though there is one interesting thing. You know how there's 1st->5th quest? That's set as part of the module data. So you could create your own 1st->10th quests, including setting up skip names (i.e. ZELDA for 2nd quest normally). It is planned (unsure if anything implemented on this yet) to allow you to set certain things to carry over between quests via this? So, you could potentially do some fancy stuff with that, if you design your own module.



#38 Geoffrey

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 09:46 PM

Firstly, I have seen many a modern program that cannot be resized by clicking the edges of the window. This might be something that could eventually be changed, but it would require a large amount of rewriting, so it's not an easy feat.

Moving elements of the gui.... I don't even want to begin explaining how awful that would be to get working. That is not an easy thing to do.

Internal systems are 'so insufficient'? Personally, I have never used anything BUT the ZQ tile editor, and would far rather use that than an external tool, as it knows my palettes innately.

About the GUI, I know it would be very difficult to make these changes, and it's precisely this difficulty, and therefore the unlikelihood of a GUI update, that makes the GUI so problematic. I understand the situation of the developers and I do not envy it; and if I were in their position, I'd call the GUI a lost cause and leave it as is. But it's still an arcane, unwieldy mess that doesn't play well with many modern resolutions.

 

About the internal tile editor, its only saving grace is the one that you've brought up, that it knows your palettes innately. In my experience, its worst deficits are a) the inability to edit the palette on the fly as you're editing tiles, and b) the inability to edit tiles in their context (i.e., as you're editing it, you can't see how any given tile looks next to other tiles). These are both addressed by exporting the tiles and palette to a program like GraphicsGale, editing them, and then importing them again. When you've gotten the hang of it, this process becomes much faster than editing your graphics internally within ZQ.

 

The only exceptions that I've found are a) tiny edits, b) quick recolours, and c) overlays.

 

Thanks for the information regarding modules. I was always a bit bemused about what made modules different from tilesets, but I think I get it now. It seems that modules may allow for us to 'package' our quests more easily within ZC, something I've always wanted so that I might share my quests with non-ZC people more easily.



#39 venrob

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 09:50 PM

In 2.55 at least (maybe also 2.53, can't check atm) there is a button in the tile editor that takes you to the palette menu to edit palettes. Seeing a tile next to others can be done by quickly swapping out to the main tile page (i.e. hit ok to finish editing and you can see it immediately) so I don't see that as that much of an issues.

#40 Geoffrey

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 10:07 PM

In 2.55 at least (maybe also 2.53, can't check atm) there is a button in the tile editor that takes you to the palette menu to edit palettes. Seeing a tile next to others can be done by quickly swapping out to the main tile page (i.e. hit ok to finish editing and you can see it immediately) so I don't see that as that much of an issues.

I haven't used any version after 2.50.1 yet, but that sounds like a good feature. I work best when I can see everything, however, tiles, palette, and all. Everyone is different and values different features, I suppose.

 

I have a personal distaste for the internal palette editor. Whatever I do with it, it turns out ugly and awful. I'm not convinced it wasn't invented to spite me. No amount of convenience can change my infernal hatred of that thing, or its hatred of me, and I tolerate it only as a means to import palettes made externally. Even then, it kicks and screams like a petulant child, refusing to display more than 256 colours, turning its GUI black and indistinguishable because I dared leave the relevant CSets blank, forcing me to grope in the dark. And then we've hit upon another problem: the dread prison of the number 256 that shackles so many features.

 

Oh well, I'm content with ZC/ZQ as it is; and I love it, not despite its flaws, but with its flaws. ;)



#41 venrob

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 10:30 PM

I haven't used any version after 2.50.1 yet

Uhh

So you've been out-of-date to the current release for like...4 years. If you have used ZC at all in the last 4 years, this means that you've been dealing with bugs and such that had already been fixed (in 2.50.2).

And, as of about half a year ago, 2.50.2 became Officially Unsupported; 2.53 is the current release version, and not a single person should be using a version lower than it.



#42 NoeL

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 10:39 PM

Seeing a tile next to others can be done by quickly swapping out to the main tile page (i.e. hit ok to finish editing and you can see it immediately) so I don't see that as that much of an issues.

