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998471 Posts in 39158 Topics- by 30570 Members - Latest Member: Catghost

April 19, 2014, 12:34:01 PM
TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsSpaceHero Command
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happymonster
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« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2011, 02:58:59 PM »

Real life got in the way today, but I've been pondering various ideas for the interface. I'm naturally inclined to the most transparent and simplified interface as possible, but I think I need to do more thinking and testing of what would work. Smiley

Don't expect to see a complicated control panel with tons of different stats and buttons!
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2011, 11:28:23 AM »

Mind the Map

Melchett: [giving a scroll to Blackadder] Farewell, Blackadder! The foremost cartographers of the land have prepared this for you! [Blackadder unrolls the scroll] It's a... map of the area you'll be traversing. [Blackadder inspects the apparently blank scroll] They'd be very grateful if you could just fill it in as you go along. Goodbye!

Aha! Now we get to a good bit.. maps!

There are three different ways of doing the maps that I can see (and these are not mutually exclusive, but can be combined):

1. Hand created maps. These were used in the original Laser Squad game - The advantages are that a map can be very tightly designed to control tactical situations and/or to make the map fit in with the scenario of the mission. Unlike other games, these kinds of maps can be played again and again because of the random deployment of enemies and AI logic. However at some point they will become too familiar.

2. Randomised section maps. These were used in X-com which featured 4 x 4 or 5 x 5 section maps, each section was selected randomly (or pretty much so) so that each mission was different. The advantages are that this means that maps are different every time you play, and more interesting, whilst still having clearly designed areas (such as the shops, ufo layouts). The disadvantages are that you need quite a large pool of designs to really make it work and it can look too mechanical with the square section areas. X-com actually had very few section designs, and I'm not sure why this was the case. Without having to do new graphics they could have added extra designs on disk relatively quickly.

3. Completely randomised maps. This would be the rogue kind of map - either nearly completely randomised (cave systems), or a section of rooms as in Rogue, Moira and Nethack. The advantages of these maps is that everything is new and unexpected when playing a map, and ideas that might never have occurred to a map design can be expressed. The disadvantages are that some maps might be great and others poor, and it could be hard to make it look like anything was done with a coherent design.


So, three approaches which could be combined into hand created areas placed at random and connected by random corridors and rooms. I intend to support ALL of these aspects in the game as I think that will make things much more fun. I especially think that having a map editor in the game so that people can make their own maps to play on with their friends (or just against the computer) would be really fun and cool. Imagine being able to share and download maps from the net, a greatly extended lifespan for any game.

With that in mind I will be designing the map structure and then starting work on a map editor. I already have some map tiles, enough to create a basic level. Once I have a map editor that is usable enough for everyone to use I can start to make those maps actually work by adding in the basic game mechanics.

There are so many possibilities in this kind of game, nearly untouched! This is going to be fun..  Coffee
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DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2011, 01:28:08 PM »

I say the first or second option (that said, the first could kinda' be a subset of the second if the chunks are of arbitrary size...).

However, I'd take a leaf out of Spelunky's book and make the fixtures and fittings of the chunks randomised, so supplies are in different locations each time. Different doors are locked or blocked off, etc. That way you get maximum bang for your buck.

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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2011, 02:41:47 PM »

Oh? I haven't looked at how Spelunky did the map generation, but that might be useful to look at that. Cheers! Smiley
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happymonster
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2011, 11:35:05 AM »

Righteo.. so for the map editor, if this was going to be a tool used only by myself then it could be quick and scruffy and be fixed for the high resolution screensize of my monitor. Let's call this the mongrel dog of map editors.

However, if I want the map editor to be used by anyone then I need it to be clean and nice and play well with different screensizes. So this will be our pedigree puppy!

Because the game style is to use lo-fi graphics, then our map editor has to have rather larger text and icons than it would have if I was hard-coding it for my own use. The advantages with lo-fi graphics are that they are quicker for me to do, I'm more likely to get something good looking than with higher resolution graphics, and that the graphics will scale nicely for a variety of screenmode sizes.

So our pedigree puppy will play nicely with different PC's and monitors, but will have a finickity diet of programming for me to do!
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happymonster
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« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2011, 11:58:52 AM »

Set'ing things up

When I was at school one of the crazes was to collect Panini stickers, whether that was the 86 world cup squads or those scary cabbage patch dolls. Panini were really evil in that you had to collect everyone in a squad (for the footballers), so you might have everyone apart from the third choice dodgy goalkeeper.

