Yaay Death and Stuff

So while it’s only 2 new tasks complete, there’s 2 more that are 80% there and others are planned out.

Here’s a recap of new stuff:

  • PCs and monsters now shoot and damage each other with functioning ranged combat!
  • PCs can die!
  • Monsters can die!
  • Monster spawner behavior is 90% there
  • PC equip-able items / attacks are close to being there.
  • New portraits are almost done.. then we’ll have 3 different PCs
  • Project title finally announced:

And Here’s a new Screenshot showing some of the things that you can see:

LOS Targeting

Minor but important progress. Holidays (and Skyrim) were not as conductive as hoped to progress.

Map entities (monsters and PCs) now scan for the nearest visible targets within their field of view and as within LOS on the level map.

Monsters now have a new behavior available on spawn which is to start stalking a Random PC.

The goal is to have several behaviors available for monsters to utilize what cna be mix and matched during levels.. (patrolling.. random walking, waiting,) and then have events and triggers switch them out asin-game events etc..

Next up.. either monster spawners or starting the prep work for combat mechanisms.

 

More Progress

Good progress.. A little slow.. but progress nonetheless.

PC icons (as seen below as the Tokens with Wizard faces on them) can now be selected, and told to move to proper spots on the map and assigned a facing location.

Also good progress on the whole monster spawner Behavior.  Still some thinking to be done on how to do some of the details but I must say it’s really nice to be making tangible progress again.

Third Time tis the Charm

Ok, needed a bit of a fresh mental break from typing and numbers for a day or two so I started the beginning of the large pile of character protraits that I’ll need to make (somewhere between 10 – 50)   That’s the joy of doing things as an indie developer.. I can put on whatever hat I want to today.  Granted at some point I’ll have to put on the businessperson hat and then it’ll not be so much of a joy.. and when time comes to put on that 400lb steel and barbed wire hat labelled accounting I’m sure it will be no fun at all.  But today… today I’m wearing a paint spattered cartoony beret.

Oh and I also got a large chunk of the UI implemented.

Looks a lot like yesterday’s post?  Well it should.. except this one works and lets you scroll the map etc etc.

 

Daily Progress update.

I know… updates two days in a row??!  What madness..

Manged to get A* following objects to automatically turn and adjust their facing while maintaing their portrait’s orientation.   Also increased the basic map tile size by one so things aren’t as cramped.  The remainder of the evening was spend working on the following Mocup UI:

As you can tell I’m targeting a baseline 1280×768 resolution.  (obviously.. doesn’t everyone count the pixels on every image they see?)  The different thing is that designing for widescreen (6:9 / 6:10) and then making it work in old school 4×5 instead of doing it the other way around, lets you make some design decisions that you usually probably wouldn’t do.   With Widescreen you can essentially forgo the old L shaped UI frame and just settle for a thicker | shaped sidebar.. and still have plenty room left over.

I think we’ll be seeing more and more of this as the old 4×5 proportion fades into obsolescence. ..

The Fall Season!

Whoa.. after what feels like an absolutely morale crushing infernal heat wave that has more or less sapped all willpower for the last several months… it’s time to get the show back on the road.

Here’s a peak at what’s been worked on.  More details as soon as I get more gameplay things put in.  And after a break to Javaland  it’s back to good ol TGB.  The upside is that things make so much more sense now.   Many more thoughts on the matter later on.

Milestones

Pardon me while I ramble..   if you get bored you can pop over to the map editor and play around and let me know how it performs for you (IE users, don’t bother), and saving is disabled.   This is essentially me trying to externalize the process of development that seems to work for me.

It’s easy to get lost, sidetracked, disillusioned, or just plain worn out when embarking on a massive self guided project.

Even when you feel like you can just keep working on a project forever because you have so many ideas you risk it all if you don’t know what the final product is going to be.  For example, the megahit Minecraft was in development for over a year and sold close to a million copies before the guys at Mojang finally sat down and decided what they were actually making.   I’d wager if it hadn’t been for it going viral, it would have wound up just another of the tons of  half finished abandoned indie projects that litter the web because they didn’t know what they were making.