Going off topic here (well, this thread's already derailed, so...) but not being able to see adjacent tiles is a huge issue - particularly if you're trying to draw something bigger than one tile. Even something as simple as drawing a line across multiple tiles is a hassle. If you just need to jump in and make minor edits here and there the existing tile editor is fine. If you're making a tileset from scratch it's hot garbage. XD Even way back in the day with Hero of Time before I knew about GraphicsGale I would have to at least draw the line art in Paint to make sure things were in proportion and then detail them tile by tile in the ZQ editor.

 

That said, like with the GUI I don't see the point in trying to improve the tile editor. It's more trouble than it's worth, especially when importing/exporting into GG is so easy.


I'd also like to take this opportunity to say, yet again, that Linked Seasons is my favourite quest, in and out, of the last decade. Thanks, NoeL. It tickled that part of the heart which craves for childhood simplicity, dressed up in something novel and complex enough to satisfy the grown mind.

D'aww. You're welcome.



#43 Geoffrey

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 10:46 PM

Uhh

So you've been out-of-date to the current release for like...4 years. If you have used ZC at all in the last 4 years, this means that you've been dealing with bugs and such that had already been fixed (in 2.50.2).

And, as of about half a year ago, 2.50.2 became Officially Unsupported; 2.53 is the current release version, and not a single person should be using a version lower than it.

Haha, I haven't used ZC/ZQ in about two years, but back then no bugs were apparent to me, and I used it quite extensively. I may have misspoken and meant 2.50.2; I can't quite remember.

 

Anyways, I'll bow out and let the elephant in the room take its rightful place again, at the centre of this thread.



#44 James24

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 11:56 PM

There's nothing wrong with scripting being added to an engine.  In fact, I think its a good thing.  But the way its being used is highly questionable in my view.  If users need to be fully conversant with scripting to make a nice and sellable quest then its being used incorrectly.  The average quest maker will simply not sit still and learn the ins and outs of scripting for 6 months before starting to make their quest.  They want to start making their quest immediately with all the nice features available at their fingertips without having to know scripting.  If the advanced user wants to enhance their quest with the odd script here and there then that's fine too.

 

If the average user sees quests that they really like (IoR, Link and Zelda or Rite of the Storm all of which in my view would not be selling right now if you took out their scripts) and inspired runs over to ZQuest to start making a half-decent replica of them and then finds that "oh god I need to study for 6 months to learn scripting".  Then that's going to make them pause, deter them and start reconsidering if they are prepared to spend that time making their replica of their dream quest. And that spells disaster for the long-term viability of this game. The burden on them MUST be lowered in order to encourage them to start making their quest.  If, however, they can make a decent replica of the quest without scripting and having most of the tools at their fingertips then they're going to start making their own quest.  They might be prepared to sacrifice some quality because they don't know how to script but if its too much then they simply won't bother.
 
People want specifics so I'll give you some.  How about starting with interior doors?  Right now, if you want shutters then you have to use NES dungeons and the shutters from them.  Same for bombable walls or walk-through walls, they're NES dungeon only.  Only scripters can make interior doors like described above.  How about a nice ice-block puzzle like in level 9 of IoR?  Hang on a minute ice-block puzzles aren't part of the ZC engine, you'll have to be a scripter.  How about a nice boss health meter?  Gee - ZC doesn't appear to have that built in, guess I'll have to study up on scripting or figure out how to integrate James's Z2 Boss health meter into my game.  What if I want to show how much damage an enemy has taken when I hit things with a certain item like in Mike's Fun House or Umbral Cloud.  Can the trusty ZC engine do this for me without me having to learn how to script?  Nope, I have to do it myself.  What if I like to make Link move a lot faster than he normally does like in LoH:IU or Lost Kingdom of the Banana God?  6 months of studying scripting and it'll be all yours.  What if I want moving platforms like in IoR level 11?  Same deal.  How about a prismatic dungeon like in IoR or most modern Nintendo Zelda titles?  Can ZC help me do that by taking all the scripting worries out of the equation.  Nope.  What if I want a steerable raft like in LoH:IU, Rite of the Storm or Slipstream?  You guessed it - scripting otherwise I'll get the old raft with unsteerable raft paths.  What about seeds and plants like in Forbidden City or other Nintendo titles?  You don't find them in ZC.  I could keep going on all day but I hope you see my point...
 
Just imagine for one minute a Zelda Classic engine which seamlessly integrated all of the above without the quest-maker having to know one line of scripting.  Most of what the average quest maker wants in their quests would be a few clicks and a few button pushes away.  That sells.  If they want something really extraordinary like Link and Zelda there's always scripting available for them and if their work becomes really popular then their scripts would be integrated into the ZC engine for every future quest-maker to use.
 
