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December 14, 2018, 01:05:21 AM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsAuto Fire: A turn-based roguelike auto combat RPG
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Author Topic: Auto Fire: A turn-based roguelike auto combat RPG  (Read 3293 times)
Vertigon
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« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2018, 10:01:36 AM »

The game is written in straight up C# in Unity.  The block above is an object definition style that comes from a friend who used it on some previous projects of his.  It's a dead-simple setup that creates a "thing" that is indexed in a dictionary.  Within each thing is a pair of strings, key and value.  Since there can be thousands of "things", each one is parsed on demand at runtime (to convert from a generic "thing" to a ChassisInfo in this case).  A reference to any ThingID can also check for Tables which is a weighted set of Things (or tables) that it chooses a thing randomly from.  That's it, dead simple.

I use Json for heavily nested data (and a touch of XML from older tools), but this definition structure is much more compact and human-writable.  I use it for a lot of one-off definitions.  There may be better pre-established languages for this, but being in complete control of the framework and how it is parsed can have its advantages.
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Vertigon
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« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2018, 10:11:09 PM »

One bit of feedback I got when showing the game to a friend recently was that it was fun to drive, but picking up loot was beyond terrible.  That's because you have to manage traction, speed and direction even when you're just trying to hoover up whatever you found in a weapons cache you just blew up.  It's just a whole bunch of stunt driving to scoop of some stuff that might only be worth a few bucks.

"Got it covered," I boasted...  I'd already planned to add in a "radar pulse" that would do the triple duty of revealing hidden things on the field, "painting" targets for improved accuracy, and acquiring items in a small radius around the player's car.  Super-convenient when you are in between fights, but when you're in the thick of it you do have to deal with its cooldown.  There's also the precious action that you have to use to activate it, rather than using it to shoot or turn.



Feeling smug Gentleman about my clever solution, I recalled how long ago I decided on my solution.  It was...........  over a.... year ago.  Facepalm  For something like 15 months I'd been picking up loot in the worst way possible.  Errr... awesome.   Guess I should get that damn thing in.  Lips Sealed

It took an embarrassingly short amount of time given the sheer weight of procrastination behind it.  Shrug
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seth
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« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2018, 09:50:52 PM »

This looks great and unique.  I gotta say picking up look with stunt driving sounds fun but I can see how in practice it wouldn't work so well.
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Vertigon
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« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2018, 01:17:22 PM »

Over the past several months I’ve been working through some significant issues to get Auto Fire up to snuff...  Good ol’ Jim talked me into going to the Roguelike Celebration 2018 in San Francisco this weekend so I could start showing my game to people more widely.  Pretty exciting!  Also pretty nerve-wracking given all the other stuff going on this summer.



Unfortunately there were a ton of things about my game that still drove me crazy...  For example I wasn’t able to save the state of maps between visits... which meant that the overworld in particular would regenerate every time you left a location.  I had to finally take the plunge and deal with that particular issue.

Man I hate two-years-ago me.  I did some real hack jobs to get that 7DRL challenge done, and I guess I wasn’t done paying off that technical debt. ??

Luckily I got all the proper stuff to function, save off map states and basically am ready for honest-to-god savegames (although I don’t do save/load just yet.)  I’ve also made a whole bunch of quality-of-life improvements based on early player feedback:





  • The camera is now behind the vehicle at all times.  This way the WASD weapon keys are always consistent and understandable, and you don’t have to envision tank controls.  I had always suspected this would be a problem, but I think I was so used to camera-always-north that I didn’t have any trouble playing.  The added benefit is that the game has a fairly unique look as compared to other Roguelikes now.
  • Improved feedback for speed.  This is always a work in progress.  The player needs to know when they are speeding or skidding.  Putting the camera at a shallow angle and adding speed lines is my current strategy.  I also shake the camera a bit, but that may just be too much.  We will see where things go as feedback comes in.
  • Recolored environment.  A good friend did a paintover of a screenshot of my city environment a while back and it helped me gravitate towards dark ground surfaces, light obstructions, and bright colored gameplay elements.  This wasn’t the case with deserts (because, y’know, desert), but I’ve been darkening things quite a bit and trying to get the colors to pop.  Still a work in progress.
  • Revised balance and loot drops.  This isn’t really finely balanced, but I did make the early-play experience quite a bit easier so that people that wanted to try out the build could get a good idea of what the game was about quickly.  I also brought down the size of the average “loot pinata” that existed when I was testing loot out.  I really still need to do a huge push towards making content, maybe after the RogueCel.
  • Revised location names.  More on that next post!
  • New garages in the overworld and desert outposts.  I’m trying to make sure that the player has plenty of places to equip all the weapons and vehicle components I’m dropping.  That includes in hostile areas.  That will be a balancing act in the future.
  • UI improvements.  Again from feedback, I flash the weapon when you try to use it but can’t, and flash the grip meter if you are skidding and try to accelerate.
  • Music and sound improvements.  I got some new weapon sounds and hooked them up.  The quality is steadily improving there.  On the music front, I went back to Michael La Manna‘s excellent western apocalypse music... The quality is really high and fits the feel of the game really well.





