This article is VERY long. Use CTRL+F to find what you want.
Stick Ranger, unlike Powder Game, currently doesn't have much in the way of features to let fans and players create anything for it. This is an idea for a tool ha55ii could possibly make to give fans an outlet for their creativity around Stick Ranger. Players (henceforth "map creators" unless indeed the ones playing others' maps for their own fun, not actually the ones creating the maps in question) will be confined to the same classes as Stick Ranger, however will be able to design their own weapons for the classes (though the process will typically be quite complicated, albeit not nearly as complicated as directly doing the actual programming).
Map creators would be able to determine the number of stages, branching points (a stage leading into two more ahead of it) and where stages converge (like both Hill Country 3 and Grassland 7 leading to Castle Gate). Any one stage may have at most two stages leading into it and likewise may lead into two stages ahead of itself. A fan-made adventure's final stage would be determined by which stage has the longest path towards it.
For example, we have three branches. One branch of 7 stages, a short branch of 3 and a longer branch of 13. The last two converge at the end in another stage. Although the last stage of the branch of 7 requires no less than 7 stages to be beaten regardless, the end of the 13 stage branch would be the final stage, even though it can also be reached through a much shorter route, simply because it can potentially take 13 stages to reach.
Unfortunately there would probably be no way for the map creator to create a proper drawing for the "World Map" screen. The stages would simply be laid out in a predetermined pattern based on how the stages connect to each other within a side-scrolling black void.
The map creator may decide:
- How many enemy slots the stage has (between 1 and 5) and how many screens the stage has before it's "BOSS" screen (between 1 and 9)
- How many of the enemies belonging to each slot show up on each screen (between 0 and 100, up to a max population of 100 total from all slots per screen)
- Spawn point positioning for each enemy slot on each screen (two values between 0 and 63, the first being lower than the second. Two low values (ex. 2-15) will cause the enemies to spawn close to the left of the screen (front side), two high values (ex. 45-60) will cause the enemies to spawn close to the right of the screen (back side), two medium values (ex. 20-30) will cause the enemies to spawn around the middle of the screen, and a low value followed by a high value (ex. 5-58) will cause the enemies to spawn pretty much all over the screen. Enemies will always spawn a little bit above a random surface part of the terrain at whatever horizontal pixel they spawn at whether they're land, flying, or aquatic.
For each enemy slot, the map creator can decide:
- Which Head the enemy should have
- What Species the enemy should be
- Whether the enemy should be basic or aquatic (an aquatic enemy will not spawn unless there is water within it's designated range)
- The hexadecimal color of the enemy (#FFFFFF for white, #444444 for a really dark grey, etc.)
- The size of the enemy (x1 for normal size through to x9 for as big as the Big Box Snakes)
- The weaknesses and resistances of each enemy and to what extent their weaknesses and resistances go
- How much LP the enemy has
- The enemies' "shy" range (at which point they start moving away from characters) and the enemies "aggressive" range (at which point they notice and start moving towards (each between 1 and 512. If shy range is higher than aggressive range than the enemy will never attempt to move toward the characters)
- What attack(s) the enemy uses (as in the map creator can design the attack themselves as explained further in the "Weapons + Attacks" section, though uses that value (attack speed consistency?) between 1 and 1000 where max AGI would otherwise go when designing the attack for the enemies and not the player's own characters), up to two attacks per enemy
- How much Gold the enemy drops
- How much EXP the enemy gives out
- What Level the enemy is
- What Items the enemy can drop (and with what chance, ex. "r=1000"=0.1%, "r=2"=50%)
The map creator can designate a stage to be a "shop" stage if they so choose to. If they choose to do so, they must choose from the following types:
- Weapons shop (the map creator decides what weapons are available in each one, though the average weapon level in each shop must be higher than in any previous weapon shops that took less max possible stages to reach).
- Compo shop (the map creator decides what compos are available in each one, though the average compo level in each shop must be either equivalent to or higher than in any previous compo shops that took less max possible stages to reach).