What has this to do with the game? Well, not too much apart from the fact that objects in the game will also be arranged in groups, or sets of objects. So for example, there will be a set for one particular unit, while the actual level graphics (walls, floors, objects, etc..) might be in another set entirely.

The advantages of doing this is that it makes it easier to keep things grouped together and not have one massive list of objects and an equally large image file. It also means we can unload graphics that are not being used and load in only those sets that we need to use to build a level.

For the game, there will be a maximum of 256 different sets (each with it's own unique identity number). Within each set there is a maximum of 256 different objects. This means that for the map, two bytes can store any object in the game and we can have upto 65535 objects on a map. In comparison maps in Xcom only have a maximum of 256 objects. Smiley

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happymonster
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« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2011, 01:37:25 PM »

Into the Forth Dimension

Currently the maps are stored in a 4 dimensional array, of which the dimension are: X, Y, Layers, Level

X and Y are the pretty normal dimensions for describing a 2D map. Layers holds the various layers of objects for each object tile. Finally Level holds the current floor level of the map (think of multi-level buildings, or heights as in X-Com)

Currently there are 5 layers, which consist of: Floor, Shadow, Object, Units and Ovelap.

- Floor is used for floor graphics, and anything which is slow to walk through, etc.
- Shadows is used for any shadow graphics and normally darkens any floor tile in various shapes.
- Object is used for walls, furniture, and anything that can be walked over on the floor like dropped weapons, bodies.
- Units holds the information for your units and enemy / independent units. As these can walk over some objects they need to be on a separate layer.
- Overlap is for any overlapping objects or graphics such as the tops of walls overlapping the bottom part of an object or unit graphic.

I might need to add in more layers as the game progresses, but that shouldn't cause any real difficulties as the layers are all referred to by the use of C #defines. This means that I can move them around and insert new ones without breaking very much!

I've been busy this week with social and work commitments. I should get more time this weekend to start work on the map editor. Smiley

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happymonster
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« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2011, 10:27:40 AM »

Annoyed!

Well, I was supposed to be working on the map editor today.. After implementing a nice mouse cursor I found a strange technical bug with the engine that I've spent most of the afternoon trying to track down with no success!

That has not been enjoyable, and I'm going to leave it for now to actually get some of the map editor started..  Lips Sealed
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happymonster
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« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2011, 12:44:26 PM »

Fixed it! (almost by accident)

And it wasn't even my fault, but an engine bug..  Facepalm
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happymonster
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« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2011, 01:58:17 AM »

Sim Wall

Hurrah! I got a lot done on the map editor in the end yesterday. Now I can draw walls across a map like a drunken builder and the editor will automatically sort out changing the graphics so the walls all connect up correctly. It will also add the right shadows as well. Smiley

This is how the editor works so far.. The screen is composed of 16 x 12 tiles - but in map editor mode the viewable map area is restricted to 12 x 12. The remaining 4 x 12 area on the right becomes the map editor panel and is devoted to showing all the map Sets you can use.

For example at the moment there are only three, the walls/floor basic Set, the player units, and an enemy unit. If you click on a Set the map editor area changes to show all the selectable tiles within the Set. You can then select the one you want to use and draw on the map area. Right mouse button erases the tiles. If you right click in the map editor panel it changes back to show the Sets available again.

So in effect it's a way to select any tile by the group it's in, rather than having them all mixed up in one massive list.

It works well so far, very quick, and it's easy just to draw walls, and then add player and enemy units.

I need to deal with scrolling and saving/loading maps next.  Gentleman
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« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2011, 03:10:35 AM »

Did you ever play Laser Squad Nemesis?
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happymonster
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« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2011, 03:21:52 AM »

Yes I did, but I never liked it.  Wink
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DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2011, 03:42:36 AM »

Yes I did, but I never liked it.  Wink

High-five!
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« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2011, 04:50:44 AM »

I never played X-Com, and thesedays I never have the time to play games much, due to small children demanding parental attention.
But I am looking forward to maybe breaking a habit for this game. :D
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happymonster
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« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2011, 04:53:52 AM »

Thanks Yodhe. Smiley

DrDerekDoctors: Yes, I never know quite what it was about Laser Squad Nemesis, but it never felt right to me. I didn't like the generic units and lack of names as well. It all seemed a little soul-less compared to their other games as well.
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