My next step is to get the game out onto itch.io so that more people can play.  That will be sooner than you think!  And as always, you can keep track of updates by visiting my blog Vertigames!

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Vertigon
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« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2018, 11:16:28 AM »

The very first publicly-playable build of Auto Fire is finally up on Itch.io!  <mic drop>

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« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2018, 02:51:27 AM »

Hey, I got the demo but it didn't start, I suppose because I'm running Win32. Would be nice to have a 32-Bit demo, should the occasion arise.
Gameplay seems to be fun and sophisticated to me. (Quite often you find nicely looking visuals but gameplay is missing or isn't worth mentioning yet.)
I also like the atmosphere! But the UI overlays appear big, colorful and numerous to me and sometimes they spoil the atmosphere a bit.
I'm watching! Smiley
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Vertigon
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« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2018, 04:31:14 PM »

Hey there!   I'll check into the Win32 support.  I didn't really think about lower-end machines at this phase (for example, it runs like poo right now on a mobile graphics chipset) but I'll put a 32-bit build out and we can see what happens.

The use of UI is something I kind of need but also understand the wish that it would be less prominent.  Ideally I'd like to have minimal UI but I'm also putting a premium on telling the player what's going on.  We'll see where I can take it without everything turning into a mess! :-)
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« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2018, 05:38:18 PM »

Build

Check out v0.5 on Itch.io. Next build due early next week.

Post Roguelike Celebration Edition

This past weekend was devoted to Roguelike Celebration 2018 and I had a blast. Saturday night was the arcade, where any anybody with a project to show set up their laptops on the long wooden tables of GitHub's awesome common area. I was eager to show Auto Fire, but I happened to have a potato-level laptop that barely ran it at a few FPS... An awesome dude named Jaxon (whose last name I unfortunately never learned) was cool enough to let me set up his super-baller laptop to show it off instead. Thanks my friend! Then Jim magically scrounged up a giant TV and we were able to show it at around 100 fps x 55 inches.

It was a blast and tremendously inspiring to hear all the feedback, especially from Roguelike devotees. It's really an audience I want to do right by... I got some really good comments on the game and came back with a big list of what sorts of things I wanted to take care of.



Takeaways

  • Grip adjustments! The single biggest change I'm working on now is improving the grip model. I've found "realistic" grip mechanics to be frustrating in the past, so my core focus in on implementing grip so that players get the results they expect. This will be focused on next build.
  • Need a minimap. I do not have a player-facing minimap yet, and every since I changed the camera to no longer face north, it has been desperately needed. Added to the short list.
  • Perf issues. I hadn't done specific optimizations for lower-end machines, and I should probably get around to doing them so it feels better to play, even on good systems.
  • Ongoing UI work. I have indicators over the enemies showing health and hit chance, but they don't read very well. The targeting grid can be difficult to use. The armor display could use more readability. A couple people were overwhelmed when they saw the game and took some coaxing to try it. Not a big shock, I have a lot of HUD and controls. I'm always looking for ways to trim down that info overload.
  • Gamepad support. I think it could play well on gamepad, and since I have Rewired for Unity, I think it should be super-easy to set up.
  • Fun suggestions. Racing missions! Adding speed momentum to dead vehicle physics! Turbo Boost accessory! Elevation changes!

So by the end of the weekend I'll have an improved grip system in place with a slightly better grip readout. Maybe a couple more things. Looking forward to it!
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Devilkay
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« Reply #28 on: October 13, 2018, 12:27:22 AM »

it's the first time that I see a game like this. I dunno if it's good or not  Who, Me?
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Vertigon
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« Reply #29 on: October 15, 2018, 05:21:11 PM »

Download it and find out! Well, hello there!
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« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2018, 11:40:35 PM »

I had a bit of a weird week because I was coming off the RoguelikeCel, but after the feedback I got I knew just what to focus on for this new update.



Check out Auto Fire v0.5.01 on Itch.io!

Enemy Cars
  • Enemy cars can shoot again!
  • Yeah sooooo I recently added some infrastructure so that player vehicles can have unique loadouts that are independent of the model of car itself.  ...annnnd while I got it all working for player vehicles, I broke the ability of enemy cars to have their own weapon loadouts too.  So they didn't actually have any weapons mounted. :-P  Fixed!

Health Bar
  • The existing health post attached to vehicles in the world was straight up and down, and hence blocking the view of important info such as the state of the front weapon, or your speed when reversing.  The style of the health bar is now adjusted to be a bit less disruptive.



Speed UI
  • The speed indicator was pretty rough, hard to see, and clunky to look at.  A few things were done to improve this:
  • Smoothed out the speed indicator angle so it rotates more gracefully.
  • Improved the speed chevrons (both the green and red) to be more visible.
  • Added grip indicator for the player on top of the speed indicator, for the player car only.
  • Speed arrows and grip indicator grow in a more visually pleasing way.

