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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsSuper Battlelands [TBS]
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danieru
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« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2014, 08:11:41 PM »

Ah I see what you mean, thanks for mentioning it. That part of the HUD cannot stay as-is. I have no experience designing interfaces so I better find more references.
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danieru
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« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2014, 07:17:54 PM »

Redid superbattlelands.com today. I tried to answer some of the common questions we've been getting. This week we revamped our art style so it felt like a good time to redo the old site.
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martian_automaton
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« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2014, 08:36:26 PM »

I love these graphics. So clean!
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danieru
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« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2014, 03:27:42 PM »

We got a lot done this week, both on the code and art side.

Code wise I prototyped a movie rendering system I would like to use for the start screen and battle scenes. I also re-implemented outlines and found a nice easy method for adding shadows.

Our outlines use the basic “extrude-along-normals” method where you duplicate the model and render it with your extruding shader. In case anyone is curious our outline shaders are below, feel free to use it for what ever you want.

var SHADER_OUTLINE_VERT = [
"void main() {",
   "vec3 expanded = position + normal * vec3(0.09);",
   "gl_Position = projectionMatrix * modelViewMatrix * vec4(expanded, 1.0);",
"}",
].join("\n");

var SHADER_OUTLINE_FRAG = [
"void main() {",
   "gl_FragColor = vec4(20.0 / 255.0, 30.0 / 255.0, 39.0 / 255.0, 1);",
"}",
].join("\n");

You'll notice Three.js has an odd way of formating shaders, they are actually giant strings concated together.

Our unit shadows are a bit more interesting. I had considered using shadow maps (downside: expensive to compute), or a decal system (downside: complicated to program). What I settled on is rendering a simple plane with a fragment shader generating a darkened circle. The interesting bit is we draw this plane after we've drawn all the terrain so it never gets clip'd. Stuff below a unit always appears in the dark just like your eyes expect. The method's downside is you can see the shadow through buildings. In exchange we get fast high resolution shadows and we can support hundreds of units without breaking a sweat.

All this relates to the art news: we've redesigned our art style!



Klamp, an old time advance wars fan and talaented 3D artist, is to thank for the redesign. He gave us fantastic concrete advice on making the units pop from the terrain background. This is what prompted me to add the outlines and rethink the shadows.

The terrain is now less saturated and shifted in the red spectrum. The result is everything feels much warmer. The units now have bright sun highlights. I really have to give thanks to Klamp for his assistance and give mad props to Uberren for pulling the long hours to get this done in only a week.

To celabrate the new art style we've also redesigned superbattlelands.com In the redesign we took the chance to elaborate on our intentions for Super Battlelands. We've also started a Tumblr (http://superbattlelands.tumblr.com/) which Uberren promises he will update with inprogress and finished art stuff. I have to apologise, in our email threads rest a ton of nice art and render shots which I have just not been posting. Hopefully now those renders will see light on the Tumblr.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 05:51:20 PM by danieru » Logged

Glyph
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« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2014, 03:57:37 PM »

The outlines look great! As a big AW fan, I'd like to hear more about the strategy elements - do units get weaker at lower health, what's the distinct advantage of each unit, the cost to deploy units, etc. Maybe no one else cares or maybe it's coming later, but I love that sort of info! I also like the CO mechanic, but I'm assuming there's no such thing here. One can dream, though!

I noticed a few typos on the website's front page, so I thought I'd point them out to you...

Quote
Stay vigilante and pay attention
vigilant = on watch, vigilante = hero.

Quote
Each with their own motivations you must navigate across a 10+ map single-player campaign.
This feels like two sentences mashed together, or something...

Quote
Sorry, we aren't planning multipler for this release

--

Keep up the good work!
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Aki-at
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« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2014, 04:31:16 PM »

You've probably heard this a few times already but this looks fantastic! I loved Advance Wars on the GBA and this looks just as great!

