I know I promised details of how this all actually works, but I've decided to put that off until at least next week.
Here's a screen of the WIP combat as a consolation prize:
In other webdev news, the Gruedorf Aggregator has new and improved icons for dead feeds and lame updates. There's also a brand spanking new Stats page. Be sure to check it out and tell me what you think!
Now, to the good stuff. The defense design is finally ironed out. I really like the way it's ended up, even if it did take significantly longer than I originally wanted to get to this point. Next week will be all about moving forward with the implementation of the combat and related systems. Actually, that's pretty much what every week will be until release.
Last week I mentioned the ridiculous amount of time I spent messing with slider styles. Today, I present to you what I've settled on (with old style for comparison). I think it looks a lot better (for not being wildly different) and there is only a very slight performance hit. Well worth the trouble, in the end.
Old / New Slider:
That's a lot of information from quiet ol' me, but wait! There's more! I want to take some time to touch on the "original" design a bit, and maybe even get some feedback on it.
Disclaimer: This is an old design. The game will not work this way!
Each planet has an assigned technology. Controlling a planet allows you to utilize that technology. The technologies come in a variety of flavors (shields, weapons, etc). When preparing to attack, you pick the ones you want from those that are available to you and then engage in a space shmup sequence with an appropriately augmented ship.
The actual assault is divided into three phases: Hyperspace, Approach, and Dive.
During Hyperspace, you navigate an asteroid field without the use of your weapons. Afterward, your ship drops out of Hyperspace and the weapons systems are restored. You have reached the Approach. During the Approach, an assortment of drones and fighter ships will attempt to intercept you. Successfully destroy or avoid all of them and you will reach the planet's surface, at which point the Dive begins.
During the Dive, an opening in the planet's surface leads you down a long, roughly contoured tunnel, where you encounter mounted turrets and destructible barriers. Successfully navigate your way through the tunnel without being destroyed and you will reach the core. Destroy the core and you will assume control of the planet.
After a successful assault, you are then be able to configure the planet's autonomous defenses. Each planet has an allotted number of defense points that can be spent, with more effective defenses requiring more points. In effect, every planet has a different level of defensibility, but it is up to the player to you to find an optimal or unexpected combination of defenses. As you maintain control of a planet, it will generate wealth for you.
So, that's a rough summary of what it was. I do still like it, for the most part, but I think it it has too many complexities (despite its apparent simplicity) for the pick up and play feel I want to accomplish. Next week I'll take some time to discuss how the new model works, and maybe highlight some of the more significant differences.
The defense design is finally getting to being done-ish. I need to re-distill the adjustable attributes. As it stands there's just too much to manage; it's like a wall of numbers. Some of us may like things like that, but I really want this to be fairly accessible.
Have a WIP mock-up of the defense setup / editor:
I also dipped my toe back into my main codebase for the first time in a while. It was mostly uneventful. I spent no less than six hours tinkering with my slider styles. No, it isn't super-important, but when making my mock-ups, I ended up with a slider design that I really liked, so I decided to change them. Sadly, It required special handling of the ends to make it look right in all cases and, regardless, there was no way to make it look right without a serious performance hit. This game is definitely going to have an abundance of sliders and eating up that much performance for a little visual couldn't be justified. So, I'll have to come up with something else!
Behold, the ship designer!
Well, a mock-up of it, anyway. You'll be able to tweak various properties to create a customized weapon of death, destruction, and domination. Fun stuff!
I'm in the process of ironing out just what to do with the defensive component of the combat. By next week's post I should have that taken care of and a relevant mock-up or two to show off. Then it's time to dive back into implementation and get this thing out the door already.
Now, for more tangible results, let's look to the Gruedorf Aggregator. Notice anything different? Okay, I admit, it's pretty minor, but I did do some tweaking to it. First, it now defaults to the scoreboard view instead of the headlines. As near as I can tell, no one really uses the headline view anyway. Second, if you're anything like me and ever wanted a handy way to see just how badly you're doing, now you can! The scoreboard can be sorted by a number of different columns. No, it's nothing spectacular, but now you can easily see that you're in Xth place (4th at present, in my case).
Next week I hope to have the design ironed out enough to start providing details and maybe even a mock-up or two. Until then.
The basic rundown is this: You are a corporation seeking your fortunes across the reaches of space. You have a hangar of custom built ships at your disposal. Using these ships (in shmup-type combat), you take over planets belonging to other corporations. After you've taken over a planet, you set up autonomous defenses to protect it from other invading corporations. Controlling a planet nets you wealth and enables you to make higher quality ships which you can then, naturally, use to take over more planets.
And now, the state of things:
* The server is done.
* The client's non-combat components are done.
* The combat design is about 80% complete.
* The combat implementation is non-existent.
In effect, everything is waiting on the implementation of the combat system. Once this is done, which should be sooner than later (I fully expect to be the first 'dorfer to finish a game; yeah, I said it), we can look forward to a glorious open beta. You're all invited!
Now, regarding the actual project. The new combat is neat, but it (like everything else, it seems) just doesn't feel right. So, I've been toying with a lot of different ideas, hoping to find something that really clicks.
A brief history of the combat system:
The original intent of this game was to have a light strategy game woven into some white-knuckle action sequences. While the original combat would have accomplished this, it was doomed to being either too hardcore to pick up, or too easy to have been worth including at all. Neither of these was acceptable and a middle-ground would've just made the whole experience feel watered-down.
A whole smorgasbord of new combat system plans followed, the more recent of which are the falling-blocks puzzle and the as-of-yet unmentioned large-scale tactical warfare. While each of these has their merits, they were all too complex, requiring a mountain of menus for the player to navigate just to get to the action.
So, I've stripped it down with simplicity and accessibility as my primary goals. As it stands right now, in combat you get one vessel. You use that vessel to destroy a single other enemy vessel. You'll have the ability to trick out your ship with a number of parts and gadgets to keep things interesting, but the essentials are all very simple and straightforward.
Provided I haven't changed my mind yet again, next week I will offer more details about the system and what progress has been made with it.
This means a number of things. The bad news is that it will be virtually impossible to make my originally intended deadline. The good news, though, is that it will be a better, more cohesive experience. I also now have a solid foundation for a nifty puzzle game further down the line. A bit of scary news: I'm not actually going back to my original combat system either. Instead I'm going to try my hand at a sort of action / RTS fusion thing.
Considering the time spent tinkering with the puzzle stuff and the scope of the new system, I estimate to be an entire month behind. We'll see how the next week or two goes, but the odds of making the August deadline are looking pretty bleak.
This post is screenshot free, given that the project is just now changing gears and I haven't had a chance to bang anything out yet. I'm excited about the new direction and am confident that after the dust settles, this will have all been for the best. I'm going to try to be a bit more open about development now that the end is in sight. Look forward to next week when I reveal how some of this new system works!
* An epic class refactor job.
* Repairing an infuriating bug in the chain system.
* Adding proper bars for the player.
* And more!
So, I actually got quite a bit done this week. It's just not the forward-momentum productivity stuff I was hoping for. Improvements are improvements, though, and it's looking more and more like a real game with each passing day.
The only real visual difference is the presence of those colored bars. Exciting, I know. Looking at a calendar, it seems I have just under four weeks left. This is ample time to finish, provided I don't become too distracted.