- SP reset shop (like the Forget Tree) (only 1 allowed per map)
- Class change shop (allows a member of the party with no equipped weapon to change classes for a price decided by the map creator) (only 1 allowed per map)
A shop stage will always use the same background imagery and button locations as the Town, Village, Resort, and Island do. No special background imagery designs like the Forget Tree has may be used. However, the tileset may be changed if the map creator desires, as with any other stage.
The tileset used and landscape used must be decided for each individual screen including the BOSS screen.
Weapons + Attacks
The map creator is the one that has to make the weapons for each class, including starting weapons. Only starting weapons absolutely must be made; beyond this, it is completely up to the map creator how to distribute and balance weapons as long as they can get each class through the testing phase before they upload the map.
There are some minor differences between making a weapon for the player and an attack for an enemy. Player weapons have a max AGI whereas enemy attacks have a consistency value between 1 and 1000.
Making weapons and attacks is made much easier through this tool than through direct coding and programming, however it is still easily the most complicated part. The map creator must decide all of the following:
- What the max AT is (cannot be set lower than min AT)
- What the min AT is (cannot be set higher than max AT)
- What the max AGI is (cannot be set lower than min AGI) (player weapons only)
- What the min AGI is (cannot be set higher than the max AGI on a player weapon)
- What the attack speed consistency is (a value between 1 and 1000) (enemy attacks only)
- If it should be a single projectile attack, a number-of-bullets based multiple projectile attack (enables Bullet's Card unless base count is still only 1), or a one-every-x-amount-of-frames-for-x-amount-of-frames based multiple projectile attack (disables Bullet's Card)
- What the difference in angle between projectiles in the same shot can be (two values between 0 and 359)
- What the attack's homing range should be (0 won't home, anything higher will)
- What the attack's launch angle should be (two values between 0 and 359)
- What the attack's launch velocity should be in pixels per frame (how many pixels it should be traveling per frame when it first launches)
- What the attack's friction value should be (can be 0, a positive number (slows it down as it moves), or a negative number (speeds it up as it moves)) (number relates to pixels per frame)
- What the attack's friction effect speed is (how many frames it takes between each application of the attack's friction value to it's current speed)
- What the attacks gravity value is (I'll add details later 'cause I can't logically determine what makes the best candidate for the type of value that affects gravity in the real game with what I currently know right now)
- Which of the 6 types the attack is
- (If Fire) Which of the 4 sub-types of Fire it is (Blast (damages only once on impact (like "Explosion" or Red Roundhead Walker)), Burn (lower dps (like Orange Boss Smiley Wheel)), Scorch (normal dps (like Submarine Shrine Boss)), or Incinerate (higher dps (like Orange Box Cactus and Orange Boss Roundhead Walker)))
- (If Poison) What the effect time is (in frames)
- (If Ice) What the Slow % is (cannot be higher than 100%)
- (If Freeze) What the freeze time is (in frames)
- How long the projectile lasts for in frames (particularly important for target-piercing Fire attacks)
- How long the delay between launching and being able to hit any (enemies/players) is in frames (if equal to or greater than the amount of time that the projectile lasts, then the projectile cannot ever hit anything aside from possibly terrain)
- If the projectile has residue (requires another attack made altogether except without this option if checked "yes"), if "yes", if it's on impact or how many frames between creations of residue
- Where the attack spawns (center of caster, within set range above terrain around caster, certain range above target... more to come in later versions)
- The attack image used
- The color of the attack (for example, "#FFAA33")
- The size of the attack in pixels (for example, "5x10")
- If the attack pierces terrain
- If the attack slides on terrain
- If the attack reflects off of terrain
- If the attack splashes (deals damage to more than one target if it lands on more than one target (particularly important detail for fire attacks))
The map creator may alter:
- The amount of starting LP at level 1, (ex. 100 or 25 instead of 50)
- The amount that each stat between STR DEX and MAG increases LP by for each class (SP invested directly into LP increases LP by the sum of all 3 just a little unlike the original Stick Ranger as to prevent a map creator from making any stat provide more LP than LP itself),
- The LP multiplier for each classes' VS Mode LP,
- What FP multiples divide the different Ranks (map creators can try to think of what they plan for the highest level weapons and compos to be, and what they plan for the highest attainable level to be. Then they can think of what the max FP that would result in would be, and divide that by 10 for the multiples of FP needed for each Rank barrier),
- And how much each SP in a stat increases the classes corresponding parameters (for example, switching the Boxer to get a straight up +2-2 AT for every point in STR, or maybe Min and Max AT + 1/4 instead).