Skidding functionality
  • So the previous model of vehicle skidding either gave you complete control or zero control.  It never felt good since people's instinct is to push against a skid in various ways to try to influence it.
  • I wanted skidding to be fun and also kind of do what you expect.  So, it got a heavy overhaul:
  • The speed indicator now has a display of "hazard levels" beyond the speed itself.  A broken chevron means that you are skidding more out of control.
  • The "hazard skid" levels supplement the standard "grip down to zero with a red speed indicator" style of skidding.
  • If you have a hazard skid, you can turn but can't influence your movement.
  • If you are skidding but do not have any hazard skid levels, you can influence your movement by 45 degrees by accelerating to the side.  Thus a skidding vehicle can still trace wider arcs.
  • You can accelerate or decelerate your skid by pushing towards or away from the direction of skid.
  • Skidding and grip now recharges more reliably based on whether you are facing in the direction of the skid.

So that's it for now.  I'm adding a little more info on the Itch page about the systems that Auto Fire (in its current state) will support for now.  There is a request for a 32-bit version, although I'm not sure I'd recommend older machines just yet until I slim down some of my meshes.  I can build one but it is not yet included in the archive.  In the future I'll put more work into optimization and alternate OS'es like Linux.
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« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2018, 12:46:02 AM »

I loved carwars when I was younger.  I've thought asbout making a car based rpg or roguelike in the past but it never got passed the ideas stage since I never came up with a satisfying way to make the mechanics work.  Super interested to see how you've gone about solving some of the problems, looks like you've made some promising progress.  Will be downloading and trying the demo when I get out of work.
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« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2018, 12:47:07 AM »

Quote
you can turn but can't influence your movement.

Warning, message unclear: turning is influencing your movement, after all.
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Vertigon
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« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2018, 07:53:11 AM »

Quote
Warning, message unclear: turning is influencing your movement, after all.

The statement is actually fairly accurate, although it probably wasn't explained in the most clear fashion.  You can rotate the vehicle (turning on your axis) but can't influence your trajectory (the vehicle continues to move in the skid direction).
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« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2018, 07:56:06 AM »

Quote
I loved carwars when I was younger.  I've thought asbout making a car based rpg or roguelike in the past but it never got passed the ideas stage since I never came up with a satisfying way to make the mechanics work.  Super interested to see how you've gone about solving some of the problems, looks like you've made some promising progress.  Will be downloading and trying the demo when I get out of work.

I was a Car Wars nut back in the day, but I also loved the world, in all its post-apocalyptic media-fueled post-western glory...  I lamented that tabletop Car Wars could be played fast enough for the repeated encounters that a campaign demands.  My hope is to hit that balance of tactical combat and open adventure that AutoDuel and the Roadwar series only managed to tease for me.
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« Reply #35 on: October 23, 2018, 08:04:02 AM »

I still have a ways to go to hit the look I want out of Auto Fire.

All my visual assets so far are bought from the Unity Asset Store, or made by me (and I am no artist).  The challenge of using purchased assets is that often cars or environment elements are created to look super-realistic, since that's the direction Unity is making its biggest improvements.  However, I don't want the game to lead too far into the realistic direction for a couple reasons:

The first reason is legibility.  Everything needs to be exaggerated somewhat because all the elements:  Obstacles, buildings, vehicles are pretty small onscreen.  Any top-down game has this problem since a vertical-standing object often has a pretty indistinct silhouette from above.

The second reason is the fact that I am taking massive liberties with scale.  Buildings are the size of cars are the size of people, because I want the game to feel fairly roguelike in how its world is constructed and navigated.  When I had some realistic looking assets at the start, everything looked really weird.  I had purchased some realistic gun muzzle flashes and smoke and somehow it emphasized the scale inconsistencies.  I then put back the stylized explosions you see now.

For environment art I am trying to use the lowest-poly models I can find, and then I put the textures through a cleanup filter, but I want to do more (and I have to just for performance anyway).  I'm not looking to make the game look cartoony, but "clean" and "easy to parse" would be great targets to hit.

Those "rooster tails" you see when accelerating or braking are just an experiment with stronger, stylized feedback for speed changes.  The look isn't quite right yet...  In the end if I can get something closer to the ground VFX from Auto Modellista, that might be pretty rad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEXBazvuUPA#t=18m10s
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Vertigon
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« Reply #36 on: October 28, 2018, 06:41:23 PM »

Hey, I got the demo but it didn't start, I suppose because I'm running Win32. Would be nice to have a 32-Bit demo, should the occasion arise.

The new update is out, and it includes a Windows 32-bit version now!

I've been away on vacation over the last week, so not a lot of changes this week, but there's a new version out now. 
The exterior world (all terrain, like outposts and overworld) runs about 3x as fast (that was bugging me pretty bad after trying to run it on a laptop).  I made some additional cleanup to make the terrain be cleaner and easier to read.

Enjoy!

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