Archive for August, 2007

New web site

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

The new web site is now up.  I think it looks much more professional than my previous one.  I tried to add as much info for Birth of Shadows as I can at this stage.  The screenshots page will soon have some images of the Alpha version.  Mark has a lot of the core scenery designed.  We just need to work through the process as we see what looks good in game.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but BoS will have building scenery in addition to outdoor scenery.  For instance, there will be a variety of wall segments and furniture that can be used to build houses.  Of course, you can then create towns and possibly really big structures such as castles, complete with strongholds.  I’m even trying to add some destructable items, although they might only be present in the campaign game.  It will depend on how the design looks when completed.

 I envision a scenario such as a haunted house guarded by wraiths.  Once you defeat them, you notice a crumbling wall and destroy it.  Then, you go through a secret passage to an open outdoor area, guarded by various creatures.  You manage to defeat them and then loot a treasure chest for your reward.  You could possibly also gain an item required for a quest, which will trigger more events.  I think that kind of stuff will be fun.

The previous 2 weeks since Alpha have been a bit more relaxed.  I didn’t want to get burned-out from working too hard, so I decided to work on a bunch of little things.  For example, I made a lot of tweaks to the interface, especially for the editor.  I added the ability to “inject” music so that I can play certain themed-tracks.  My intro story now has a creepy music track to go with it.  The cinematic view port is in place too.  Hopefully, I can get the basic animations added this week.

The bulk of my work this week will involve modifications to my file design for the campaign game.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, my campaign game needs to save progress across multiple boards.  This includes saving the state of each board so the world is persistent.  In addition, I need to add portals so players can travel between boards.  After that, I need to work on the visual effects, further improve the interface, and re-design the first campaign board.

I already started picking up the pace again.  I’ll probably continue all the way until the end of September when I need to submit “Birth of Shadows” to the IGF competition.  I also need to meet my goals for the (closed) Beta milestone, which is in less than 3 weeks.  So yah… I’ll be busy :)  As soon as I get some screenshots I will put them up on the site.  I’ll probably post about it here too.

Alpha hath arrived

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

It’s been a grueling 2 weeks, but I survived.  I worked until 8am every “day” for the previous week, with a nice 35 hour push before releasing the Alpha version to be privately tested.  Even though it’s pretty rough to work that many hours, I find that I get so much done when I really push hard.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to drink an unhealthy amount of coffee :P
So what exactly did I get done these past 2 weeks?  Well, the biggest accomplishment was that I finished the remaining items required to make “Birth of Shadows” feel like a game.  I’m talking about things like an intro story, relevant quests that have an impact on your character, progression of new abilities from completing those quests, dialog with NPCs, etc.

I had to finish a lot of code to implement those features.  The abilities needed a way to enable/disable them according to quest progress.  I had to add some code to trigger various dialog and new abilities.  I needed a way to display the intro story, with the option to skip it.  Same thing with NPC dialog, which then needed to still trigger various events.  I need to tweak it a bit, but it works as intended.  I think the intro/ability quests flow pretty nicely even for an Alpha release.  It’s fun to finally have concrete goals in game too.

I finished up most of the code for the skirmish/multiplayer games too.  Players can choose their character model (gender) and their progress is now saved correctly.  In fact, I came up with a design to create a persistent game.  The saved games hold up to 50 players and match the data according to name.  So, a group of friends (perhaps from an MMORPG guild) could play together at different times, working towards the same goals.  That same saved file could even be played offline by the host and then used later to continue with the data for other players in tact.  Note: the game is limited to 6 players active at the same time.

I finished up a lot of other tweaks and fixes, but that’s the major stuff.  My next goal is to polish up some of the Alpha version.  I need to use a slightly different file design for the campaign game so progress is stored across multiple boards.  I need to add the cinematic for the intro story.  The interface needs some improvements too.  I have a pretty well-defined taks list, which should be manageable, though I expect to put in some monster hours towards the end.

I am going to finally put some screenshots up very soon.  I now have the terrain as well as all animations in game.  The ability icons for players has been completed too.  I’d like to get some of the new scenery in game to give a more accurate idea.  I’d also like to get my new web site up, but if it isn’t done in 1-2 weeks, I will start putting screenshots into my blog.