These things are practically part of the skeleton, the framework, of Stick Ranger, and therefore cannot be altered by the map creator:
- Rank 1 will always just use raw class LP multipliers, and each Rank higher will multiply Rank 1 LP (Rank 2 LP = Rank 1 LP*2, Rank 5 LP = Rank 1 LP*5, Rank S LP = Rank 1 LP*10).
- The drop rate for ONIGIRI at 20%, and the drop rate for gold at 33.33%.
- What stat increases what parameters for each class (no giving the Sniper extra knockback instead of extra range with it's STR stat, for example).
This can allow the map creator to put the stickmen in the same league as an individual monster around their level, or whatever other gimmick they may want to try with the balancing. All without worry of ruining the framework that makes the game engine what it is.
The map creator may choose which tileset to use. Tilesets both from Stick Ranger and from Irritation Stickman are available for the map creator's use. When creating a landscape from scratch (a single irremovable layer of 2x2 tiles at the very bottom of the landscape), the map creator's primary tool is a 2x2 tile brush to paint where they would like there to be land using the left click. The right click removes the last stroke made. The map creator cannot create a piece of land only 1 tile away from another piece of land, cannot make any piece of land only 1 tile thick or wide, and also cannot make a sealed overhang (looking like an upside-down "L" facing either way) as this could easily force use of ranged characters with terrain-piercing weapons (which would suck for an all-melee team), or worse yet could potentially trap the map creator later during play testing. There is a tool to fill an area with water, with which the map creator clicks and holds an empty space tile above a land tile. Water will fill the area according to the following rules:
- Water will rise to the same level as the cursor, or the nearest place below the cursor that doesn't break any of the other rules
- Water cannot have it's surface broken by a piece of land coming down on it, unless said piece of land goes at least two tiles below the surface
- Any section of Water must have a level surface
- Water will end at the pieces of land next to it that are walling it in
The map creator must make the landscape at least 58 tiles long, however can choose to make it longer. A 58-tile long landscape results in a preset layout for a screen, whereas any landscape longer than 58 tiles will cause the game to pick a random 58-tile-long section of it every time the screen it's used for loads during play-testing.
The map creator may use any base image from the compo items in the real game and decide it's hexadecimal color. (For the base images of Cards, only the color of the drawing on the Card will be changed). From there, the map creator must decide what effect(s) (up to (Ivan247 please help me with the number of effects the original SR code would theoretically allow one compo item to have (Hank you stay focused on the other things you're doing for now, unless of course you're losing focus on those things and thinking about this a lot >;P (; ))) the item will have from the following:
- (LP/STR/DEX/MAG) +x(%)
- (LP/STR/DEX/MAG) -x% (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- Block rate x%
- Defense +x
- Defense -x (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- AT +x-y
- AT -x-y (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo, cannot reduce max AT below min AT, cannot reduce min AT below 0)
- AT +x%
- AT -x% (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo, cannot be higher than 100)
- Magical Defense x%
- (Type) damage received x% (lower than 0 heal instead (cannot go below -10%), lower than 100 is good, 100 pointless, higher than 100 use as drawback on otherwise awesome compo)
- Add x(%/-y) (type) damage (can only equip to weapons that match type requirement)
- Add x(%) Poison Length (can only equip to weapons of type Poison)
- Add x(%) Fire Length (can only equip to weapons of type Fire)
- Add x% Cold Effect (can only equip to weapons of type Ice)
- +x(%) Freeze length (can only equip to weapons of type Freeze)
- -x% Limit AGI
- +x% Limit AGI (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- +x(%) Sword Length (can only equip to Swords)
- +x(%) Length (cannot equip to Gloves, Swords, and Whips)
- -x% Length (cannot equip to Gloves, Swords, and Whips) (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- x% chance of penetrate (can only equip to Bows, Orbs, or Guns)
