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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsSummoners Fate - Turn-based strategy rpg+ccg adventure
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Author Topic: Summoners Fate - Turn-based strategy rpg+ccg adventure  (Read 37582 times)
RossD20Studios
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« Reply #380 on: February 07, 2018, 01:20:20 PM »

Dev Log 2: Solving the Tech Challenges of the Deck Builder



In my last update, I shared my solution for optimizing draw calls and performance of the deck builder by grouping assets that render together on the same page of the texture atlas. Well, what I hadn’t considered is just how much GPU memory 400+ cards consumes. It turns out that when rendering the cards at full screen resolution, I exhaust my 512MB of GPU ram and the game crashes. Asset grouping has its advantages when you know you have a finite amount of content, but with something like cards in a CCG, where the collection continues to grow, my previous solution was not going to work.

Back at the drawing board, I considered how an application like Google Photos works. To get the fast response time scrolling through the photos, it needs to render the images on the GPU (just like in the game). But how do you account for hundreds of photos without exhausting the GPU? I needed to conserve the available system resources (GPU memory) by unloading cards not being viewed and loading in the cards the player is scrolling to. Since I can’t anticipate the order in which player will view cards (depending on their unique collection and sorting filters they’ve applied) it’s no longer practical to group cards together on a shared atlas. Instead, I create a unique texture atlas for each individual card. This makes the system entirely module, allowing the loading/unloading of individual cards. It turns out loading and unloading from an image stored on the harddrive is very fast. But, my “all vector” based pipeline had a problem: I don’t have images stored on the harddisk, I’m creating them “on-the-fly” in memory. In order for this new approach to be practical, I needed to “raster” file versions of each card onto the harddrive into an asset cache (also similar to how Google Photos works when it stores thumbnails of your photo collection on your harddrive so you can quickly browse through them).

This brings us to another awesome feature of Gil Amran’s DMT solution: it supports asset caching out of the box. You simply set the “cache” flag to true and your vectors get converted to PNGs appropriately sized for crisp visual quality on any device. However, you still need to wait for the initial “raster” process (drawing all of the vectors into bitmaps) which, with 400+ cards, can be quite a delay. One thing I’m very keen on is providing the user with a fluid experience. Choppiness/delays in apps can be a big turn-off and send potential players looking elsewhere for entertainment. Rastering all the assets up front might take 10-20 seconds, dropping FPS in the application down to 0 during this process. This process would need to run:
1. Whenever the screen dimensions (screen area) changes. Not an issue on mobile, but needs to be considered for PC when changing the game window size.
2. Whenever the assets get updated

When this process happens, it’s important to communicate to the player what’s happening and show a progress bar. If the FPS drops to 0, they might believe the app has frozen. To solve this issue, I started looking at AS3 Workers, which is Adobe AIR’s solution to multi-threading or parallel processing. Normally, all CPU instructions operate in serial (one instruction at a time). FPS drops to zero because the CPU is bottlenecked with rasterizing the images. But, with multi-threading, I can tap into the second CPU core and have 2 sets of instructions running simultaneously without affecting the performance of the other.

To get the cards rasterizing seamlessly, I create a separate application, the BackWorker. When the main app boots up, it loads in the BackWorker app and sends it a job: “Hey, BackWorker, would please rasterize these vectors into PNGs while I entertain the player with a lovely progress bar?” BackWorker kindly obliges, allowing the user to maintain a 60FPS viewing experiencing of the progress. Even better, the BackWorker can do this job completely in the background. This means, I don’t actually have to have the player watch a loading bar if the assets necessary to perform the current task (ex: play the game) are available. Imagine this: The first time you boot up the game, you jump right into your first battle. While you’re playing, the BackWorker is building the asset cache of cards on your hard drive so when you go to open the deck manager the first time, all of the cards are available for you to browse. No waiting necessary!

All seemed well and good with this approach until I hit one final snag...

To read more, click here
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« Reply #381 on: February 08, 2018, 01:30:41 PM »

New! Meet the CARNIFLOWER.
This sentient plant is the thing of nightmares. Its head and neck sway like a snake, it moves quickly on vine "feet," and it's out for revenge for all those who've wronged the environment! Watch out for its bite - razor sharp teeth will clamp down and the plant poison will begin to pulse through your veins...

We're working on some more nature characters, including a protector of the plants we're calling Botanical Sage - she's almost done!




