Flying Rat Army

My screenshots are getting a bit less pretty lately but I thought it might be interesting to show how I’m going about adding enemies/NPCs to the game.

Using a variation of my normal entity (rocks, walls, buildings etc) editor I am able to move rotate and scale my errr monsters or whatever. From the screenshot above you can see there’s a panel with space for the rat’s attributes like health, defence, attack power and other stats.

I feel like some form of combat is on the horizon I’m taking a slight diversion to add double blend maps to my terrain so I can have snow on the caps of the mountains and cobbles on the floor in towns etc.

Still have the jiggly shadow from problem with mid range shadows but I have plenty of resources to read on how to fix that. Other than that everything is moving along at quite a pace finally.

Better when I don’t spend 2 months getting the fog to look just right.

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.

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.


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:


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.

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.



Flora and Marketplaces

Wow you can so easily waste fiddling with and effect to get it just right, then still hate it then fiddle with it some more.

Inspired by No Man’s Sky (I refer to that game so much because my landscape is ridiculously large too) I liked their use of Billboarding. It’s a cheap technique and looks a bit crap unless used sparingly and only in certain situations. It never really looks good from above or on large objects.

Anyway Here’s an example of some heather blended in with some mist with some rocks and trees:


I fiddled around with that waaaaaay too long. Anyway on the the actual game again.

As you can see from the featured image i’m starting to add market stalls for the player to actually buy stuff. Weapons in this case. I have a load of medieval props to import. Other kinda of market stall and baskets, barrels etc so it should really start to look like a market/village soon.

One day i’ll learn not to fiddle with effects so long it eat into the actual game making process but I sense it’s a common trap for game developers to fall into.

Next week: No more effects, just game (I’ll try).

Mrs and Mrs Peasant

It’s been a busy week building the village and surrounding area.

I’ve had to make a few tweaks to the editor UI to make it more useable but I won’t bore you with those.

I managed to resist the urge to fling in some post-processing effects I was playing with (Depth of Field and FFXA) and get on with adding some more building types. So now my village had a 3 different types of house, 2 types of shop and 1 Inn. I also added some bushes with no leaves dotted about the muddy village. I think I need some cart tracks running through the “road” in the middle of the village. I don’t think this village needs actual gate since it’s pretty small, just the basic wooden wall and a couple of guard towers will do. Which means I’ll need some guards. Who would employ 4-6 guards in a village with only about 10 buildings in it? Maybe it’s best not to dwell on such things.

Anyway I added some more pine trees and rocks about the surround areas and realised I need some nice purple/pink gorse (or whatever that flower is) and some other kinda of tree and also some large rocks (there’s only so far you can stretch my rocks before they start to suffer in quality.

So yeah then I decided my Red Ranger was getting lonely so I rolled out some peasant. They have no “bones” yet so they’re just being rendered by the static model renderer (in a rather silly looking T pose). They look pretty nice for an initial effort though.

It’s all coming together.

I really need to find some nice grass and gorse (sp) and start actually using the instancing and billboarding renderers. It looks nice enough but that will really give the hillside a more fluffy and real feeling.


Did I mention this supports multi-player (MMORPG style) already? I can log on multiple copies of “Realms” and shoot myself with my ranger and he proceeds to do a rather bad dying animation. But hey at least he has the decency to die when he’s shot.



Guard Tower and Pebbles

Wow that’s not much of a blog post title is it? Oh well.. I’ll do better next time.

Anyway it’s been a week of improving and tweaking things – a lot of time was lost due to an instancing bug which was making the grass disappear when viewed from above. Deeply annoying. It was solved with the help of the great guys at GameDev and the solution was a simple bug in the end. As you can see theres pebbles mixed in with the grass. So I should now be able to mix in different type of grass and small objects dotted about the terrain to give it a more realistic look. These objects won’t cast shadows at this stage. I could add that ability and maybe make that an optional performance setting but it will certainly hurt performance to have every pebble and blade of grass casting shadows. Looks nice enough without anyway. Large shrubs and rocks will of course cast shadows.

I may well need to do some boring refactoring work again soon because the whole game engine is growing like a beast again.

As you can see there’s the beginnings of a medieval settlement starting to appear. I now how a great guy from America doing the actual 3d modelling for the generic things I can’t buy in.

I’m hoping to have a medieval settlement (well the walls of one) up and running very soon.