Cutscenes from the Gods (and Goddesses)

Ok so at some point I needed to start putting the actual story together. In order to this I made a StoryLine object and gave it child objects which are CutScenes.

Initially these are pretty basic: A background texture, some dialog box text, the name of the person talking to you and the name of the model used. Later I’ll add support for multiple NPCs and particle effects, cross fades and stuff like that but I just wanted it up and running. You can see a basic example below.

After this I added “Zonelines” this is when the game knows you’ve entered an area and will show you a notification. Like when you enter a town or if you’re always IN a town the it will show a “Zoneline” for a door you can enter, along with an Enter button and an icon to show it’s a doorway.

This can also be used for any time you’re about to change area, like entering a dungeon etc.

I also needed a new monster in game so I’m working on a wolf – I’ll show that at a later date but It looked nice enough but it showed a problem with my self shadowing which took a little time to fix. I won’t go into the boring details but my animated maps weren’t loading their bump maps or using depth bias properly, also the PSM wasn’t working properly on the super-high quality shadows near the camera. If you want more details on any of that then drop me a line on twitter/instagram.

Ok so I put together a little video showing how this all hangs together.

So next up I’ll be finishing off the wolf so I can have them roaming around and adding a quest in the 2nd town to kill a few of them.

It’s really coming together now.

I might have to start working on the crafting and gathering soon.

Until next time…

Town, Camping and Interiors

Bit of a long time since my last update. Sorry. You know how it is etc. You can follow me on twitter @skyemaidstone if you like. I do tend to update that more often.

Anyway, I’ve been beaving away at making the 2nd town “Serah”.  It has a forge, market, guard towers, a wooden wall to protect the towns folk from the dangerous lands beyond and a large comfortable inn (compared to the tiny one in Tarin. Here’s a couple of screenshots of how that’s getting on:



You can also see it has some nice magical lights to act as street lighting. Who knows how they work? It’s magic. This required me to make a light editor so I can adjust their color, intensity and obviously position.

Next up I moved on to an enemy camp:


This will soon be populated with orcs or goblins or some kind of enemy. This will be the main problem for Serah so I’m planning a few quests for this.

And that brings me to the next focus of my work: Interiors.

When the player enters a building or a dungeon they effective change to a new mini “world”. So I needed to make it so my editor saved models, lighting and “terrain” (which is usually just flat for a 1 story building). This proved fairly complicated but I got there with some nice fairly elegant results in the end.

Here’s a little video of Tarins’s small Inn.


Needs candles, fire in the fireplace and some patreons to drink and offer the adventurer some words of advice or perhaps send him on a quest and of course an innkeep to serve drinks and offer a room for the night.

Next up I’m going to have to make the particle effects editable so I can place them where they’re meant to be in the world (fire in the forge/fireplace, butterflies around a bush, water from a fountain – stuff like that) because my flaming braziers are rather hard coded right now. Also I really would be nice if the place had something else to fight besides the 8-12 rats behind Darin’s farm.

Until next time…



The Realm is Growing

Oops. Well it’s been a little while since I posted an update but sometimes that’s a good sign.

I’ve been so busy making it I forgot to document what I’ve done. Anyway, excuses aside as you can see from the featured image the world has grown a fair bit. You can barely see little Tarin behind the rocks and trees that have sprung up around it.

I had to make some changes to my editor to make it more useable on a grand scale. Making the camera that can sweep and swing around the terrain, cinema style was one of those (which I took that screenshot with). That made it easier to “spray paint” where i wanted things generally then switch back to first-person to place them carefully. That only really applies to things like instanced models and the texture type used on the terrain.

Talking of terrain I could resist adding bump mappnig to the terrain. Amazingly this wasn’t too tough. My engine already supports normal and specular maps but those are used by the geometry generate by package like 3DS. The challenge I had was to generate the tangent/binormal data for my computer generated meshes. That wasn’t THAT bad and with a little help from the great guys at it was up and running pretty quickly.

Here’s a before:


And after:


You might need to zoom in a bit to see how it’s working but its basically adding a more bump look to the road texture (and fading out to not use this technique for other textures since I don’t want bumpy grass for now. Would be nice to use displacement maps but that’s a nice-to-have really. I shouldn’t really be adding subtle (but nice) visual effects at this stage anyway really.

Anyway now the world has a fairly long road that runs from the starting village of Tarin all the was to the larger village/town of Serah. The new villge will have 2 storey buildings and some slightly more modern ones. Perhaps some better shops than just the odd stall.

For now it’s just a flat plaza… I’m going to dot around some bushes, trees, flowers and rocks all the way either side of the road first.

