Game Development

Blog 777: Predictable Manoeuvres in the Game

All of life is about compromise. I started off making my mechs use the CharacterController, but shied away from it as that meant I had to reimplement lots of physics. I replaced it with a Rigidbody-based system, but that started randomly bouncing off the floor and jumping was dangerously unpredictable. In movement system rewrite number three, I seem to have ended up with… a mix of both.

It took me far too long to understand why this third approach works, but I think I’ve got it now. Since movement controllers seem to be a perennial topic in the commUnity, it’s time for me to add some words to the mix!

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Game Development

Blog 776: Sound and Stuff

I’ve been putting off adding audio to Exon for, at this point, years. I didn’t want to tackle it until all my other systems were pretty solid — I didn’t want to shove in a load of work to manage audio sources and play effects if there was a risk that I’d be re-engineering half of it after the fact.

Well, things have now been stable enough for long enough and… Well, I got put on furlough by my employer. What else was I going to do with the extra time locked in the flat but suck up a major project?

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Game Development

Blog 769: Sparkling If Statements

My favourite joke format at the moment is this: “It’s only X if it comes from the X region of France, otherwise it’s just sparkling Y.” In this case, “it’s only artificial intelligence if it’s from the AI region of France, otherwise it’s just sparkling if statements”. I can dunk on AI hype, you see, because I’m programming AI for my game again.

I’ve done quite a bit of AI programming already. The bots have fairly well-developed situational awareness — if they see an item they want they’ll move to pick it up; if they see an enemy they will attack; and if they are fighting they’ll use their abilities.

What they lack, however, is strategic awareness. Seeing as the Arena will have bonus objectives, and the same logic will power boss fights and full characters in the campaign, bots are going to need to that extra layer of intelligence.

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Game Development

Blog 768: Vertical Slice

So, a few months ago, I paused work on Exon’s main campaign to focus on building the Arena. This approach came with some risks but I decided to swallow them because this felt like it would be the fastest route to something genuinely playable.

I was right, because that was about three months ago and for the last few weeks I’ve had it out at local game dev events and being played by real human beings. It is by no means a finished game, but it is a fully-functioning, self-contained scenario that stresses the breadth of the game’s core combat mechanics. A vertical slice. Objective complete!

It’s funny because my mechs’ primary attacks are vertical slices.

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Game Development

Blog 764: Minimum Viable Game

I was at a game dev meet-up about a month ago now, where my pals sassed me silly for not having shipped a game yet. They’re right to do so — although I vigorously resist accusations of feature creep (it’s not creep if it’s all part of the original plan), it’s true that I’m making something rather large that isn’t going to be releasable until it’s “done” (this is the true curse of building narrative-driven things).

About a year ago, I set down my plan for the first release: a self-contained prologue to a bigger campaign, which would be short enough to manufacture in a sensible time-frame, but broad enough to stress out most of my features. “Sensible time-frame” is, of course, relative and it’s still got a long way to go.

So I asked myself: what’s the minimum viable game? What is the purest, simplest expression of top-down mech action that I can build and put in front of people?

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Game Development

Blog 760: Load the Data

So, I’ve been fairly quiet recently because 1) developing saving and loading systems has been a long invisible slog and 2) I’ve been replaying Morrowind (oops).

But with all the data that comprises a “campaign” in Exon being successfully written to disc, it was finally time to start trying to load it. Since I’ve told you the story of decomposing the world into text files in more than enough detail, it’s time to begin the story of reconstructing it…

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Game Development

Blog 756: Keep Saving the Data

Right, so my last dev diary was mostly theoeretical — how can one ensure every prefab and pre-placed object in Unity has a unique identifier that can then be associated with saved data and used to reassemble the game world later.

Having implemented said indexing mechanisms, there are a few gotchas to report, but it is overall working as advertised. Which means I have begun phase two: actually writing the data out.

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Game Development

Blog 755: Save The Data

When I decided that procedural generation was too much bother for not enough gain and switched over to hand-crafting scenarios, I figured that was the worst of my development headaches gone. After all, the more data that is static, the less you have to worry about while the game is actually turned on.

Then I realised that you’re still going to die a reasonable amount of times during the game. Then I realised that although the levels will be individually smallish, they’ll still be quite open.

What does death plus openness equal? Why, my dear, it means I must let you save and load your game, because fuck losing all that progress (to death or dinner).

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