Monday, 31 December 2012

Back To The Future - To Integrate It With The Present

No not the 1985 comedy where Christopher Lloyd mispronounces "gigawatts" as "jigawatts" and contained a cameo by Heuy Lewis as well as his song "The Power of Love" in the soundtrack. So no, not that one.

This one.

The "Main Campaign" which I first started way back through the distant mists of time ... or summer 2011 as it was called back then. The one with the dirigibles which move around, capturing territory and depositing troops for battle.

Currently we are - and that's the Royal we of myself in third person remember - retrofitting that campaign system to work with how the game later developed, so that it all fits in seamlessly with the functions for the "not so short campaign" and the tactical battle mode.

In fact the "not so short campaign" has been renamed "The Citadel Campaign" - because you're objective is to battle through increasinly well equipped enemy territories to besiege the "Pirates of Pangea's" mighty citadel. The "Main Campaign" is now the 'Pangean Campaign' and takes the shape of the player and 5 other factions controlled by individual Ai's fighting to conquer the pirate infested and procedurally generated supercontinent of Pangea.

The majority of the changes for the "Pangean Campaign" - save for the GUI being updated - are in the background, with the Ai now replicating the player's progression accurately with troops increasing in experience dependant on current levels, casualties and expenditure. In fact there's a frightening amount of mathematics for Ai strategic decision making and expansion/contraction of veterans, finances, dirigibles, territories and equipment which I worked out over multiple Post-It notes ... having a minor disaster when I ran out of Post-Its and had to use real paper.

There's also been various balancing to functions and a whole host of bugfixes. Looking back at some of the early custom code and script base did give the occaisional raised eyebrow at how different the logic system had changed since the introduction of the "Citadel Campaign" and the Tactical Battle Mode with their more intertwined functionality. Territory once owned by the player but which is lost to opponents slowly returns to it's "unknown/fog of war" state as the distance between it and player territory expands.

I also created a set of difficulty modes for the "Pangean Campaign", including a hard mode where the whole of the continent is infested with the pirate faction.

Whilst I had been hoping to finalize all of this and be "feature complete" by the last day of 2012, the Xmas season has rather put a dint in my work schedule, what with having to go outside and occaisionally see other human beings and the such. Also I got a considerable amount of fine scotch at prezzies.

So all that remains of the "Pangean Campaign" functionality is the creation of a "buy/sell/mod Dirigible" GUI for the player - the Ai already have functions to decide on how best to approach all of this for themselves - and make certain that the results of a Tactical Battle between the Player and an Ai Faction are carried over to the Strategy part of the Campaign correctly.

The Tactical Battle Mode is nearly complete save for one small tweak I want to make so that the Ai can properly utilize artillery/airstrikes in the same way that the player can. I originally intended to have mechanized assault gun style tanks available, but after initial testing they were clearly too unbalanced and I cut that particular feature whilst making personal armour more effective so that the array of high explosive weapons available still had something useful to counter.

Whilst I am expecting to be "feature complete" some time next month, this is by no means "art" complete. The vast majority of the models and textures on view are placeholders. I am still hopeful for a fully finalized demo version of the "Single Tactical Battle Mode" available late February or March - possibly with an early adopter version of the game which is fully featured with campaigns, and missing a few finalized art assets (eg: probably a low number of tactical battle maps) that can be updated on completion.

Still hopeful for a final full release on or before the 1st of June - which is exactly the day in 2011 which I started, and would make the whole development cycle 2 full years exactly. If it hadn't of been for 3 rewrites to major parts (2 rewrites and an improvement actually) and a whole load of messing around with mesh deformations it would have been considerably sooner.

But anyhow, live, learn and improve ... hopefully ...

No comments: