Archive for July, 2006
Monday, July 31st, 2006
We held our first regular-time play-test today – 7pm BST is when all beta testers are asked to turn up and fight every day. Wedge, Pineapple, JamesU and myself duelled for an hour. It looked like everyone was having fun, but it showed up a problem: four or more players currently taxes the net-code, and you see opponent jumping around too much.
So I’m working on it. The problem is that the update packets get too full so each player doesn’t get updated quite often enough for their movement to look smooth. The two-pronged approach I’m taking is to reduce the packet-print of each player, and to prioritise player updates better. Obviously, your target should be updated every packet… and hopefully there’ll be enough space left to update anyone else you can see.
If mid-ping (any internet game, but not lan) Free For All games have a player limit of four then I don’t think it’s the end of the world, but I’d much prefer eight. I think we can probably manage that, with jumping if you have more than three players particularly close to you. Acceptable I think.
I’m off to relax a little bit by making a new special move, and then a lot by drinking beer and watching Bill Paxton and his three wives. Good night.
Monday, July 31st, 2006
It seems highly likely that there will be no E3 next year as publishers pull out because they spend more than they make. It’s the best news I’ve heard this month.
Saturday, July 29th, 2006
Uh oh. This technically is feature creep but this particular feature was wanted so much by everyone that I decided to put it in. It’s only taken me half a day to do it too, so I feel ok. And it is the most obscenely cool feature ever… to make your own fighting moves.
We all know that Determinance is a freeform sword-fighting game where you use the mouse to have complete control over your sword. But wouldn’t it be cool to have your own “signiture moves” that you could take online and show to others?
But I won’t tell, I’ll show. Here’s the unbelievably straightforward route to making your own super-move.
Step 1: enter the pose editor and make the three poses that compose your Special Move. Here’s my first: this took me less than a minute:
Step 2: after having saved each of the three move stages as moveNamea, moveNameb, and moveNamec, go into the options menu and type the filename, along with your name for your uber-special move.
Step 3: Join a server, make sure everyone is watching, then hit the special move button!
Awesome! The “preparing” stage of your move is activated, along with the name above your head so that everyone knows you’re about to execute ESCAPING RABBIT STYLE!
Step 4: Hit the special move button again and you’ll activate stage 2. For me stage 2 is the “goading” stage… yes!
Stage 2 executed! Your opponent has NO IDEA what’s going to happen next. He is like a RABBIT in the headlights!!
Step 5: Finally, hit the special move button once more to finish the move – and your devasted opponent – off.
Yes!!!! (Please bear in mind that the blue sword trail is work-in-progress).
As Determinance is completely dynamic, you literally don’t have to do anything else to make a move. The hit location and damage is simply based on where your sword is and how fast it’s going. As soon as you join a server, your special moves are uploaded, so you can use them on any server.
Let me know what you think.
Saturday, July 29th, 2006
The beta is going extremely well. Playing with Archa and Pineapple yesterday, and Pineapply and Wedge today; just a massive amount of fun. The sword arc has made the game very very playable. Still a long way to go, with blocking getting especial attention next week, but everything is looking very good indeed.
As is mentioned on the forums – a place every beta tester should inhabit – I’m getting beta testers to do their own taunt-poses. Want to put your character’s hand on his chin, glance to the sky, and look generally contemplatative in the midst of battle? Go into the pose editor, make that pose, and put it in the pose list. Lots of fun, and I’ve no doubt Archa will manage to come up with something that scares me in a very real way.
The Drayton St Leonard Village Tennis Tournament is tomorrow. It’s a big deal. I will be playing during the day and drunk during the evening. Normal service will resume on Monday.
Thursday, July 27th, 2006
An enormous amount of things have kept me from this hallowed ground for a while, but I’m now back and hopefully ready to rumble in some capacity.
The StrikeArc is indeed promising – I’m hoping that our current Betarers…Betaists…Beta…kateers are enjoying it and will help us to refine it into something thoroughly wonderful. I will be recruiting more Betakateers soon, so get in touch with me if you would like to be one.
In other news, I received a preview copy of Defcon by those cheeky trailblazers over at Introversion on my doormat this morning. When I tell you that I don’t have time to play it today I mean that COMPLETELY LITERALLY so I’m afraid you’ll have to stay in suspense.
I had a dream about System Shock 2 last night. In the dream, you had to play a hugely elaborate piece on giant organ called the “Cassiodiel” to complete the game. I know.
It’s my birthday tomorrow.
Someone really needs to fix this line-break bug in WordPress big time.