Besides that, and those of you who follow me on twitter @skyemaidstone will know this already, I’ve been working on player skills and a trainer to buy the knowlege from with knowledge points:



The first screenshot shows the trainer (The Sage in Tarin in this case who has some basic skills to teach you) and the 2nd shows you the abilities you learn from each of the skills. My player knows all the skills for now. How it works is in order to effectively use a short sword (for example) you’d need the Light Swords skill. So when you equipped a short sword a few abilities will show up. However if you learn Light Swords Expert then equipping a short sword will give you more abilities and perhaps even some combos. Skill points are just earned from questing for now but that won’t be the only method. We don’t want to force our player to do every quest in the game although some will be required obviously. This isn’t going to be a first-person shooter after all.

Ok hopefully next time I”ll put together a video of the trip from Tarin to Serah.

Until next time…


The Slightly Angry Village Woman


So much progress made, boringly a lot of it is hidden away a bit from anyone actually ever seeing it besides me but regardless. Mucho progresso made-o. Yeah I’ll never do that again.

Ok for starters there is now a mini to go with the main map which shows a spinning golden arrow to show which way you are facing. And to go with that the game now has a compass. Strangely enough that’s actually making it easier for me to not get lost in my own world (yep I’ve done it).

Here you see these new UI additions.


Ok moving on since the whole quest cycle is now finished (well it is now anyway) I need to branch out and make some surrounding areas more populated with things to do. I’ve started to make a narrow path leading to an old sage’s house. This meant I needed to make some improvements to my instancing and soft particle editors. They were both missing vital undo/delete functions.

It’s just way too annoying to reload the game if i place a bush I don’t want in the wrong palce or hack the data. Also to make the narrow path I had to use one of my spare ground textures from blendmap 2 (the first map is grass, stone, mud. The 2nd is cobbles, snow – for now and now sandy gravel).

Even that wasn’t enough to make a satifactory narrow path so I added in something I’d wanted for a long time: A color map. This basically allowed me to bright/darken or adjust the color of a 1 pixel of the terrain map. which translates to about 50cm squared. It just makes it possible to make things look more natural and will be very useful in the future.

Oh also I needed more types of long grass and bushes. Anyway those of you who follow me on twitter will already have seen the beginnings of this mysterious path.


So there’s the bushes and soft particles (a little ground fog/mist throw in) and here is the path itself with the next texture mapping and color map. Subtle but then it’s meant to be an old worn path. I’ve turned off one batch of foilage temporarily so you can actually see it.. Pretty effective I think.


Ok and there’s more… well at lot more in terms of coding.

NPC now support multiple animations finally and they can roam following paths and play a specific animation at each step at whatever speed is selected.

So now we have woman with a slightly angry walk following a triangle i’ve laid out for her to follow. Maybe she doesn’t like triangles.


At least she has a shadow.. as do all the NPCs now and that’s the final major thing that was added. Next up I’ll be be adding said sage and battered house and maybe a broken cobble path to some spooky ruins.

The fun bits basically!

Until next time.

Building Builders

It’s not all sunshine and roses or whatever the expression is…

The last week or two were spent making “builders” to help my make my villagers (and other monster type things) behave how I want them to.

As you can see I ended up needing a bunch of panel of info to make a quest builder. This allows me to make quest steps of all different types (kill things, collect things, find a special thing, speak to someone or  go to a err special place). I can order them or allow them to be done simultaneously along with set any relevant text dialogue for the various NPCs.

This was a large (and not particularly exciting) slab of coding but hey, it’s done now. So now I can add 1 or more quests to an NPC.

In other news I had to do something about the bounding area of an roaming enemy. They can roam around in their area just fine but what about if they’re attacked (and therefore start to run after you) and get to the edge of their area? Well my solution was to allow them to go to twice the side of their bounding area once they’re attacked and if they get to the edge of that (ie that would probably mean you’ve run away) they will give up and spin around and head back to their area. While they’re heading back they’re also unattackable. This is pretty much how it works in Final Fantasy 14 and Everquest (not sure about World of Warcraft as I’ve never played it) and various other RPGs. I’ve never been 100% happy with that solution but the alternative aren’t that great either (monsters that chase you forever or you being allowed to just stand outside the monsters area and pick them off from range).

We have a new NPC type too. Female Peasant Roamer NPCs. Handily I found a way of using the same skeleton from the Male Peasant NPC so therefore I can use the same animation. At least as a base anyway, I can always tweak it.