- +x guide length (can only equip to Bows, Orbs, or Guns)
- +x(%) bullet (can only equip to any weapon that fires more than one projectile)
- x% chance of Explosion damage (adds splash to primary projectiles that don't already have it)
- x% chance of AT+x%
- x% chance of AT-x% (cannot be higher than 100%, use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- +x% Attack range (can only equip to Gloves and Whips)
- x% chance of Knockback x (cannot equip to Swords, Staves, or Rings)
- x% chance of Reflection (cannot equip to Gloves, Swords, or Staves)
- Heal to attack each +x (LP healed under different circumstances depending on class)
- Hurts to attack each -x (LP lost under different circumstances depending on class, use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- Ring +x (can only equip to Rings)
- x% LP recovery per damage
- x% chance of ONIGIRI drop per hit (residue won't trigger it)
- x% chance of GOLD drop per hit (gold drop amount matches total damage dealt by hit including splash (residue won't trigger it))
- Decrease (Poison/Slow/Freeze) effect time by x(%)
- Increase (Poison/Slow/Freeze) effect time by x(%) (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- +x% drop rate
- -x% drop rate (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- +x% chance of onigiri drop
- -x% chance of onigiri drop (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- +x% gold UP
- -x% gold DOWN (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- +x% EXP UP
- -x% EXP DOWN (use as a drawback on an otherwise awesome compo)
- x% (Ice/Poison/Freeze) Invalid
- x% enemy dies (attack) (must make an attack to go with it)
Every x and y is a value that the map creator can choose. Any effect listed that would work on a per-frame basis, input the value in frames. It will display as "x(.x(x))s" during play-testing.
Aside from limitations that are set by the coding of each effect, the map creator may also choose to further limit which classes may equip the compo.
Once a map creator feels like they have done enough work on their map for the time being, they may save their map with the "Get" function to copy it into a word processing program document as long as they're logged in to their Dan-Ball account. To resume work on a map not currently loaded in the browser's cookies, the map creator may paste their map's data into the text input box and click "Set".
Whenever a map creator wants to see how playable their map is and how powerful any attacks are (enemy attacks and player weapons), they may enter testing mode with one of the buttons on the screen and select which class to test. Before a map may be uploaded for the first time, all stages currently on it must be beaten 8 times over; once for every class in the game. Each of these 8 teams are made of 4 of just one class, each team representing a different class. This is to ensure that no matter what team a player may potentially choose, they never get stuck simply because a class they chose was bad for one of the mandatory stages or they didn't have a particular class represented on their team. (Players getting stuck due to bad build decisions on their part is just plain lack of skill on their part. Otherwise basically somewhat of an anti-trolling device).
For updating an already uploaded but since improved on and or added to map, while going through the entire process again is typically not needed, any classes that had a weapon of theirs nerfed will need to have their representative team go through all stages including and after the stage at which said weakened weapon is first dropped. Nerfing a compo requires all class teams capable of equipping it to go through all stages including and after the stage in which the compo is first dropped. Increasing any stats of even just one enemy in a stage even just slightly will cause the stage to require re-testing. However, beyond this, the map creator may generate items from anywhere behind the area in need of (re-)testing at will to add to the team's inventory. The team that the map creator is testing is typically automatically raised to the max level attainable from grinding the stage immediately behind the first stage in need of (re-)testing to make things easier and take less time on the map creator's part. Newly-added stages will always require testing. However newly-added weapons and compos, regardless of which stage they're set to drop in, will never cause any stages to require re-testing. Nerfing them at a later time may cause stages to require re-testing, however.