On the other extreme, there are just as many abandoned overdesigned, super perfectly detailed design documents for games that will never be created, scattered all over the internet as well.  Potential games that were literally designed to death, go dig around on sourceforge and you’ll find hundreds of em in ‘planning’.

So what’s an indie developer to do?

Frankly, I’m not sure.  I know what seems to work for me  (so far), and that’s self imposed milestones.

Now let me clarify a bit.  I’m not talking about your usual development project, spec sheet loaded, time and budget allocated, cut your funding if  you don’t make it milestone.  That’s for a different type of development, not a creative endeavor.  It has it’s place, but not here.

What kind of milestones?

I’m talking more of a softer, moldable, flexible type of milestone.  You take one, you work on it, do whatever you want withing the parameters specified, and when you’re done you have real tangible progress.  Then you pick another one that mirrors what you’re in the mood for.    That’s key for me.   When I get to the point in a project where I don’t have a choice in what I need to do next and don’t want to do it , I get distracted. (see the Mutant Sheep Eat the Earth!, game… it’s pretty much stalled because I’ve worked myself into a corner where there’s nothing exiting left and I’ve gotten totally de-motivated  (psst it’s not dead.. just hibernating in my subconscious.. I have plans percolating.))

For example, by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have wrapped up my latest milestone for BSDDoD! which was ‘Build a web based editor to let me edit game elements and export them into a flatfile for use in the game in 20 days.’

Flexible task definition

That’s it for the definition of it.  I didn’t have any other notes or plans other than I knew the map size has to be 20×20 due to memory constraints of the final 10×10 grid of 20×20 maps that the game will happen in.  I could go as feature rich and as crazy as I wanted to, but I always kept a mental track of trying to hit the date or at least get as close as I possibly can.   I didn’t even know what I was going to write it in (jquery, cakephp and custom javascript if you’re interested, it almost wound up a desktop based Python application or java applet)  I didn’t pre-plan features other than the map size.  This let me actually create and explore while working on it.

I really try no to make too many choices that will force me to wind up in a position of having to determine things for future milestones.  Now of course it’s inevitable that there will be some overlap, but striving to make each milestone into it’s own creative endeavor keeps me interested in the long run.

Know how long you can stay focuse… ooh look shiny!

I know how long my attention span is, and how long I can proceed with certain types of tasks before getting bored and I make the milestones accordingly, and I try to have a couple of milestone choices available to choose from, so if I’m in the mood for more coding I can do that, or if I need a break and switch to art asset creation, planning, music etc those options are available for me.

So my next choices for BSDDoD! milestones are:

  • Coding, Import map data and generate levels in the Torque Game Builder engine that alpha 4 was working in, 7 days
  • Art, Create Door, wizard (basic wand and arm) and basic creeper art assets, 14 days.
  • Design, come up with different enemies and concept art and various powerups available in the witch’s shop, 14 days.

Time is relative

Now you’ll notice that my ‘days’ have very very very little relevance to normal time, this comes with having a 1 year old, and a fulltime job, an art site and business to help launch  and some awesome swiftthought.com development work that all take priority.

That’s ok.  I’m fully aware that this 6 month project is already in it’s second year and I’m ok with that.

I can see progress being made.

I can see what  I need to do, to get there.

I still have to make up how to do it.

I can see the milestones all the way to the end.

I have no idea of  what all the things I will have created by the time I get there will look like.

That’s damn exciting.

Back To Torque

It has been a few months of crazy development environment ping-pong around here, but things are beginning to settle down.

Back in November the guys over at GarageGames.com announced they were shuttering the InstantAction team and that generally the outlook for all of Torque seemed really bleak.

So with the future of my development tools up in the air I did some research and started switching over to DarkBasicPro and then in tandem, the day job necessitated a crash course in Java.. which lead me to Slick2d for Java, which I’ve also done some poking around in now.

The problem is that they both (Slick and DarkBasic) seem to magnify the deficiencies of the other.

DarkBasicPro is EASY, and Fast to get prototypes up and running in. It’s also Basic, that means no objects, no event handlers, and scoping variables is fast and loose, ex arrays are always Globals.  And no garbage collection, premade main loop or GUI tools, so you’ve got to write that yourself.  However the community is FULL of snippets and other pieces of code so you can cobble together a nice utility library in a couple of days.  Oh and it supports 3d and shaders etc.. for that reason I may come back some day.

Slick2d, on the other hand, is 100% object driven, with all sorts of good things that come with that.  Tightly scoped variables and inheritance etc etc also make it really powerful and clean to code in.  It is, however, not easy or fast to throw together a prototype.  Especially since there isn’t much of documentation other than the auto-generated API docs.  Throw in some of Java’s memory limits and stuff and it gets pretty cumbersome fast. It’s got a nice state-based game core and main loop that works really well… once you find it.

I wasted too much time on both of those only to realize that I miss Torque Game Builder.  It’s not perfect, but it is very much a nice place between the two.

So, I’m really happy for the guys at GarageGames.com when they announced they’re Back! And T2D is still alive and kicking.

Now it is time to install the latest version, get tweaking on the Blood Soaked Deadly Dungeons of Doom! and get this whole thing back on track!

I’m still doing the whole Java Android development stuff, and that’s been making good progress as well.  Hope to have more details and maybe a screenshot or two by the end of the month. *cross fingers*

Oh and Wenderflonia is going to be getting a minor facelift and its own Online Shop by Mid Feb and a couple more freelance projects should be wrapping up and I hope to be able to refocus my energies a bit more on development.

And to wrap it up I’m going to try and end every post from here on out with….

What I’m Playing:

  • Minecraft – indie game, sandbox phenomenon.  If you ever wanted to play with legos, build anything, explore a world this is the game for it.  We’re documenting our latest travels here http://blocklandtravels.tumblr.com/
  • SpaceChem – puzzle game of the year  all time.  It’s fiendish and guides you into an extensive set and before you  know it you’re inventing solutions like this (my you tube video of a solution) The stats comparison lets you know how you stack up to everyone else and is absolutely addictive to optimize your solutions.

A week of dubious progress

Well ok so I’ve got a valid excuse for not getting a whole lot done over the last week.

However, I did manage to get the whole loading, saving, entry and displaying of high scores implemented.

 So.. that’s a plus.  Still a couple bugs to work out but 90% there.  Next up … hmm.. not exactly sure.. maybe I should iron out some details so I can see what I need to do before calling it Finished.

03/03/2009

Well, some development progress.

The in-game map now reflects a proper mow branching randomly generated maze based on Prim’s Algorithm, the trickiest bit was adapting it to do without proper arrays Toquescript is a bit funny about that. After that, I created a basic start for a tileset etc etc and got it rendering properly in the engine.

Alpha 3 screenshot 001
Alpha 3 screenshot, Doors!

Tonight I got the tilesets to properly interpret the door and trigger tiles and render the proper animated tiles for them (after creating said animations of course). Spent a little time trying to figure out why shooting seems to crash the game on the tile based level but didn’t get much beyond making it not crash.. but not showing the shots either..

Alpha 3 screenshot 001

So that’s the next step, and after that activating the triggers and shutting the doors to indicate the start of a wave of enemies.

On the webby front, some minor tweaks galore to the theme with some more changes planned. Over the weekend I put up the site www.wenderflonia.com for GFW and she’s putting it to great use already.

Mapmaking tools

Ok so pretty good weekend.  I decided to have the main game dungeon created from larger macro tiles. so instead of having to come up with a super complex dungeon generator, all I’ll need to do is to have an algorithem that just connects the larger tiles together.  

So Friday and Saturday morning I sat down and wrote this

It’s essentially a tile based map editor.  It doesn’t have any real fun features such as checking the validity of the map or verifying that the only open tiles on the outer edge are by the designated exit area.  

Spent some time Sunday getting the data exported from the page into the Torque Game Builder engine, which wasn’t hard at all.  So the game now can render macro tiles.  Problem is that the collisions don’t seem to be working properly.. so that’s the next task.