seven day project – day five

Any progress made today has been hard won, but I guess that’s Friday for you. I feel like I’ve spent the day tinkering with existing code, it’s difficult to see what has improved since yesterday. Apart from some preliminary UI stuff and the introduction of zones into the gameplay mix (more on that below), I don’t know what actually has.
Looking at the list of things still to be done, I am falling behind – and I can’t find the time to update my documentation, which frustrates me. I have a few ideas to get me back on track, hopefully without sacrificing too much.
The procedural level/round generation system will be cut – but after having playing around with the units and really starting to get a feel for how things work, I’m certain it wont be missed. The game has a real puzzle vibe just below the surface, and I think with hand crafted scenarios it could really shine.
This apparent puzzle feel brings some new challenges, but we’ll discuss that another time. Some features are sure to undergo changes, and I’ll actively be looking for simpler and less time consuming alternatives.Anyway, enough doom and gloom. I’m going to keep this incredibly brief, but I can offer some simple explanation of a few of the gameplay concepts, as well as a screenshot or two of the game in action.

Play Area

Gameplay takes place on a 4:3 area (currently locked at 1024 x 768) known as the play area.
The play area is completely bare, with the exception of zones and player units and their range indicators.

Range Indicators

Although I enjoy the ambiguity and uncertainty resulting from displaying unit information to the player only through the visual design of the units, unit ranges will be displayed on the play area.
This decision was made based on the reactive nature of the unit interaction, and so much of that weighs on the order or units spotting each other. Due to the nature of the ‘commitment’ mechanic associated with attacking and being attacked, being able to see enemy range limits represents territorial borders in a way. By encroaching into this territory, the unit will be engaged, and depending on attachment type and the rules dictating it, may become committed to the skirmish unable to retreat.
If range indicators overlap at any point, the player’s indicators take precedence.
Units utilising the Stealth Attachment are granted a unique range indicator colour in order to more clearly identify their cloaking range (as visible in the image below).


Zones come in two varieties, deployment zones and capture zones.

Deployment Zones

Deployment zones are small zones that determine the position the player can spawn their units at the start of the round. Each zone allows one unit to be deployed, effectively allowing the level designer to place limitations on the size of the player’s force to ensure balance within the round. By limiting the player’s force to different sizes (and different positions), the designer can create varied and challenging scenarios, rather than having to achieve progression through simply throwing more and more powerful enemies at the player.

Capture Zones

The player’s goal is to have a unit placed on each capture zone simultaneously, and defeat all units on the playing field.
Placing a unit on a capture zone raises a red flag for the enemy – if the closest capture zone to an enemy unit is being captured, the unit will attempt to path directly there and defeat the unit attempting the capture.
The screenshot below shows a player unit on a capture zone (the green circle), and three enemy units en-route to destroy it.
And for your viewing pleasure, here’s an image of a unit sporting the improved Shield Attachment being harassed by an excessively powerful rocket launcher unit. The little dude looks a bit worried.

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Playing on Playstation 3

Red Dead Revolver - I paid about $1000 for my launch model PS3, so I guess it's time I get some use out of that emotion chip crammed inside. I remember Red Dead Revolver looking rather good when it was released, and despite the low resolution and odd blurring (that I attribute to playing on a HD set) the game holds up well. It looks good despite these graphical limitations because the art direction is so precise and awesome. And it isn't just the art direction, the music, dialogue and set design (for some reason, set seems a more fitting word than level) all work in tandem to recreate an iconic Wild West atmosphere. Red Dead Revolver doesn’t aim to recreate life in the Wild West, it allows our imagination to take over and populates the locale with legendary men and their legendary stories.

Playing on iPhone

edge - Well I never thought I'd consider playing a game on iPhone as actually gaming, but edge has turned me around. The game is built for the iPhone. Sure, it could be ported, but the elegance of what has been created is astounding, it boggles the mind and makes me wonder what amazing gems we'd receive if current gen consoles weren't clones of eachother.

Playing on PC

Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod, Generals - Zero Hour - It may be a temporary effect as I slowly reintroduce the PC into my gaming diet, but it seems every title I’m excited to play on the platform is either a strategy game, or a cheap indie game. PC gaming isn’t dead, it’s just restricted to titles that require complex input or a pointing device, and games that couldn't be developed or distributed on other platforms. I guess that’s part of the reason the AppStore is so far a success, there were a lot of indie devs stuck on PC for lack of a better alternative.


June 2011
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