This then means I need a “roamer builder”. She can’t just randomly roam around like a mad woman or zombie so she’ll need to follow a “script”. For now it’ll be moving from A to B, pause for x time, turn left/right. She can play a selected animation along with each step. With those step types I should be able to make her wander around the village in an eventual loop. Much like the West World characters although she won’t be quite as intelligent.

Some smaller stuff. The player now hold’s he weapon properly and I added a sparkle to follow his weapon when he attacks, like so:


Oh and when a monster is killed it now updates the quest journal with a message to say that the player needs to kill more or that they’ve finished that step of the quest (also with a green tick). I’ll need to make it so you get your reward soon!


And finally the slope is now checked to prevent you walking up sheer surfaces although that’s not perfect yet since you can turn at a shallow angle to the surface and creep up it slowly but I’ll fix that later by checking the slope angle (as suggested by a nice guy on the Monogame forum).

Until next time..


Roaming and Targetting

Ok loads of updates. Some of which took absolutely ages to get look reasonable.

First up I continued where I left off (which is rare for me since I tend to hop around rather a lot). So before I had it to a quest npc (a male peasant farmer) would offer you a quest to help him with a rodent problem. You can accept this quest and will be offered an item to help you complete the quest. A dagger in this case.

The quest object is added to the player object and appears in your journal a a quest name. Nothing too complicated there but it works pretty elegantly at least and lends itself to easily making so I can save the game state (ie the Player wants to quit and play something else – heaven forbid).

Ok so now I needed some rodents for said rodent problem. I already had my rats kinda walking in a straight line and following the terrain if i told them to however that’s all they did. Unless you attacked them in which case they will follow you to the ends of the earch (around 25km away in this case) and try and kill you. Since they hit for hardly anything that would take probably hours for a rat to kill you. These are, after all, the started quest monsters.

Anyway so I had to make the roam but not too far away from the farmers farm or else what kind of problem would he have exactly? “Oh these rats that are 10km away are bothering my crops?”. I’m not even sure rats eat corn.. but anyway. So the rats first had to roam within an invisible bounding box. That was simple enough,  I just had to add some code to the editor to allow you to set the min/max for the box and save it for each rat.

Now onto the roaming itself. There a simplistic AI for this. The rats have 8 different actions they can perform. One of these is randomly picked after a random time (only a second ish) and they will various in turning rate, speed, animation speed. Also they will avoid each other and try not to make it too obviously they’re in an invisible box.

Here’s a video showing how that looks. I’ll tweak it some more but i’m fairly happy with it:

So there you have it. Next up i’ll be making it so you can kill the rats (which already kinda is done) and make them respawn after a while. They will leave a corpse for a few minutes first and possibly even drop some treasure. Oo Treasure!

On a side note I’m really starting to see why there’s such a long list of people in the credit at the end os PS4 game. Wow there’s a lot of work. I’m glad I didn’t go with my original idea of making an MMORPG. I mean this isn’t going to be Witcher 3, let’s be realistic it’s also not going to cost £50-60. Also remember, No Man’s Sky was only 2-3 guys at first (6 in the end) and that was a pretty huge success. I loved it anyway.

Until next time.


Editing the Realm

Well, loads to tell.

From the picture above you can see I “slung” together a basic terrain editor. This isn’t for reshaping mountains or making huge changes to the world (ie use my terrain generator for that). This is for tweeking the odd nasty pointy hill or overly sleep slope. It was rather complex in the end since it had to find the exact patch of terrain to edit then match up the height with the heightmap (the aerial view of the terrain that determines how height each square meter of the terrain is.

I’d been wanting to do that for a while but I thought it would be too much of a pain. Then I read some post somewhere about using SetData on the vertex buffer after adjusting the position of one of them. I always thought that would be too complex but since my world is centred on the player (0,0,0) it wasn’t so bad to work out. I won’t bore you further with the details.

Other things.

I imported a load more rocks and trees. I think I really do have enough of those now.


So yeah those look nice I think (there’s some mossy ones around but i’ll probably show those in the video).

I’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes on the actual player class. He/she/it now has lots of data attached to them like their name, experience, level, health, power and I made a base skills class which initially just has a dagger skill. The thought being that each item can have a required skill attached to it (or multiple skills or none) for you to be able to use it or at least use it effectively.

That done I moved on to making a character screen, I combined the look of the Final Fantasy 14 one with the look of a more classic RPG. It will have tabs for your skills and stats, equipment and quests. I’m trying to avoid making windows open all over (ie like Everquest) and try and keep the interface as user friendly as possible.

Here is the initial layout, the tabs and data will go on the right.


I’m not 1005 happy with it yet at all but I’ll try not to get too bogged down with making it look perfect and get on with making it usable.

Well that’s it for now.

Until next time…