Targeting Behind The Scenes

Hmm sometimes the life of a game developer isn’t all swords and sorcery. Lot’s of fairly dull behind the scenes stuff was done this week.

Animation reared it’s ugly head again and yet again i THINK I’ve solved the problem. I won’t even bore you with the details – and I really don’t want to be writing another post about animation (the problem seemed to be that my FBX importer doesn’t like root’s of bones being rotated – anyway that’s really dull).

I wanted to move towards actual combat with the picture rat so of course I need some way of targeting it. For now I’ve gone for the Everquest/WoW targeting arrow style. The reminded me that I already had a renderer for transparent models which works quite well. So I needed to make a targetting classes so the spinning pyramid could be attached to other game objects. As you can see in this picture I’ve targetted myself.

Luckily (or not really lucky at all) I already have a nice “picking” routine for my editor to allow me to select a house or a fench or whatever and move/rotate/scale it so I can use that to select the monster that I’m going to attempt to send to a higher plane of existance.

Oh and I made the blendmap higher resolution so I can change from grass to gravel to mud or whatever over a smaller area of land. I may well use a double blendmap to allow me to have 6 textures on the terrain but we’ll see. Maybe I can use the alpha channel in a png blendmap but that didn’t seem to work last time I tried it.

Here’s hoping for a more interesting update next week.

Rats and Ruins

So this weekend I mostly worked on… no that’s a horrible way to start a blog post. Sound too much like a Fast Show sketch.

Anyway I worked on the UI some more. As you can see from the screenshot there’s now some actions assigned to the hotkeys. I’m not going to have the hotbar endless configurable like Everquest. 1: Because I personally think it’s actually annoying when you forgot to turn on/off draggable icons or you made the bar too small or big and you can’t read the chat or other ridiculous UI problems. 2: Console users will not really want all that anyway. they’ll just want to be able to assign an action to an appropriate console button.

I’m trying to keep it simple. So 6 actions assigned on 1 bar. Then you can flip to another bar with mouse (or use L2/R2 on a PS4 for example).

I wanted to get a health and power bar in this weekend but it’s not ready for this post. Shouldn’t be too long though. I’m planning on going with a bar along the bottom of the screen so it doesn’t obscure the play area too much or require your eyes to look around too must. It will be a double bar. Green at the top for health and probably blue or orange for power/mana/stamina or whatever it ends up being.

Moving on… I’ve started to add some ruins for some giant rats (first enemy) to wander around. I’m not amazingly happy with the look of the ruined walls. I think i make make them more mossy but it’s early days on those. They don’t blend in with the grass of the terrain where they are anyway so that will have to change.

“So much to do, so little time” as the Joker once said in the Tim Burton version of Batman. He also said “Ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight?” which makes less sense and has no relevance to this post at all.

 

 

The Forest Grows

I took a sidetrack from the game user interface a little to add some more bushy tress to mix in with my pine. I have a lot of tree and bush models to work with but I had to fiddle around with both my tree shader and the texturing to get enough detail on the bark and leaves. This might cause a few frame rate and/or memory issues down the line but i’ll worry about that later. I can always use a low level of detail (LoD this is commonly abbreviated to) for when the trees are further away anyway.

Here’s an image of a close up Oak with the camera almost next to is pointing straight up. Now i’m not 100% happy with it but I was more intrested in it not looking blurry like some early 2000s game close up and it looks pretty nice. The texture has got a little fudged at the roots but hey: Fix it later.

bark

Moving on…

Back to the user interface. I didn’t like the character screen at all. Not even enough to work on for now so I remade that as below:

charscreen

Which looks a lot better I think. It renders the player surrounded by icon slots for any equipment he’s wearing. Weapons, armor, accessories etc.

Also you’ll notice there’s a hotbar now with space for 6 icons. I want to keep it to 6 for now to avoid going down the route Everquest 2 does where you end up with 8 hotbars with 12 icons full of stuff, most of which does variations of the exact same thing. Also that won’t really work if playing with a controller which I want it to a possible to do.