The map creator can switch the setting that normally raises them to maximum level to instead set them to the minimum possible level from taking the least-EXP BOSS screen-only route to test if players can possibly successfully tackle a minimum-level challenge on their map if they so choose to. If this option is triggered, then the map creator may choose the 9th option of individually choosing what class each of the four team members should be for the low-level testing. Successfully clearing minimum-level tests will a built team alert any "Stick Rangers" (see final point of the "Giving Feedback" section) who view the map that it's possible to minimum-level run it with a properly-chosen team, whereas doing the same with a preset-class team will alert "Stick Rangers" that it's possible to minimum-level run the map with 4 of that class.
During testing, there will be a 128x384 area directly below the play area (which itself is 512x384) with navigable controls to edit:
- The heads of enemies that appear in the current stage
- The species of enemies that appear in the current stage
- The attacks of enemies that appear in the current stage
- The LP of enemies that appear in the current stage
- The shy and aggressive ranges of enemies that appear in the current stage
- The number of enemy slots (max 5) that the stage has
- The stats of any weapons and compos that the testing team currently has equipped
- The landscape and tileset of each screen in the current stage
- The weather effects present throughout the stage (nothing, fog, snow, heat, or darkness)
- The inventory, equipment, SP distribution, and level of the team (team level only either to the extent that grinding in areas behind no longer in need of testing would allow with time or to a lower level than before (resets SP distribution if team level lowered))
On the fly as desired.
The game will pause automatically whenever the cursor enters the editing area. Should the map creator wish to set everything back the way that it was, there will be a button for that which will bring up a confirmation window before doing so. If nothing is changed in the end, the game will simply resume as normal after the "NAH" button is clicked. If even the slightest thing is changed, then the team will be brought back to the start of the first screen of the stage upon resuming after the "DONE" button is clicked and a confirmation window is cleared.
The map creator's test teams will never be saved automatically; the map creator must use a manual "SAVE" button that appears only on the world map during testing. This is to make some things easier for the map creator if used correctly, for example if they want to keep one team just at the area that they're absolutely that they're done editing all stages, weapons, and compos in and behind of.
Team data slots may be cleared at any time by the map creator first pressing the "DELETE" button below all twenty teams to highlight it, clicking on the team to be cleared, and then confirming twice over that they wish to delete the team. They must repeat the process to delete a second team.
Uploading + Updating
Once a map creator has successfully cleared all testing requirements for their map, the "REQUIRE" button (which opens a window listing stages that require testing when clicked, or a message saying to actually change something first) will turn into the "UPLOAD" button if it's a map which hasn't had a previous version uploaded, or the "UPDATE" button if it's a map which has had a previous version uploaded. The map creator may (re)name their map at this point before finishing the process of uploading or updating if the map has yet to leave beta (by going through it's 10th upload to bring it to it's ver2.0).
Playing Other's Maps + Giving Feedback
A player can view maps that other players have uploaded and play said maps themselves, however they cannot edit somebody elses' map nor get another's map data; a player may only get the data for the team that they use on a creator's map from the "Get" function. That team data will only "Set" on that particular map and cannot be used on any other maps. This is to prevent a player from outright stealing a map creator's map, even if the purpose is to build on it more themselves. (Having your hard work stolen by someone else would be irritating as all ♥♥♥♥, yeah)?
During play, the 128x384 area that would have edit-on-the-fly controls for a map creator will instead have feedback buttons relating to the current elements of play. If the player is has only just left a stage, the player will be able to rate the difficulty level of each enemy in it from 1 through to 9; 1 is so easy it might as well a major insult to the player's skills, 9 is so hard that the player is wondering how the ever-living hell the map creator ever even beat it in testing, 5 is just the right amount of difficulty to be really fun. If the player is on a screen within a stage, the player may rate the difficulty level of that particular screen between 1 and 9. If the player has double-clicked an inventory space, that space will get a red outline and the player will be able to rate the item there between 1 and 9 where 1 is a throw-away useless item, 9 is an outright broken item that completely ruins the fun of the game, and 5 is plain awesome without quite being broken. Since that also indicates the player's feelings about encountering a team with that item in the particular map's VS Mode, there should be minimal risk of any players giving outright broken items a 5 instead of a 9.