I'm really loving the art direction, it seems to capture the spirit of AW but at the same time manages to do it's own thing. Can't wait to see more of this project!
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danieru
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« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2014, 12:31:01 PM »

Thanks guys!

@Glyph:
So about those Commander powers... I was planning to not implement them. The motivation here is to control scope. Balancing the regular units, terrain, and costs, is something I know we need to get perfect to meet people's expectations. So commander powers would make meeting that goal harder.

Otherwise units should act about what you expect. Their attack power will scale with their health. I don't think we'll scale the defense power since that would be too much cascading.

I think there is a sheet of paper with the unit matrix on it somewhere. Each unit does serve a specific role. Things like "powerful direct firing", "self-type counter", "city capture", "city capture counter", "anti-air". All crossed with the "land", "air", "sea" types. We only have 13 units so you can guess we cut out plenty of roles for some of the types. For example sea type only has two units: indirect, and a dual-role direct & anti-air. Even land is missing some units in the matrix, for example we have no transport units in no types!

Please do keep dreaming though! We want to add these features, we just have to wait for a sequel if people end up enjoying our original.

@Aki-at: Awesome! That was exactly how we hoped the art style would come out!
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danieru
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« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2014, 06:04:07 PM »

Another week and another update!

For my part the past week I attended the Printer Working Group. So it was very productive for work but not so much for super battlelands.

Instead Uberren has a couple units for us!


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WhatPixelYouOn
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« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2014, 11:46:23 PM »

omg this looks so CUTE!
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TheChaoticGood
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« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2014, 08:26:30 AM »

The art is really cute.
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TheAnndddyyyy
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« Reply #30 on: August 20, 2014, 09:19:04 AM »

Very cool! I'm sold just on reading through your updates.

Very excited to see where you manage to take this!
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jctwood
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« Reply #31 on: August 20, 2014, 10:08:39 AM »

I adore the models of the different units!
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Reilly
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« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2014, 02:29:17 PM »

Lookin great, just realized I hadn't commented to follow the progress.

Fixed! Keep it up!
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danieru
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« Reply #33 on: August 25, 2014, 07:02:21 PM »

WOW guys thanks!  Mock Anger It's incredibly touching to have so many words of support.

So over the next few weeks I'm transitioning into full time work on Super Battlelands. Hopefully that will allow me to catch up with Uberren. Right now it feels like I'm spending most of my time in the rendering system and just scratching the game logic bits.

This week I fixed all our outstanding bugs. This included 3 crash bugs. A nasty visual glitch (unit outlines rendering ontop of other units and buildings). Plus made the logic system enforce more game rules like:
  • No moving twice in a turn
  • No attacking then moving
  • Indirect fire units must either move or attack, not both
  • No attacking outside your attack range

Which leads me to mention I added support in game logic & human input for indirect fire units. AI has no clue how to use these things but that will have to do until I write a proper AI system.

Now onto the BIG NEWS: we made ourselves a logo!

Last weekend I spent a full day just searching for freelance logo designers, but to no avail. After a long skype conversation with Uberren we hashed out our dream logo. By the end of that conversation we figured we knew enough about what we wanted that we might as well make it ourselves.

It still took us two more multi-hour conversations to evaluate (and negotiate (We each had some ideas we needed to compromise on Beg)) but the end result is something we are both happy with.

Plus Uberren did up the Attackheli:


And everything together:


For a more whitty update you can also read all this news in the newsletter: Update 6 newsletter. (I just mention this because I know there might be lurkers here without accounts or they might not check the forums frequently.)
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Glyph
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« Reply #34 on: August 25, 2014, 07:11:39 PM »

Looking good! One question: will unit facing play a strategic role, or is it just cosmetic? I bring this up because a lot of tactical RPG games put a big emphasis on facing and you have units at all angles in the screenshots, as opposed to a more regular each-army-unit-faces-a-certain-way-after-moving deal.
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danieru
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« Reply #35 on: August 25, 2014, 07:36:37 PM »

Looking good! One question: will unit facing play a strategic role, or is it just cosmetic? I bring this up because a lot of tactical RPG games put a big emphasis on facing and you have units at all angles in the screenshots, as opposed to a more regular each-army-unit-faces-a-certain-way-after-moving deal.