Thursday, July 27th, 2006
I’m not going to say too much at this stage, but after playing with Archa and Pineapple yesterday I’m going to call the swordArc prototype a big success. It is, however, only a prototype – which means it has one hell of a long way to go. It’s on that way.
My esteemed colleague and I met up last night to play some fighting games. Determinance was, naturally, first; followed by One Must Fall Battlegrounds, Soul Calibur 2, and Ninja Tournament. Ninja Tournament is a Doom 3 mod which Bla on the forums put me on to. Unfortunately, unless we missed something it didn’t seem to work very well.
Keeping the beta going while coding as much as I need to at the moment is a challenge, so please bear with us.
Tuesday, July 25th, 2006
My day took a few… unexpected twists and turns yesterday evening and so I didn’t get the Persistant Sword Slash system prototyped. It’s happening right now.
My research into OMFB didn’t last too long, but I gathered vital information. Of course fighting games don’t require actual body-to-body combat – they always have the “strike zone” a little bit away from the body, to make actually hitting an opponent possible.
Somtimes team-member Bin has been given Unreal Championship 2 to play, and then report back to me on. UC2 has acrobatics and hand-to-hand combat and was very well received, and is another stop on my research tour. Hopefully the system I’m putting in place now will be the balls, but getting as much info as possible at this stage is pretty invaluable.
Hopefully my esteemed colleague will be back soon to post something that stands more on it’s own. I’ll go prod him.
Monday, July 24th, 2006
Today I am a man on a mission. That mission: to make it easier to actually hit your opponent with a slash.
I have a good basic idea of what I want to do. If you imagine a guy slashing the sword from left to right. In Determinance right now, to connect with this strike the sword must actually hit your opponent during it’s path. It must be spot on, actually hit.
That’s realistic, but it’s too hard. Not only is controlling a video game avatar considerably less casual than controlling yourself, but also lag in internet games means that hitting spot on means… hitting early.
So I’m going to try having the slash you have made – a box encompassing everywhere the sword tip went during the strike – persist as an object for a little while after you have slashed. If this box hits your opponent then it counts as a strike. That should make it considerably easier, and doesn’t compromise any of the freedom of control that is so vital to Determinance. We shall see how it pans out.
As a side note, surely one of the best things about being a game designer is that playing other games counts as research – I’m about to load up old online-fighter staple One Must Fall Battlegrounds, to see if anything about their system jumps out at me. I never really liked OMFB – I thought it did a lot of what you shouldn’t do in an online fighter – but maybe it’s time to see how they solved some of the network related problems.
See you on the other side.
Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
This blog is meant to be an informative and entertaining account of indie development life – with snatches of video games opinion thrown in. It strikes me that posting about our progress with the beta in as much length as I have been may alienate some of our less involved readers… and if that includes you then I apologise. However, there is merit in these posts for those not directly involved: the entire process is shown fairly faithfully in my commincations with the testers.
This beta test counts as Determinance being allowed out into the wild for the first time, and the process is scary, stressful, and electrifying. I believe it is now clear that we are listening to beta feedback in a very, very intent way. These guys have to persist with Determinance when it is not wholly agreeable… their pay-back is having a real influence on it’s evolution.
For those of you who miss my esteemed colleague, I should say that this current absence does not in fact embody the usual lazyness. He has been preparing for being one of the main acts at the Truck Festival and this weekend fulfilled the task – with, aparently, ecstasy-driven stage-diving fans. His return is… expected.
The zone is not free of fools, but I must ignore them while I relax. Good night.
Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
After a slightly depressing bout of Duel Arena with Archa – where I wasn’t feeling the gameplay much – we switched to Free For All and played with Burn for half an hour, which was more encouraging.
First the pluses. The beam has now made Free For All “work”, where before it did not. The problem used to be that because you could fly anywhere without any restrictions it was just too hard to intercept anyone. With the beam keeping people near to the ground for the most part this problem has been removed. Flying around, intercepting and ambushing the others, having the occasional three-way fight was compulsive, and that is a big plus.
Now the bad news. It’s just too difficult right now to connect a sword blow with your opponent. Blocking is looking pretty good: I find it pretty easy to block where and when I want. But slashing is just plain frustrating – it just doesn’t feel like what you want to do is being translated on to the screen, and it seems very hard to hit
The first cause of this I believe is lag – one needs to slash a bit before it looks like you do. But it’s also just too hard to connect.
My head is working hard on the problem, and hopefully a proto-type solution will be in the offering by tommorow evening. I’m considering things along the lines of having the sword slash “persist” in space for a little while, thus making it easier to hit.
This thing will get done.