I’m currently playing the remake of Final Fantasy 12 on the PS4 which is a pretty damn good (and underrated) RPG which obviously uses a controller just fine.

Other than that I made some other changes to make my life easier, refactoring etc but I won’t bore you with the details of that.

Next up: Health/Power bars, 3 Abilities (Close Attack, Ranged Attack, Self Heal for now), Making my peasants animated into a sensible resting pose and, knowing me, I’ll spend some more time fiddling with getting another nice bush or tree in the game.

Bye for now.

Realm of Game Interfaces

Well more work on the user interface for the actual player to, you know, play. Now we have a main menu (with a few items and keyboard shortcuts), bag/inventory, map and a knowledge book for whatever abilities/skills/combat arts or whatever they end up having. It’s a blank book for now as you can see. Anyway, that all works.

I’ve also knocked together a crude character screen for you to put stuff on your character such as clothes, weapons, armour, accessories.

ui2png

I’m not entirely happy with it but it’s ok for now. I just need something as a placeholder really.

The final thing I need to add is some way of picking up stuff/loot/treasure so I’ll be adding a treasure chest for now for this purpose.

Also the UI will need some way of talking to other characters in the game. I considered floating chat bubbles (EQ/WoW) but personally I think they’re annoying; sometimes you can’t see the dialogue box properly or the option to continue the conversation bobbles around with the characters movement. I think I’ll go with a slight more old-fashioned (but I think easier to use) dialogue box approach. Nice looking dialogue boxes though of course!

I really wanted to end this post with a nice looking treasure chest but I’m having trouble getting one to look exactly how a I want so I’ll save that for next time.

Edit: Got a nice looking chest in the game before I had to stop for the day

chestpng

Bags and Maps

With animation parked for a bit I thought it was time I really made some progress on a game people can actually play rather than just spend another few days fiddling with effects.

As you can see from the image I have now started the game user interface. Here we have sizeable frames for the players bag and map of the current area.

I’m going for a kind of Everquest2 style. Although not endless types of bags and slot for bags and all that annoying stuff. More like No Man’s Skype where you have 1 bag which can be upgraded (and some kind of bank/storage in your home town).

I’ll also need a skills book/panel once I’ve decided what those will initially be and a character screen for the precious things like stats and gear.

Don’t worry I’m not just making a single player Everquest 2, I will be including a lot of my own original ideas.

 

Billboard and Instancing Interfaces

Even the blog post title sound dull.

This had to be done at some point though. I spent most of my weekend coding time on making a better interface for adding my billboards and instanced geometry. As you can see from the screen shot I can individually place each piece of grass or pebble or whatever now. Some what dull but needed.

As I seem to say at the end of every blog post. Hopefully I’ll be working on dungeons, goblins and fireballs soon.

It’s a long road to coding a half decent RPG pretty much from scratch and not all of it is that exciting.

 

Rockfaces and Animation Again (Unfortunately)

Well let’s give the bad news first: Something is still weird with animation. I though I could use my original skeleton’s (along with their animations) after I discovered a specific set of steps to go through to make animation work properly. But no…

It’s particularly annoying since it sort of works. My man can nod and move his legs fine but his arms just won’t move close into his side. Except in one animation test where they did perfectly.. but of course I can’t remember what exactly I did differently. After about 4 hours of this rage ensued so I had to do SOMETHING to make some decent progress. After all, I want to get on with making a game people can play no mess around with the main characters arms for weeks.

So I moved on to some nice rock models, getting them imported into the game and looking nice was a welcome break and they looked pretty good almost instantly. The interface for placing, scaling them etc is working great now too. Once I scatter some small plants and other debris around them (maybe even a little hazy mist) it’ll look pretty damn good.

Hopefully by the next post i’ll have animation weirdness solved once and for all. Maybe I should learn 3DS better since all I know how to use is Softimage which isn’t even supported anymore. I’m not even sure that would help though.

Until next time.