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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsChronicle of Mars: Mecha Tactics / SRPG [new build 20130425]
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Author Topic: Chronicle of Mars: Mecha Tactics / SRPG [new build 20130425]  (Read 3351 times)
Sar
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« on: April 09, 2013, 01:43:05 pm »

Good morning, TIGSource!

Can I call you TIGSource? It feels like we're old friends, even though we haven't talked in, like, a couple of years. I was going through some stuff, you know? I felt like it would be good to spend some time apart.

Well, sort of apart. I've still been dropping by to peer in the windows while you're not looking. I just like your threads, man!



Anyway.

For the last month or so I've been putting some engine code I wrote to good use and making a tactics game. Or an SRPG, whichever name you prefer. It currently looks a bit like this:



You can try out the first act here, and I'd really appreciate any feedback:

(Updated 20130425 v0.26)
Windows (35.5MB)

Win/Mac/Linux Combined (47.3MB)


What I want to get done with this game is to have a branching storyline which is influenced by decisions the player takes... but avoid the two things that I often find myself disliking with games that do that:

- Choices with really obvious and telegraphed consequences, like the stereotypical "do you want to save the orphan or drown the kittens" morality choices.

- Decision points periodically presented to the player, with more-or-less linear gameplay that's unrelated to those decisions between them.


This last point... well, there's two parts to it, I guess. Firstly, I think decision points like that often show player agency up as the farce it really is in narrative-driven games. As a player you're given these choices to make to involve you and make you feel like you're directing the route of the story yourself, but then you have to sit through lots of other potential decision points where you could have chosen to do X or Y but don't get given the option. Obviously I understand that games can't all have an infinite budget, a billion well-synchronised writers and scripters and so on to make a massive tree of potential dialogue and choices manifest... but the way it's done a lot of the time just highlights the sham, to my mind. I'd almost rather not have choices, sometimes!

Secondly, I remember staying in Paul's apartment when I was twenty, playing Deus Ex for the second time. Mind: blown. I don't expect to blow anyone's mind, but I want to emulate that kind of thing and make a game where your decisions are selected by your actions rather than by some stupid menu on a screen.

So my plan is that throughout the battle sequences, where the player is fulfilling some mission objective or other, there's a set of things being kept track of which they don't see or get told about, and those things influence the way the player character behaves in later cutscenes and the way the story turns out. Some of these will be obvious: save that one beleaguered character and they're alive to take part in the story later; let them die and they can't do anything else 'cause they're dead. Some of them will be less obvious: for example, you may get ordered to do some particular thing which is presented as a mission objective, but of course, that doesn't mean that's necessarily the only way to finish the battle, and disobeying orders may make the game remember that you have a conscience, or that you're vindictive, or that you don't want to let X happen, and your character should then behave accordingly in cutscenes later in the game.

Of course, that's all rather ambitious, the first step is to make the remaining ~80% of the content and see whether my lofty ideals can hold up that long... ;-)

« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 10:51:28 am by Sar » Logged

Currently working on: Chronicle of Mars
Previous Projects: [Käfer|Tristan and Iseult(TIGS)]
Sar
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2013, 01:47:35 pm »

In proper devlog fashion, here's some concept art I actually did do before doing the sprites you can see in the screenshot above:




And here's a few more screenshots:





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Sar
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 06:06:13 am »

I've uploaded a new build (linked in the first post) which fixes a number of bugs, including one which would have prevented finishing one of the routes through the first act.

Next up are some UI improvements - I'm planning on:
  • Showing the odds of a hit, the range band and the weapon damage in a pop-up when selecting a target for shots
  • Improving the UI for placing your units at the start of a battle to at least centre on a unit and maybe add a pointer to them when they're the currently-selected unit in the box rotation
  • Show weapon damage and maybe a bit of descriptive text somewhere in the equip/shop areas to show things like weapon damage and number of shots

It occurred to me that there's presently no way to find out how much damage a weapon does except shooting it at someone...!
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Sar
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2013, 02:36:33 pm »



The first of those items is done - which turned out to take more work than I expected. Grr!
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 01:14:05 am »

This looks like a barrel of awesomesauce!  Who, Me?
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Sar
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 04:23:01 am »

I got distracted for a bit altering the timings of attacks - some feedback suggested that it wasn't easy to tell exactly what was going on with some of the shooting.

Originally I'd just had attacks resolving almost instantly; the shooting-the-gun animation played and the damage was applied at exactly the same time. It looked like this:



This seemed nice and realistic when I first wrote it - generally bullets don't take several seconds to reach their target - but it does mean that unless the shooter and the target are close together, the shooting animation is barely seen, since the camera focuses on the target. It also means that when the player moves a unit and enemies on sentry take reaction shots at it, it's not always obvious where that reaction shot came from!

So I figured it would be worth pointing the camera at the shooter, waiting for the animation to play, then pointing the camera at the target and showing the result:



This works much better - especially when the attacker and the target are far apart - but having seen the benefit I played around with the timings some more until I reached some pauses I was happy with:



This does create a bit of an odd disconnect when someone shoots someone literally right next to them - you see the shot play out, then there's a pause, then the target gets hurt and maybe dies - but it's certainly much more readable, especially in terms of sentry reaction fire. I guess the disconnect isn't uncommon in this kind of game anyway, so I'm not going to lose much sleep over it.



(The unforeseen side benefit of this is that it also highlights armour loss more than the previous timings did, since the camera pans to the target and something changes on their health/armour bar. Armour makes a difference to the amount of damage people take, but having rising armour-damage numbers as well as health-damage numbers just got in the way... but that meant that armour damage wasn't so noticeable.)



I also went back to my trusty Ti-83 graphing calculator to work out a better formula for armour wear-down, before realising that Wolfram Alpha exists. Yay graphs!
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Craig Stern
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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2013, 08:47:26 am »

Ooooooh! This is new.

The graphic style is really fabulous, buuuuuut...those attack animations are placeholder, right? (At present, they lack a sense of weight.)

Also: I'd consider changing the name. Too close to Martian Chronicles, IMO.
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Sar
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2013, 10:49:16 am »

those attack animations are placeholder, right? (At present, they lack a sense of weight.)

Placeholder in the sense that they're going to be replaced as soon as I get better enough at animation to do a better job, yes! ;-) (If anyone has any tips, I'm all ears - recoil on the guns is an obvious one, but this is one of the first times I've animated whole sprites, so I'm probably missing lots of stuff that would help.)

Realistically, not much at all is sacred, if changing it makes for a better experience. There's some parts I know I'm going to go over and rework once I have more of the plot built out (e.g. writing, which is kind of functional at the moment) and some other parts (animations, XP balancing) which I know I need to pay a lot more attention to.

Also: I'd consider changing the name. Too close to Martian Chronicles, IMO.

The Ray Bradbury books? I'd kind of thought about them, but figured it should be pretty obvious it was unrelated... I quite like the name (partly because it's almost a pun), but the other reason I've stuck with it is that I haven't thought of a better one!
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Gregg Williams
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2013, 04:27:58 pm »

Looking quite interesting, the more involved story/narrative aspect sounds really cool. Usually that stuff is quite shallow sadly.

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