Thursday 31 May 2012

I Break Everything And Then Fix It! Oh The Exciting Life Of Indie Deving!

I had a liver detox diet, lost the strange bicycle tire which had appeared around my torso, eat more fruit than anyone had ever eaten before, took up skipping - which is knackerising - bought a few crates of ale and a bottle of baffling expensive rum under the guide of death metal celloist (it was a very pretty bottle),
sat about in the garden because it had finally stopped raining in the Shire of York after the wettest Spring since 1907. And even found time to break everything that I'd done dev-wise whilst trying to fix it.

So I ended up changing my art style again ... immediately after I'd decided on what it was going to be ...

So it is now more "painterly" and less "abstract".

I'd done a bit of refractoring my working level, shrinking the size of the hedges a little and opening more gaps between them. I'd also noticed that I'd been getting a fair few failures on pathfinding with the Recast resource. My terrain is very bumpy and I'd set >1500 custom class CoverNodes about and done pathfinding between them with an automated script to test around 7 million paths. Initially I'd a rather worrying 2.5 million failures, and after a bit of saving throws in my pathfinding scripts, I'd got that down to <200k, and then thrown in a simple "move to nearest node where you can actually get a path" incase that 3.7% failure rate occured in game.

I'd improved my Ai, getting them to make decisions about when they should try and hide from the player. Previously they'd either stopped at distance if they were "support" or advanced if they were "assault". I've always been a fan of turn based strategy/tactics games ... which is why I'm making one obviously ... but sometimes their Ai has been a bit ... daft. Steel Panthers I'm looking at you. I added in a whole load of new thinking to make the computer act more in the way a player would, but still using it's randomized battle plan.

Suddenly my Ai were filled with awesome and powered by buttkicking, so it was time to remove all the little helpers I'd given them previously to make them more competitive, like maxing out their stats, they now get the same chances for decent stats as the player.

Which all goes to make battles more competitive, varied and fair.

Somewhere amongst all of this I'd noticed a few bugs so I'd fixed them, and thus managed to break "many things", again mostly pertaining to the Ai. After a fair bit more hitting IDE with a mallet I got things working again as they should do.

I'd also made a start on creating some player characters - or at least a "base character". I'd looked at some of the meshes that I'd got from Evolver for use in Blender some time ago, and studied one of these as a base for rigging and animating a custom character. I'm doing a SteamPunk vibe, so everyone "struts imperiously". I'm still using Ye Olde Blender 1.44 with DTS exporter 0.964, though I export with collada for the foliage/trees/bushes so I can use vertex painting.

I'd also made a whole load of improvements to my GUIs, such as adding a new button for reserving a shot at half maximum range if you don't want your little chap to be wasting shots on things miles away that he's unlikely to hit. In "loadout" I'd also added the ability to equip one chap and then have his equipment cloned to all unequipped troops - money and individual strength/encumberance permitting - which is incredibly useful when you have a bag of Conscript Militia who can only use basic equipment until they get promoted ... should any of them survive the battle.

Still to do is a bit more Ai thinking tweaking, a bit more environment tweaking, creating some finalized models for troops and weapons, testing the assault and defend gametypes, doing the art for GUIs, and errr ... general stuff. My bug fixing list gets smaller, my todo list doesn't seem to. Oh the exciting life of Indie Deving!

tl;dr good things happened, bad things got fixed, I'm eating a lot of fruit.