Monthly Archives: March 2011

Iteration 4 released

You can download it here . Iteration 4′s main focus is the new tutorials and tactical mode visual changes.

My goal for iteration 5 was to start on the player’s command ship. The ship where the player’s in game avatar resides, an old warship found amid the rocks. However while testing iteration 4 I decided that I will first work on better physics integration. Right now I’m using physics in a sort of a hybrid way. I’ll fully integrate physics to give the ships more weight and a more realistic feel. Also I’ve been thinking of adding a better user interface for adjusting the graphics options, I’m not sure how many of those that download my game change the graphics options to get the most out of the experience, so I’ll create a better interface for this instead of the basic Ogre 3D setup window that currently appears.

There will also be an increased focus on getting textured and better art assets into the game.

I’m excited about the future of this project.

Giving tactical mode some love

Tactical mode as it was looked a bit too cartoonish. My intent is for tactial mode to look “cool” yet “utilitarian” (read: no frills military look). I also wanted to distinguish tactical mode by having a different approach to light in it. I wanted everything to be clearly visible unlike the ship mode where light came from the sun. However when you turn off light then you lose a lot of the coolness and detail (from the shading). So I came upon an idea, turn on the light for the majoirty of the model, and turn off the light (in game dev terms when you turn off lighting you make an object fully visible) on the model’s wireframe. I also changed the background color to be much darker. The result looks much better in my opinion.

Tactical mode - before and after
Click to see full size banner add offer was kind enough to offer indies like myself the chance to display a banner on their site. I jumped on the opportunity and put together a non-animated banner in a few minutes and true to their word it was on display on their site for a week.

Banner on
Click to see full size.

It was quite a thrill for me to see it, but I immediately thought I could have made it an animated gif, made it better, etc. Everyday after it started appearing I checked how many visitors went to my site via the banner. It was about 10 per day, 50 in total (over the weekend had website issues and was down for a few days). I didn’t get any hellos from any of the visitors so I don’t know what they did once they came to the site (whether they downloaded the game etc). Quite honestly I was surprised at the number, I thought it would be lower because I know from my own experience I’m pretty well trained to ignore ads on sites.

Hopefuly one day I’ll be in a position where I can repay this kindness.

Budgets, art, etc

I added a textured base model from SolCommand’s website. Looking at model in game gave me ideas. I like how it looks and imagine everything else looking similar. So I am investigating the possibilty of paing for art. There are a few choices for “off the rack art” like: Turbosquid and 3DRT . Some of the off the rack art I think would fit, but there is glut of fighters and other small ships, and a lack of larget capital ships. Plus going down this route I would probably end up with a big mismash of dissimilar styled ships and varying texture resolutions. Still I’ll probably invest in a few models and keep an eye out for more.

I also communicated with an artist that advertised on some game development forums, the artist rates were far beyond what I’d be comfortable at this point, in the few hundred dollar range per day. I would either need someone who is far more into the hobby aspect, far hungrier, and/or just starting out. Basicaly someone in a similar position to mine.

Iteration 3.5 and a Twitter account

I wasn’t planning on releasing iteration 3.5, instead the plan was to release iteration 4 in about 2 weeks, however extended a very generous offer to show banner adds of indie projects for free on their site. I jumped on the offer and in hopes of the increased traffic I “finished” two new tutorials that I’ve been working on to ease players into the game. My plan is to ask gaming communities for feedback on how effective the tutorials are in the near future. There may be some gaps that I’m missing because I’m too close to the project. I hoped to ask my wife to run through them, but simply ran out of time this Sunday. She’s the perfect candidate since her gaming world involves Solitare and a week long obsession with Zuma years ago. If the tutorials teach her how to play the game then they’ll teach anybody (which is my goal).

Also in the vain idea that those same new visitors (and repeat guests) would be interested in following me on Twitter I joined up Follow me on Twitter. Quite honestly if you asked me before I started this project whether I would have a Twitter account I’d probably roll my eyes, but nowadays I definatly see a use for it to help me spread the word and communicate with those who may be interested in this project.

I hope you download iteration 3.5 and test out the new tutorials and let me know how they work out. The plan is for Iteration 4 to also include a combat basics tutorial.

Objectives and Tutorials

The basics of objectives are done, I can add either a “destroy this” objective or a “press this key” objective. There is a gui showing a list of current objectives and their descriptions. There is feedback to the player when an objective is completed and a new objective has been added. There is also a “pop up window” that stops the game until the player hits continue which will mostly be used in the keys tutorial (hit F2 to change to chase view etc etc) to highlight to the player the new action he/she is to take next. I’m pretty happy with what I have so far, but… doing this work I realize how far I have to go before I have enough tools programmed into the engine in regards to story mode, I’ll need more objective types (the more I have the bigger variety of missions I can create), game cut scenes, dialogs, triggers, special AI for special ships.. etc etc, a big list. Also I need to start thinking about where to store the tutorials, for iter 4 they may be stored in the C++ files thus stored in the .exe file itself, later on they really should be in an binary, XML or just plain text document for easy editing.

What is next is to write out the first tutorial, after that I will have to create new types of objectives for the tutorial detailing how to build ships, the tutorial that detils how to build stations, and how to take advantage of the tactical mode and script those tutorials as well.

Started work on a “Objective” and “Objective Manager” systems

Objective manager holds objectives, every once in a while (eg: every 1 second in game) objective manager will check whether objectives are completed then display a objective achieved message for the user then look for another objective in the sequence, if exists.

What’s neat is that so far this is pretty easy (thus a nice change to code), the challenge is to make this well thought out, but actual coding is fairly simple. Will have to soon consider how to store mission/objective text, so far I’ve been hard coding it into the C++ files, should really read these in using XML to make it more flexible.