(FYI: This was an exclusive first look in our January newsletter. To make sure you catch the next one, sign up today > SummonersFate.com)
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« Reply #382 on: February 09, 2018, 12:01:17 PM »



Helmet, shield and sword for a character we're finishing up. Can you guess who it might be? We will post him soon - stay tuned.

You may notice some interesting symbols on this armor. Summoners Fate will be an enjoyable yet immersive adventure that will touch on many fundamental topics, such as fate vs. free will. We have incorporated symbols and subtle nods to these philosophical discussions - some obvious, some much more understated and requiring a keen eye...Be on the lookout.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 12:34:47 PM by RossD20Studios » Logged

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« Reply #383 on: February 10, 2018, 08:56:10 AM »

Fan of Orcs? So are we, and our class is growing! Meet the finished Orc Huntress, a character suggested by player Philipp - thanks! :D

« Last Edit: February 10, 2018, 07:49:49 PM by RossD20Studios » Logged

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« Reply #384 on: February 11, 2018, 09:59:24 AM »

Female vampire approved! New card art for Void Spell.



STEAL LIFEFORCE
> Void Spell
> Target unit gets -0/-2 and you gain +0/+2



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« Reply #385 on: February 12, 2018, 11:09:39 AM »

Game Dev for today: Working on character selection tool. Since we'll feature 200+ playable characters - everything from dragons to humans to insects and more - I've got to create a smooth way to select them that's low on memory and high on simplicity.
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« Reply #386 on: February 13, 2018, 10:09:26 AM »

The Demon Lord & the Imp are discussing some new hellish "recruits" joining them tomorrow. Check back on Wednesday Evil

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« Reply #387 on: February 14, 2018, 09:30:27 AM »



Happy Valentine's Day from us at D20Studios! Also, here is a peak at our finished Archer (top right).

Revealed Characters

Yesterday we hinted at some new Horror characters; now meet them!



These mischievous demons will be a fun addition to battle against or play as. What do you think?
 
Learn more about them here. See their original sketches here.
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« Reply #388 on: February 15, 2018, 04:10:01 PM »

GameDev for Today: working on rigging up the campaign/level select map that will be part of your base camp.
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« Reply #389 on: February 16, 2018, 01:41:53 PM »

Happy Chinese New Year - 新年快乐 - Year of the Dog!


We love dogs, too, and give you the chance to play as one in Summoners Fate. Here are some of the playable dogs.
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« Reply #390 on: February 16, 2018, 04:54:27 PM »

DevLog 3: Campfire Menu and Campaign Design



Typically, I like to work towards “full completion” of each section before moving on, but, with playtesting and early access release a priority, I’ve shifted towards a “get everything functional” and then “go back and polish” style development.

With the general functionality of the Deck Builder working, I’ve moved on to the game’s main menu system. This is key in creating a cohesion to the experience and giving players the opportunity to use the game’s core features.

For the game’s main menu, I had three goals in mind:
  • Uniqueness: Immersion in the game world vs. ui/menu driven
  • Responsiveness: Support all aspect ratios, resolutions, and device orientations (portrait/landscape)
  • Accessibility: Fast load-in and ease of use
Very early on, I had envisioned this idea of a campfire with your heroes sitting around it. I wanted to instill a feeling reminiscent of the down-time in fantasy RPGs and create a sense of connection with the wilderness and exploration aspect of the world. Initially, I thought I would accomplish this with illustrated menus depicting a scene from a projected isometric angle. In practice though, this wasn’t going to work for achieving the second goal of responsiveness. I had already done a lot of work to support portrait/landscape on mobile, and I didn’t want a menu that was going to require landscape.

I’m not sure why it hadn't occurred to me earlier, but one day it hit me “Why not build the menu into the actual game engine (which already supports both orientations)?” So I created a quick mockup scene of a camp that you can see below.


The quick mockup I made of a campfire scene to inspire my development of an immersive main menu.

I started thinking about the types of objects you might interact with to access the game’s various features. Here you can see the plans for how the camp driven menu will ultimately look:


Here's where I'm planning to add interactive elements. The actual objects might be things like a caravan for the store, a tent for PvP, a table with battle plans for the campaign, etc. Each element will be labeled and rotate to match the orientation of the player's device.

