Archive for December, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

I had a pleasant Christmas, despite being sick. Seems like a good time to update my progress for December…

I finally added all 3 leader classes to the game, including their units. This was a lot of work. I am using similar combat mechanics right now, but that will change soon when I start adding unique attributes. I have a lot of those concepts detailed in the unit design document. It’s pretty cool seeing the different units in game, even with placeholder artwork and attributes.

I also added a lot of the zealot gameplay mechanics and I am really happy with the result. The banner zealots are more of a focal point with the power pulse emanating from the banner. The pulse has a priority of targets, with the highest being the destination portal if in range. That generates prestige and affects the tech research progression. The next priority is the leader troop of that zealot’s owning player, if in range. That generates a special power resource that is used to amplify leader abilities. It lasts about 3 seconds, which means leaders can maintain this resource if they remain in range.

The next priority is an enemy zealot, troop, or structure. This causes damage, and in the case of the zealots, can instantly kill the enemy. For instance, 2 opposing zealot lines along the same path would initially cancel each other out. Upgrading the source portal would increase health and damage, which enables that zealot line to push forward. This also increases the importance of certain units that specialize in mitigating divine damage (used by zealots). There are many interesting gameplay scenarios with this design that I believe will be a lot of fun.

I consolidated the leader abilities in to 6 roles that will be unique for each class. In addition, I implemented the basic gameplay for a few of them. For example, I created a sacrifice ability that absorbs the health of a player’s own targeted zealots and gives it to the leader. More importantly, this purposely cuts the zealot line, which means the zealot banner would move to the next zealot if previously continuous. This tactic would be useful when attacked by enemy units further back. The leader unit could then benefit from the power pulses to fend-off the attack. When the battle is over, the resurrect zealot ability could be used to reconnect the zealot line if desired.

Furthermore, I created another ability that enrages friendly troops, which improves combat effectiveness. Currently, I just use this to increase damage, but I plan to modify other attributes such as proc rate of special abilities. This will be a crucial leader ability that is used often in battle. I am working on some related ideas based on the concept of “seeding” rage for troops, which can then feed into some self-sustaining rage during a battle. The combat mechanics would be focused around this rage concept and the current state is shown as a red bar over the troop that reflects current rage amount. It decreases over time unless replenished.

I will continue to refine the leader abilities and make them interesting. I am mainly focused on getting the big stuff in place so I can evaluate the current gameplay concepts. It is much easier to see where I stand if I can directly test the mechanics. Some of that work includes GUI changes to interact with those mechanics. Other times, I just want to see if I can simply a process, such as when leaders summon the initial portal over a resource. To that point, I recently made claiming magic sources much easier. It is just one click on the magic source to summon the portal, which checks range and the global ability timer (around 4 seconds).

Next up, I will do some work on the power pulse resource for leader abilities. I want to determine some of the core concepts for it. I will continue getting the main components in game for abilities of leaders, zealots, troops, towers, etc. Part of that work will involve more GUI changes. In addition, I want to refine the unit upgrades, tech progression, and other related concepts.

Thanks for reading. See you next year! :)

Just a quick PoP2 update

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

I’ve made a lot of progress since the last update, including additional improvements to the effects. I finally took the time to create a 3d vector class, so now the effects are using a true 3d vector. Previously, I just used a 2d point and offset for depth. That worked until I started needing more flexibility. The projectiles are more accurate now. I was also able to add more types of effects, such as for summoning towers and pulsing power from banner zealots to portals.

I also changed the way I handle world position for entities. In order to gain flexibility with artwork layouts, I had to switch to a center point for entity positions. I used to just track an edge of entities and use its dimensions to determine the other edge position. This method constrained my layout since all artwork had to be centered within the frame.

I want to have dynamic animations, which would not be possible when only half of the frame is available for profile animations (since centered). Switching to a center point gives me the option to use an offset concept, so that animations can use the entire frame for profile and other directions. I adjust the frame during the draw so the center point stays aligned with the center of the animation within the frame. The end result is that a big creature can now stretch out and swing its weapon since the entire frame can be used. The animation will still be aligned correctly due to the offset and center point implementation.

I’ve been working with Mark Jones to use this new layout flexibility, along with some other tweaks to give more frame width. I have a test layout of a large creature in game using the older method, which limited the scale. Even with those limitations, the animation looked very cool. I can’t wait to see the updated version! We are spending extra time upfront to make sure the layout and scale work well. I think it will pay off in the end. Once we have everything set, the assets will start to flow and I will be able to show some screenshots.

Next up, I am working on the unit design. I updated the task list on the forum for this milestone. It is a packed schedule, focused on artwork, gameplay, and user interface. This is the phase where the gameplay really takes shape as the units come to life. I will be adding their combat mechanics as well as upgrade progression. This is the fun stuff :) Check back later for the details!