Good question! I was planning on making it purely cosmetic. Our running theory is that the units on the over world are just metaphors for the real thing. Sort of like those war room tables where the units get pushed about with long sticks (Found a photo). So rotations would be detached from the on-the-ground reality.

This is also one of those "difficult to translate to 3d" things. Advance Wars has it where units snap to their "team orientation" after moving. But in 3d it would look weird if a models flipped rotate as if it had no mass.

So instead units keep the orientation from their last movement. Compared to an RPG flanking is pretty rare. Meanwhile battle lines are clear and get reinforced by new units every turn. Having rotation based advantages could be cool though, is anyone else interested in them?
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danieru
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« Reply #36 on: August 26, 2014, 11:23:03 AM »

After seeing Reilly's treatment for Warbits just for fun I wanted to see what SB would look like in black & white.



What I did was convert the terrain and unit texture atlases to grayscale with imagemagick. The colors are coming from the shaders.
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Glyph
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« Reply #37 on: August 26, 2014, 11:32:33 AM »

Looking good! One question: will unit facing play a strategic role, or is it just cosmetic? I bring this up because a lot of tactical RPG games put a big emphasis on facing and you have units at all angles in the screenshots, as opposed to a more regular each-army-unit-faces-a-certain-way-after-moving deal.

Good question! I was planning on making it purely cosmetic. Our running theory is that the units on the over world are just metaphors for the real thing. Sort of like those war room tables where the units get pushed about with long sticks (Found a photo). So rotations would be detached from the on-the-ground reality.

This is also one of those "difficult to translate to 3d" things. Advance Wars has it where units snap to their "team orientation" after moving. But in 3d it would look weird if a models flipped rotate as if it had no mass.

So instead units keep the orientation from their last movement. Compared to an RPG flanking is pretty rare. Meanwhile battle lines are clear and get reinforced by new units every turn. Having rotation based advantages could be cool though, is anyone else interested in them?

I could see it going either way. It could make breaking behind a line more important if units are shored up in one direction, but then again breaking behind a line is already good because you can get to the glass cannons. There is also the question of calculating whether an indirect attack is hitting 'behind' or 'to the side' of a unit at a perfect diagonal from it, etc. Or just have facing only matter in direct combat, more likely. It ultimately depends on which leads to the best strategic options. I like the idea of going into a bit more risky territory (past an enemy facing you) to do extra damage, but there are those problems with it that I listed above. Anyay, if you do end up going with facing having some impact, I would definitely allow the player to pick what direction they want their unit to end their turn on (otherwise they might expend extra fuel to snake into the right orientation or something dumb like that).
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Reilly
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« Reply #38 on: August 26, 2014, 01:26:55 PM »

A lot of it comes down to what you want SBL to be. Do you want it to be Advance Wars, or do you want it to be like Advance Wars?
Warbits started as an Advance Wars clone, but over the years it's turned into more of a love letter. The spirit is there but it's not a carbon copy.

My advice would be to try new things and test them out. You'll have some spectacular fails but that's how you get to the good stuff.
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danieru
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« Reply #39 on: August 26, 2014, 02:53:57 PM »

Both of you have good points. I think one of the overridding goals I have is to steamline the user interface. Even now you can attack, move, and capture all without a single menu or confirmation dialog. Some features will require dialogs. Diving a submarine, or dropping units out of a carrier come to mind. But something like rotation would require a dialog after every movement so its a hard sell for me.

I don't know if I've publicly mentioned it anywhere, but one major change from the AW formula I have planned is terrain deformation. If the player feels confident they can hold a battleline they have the option of flattening forests or bridging rivers. Things which take time to construct and which profit whoever controls the territory. This I hope will speed up the end game by affording high tier units faster access to the battle.
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