When providing feedback for the map creator, players should keep several things in mind:
- If they feel like a stage is 6- or 7-star compared to other stages in the area, but turns out to be the end of a very out-of-the-way branch, it is probably meant to be an optional stage or outright optional megaboss. Such a stage should still get a 5-star rating unless it's the high-end of the normal 8-star range or even flat-out 9-star compared to what's normal for the area. Even then, it should only get a 6- or 7-star rating unless it's truly got balancing problems even for what an optional area should be, in which case a player may indeed give it a 8- or 9-star rating.
- If an item seems to be overpowered at first glance when compared to items that they've seen in other maps, remember to check it up against other items within the map and see how long it takes to take down enemies within the rough area it's found in. There may be slightly different enemy LP to player AT balancing from map to map. So the player should only declare an item 6-star or higher if even by the means of the particular map in question it's overpowered. The reverse is true for items that look underwhelming at first glance, especially if it's a weapon that potentially has multiple bullets for either the primary or secondary AT or a compo that gives a seemingly rather minor boost in maps where pretty much all compos look a little lame compared to the ones in other maps.
- If an overpowered weapon or compo is dropped by a powerful optional boss with a very low drop rate, it is still overpowered. Overpowered is never fun for long whether it's normal play or worse yet VS Mode, and it doesn't matter if it was hard to get. Just look at the Sniper's Indra Arrow from the original Stick Ranger. Yes, it's powerful to a greater extent than any of the Sniper's other weapons, yet it's not quite overpowered either. If the map creator wishes to make a powerful optional enemy drop a powerful weapon or compo, then that is the general effect that the map creator should probably try to go for.
- Players should ALWAYS rate what they feel that the element that they're rating should be rated. Players should never rate based on what friends say or what they suspect others would probably rate it, even if they're aware that their skill level is different from the average skill level. There is a system that keeps track of each individuals' votes compared to the votes that the rest of the crowd gives to sort players into 3 rough groups; "casual players" (whom rate more powerful items with lower stars and weaker enemies with higher stars), "average players" (the group whose votes are the closest to the actual average), and "Stick Rangers" (whom rate less powerful items with more stars and more threatening enemies with less stars). The map creator will see what each of the three demographics think of each element within their map, and choose a target demographic (probably the same demographic that they themselves belong to when playing maps since they have to play their own maps plenty while testing them). The number of rough groups may change once the real deal is up if there are evident divides within one of the groups.
After a map has been uploaded, players of the map will provide feedback. On the viewing screen of the maps, potential players will see the normal 5-star rating system; in-game feedback including a 6-star rating of an element of the map will count as a 4-star vote to the 5-star system, in-game feedback including a 7-star rating will count as a 3-star vote to the 5-star system, 8=2, 9=1. So the map creator will want to try their best to get every element of their map(s) as close to a true 5-star rating as possible, since both 1 ratings and 9 ratings are bad for drawing in more players.
If the map creator sees that a stage as a whole is getting about a 4 rating on average, then they should probably buff the enemies on that stage just slightly; whereas a rating as low as 1 would indicate need for some major buffing. The reverse is true as well; if a stage is getting 6-star ratings, slight nerfs may be needed; whereas a rating as high as 9 indicates that the enemies are way too gloriously hard and need their strength cut down by maybe about half.
What Would You Do?
After looking at this idea, what do you think you would try to make with it if it were to become reality? Post a link to your user page below with your signature to indicate who you are and when you first linked to what you would do:
ha55ii - Making Stick Ranger so that anyone else could ever come up with any
plans ideas for it's future
RadiantDarkBlaze - Idea creation, logical thinking and creative application of knowledge, doing all of the actual idea contributions so far
Ivan247 - Digging through Stick Ranger's code to provide RDB with more knowledge (which RDB is very grateful for)
DMGunmaster DMSwordmaster - Alerting readers that this page is one hell of a long read with that "long page" template up top
Fire InThe Hole - Moral support for RDB and agreeing to help with whatever he can
HankGuideDude - Basically same as Fire but with coding skillz and a busier schedule due to having more on his table