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Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approximator

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Re: Questimator - An Excel-based difficulty approximator

Postby Count Mohawk » Wednesday December 16th, 2015 12:21pm

What do the following Quest maps have in common?
Image
Image
Image
Image
The answer, of course, is that all four maps were generated by the Questimator program! This feature is new to version 0.9.5, and the links in the first post have been updated accordingly. It can create maps up to 3x3 boards wide and tall, using any* of the maps currently available in HeroScribe.
*pending update to include more than just the basic board; all others are treated as modular atm. give it a day or two

A word of warning: Finding all the bugs in this program is like finding all the secret rooms in Donkey Kong Country. :chaoswarrior: So if you find that something doesn't work correctly, please comment with a screenshot of what went wrong. One non-critical bug I already know about is that sometimes the program puts two doors on top of each other, which generates a warning message in HeroScribe but does not interfere with the opening of the file.

Next up: Adding a room-contents randomizer/optimizer, similar in concept to Patroclus's Monsters Table Generator but able to optimize for a specific level of difficulty given a specific set of Heroes. Oh, and furniture too, I guess. Once those are in, the Questimator will be able to create full random maps entirely from scratch!


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby GimmeYerGold » Wednesday December 16th, 2015 12:34pm

Wow! This is excellent. I like that it makes the map, and places the monsters. It all looks very Zargon-made :)

Is there currently a feature that includes an empty starting room?


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby Count Mohawk » Wednesday December 16th, 2015 12:39pm

Not yet. The Spiral Stairway counts as furniture, so I'll work something out to generate it in a future update, along with the option to use the iron entrance / wooden exit doors. Good suggestion.


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby cornixt » Wednesday December 16th, 2015 1:00pm

It seems prone to adding multiple doors leading from the same room into the same hall. And I'm not sure how to deal with a secret door that has no wall to come from. Temporary blockage that gets removed when the secret door is revealed? Nice to have an effectively limitless number of quests, now we just need an auto quest story writer!


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby GimmeYerGold » Wednesday December 16th, 2015 1:03pm

In researching how to design better Quests for HQ, I remarked on how some of the more well-designed System Quests paid special attention to a nice sliding scale of discovery, difficulty, and downtime, and I stumbled across this article on the dungeon design of the first Zelda game:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1 ... level_.php

A few of the points noted in the article are also featured in the Quest Design Kit as well, for instance, the concept of "optional rooms," but overall it elaborates on how what is essentially a linear path can create the experience of open-ended free discovery, with the right design.


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby Count Mohawk » Wednesday December 16th, 2015 1:05pm

cornixt wrote:It seems prone to adding multiple doors leading from the same room into the same hall. And I'm not sure how to deal with a secret door that has no wall to come from.

As I'm sure you can guess, those aren't intended features. The secret door in the hallway is probably an easy fix; I just have to tell the program not to make doors leading from a corridor to another corridor. The multiple doors thing is a little more challenging; I'll have to come back to that later.


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby Anderas » Thursday December 17th, 2015 2:19am

I can't open it without failure. Oledb missing or something along the lines.
Then if I enter Hero lines, I get a message each line if I don't put a name or always the same. Couldn't you prefilled generic names to avoid the messages?
And yes, then it doesn't run. I assume that is connected to the missing oledb stuff. I will have to install that anyway so no issue for me. To avoid it once and forever, couldn't you add it to the exe somehow?
I must confess I like the excel version more, because I use excel for about everything. I tweaked your questimator so that it runs faster and now I am happy with it. Could you add the xml generator to it?

I played the customer here. If you want I can play the developer too: tell me how I can help you i'd try to find some time and help.


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby Count Mohawk » Thursday December 17th, 2015 10:59am

Thank you for the feedback. I can see that I will need to borrow my brother's computer to test everything on machines that aren't my own before I do any more updating for the VBA side.

As for Excel... I prefer Excel to VBA as well, actually, but I made the initial switch because not everyone has Excel (Daedalus was the user who pointed this out). The two missing functions from the Excel side are the XML importer and the XML exporter. I'm pretty sure I can catch up to where the VBA is so far within a couple of weeks, but first I need to figure out how to import XML files there. So far my tries have produced the error message "DTD is prohibited", despite having a working schema available in the HeroScribe files.

This project never seems to end! It would probably have been faster by now to just write the Quests I wanted to use it for manually, but I'm not about to give up now that I've gone this far.

As far as help goes... it'd be appreciated, I suppose, but I'd have to figure out how to divide the work up, since every new feature just builds on itself.


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby Anderas » Thursday December 17th, 2015 5:04pm

I understand the compatibility argument with the apple Backwoodmen for sure. :D


If I say Excel, normally I think 'there is VBA inside, everything you need'.

Yesterday evening I was dreaming all the time how I would do it. So many projects, so little time!

- take a look at Questimator. If there are prepared room lines, use them. otherwise generate them up to the preselected difficulty, with the preselected Monsters.
If there is nothing preselected, chose one monster theme at random and a difficulty around 15.

- set up a chain of rooms and sideways passages like in the great article about Zelda: between 5 and a maximum of 10 rooms on the mandatory path, plus 3 to 6 rooms branching off as cul de sac, totaling at 8 to 12 rooms for standard quests, leaving room for the dm too add some by himself . Maybe you have a slider or an input field for the total length of the quest.
- make every of these rooms an object
- the Room, Door and Square objects are difficult to define. Still thinking on how the datamodel would fit, be easy to use, and contain all options necessary... :D
- allocate the Questimator lines to the rooms. Allow sometimes that questimator add a sideways passage with monsters rated 4, plus a potion of healing.
- search the Heroquest Board for fitting places starting from a random room or entry point. Fitting is a room that contains at least monster x 2 squares. Stuff in some corridors if needed: resize the array of room objects in that case.
- modify the room objects so they get their position and size fitting to the board, or modify the board with an overlay. Don't use more than one or two overlays per Quest.
- search for good connection places in the planned course of the quest and place doors
- search for some shortcuts in relation to the main course and place secret doors and/or quest notes
-on the side ways, place some chosen furniture like treasure chests
- on the main course place some furniture that makes the room geometry more interesting, but take care that there is still monster x 2 open spaces left in the room
- place the questimator planned monsters in their rooms. Can we preplan traps in thé questimator lines?
- output everything.

Now I need time. I always need time. |_P


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Re: Questimator - An Excel and VBA-based difficulty approxim

Postby Anderas » Wednesday December 23rd, 2015 1:11pm

Ok, my Heroquest parser now takes everything from rectangles to freehand lines, as long as they follow the grid.

The not-yet published part also knows how to take these lines and understand where a room is, and which room is the neighbour room of one.

The only thing missing is diagonal lines, arcs and ellipses. How would you translate them to "fields" to be understood by questimator? (say: "Here i can place a monster" or not)? To be translated into "valid field" or not?


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