Blog 748: She’s a River

Being able to build big plaps of landscape is one thing, but earth is nothing without water.

Water is one thing I do not miss from my Warcraft III days. It was at a fixed level (give or take some dodginess), it didn’t flow in any particular direction, and it had very little impact on gameplay. The best rivers were pure decoration constructed from massively skewed waterfall models.

No, it’s time for me to break free and do rivers properly.

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Blog 747: Terrain’t No Other Way

I mentioned in my last post that when I first tried to make hand-crafted levels, I lacked the tools to make it work; hence my slide into the clutches of procedural generation. So what’s changed?

Why, I’ve started to reimplement the Warcraft III terrain editor.

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Blog 746: The 5th Day

The Worm Ouroboros, that forever eateth its own tail. That’s my development cycle.

I spent a year and a half, maybe even two years, building Exon as a procedurally-generated dungeon crawler. Over that time I rewrote the level generator at least six times, edging ever closer to a system that would actually make nice playable levels and not be insane to extend and tweak.

Then I decided it was time to finally attempt natural cave levels to break up the bunkers, and the whole thing fell apart again. Feeling that the near-constant rewrites of the level generator suggested a more fundamental problem with my approach, I have decided to change direction.

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Blog 745: Throwing Shade(rs)

Pretty much everything I do in Unity, I compare to what I could do in Warcraft III. One of the most surprising (to me at least) omissions was the ability to make custom materials. That is, being able to layer, blend and animate textures to create a final look for your characters.

In this strange modern worlds, such things require one to make shaders. That means a whole heap of extra programming work, and some pretty esoteric programming at that.

Then they invented lovely graph-based shader builders.

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Blog 744: Prey

I didn’t play Prey at the time because it was visually unappealing to me and I’m as shallow as a puddle. While the thought of sneaking and shooting one’s way around a space station ticks many of my boxes, the thought of doing so while fighting the most nondescript aliens you could ever imagine poured doubt on the entire enterprise.

But the reviews all said it was good and I saw it on sale while I was picking up the fantastic XCOM2, so I thought to myself, “how bad can it be?”

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Aside 64: What Wreckage?

Aside

It has come to my attention that This Wreckage might be having some problems under the new 1.29 patch for Warcraft III — namely, that it becomes utterly unplayable due to some odd hostile behaviour (likely stemming from the 12 new player slots shuffling my alliance settings).

Unfortunately I’m having more than a little trouble patching the game to have a proper look; and when I did for five minutes get it running, the game was grinding along at 30fps (when 1.26 stayed strong at the maximum of 64fps). Something is rotten at the heart of WC3, alas.

So for now I’m going to have to hang fire a bit on fixes until things settle down again. Rest assured — when the game is stable again I will be making the necessary upgrades! But in the mean time, if This Wreckage is giving you trouble, you might need to downgrade to a fresh install then grab patch 1.26 (official-but-hidden Blizzard FTP link)…

Blog 743: Close, But No Biscuit — Universe Building

I think Kong: Skull Island is one of my favourite films of all time. It’s a big, meaty monster movie with plenty of focus on the monster(s); Kong is not the footnote to a human story, but an integral part of a story that occurs in a natural world. It also strikes the perfect balance of fun with the straight faced delivery required to carry off a giant ape bashing giant dinosaurs in the face.

It also has a post-credits sequel hook, but you don’t need to watch that or the lightly-linked precursor Godzilla (2014) to enjoy it. This is the holy grail of shared-universe films: each one standing on its own, but quietly accentuating the others when taken in wider context. This is world-building done right.