Archive for September, 2014

Two big milestones today

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

One year ago from today, I married my beautiful wife, Katherina. It was an amazing day and this past year has been the best of my life. I look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with her :)

I also finished my second ALPHA milestone today. This is probably the most important milestone for the game since I now have multiplayer fully working. It was a bit more challenging than I was expecting.

The zealots were tough to sync between server and client. I distribute the zealot updates evenly over the process cycles so I don’t stall the game during a spike. That adds another level of complexity for multiplayer since I lose some control over when I update the zealots remotely. That means I need to handle updates coming before and after the current processing on the client. The actual update process on the client runs independently so it runs smoothly.

That constraint made it really difficult to catch all of the edge cases. I wanted to automatically update the banner zealots according to the current game state, rather than sending that data. Every time I thought I had all of those cases covered, I would see a sync problem. I ran my server and a client next to each other to discover those issues. I made a lot of fixes during the past month. Now the multiplayer is running smoothly and with no known bugs.

I made a pretty big change based on the multiplayer testing. I was thinking about always showing all zealots even when you don’t see them with your troops. The leaders would sense them due to their innate connection to the power resource. I tried it out at first so I could verify the zealots were working for multiplayer. I really liked how it looked, so now it is a feature. The game feels much more alive with them always being visible. It also gives an opportunity to guess what is happening in the fog of war.

Next, I will make some improvements to the computer AI when it selects attack targets. There are times when the computer player will pick a target that is just behind another fortress. Then the zealots will never have a chance to reach the target fortress, so the troops get crushed without that support. You normally must send at least one line of zealots to defeat a fortress. More are required if the fortress has strong defenses or its own supporting zealot lines. Essentially, you need to at least have 1 more zealot line linking to the enemy fortress to neutralize the rebuilding and upgrading.

I’m going to also make some more changes to the upgrades so there is more depth. I will reveal those details later, as well as some new artwork. Thanks for reading! :)