The main menu is built entirely in the game's engine. To help achieve my goal of accessibility, I've optimized the loading process and taken advantage of the texture caching system I made for the deck builder so that everything you need to interact with the menu is readily available. For reference, many comparable games take 20-30 seconds or more after launching before you're in a "play-ready" state. I want the time it takes to boot up Summoners Fate and play to be less than 10 seconds. So far, it's about 7, leaving about 3 seconds to incorporate the multiplayer login.

In the center, you’ll have a campfire with your selected heroes sitting around it. Tapping the fire will allow you to switch out your characters and your new choices will be reflected back on the main menu screen. You’ll have a magical table depicting your cards. Here you’ll be able to do things like browse your card collection, edit your decks and eventually craft new cards.

To continue reading, click here.
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« Reply #391 on: February 17, 2018, 11:09:39 AM »

For those who are new viewing my DevLog - Welcome!

For those that have been viewing for a while, THANK YOU for your comments on & offline, your awesome & creative ideas, and your passion for Summoners Fate. Being an indiedev can be a lonely experience, and I appreciate your kind words. Thanks!  Beer!



DevLog 3: Campfire Menu and Campaign Design

I posted my latest in-depth DevLog yesterday - view it here.

« Last Edit: February 17, 2018, 01:54:25 PM by RossD20Studios » Logged

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« Reply #392 on: February 18, 2018, 11:58:31 AM »

Several backers will be receiving custom characters as part of their Kickstarter rewards. I’m pleased to share one of these unique player-driven characters. Chris Sides is a close friend of mine and former colleague at EA. For his in-game character, he wanted something appropriate to his fierce expression rocking the beard. A heavily armored warrior seemed like the right direction, but Sides also wanted something unique and unexpected. “Can I be a plate wearer who uses songs to cast spells? Like be super mean and grungy, but play lovely music?”




And so the “Marauder Bard” concept was born: a ruthless heavily armored warrior wielding a heavy metal inspired guitar sword melee weapon and spiked knuckles. This unique character joins the roster of over 200 playable game characters and will be a collectible card available to all players.

What do you think? Also, we're trying to come up with a cool name for this character. One idea we had was "Marauder Metalist", given the awesome guitar sword weapon. Any other ideas?
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« Reply #393 on: February 19, 2018, 10:41:54 AM »

We're taking a trip to ancient Egypt...meet the Mummies! We've long been interested in ancient Egyptian culture and are excited to bring these Summoners Fate characters to life...so to speak Wink


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« Reply #394 on: February 21, 2018, 09:41:29 AM »

Hmmm...which Celestial Shield card icon do you like best?   Shrug



> Celestial Spell
> Surprise: Target ally prevents all damage from the next damage-causing action that targets them.

Which do you like best - 1 or 2? Vote here or here, where I also posted an update on Ross and his first night after surgery.
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« Reply #395 on: February 23, 2018, 02:37:19 PM »

Here is an update on the player-designed Marauder Bard. As a reminder, this was designed by player Chris Sides as part of his Kickstarter rewards. To see the original sketch, click here.

Check out that sweet guitar sword. What do you think so far? Who would like to play as the Marauder Bard in Summoners Fate?  Hand Metal Left

« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 05:21:57 PM by RossD20Studios » Logged

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« Reply #396 on: February 24, 2018, 05:14:45 PM »

Axes? Check.
Magical staffs? Check.
Heavy metal guitar/spiked knuckles/sword hybrids? Yup.

Check out the in-development weapons for our 200+ characters to wield.


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« Reply #397 on: February 25, 2018, 03:41:54 PM »

Even when his team was defeated, Arch Mage can still defeat his opponents with some summoned soldiers...

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« Reply #398 on: February 26, 2018, 03:15:40 PM »

Sometimes the trees uproot and join your fight...



Working on the Campfire Menu for campaigns so the characters sitting around your campfire reflect the characters you the player selected. Here, we have the Barbarian, the Druid, and the Treant. Learn more about the menu here.
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« Reply #399 on: February 27, 2018, 02:03:22 PM »

Check out the before and after of a couple of our card icons. We love how they turned out. With Transfer Consciousness, we made the decision to move the heads to horizontal in order to eliminate excess white space in the background. What do you think? Learn more about them below.




STEAL LIFEFORCE

> Void Spell
> Target unit gets -0/-2 and you gain +0/+2.

TRANSFER CONSCIOUSNESS
> Arcane Spell
> Target visible ally becomes your Summoner.
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