Monthly Archives: May 2012

Happenings and Iteration 12

Got most of the “issue commands to individual turrets” done in Tactical mode. I always wanted the player to have control over individual turrets – to allow a scenario where the player might tell 2 turrets to attack an enemy to the right and 2 to attack an enemy to the left – or whatever combination of turrets and enemies based on the actual battle scenario. I think this gives an added layer of control and strenghtens the RTS game play. So now when the player selects a ship or a station that has turrets – the turrets will appear in tactical mode, when the player clicks on a turret or turrets (player can chose multiples via holding down the shift key) and then issue orders like normal (right click on an enemy target) to the turrets. The other options that now become avaiable to the player after selecting a turret or turrets is making that turret a primary weapon meaning that if the fire trigger/button/etc is pressed the turret will fire when under the player’s command. The final option with turrets is to set their “roles” – if you recall turrets can be set to be missile defense, offense and a few other roles.

Basically just like you can order ships and tweak their AI and orders in tactical mode, you can order turrets. Hopefuly I’ll be able to balance out the gameplay that this is actually useful to the player, I have to make sure that fights last long enough and are strategic enough to warrant this.

Now I’m turning my attention towards putting in more visual feedback in tactical mode, so if a ship gets hit or a ship explodes, I want the player to see some little damage pings or what not in tactical mode, making it a lot less dry and a lot more informative than before – where a destroyed object would simply dissapear in tactical mode.

Another cool thing is that these changes will faciliate easily putting in other “tactical objects” – for example navigation markers and objective markers/highlights. The ETA for iteration 12 is the end of the upcoming month – so the end of June. Looking forward to it!

Into the void

I try to avoid putting the more “emotional” aspects into this blog, but here goes, my “hope reserves” took a huge hit with losing Drew, and this is a big factor. I try not to dwell on things and for the most part I’ve always been successful at this in my reletively young life. This however is a bit different of a story because this project is a big part of my inner life – I constantly think about it – so Drew’s passing is a constant presence due to the huge link that still exists. Not only losing a friend, but also losing a sounding board, a constant source of feedback, praise, criticism, and many aspects that were a constant back and forth which gave me much energy and sharpened planning and goals. It was basically a guarantee that this project would get good art, that I would get more than I asked for in terms of the visual and the game world, that my good ideas would be enhanced and bad ones questioned, that new ideas would come in – and be supported by a great degree of dedication. I was living in a dream come true and for the most part I was aware of this, I did appreciate it and still do.

Now I find it hard to make decisions on the future of the project because I’m not sure if artistically I can do (eg: get the art to support) the things I want, so it is sort of this negative presence that I have to shake to continue in a more determined and forceful way.

The project is continuing and will do so, but it would be stronger if I had a better sense of direction. I hope that I’ll read this entry in the near and distant future(s) and see it as another challenge that I overcame – the challenge is always internal – I believe that I (and humans in general) have a lot of the tools we need – we just have to use them.

More on tactical

Added visualizations for these commands – so for example if you want to know what ship A is doing… click on that ship and you’ll see if its patroling, turning, moving some place. This also includes the ability to see multiple way points – if they were specified via the newly re-vamped move command. Speaking of which you can now also initiate a move command via right clicking on an empty spot on the map – much like every other RTS does :) Something that was very much missing from the project.

I’ve also added “keyboard grouping” for ships – yep again – much like every other RTS does – press CTRL + 1,2…0 to designate selected ships to a group, then press that key to select those ships. So you can designate a defensive fleet, offensive fleets, support fleets, and quickly select them and issue orders. So far so good on these commands, but lots of polish is needed. More command and tactical visualizations on the horizon: gravity drive hops, hold command visual, mouse over info (now that right clicking an empty spot has a different function – need to show player what they are right clicking on), and hopefuly I’ll get to “combat” visualizations in tactical mode as well – ships firing on one another, taking damage, and exploding.

Tactical commands

Working on tactical commands, here’s a quick recap:

Added a “Wait” command – sometimes you may want heavy assault shisp to go in first and more vulnerable marine frigates to wait a minute before entering the battle field.
Added a “rotate” command and put in a visual representation of where the ship(s) will rotate to.

What’s interesting about the wait and rotate commands is that these are “top level” commands – so wait will always jump to the top except when the command is rotate, so for example you could tell your ships to wait a minute before heading into battle, but in the meantime you could tell them to rotate so that their turrets get good firing angles prior to heading in.

Re-did a bunch of the tactical gui – added the above commands and the other ones (patrol, hold etc) to “buttons” which will eventually be turned from text into little icons to save space and to lessen the learning curve.

Next up is re-doing the move command and then issuing individual orders to turrets – so you could issue a wait command to your frigates – send in the fighters to distract your enemy – tell the frigates to turn a certain way, issue commands to the frigates turrets – then order a move command to strafe the battle field with turret fire :) Hopefuly these commands will satisfy any budding space tacticians :)
Feel really excited about adding in these commands.