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Tower of Darkness -- possible bug
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Author Topic: Tower of Darkness -- possible bug  (Read 8786 times)
shiantar
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« on: September 28, 2009, 10:08:49 pm »

*** Spoiler Alert ***

(for those having never started TOD before)

Hi Tom,

'Just got into playing POWS and I love the game. Also decided to pull up Tower of Darkness for the hell of it.

You weren't kidding about the magic and experience being plentiful. An orc from Natuk would've salivated at the prospect of such quick character advancement.

I was a little concerned when I was only allowed to save in a single slot (i.e. there's no Save function built into the game except the select-a-slot at the start) but as the game was straightforward I got comfortable with having my eggs in a single basket and kept on diving deeper through the levels. (I saw that you'd populated the first four or five slots yourself, but hadn't loaded them to have a look).

The slot machine I came across on Level 2 I thought was particularly funny -- I've nicknamed it the deranged Nazi eugenics slot machine (if that's offensive, I apologize -- but the machine would alternate between trying to make my characters stronger, healthier, and faster, and spontaneously zapping them or hitting them with poison gas). Unpredictable. I liked the altar on the level below more -- this I nicknamed the Richard Nixon U.S. heath plan altar -- expensive, but at least you'd get predictable results if you could afford it.

I've got a problem, though -- I managed to get down to Level 10 of the tower and found what I figured to be the room containing the object of the entire quest. Naturally, I saved first and *then* opened the door. Naturally, my guys got wiped out. I expected as much -- only a fool walks into a trap expecting an easy time of it.

But when I went back to reload the game, the save slot (in this case, the last slot, slot 9) was empty. I double-checked the save folder, and it looks like every save file aside from what was in the distribution was gone. No .SA9 files. My recycle bin was empty, so it wasn't a a Windows system call that deleted them -- they would've been wiped out by a routine that didn't use the recycle bin. All that progress lost.

And while I know you're otherwise occupied and that this is a back-burner project, maybe if you could look into this and put in the multislot save functionality for the next version (or at least post a warning about manually backing up the \Saves folder for this game). 'Would probably save some grief all around.

Nevertheless, I'll go play around at POWS for a bit and see where that takes me.
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Tom Proudfoot
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2009, 11:15:34 pm »

Actually, that is the intended behavior.  Tower of Darkness is a roguelike, and in that genre your one life is what you get.

Now, if you wanted to be a big cheater  Grin, you can make backup copies of your saves.... but that is sort of defeating the point of the game in my opinion.

It's been a while, so I'm not sure if you get much of a warning about this in the game.   Probably not, and I apologize for any confusion if that is the case.
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shiantar
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2009, 09:12:39 am »

It's alright -- I figured that as it's an unreleased test version, there were some bugs to be worked out, and there aren't any warranties (express or implied). One save slot I can live with -- after all, we have to make do with the consequences of letting Character X get his eye poked out.

I'm actually a programmer myself, after a fashion -- we did a whole lot of that in university. I don't use my B. Eng. in real life, though, so the furthest I've gotten is making text adventure engines from scratch.

So probably what I'll do from here on out is to back up the .SA# files to preserve the save slot (although, as I say, the game didn't disappear until I started messing around on Level 10, so heaven knows what wiped it).

Here's a question about the mechanics of the game, though -- is the SLOTS.DAT file responsible for determining which save slots are occupied or empty, or is this just to store the savegame names? I checked my SLOTS.DAT file and my savegame name is still in the last slot, although the file looks like it might have some stray data values even though there only appear to be 10 text fields (0-9).  It's possible it might be corrupt -- when I go into the game to load the savegame, it's flagged as 'empty'. Other than that, I can only imagine that the game checks for the existence of a .SA# file set and then overrides the field of SLOTS.DAT info if there's no savegame data to be found.

