28
Dec
12

Rollback – Day 1

Phew, I’m winding down day one on Rollback and already I’ve learned a valuable lesson – do not scope out and commit to creating a game while drunk.

Regardless, my vision of the game is a lot clearer today and I am happy with the progress made.

Rollback is one part detective work – the player must identify enemy infrastructure – and one part warfare – the player then must crush this infrastructure, that they have hopefully been observent enough to locate. This creates a unique design challenge in that the enemy needs a place to hide.

If I could point to any one thing that has driven me to work on this particular project, I would have to say that it is one small piece of news that came out of the recent Israel offensive on Gaza – that of the airstrike on a Hamas media centre, situated in an apartment building that also housed prominent foreign news outlets.

Despite the very real risk of high profile casualties, a human being made the call to strike that infrastructure. I want to position my player in that situation.

Reading the above news story from a game designer’s perspective, we deduce that:

  • Hamas integrates their infrastructure into the existing city, rather than build it from scratch.
  • Hamas does in fact operate communication and media outlets.
  • These outlets are worth striking, despite the very real consequence of civilian loss of life.

Taking that reading, it seems obvious that the place to start is the creation of a civilian city, one which the faction can assemble and obfuscate their material assets within.

Today’s labour has been focused entirely on this endeavour, and below I share with you the results.

City Generation

It’s no surprise that I am on a tight deadline. My main challenge has been to create systems that are simple to develop while still allowing for the complexity required.

My city generation system works as following:

  • A city has a city centre.
  • Buildings are spawned denser in the city centre, and taper off towards the outskirts.
  • A number of building types have been designed (apartment, warehouse, small homes etc), and these are distributed intelligently, for example, the city centre contains many apartment buildings, whereas smaller homes spawn more frequently on the outskirts.

The following screenshot from earlier in the day depicts the system in action. Each block represents a building, and each colour represents a different building type. Green represents apartment buildings, red represents small homes – for the sake of this example the colour should transition from green to red as the distribution moves from city centre to outskirts.

Colour coded city

As of yet there is no population in the city, that will come in the following days – but now that we have a civilian city, the faction must be allowed to ‘convert’ some of these buildings into those dictated by their required infrastructure.

To assist the faction AI in making intelligent decisions each building type has a number of statistics, which are as follows:

  • Does the building have a garage.
  • Does the building have a satellite dish.
  • What is the maximum population for this building.
  • How far is the building from the city centre.
  • How far is the building from a border.

Each type of faction building has a number of prerequisites, for example, a storehouse must have a garage, a barracks must be able to contain a reasonable population, a building housing a tunnel must be close to a border, and a media centre requires a satellite and is preferably close to the city centre.

Based on the buildings within their network, the faction will employ various operatives, each fulfilling a specific role. The following is a brief overview of this – which will be fleshed out further in the following days.

Faction Structure

That is my progress so far.

I will leave you with the following screenshot which is currently representative of where the project is at. With any luck the art is not not final, but given my timeframe – it is at a point I am happy to move forward.

Sim(ple) City

You’ll notice that each building is made of a few simple components. This allows for rapid creation of new and more varied building types, but also allows for some simple and visually appealing destruction effects – I envision these buildings mimicking the familiar look of apartment buildings with the sides blown out.

Catch a sneak peek of how this looks at this advanced stage below.

Before

After

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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.
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