Sunday, 1 July 2012

A Year To The Day! Nope I Can't Count It's Been 13 Months

Apparently no blog for June then ... because I was waiting for the year long first anniversary of the start of my current project to post. And then it turns out that I can't count ...

So, this is the 13th Month Anniversary Of Starting My Current Project ... doesn't exactly trip of the tongue does it?

First up, let's get a little overview from the first blog back in June 28th 2011.

Wow, things have changed a bit ...

Turnbased squad tactics gameplay, somewhat in the vein of Laser Squad and the original X-Coms.

Check! We've got that and it even works and everything. Infact the only bit of the actual "battlescape" part of the game that is not fully functional is the Ai picking up other weapons (something which neither LS nor X-Com had). To be honest I do have an Ai pick up weapons function but it's a horrible illogical mess and needs rewriting so I can iron the remaining bugs out - and that got delayed only because I ate something a bit dodgy during the week and have had my head stuck in a bucket. Think pea soup and The Exorcist. No, booze was not involved.

My liver function test showed that I was suffering acute hypochondria and that my organs are all fine (or they lost my test results and gave me someone elses ...) but I've got some gastro-reflux-thing which definitely didn't like whatever I ingested during the week, cue demonic possession and pea soup.

The other thing not functional is the "armoured cavalry" support option, but that was always designed to be added right at the end after everything else was done, so no loss there. When existing it will be a large tank, unable to spot enemies by itself unless they are also a large tank, incapable of reactive fire, baffling expensive (like the real things), but capable of blasting large areas into little bits and being compeltely immune to electric weaponry, a specific of the Recce class. This is where the Sapper class and their myriad of explosives and flame weapons will come into play properly.

I spent most of the last month finding and fixing bugs in gameplay, as well as lots of tweaking and balancing. There was a whole load associated with the sapper and recce classes and their interaction with booby traps which required rather a lot of testing.

But now it all works and it works intelligently.

All three battle types of clear/assault/defend work. Ai will actively seek cover, defending Ai won't just hang around at their defensive position and take long range shots. If they're under attack and don't have the ability to reply in kind they'll move to a safer defensive position and then scout back to see if the situation has changed some time later. If a defending Ai isn't getting any part of the battle they will scout about their area to flush out lurking attackers.

I've given each class of trooper a new "reactive range", so now snipers don't spin round and take passive reaction shots at point-blank range, something which always seemed a little odd in playtesting. Sniper and Gunny class only commit to automatic reactive fire during the opponents phase at ranges of 200+, Grenadier and Sapper take the mid-range of 100-200, leaving Fusilier and Recce with the close-range 0-100. This all helps represent the type of weapons that are class specific and gives more of a tactical dilemma when ending the player's phase. Do you really want to leave that Recce trooper out in the open there? Do you really want that sniper next to that doorway that anyone could come out of without warning?

I've also tweaked the whole promotion system. Promotion is now easier because ... well, death is also rather easy and your troops can be have very high mortality rates if things go wrong. Stats also increase more than before as the first few promotions didn't seem to give too many advantages for the effort that they took. Panic is now much more likely for lower ranks and conscripts if higher ranks become casualties.

And that's about all I can remember of the last month ...

What I was hoping to have achieved by now was to have more finalized artwork done, but alas gameplay tweaking/fixing has occupied all my time. When I'm done with the fixing I'll give it a little roadtest on integrating the whole tactical battle thing with teh overall strategy campaign just to make sure that there is no HUGE PAIN IN THE BUM PROBLEM AWAITING FURTHER DOWN THE LINE.

And eventually we'll get back to this bit of the game - and stick the two parts together with duct tape

The strategy part works fairly okeedokee by itself save for a lots of tweaking for balance issues (I need to find a smoother way of limiting dirigible numbers because in testing they could really get out of hand) and an Ai versus Ai bug that I noticed aeons ago but never got around to fixing where the correct result was not always recored. Obviously this area also needs it's artwork finalizing too. However finalizing the "main campaign" isn't my immediate priority as I intend to create a "short campaign" mode where the player battles his way from the base of a triangular arrangement of hexagon territories to eventually capture the enemy citadel. The player will be able to pick their own route, carving a swathe through enemy territory, attacking fortifide positions to unlock extra equipment/weapon upgrades or by passing them to move on to the next level closer to their goal. More on all of that some time later.

So ... to recap ... it's been a full year to the day ... er ... and a month from starting! A lot of crap code has been written, a lot of crap code has been rewritten until it wasn't crap, we learned new things and then forgot them, we wondered why we did things in a certain way and then undid them only to find out that we did them that way because they wouldn't work the other way, we completely forgot the yearly anniversay blog.

It's been a year and a month and we now feel a lot less like this.

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