Why I ask is this: If I back up my .SA9 files and the SLOTS.DAT file disagrees with whether my game exists, will I still be able to load it?
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shiantar
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2009, 10:33:45 am »

As a follow-up, I've been replaying the game a little bit, and this time I got killed around Level 3. In this case, the .SA9 files were gone when I exited the game. No Level 10 required. Although I was able to replace the .SA9 files from a backup made ~ 1hr previously, and the game reloaded successfully.

So that clarifies things a bit, and at least now I've got a workaround -- is it the game's intended behavior to wipe the save slot completely when the party gets killed?
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SkeleTony
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2009, 01:35:21 pm »

Just to be clear because you seem to have not understood what Tom was saying; ToD is a ROGUELIKE. It is NOT a bug that the game erases your saved slot after you die. It is a defining feature of roguelike games(re: Nethack, Angband, ADoM etc.). In fact the TWO defining features of any real roguelike are randomized dungeons and 'perma-death'.
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shiantar
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2009, 03:52:23 pm »

I understood what was said, Tony. I asked in the first place only because how the game functioned didn't line up with the usual behavior of the other games using the Natuk family of game engines, and if it *was* a bug I figured I'd do my bit and report it.

I mean, I grasp the historical context of the Rogue-like genre and *why* they traditionally didn't have save functionality, but in this case, it seemed to deviate from what one would expect from the series given how the save functionality had functioned up to that point:

- Can I save my party after it's been created? Yes
- Can I save my game at any point in the game other than combat? Yes
- Can I exit the game right before my last character is killed and resume from the last save point? Yes
- Can I load the game right *after* my last character has been killed and resume from the last save point? No, at that point the game wipes out not only your game at that point, but also wipes out your entire game including what would've been saved in the three cases above.

Which, in my mind, kind of defeats the purpose of having a savegame slot at all. It makes the game more challenging, I agree, but I was struck by the contrast of how generous the savegame rules were up until the point when the game wiped out a day's constructive leisure -- at which point I thought I'd ask if it was supposed to be that way.

Maybe it's just me Smiley I grew up in the 1980s, and perhaps I'm used to more games with 'usual' save rules -- the first rogue-like I ever would've played was probably the 1984 DOS version of DND (you might've played it -- http://rancourt.tripod.com/default.htm) but thereafter it was Castle of the Winds and so forth.
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SkeleTony
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2009, 08:03:38 pm »

Again, ToD is right in line with most other roguelike games. In roguelikes you typically CAN save your game at any time. After character/party creation, outside of combat, etc. In a finished RL game(which ToD is not) you would usually not be allowed to exit combat and save the game(before the last character is killed) I think(but some games would allow this and 99% of them are NOT party-based anyway so it is not as much an issue). ToD was never meant to line up with the rest of Tom's games(in ways relevant to this topic anyway). It uses a modified engine tailored to roguelike conventions. Natuk and Nahlakh and POWS are NOT roguelikes by any stretch of the imagination.

I completely understand not enjoying the sub-genre or preferring traditional RPG methodology(I rarely play roguelikes myself anymore and spend most of my time with more 'standard' RPG fair) though.

Could be that I am somehow mis-reading your posts here or they are coming off differently than you intended but it just seemed you thought the game erasing your save after death was a bug of some sort so I was just trying to explain the reasoning behind Tom's explanation more clearly.
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shiantar
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« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2009, 07:59:44 am »

No, no -- you raised very valid points, Tony. If it's not a bug then it's not a bug. I was just struck by what I thought *might* be a bug.

Understanding how the game works now, I'm making the most of playing it as it was written, and enjoying it all the same. I've already done what Tom suggested (namely, *cheating* and backing up the save slot, if that can be called cheating. I call it insurance, but to each his own) and I'm catching up on some of the progress I'd unfortunately lost.

On a separate note, though, here's a question for Tom -- it looks like the algorithm for generating a new level (judging by the log file) is kinda brute-force and takes a bit of time to run. From one programmer to another, and if you were ever in a mood to consider finishing the game in prep for marketing, I'd be curious to see if I could optimize it a bit. The source code alone would probably be a pleasantly informative read.
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