Lets see the features have been integrated into ZC without needing to know scripting.  How do you like shops with 3 items being sold in them?  Or robber rooms where you can sacrifice hearts or money?  Not good enough.  Well I got one for you, how about door repair charge rooms.  User enters it and they are immediately deducted x amount of money.  I'm sure the fanbase loves those kinds fo things huh?  I'm sure my game will sell really well if I put in lots and lots of them.
 
And I haven't even started about custom bosses.  Ok, so its not possible for the devs to make custom bosses for everyone who requests one.  So they put out ghost and let users figure out how to make their own custom bosses.  Did it work?  Nope.  Fact that Moosh and Avataro saw they needed to make a newbie boss maker so that average quest makers could put new bosses into their quests should have sounded alarm bells about the viability of ghost selling to the average quest maker.  Imagine if their newbie boss editor was seamlessly integrated into Zelda Classic.  Even better would be if the devs made bosses that are well known from Nintendo titles like what Phantom Menace did with the original Zelda Classic which had all the bosses from the NES game built in.  Right now, if I want my own bosses, I'd firstly have to know about newbie boss and secondly I'd need to figure out how to integrate it into my quest.  A lot of work.  I might not mind it but the average-quest maker out there will and they will voice their disapproval by the dwindling amount of quests made every year.
 
This is the kind of work that should have been done over 20 years of development that would give ZC a fighting chance right now.  But the devs of the past rightly or wrongly chose to keep the game centered around NES Zelda features and scripting for anything else people wanted and the results of that decision should be plain and obvious for all to see.  Its going to take a lot of work to catch up on 20 years of development and I think its beyond what the devs of today can realistically do.  Its too much work to do and I would never ask anyone to do it.  Therefore the only viable alternative is to simply accept that the game will die and that there's nothing realistic you can do about it because of the time budget.
 
Accepting that your game is going to die before you start making it is a very tough thing to do.  But you HAVE to do it to keep your time budget in check.  I did no less for my Liberation of Hyrule: Insanity Unchained.  Dead on the very first day I started writing it and I knew it but it still got made.  When I told Yloh that MFH would not sell he didn't yell or curse at me, he simply accepted the truth and the reality and he's all the better for it.  ZC 2.55 could very well be a very good game and I'm sure that I'll enjoy using it along the small-knit community we have here.  But it won't sell to the masses for the reasons I outlined above.  Does that matter?  I don't think so.  Why bother selling if the buyer isn't paying hmm?
 
You can be rude at me all you like.  You can shoot the messenger all you like but you can't prevent what is coming.  And it is coming.  Its a pity that I couldn't convince you that you should simply accept reality but at least my conscience is clean.  I did everything I could.


#45 Anthus

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 12:26 AM

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with pretty much everything you said here. Literally everyone else in here has provided examples, and proof that the things you are saying about ZC "dying" are flat out wrong. The rest is all your personal opinion on scripting creating a higher bar of entry for newcomers, which in turn deters them entirely. This is also almost objectively false, since again, as others have said, ZC is far more usable out of the box than GM, Unity, Godot, or RPG Maker.

 

Just because it might take you six months to learn scripting does not mean it's like that for everyone. Just because you think scripting prevents people from getting into quest making does not mean it is true. We have been gaining even more members recently, and there's a handful of new people active on the discord making quests, and none of them have said, "Gee, I guess I'm out cause scripting is too hard and my quest will suck without it."

 

The current devs are also very reasonable about taking requests, and making the program easy for people to use without scripts, within reason. You are allowed to have your views, but it is errant and disrespectful to come in and say "Yeah, ZC is dying, no one cares about making quests anymore cause scripting pushes newbs away" then be confronted with tons of evidence to the contrary only to come back and say "Sorry, guys, actually I'm smarter than all of you, so I know I'm right."

 

I generally stay away from your "ZC is dying" rants, James, but right now, you are basically just repeating yourself, in spite of literally no one agreeing with you. You are taking what you present as fact, when it is not, and again, no one is agreeing with you. You may be successful in your job (which, good for you, honestly) but that doesn't mean your knowledge translates equally into the field of freeware fangames. Just my two cents. People are being civil, so there's no need to lock this topic, but at this point, I dunno what else people would have to say. :shrug:


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