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October 22, 2021, 07:51:29 AM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsCo-Op Pipe Laying Exploration - Clomper | Unity | WIP #49
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Author Topic: Co-Op Pipe Laying Exploration - Clomper | Unity | WIP #49  (Read 9041 times)
brainwipe
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« Reply #60 on: April 06, 2021, 11:52:48 AM »

That stinks. I have my fingers crossed for you and send some positive brainwaves your way.

Thanks, Alain. The support is always uplifting. I'm sitting down at 9pm, both kids quiet enough for me to try again.
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brainwipe
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« Reply #61 on: April 17, 2021, 02:16:51 PM »

Perfect is the enemy of done.

It's a phrase that I've used a lot during my career but I find it hard to apply to my own projects because I am not coding on someone else's dime.

Physics over multiplayer is definitely relevant though. You can get very close simulation between server and client but to do that, you need to implement prediction, reconciliation and rollback. None of that is very hard but I have a lot of different systems in Clomper and each needs its own treatment. Seeing as Clomper is deeply co-op and will never be competitive (apart from perhaps sharing pipe network layouts between players) there is no need to super smooth, perfect synchronisation. Good is good enough.

With that in mind, I have struggled to find time around work and family commitments but have finally got to the stage where I have playtested a few times with my 11yo son (whose honesty is brutal and useful in equal measure) and a single mate over the net (to test a little latency). The next test is 2 friends to get a sense of how playable it is.

Here's the state of the GitHub project: I started rewriting multiplayer on the 9th of October 2020.



It's make or break. If the guys have fun playing Clomper, I'll keep going. If they don't, I'll park it.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2021, 12:30:16 PM by brainwipe » Logged

brainwipe
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« Reply #62 on: April 24, 2021, 07:58:01 AM »

I'd love to report that my friends loved the game and we spent a joyous evening questing, piping and having fun. We did have fun but not becaues the game was working well. There were two bugs that held us back:

The first bug was when deleting a pipe. If two people tried to delete the same pipe, then one of the clients would crash. I had a missed a null check on the server, i.e. "If they're trying to delete a pipe that isn't there, don't worry about it"

The second one I've not quite trapped but has to do with ownership of the quest tube.

I've been using Clumsy to simulate lag while testing on a single desktop. It's a great way to uncover bugs that you would otherwise miss when client and server are both running on localhost.

There's more detail in the video...





Thanks for joining me on this quest!
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #63 on: April 24, 2021, 01:09:18 PM »

Very nice update, clear video devlog too.

Can you elaborate a bit more on the "quest tube" bit? What's the game design around it?
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Alain
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« Reply #64 on: April 25, 2021, 10:59:20 PM »

Sounds like a lot of fun, but I imagine it was also quite stressful for you Wink
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brainwipe
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« Reply #65 on: April 29, 2021, 12:29:01 PM »

Thank you for the support, Alain and Leonard! Sorry for the slow reply, this week disappeared around me.

Can you elaborate a bit more on the "quest tube" bit? What's the game design around it?

This is a great question. I really admire games that keep as much as they they can in the game world. Astroneer is a great example. Rather than having UI overlays, you interact with things through gadget tablets and buttons and pipes and so on. I really like that game concept.

I wanted to do the same with quests. The quest tube is a physical representation of the quest. I could have a UI overlay of the quest but instead I have pneumatic tubes with messages in them. Taking a quest means manipulating the tube and then plugging it back into The Con (the nerve centre). I like that the player is forced to physically decide whether to take the mission or discard it (by dropping it on the floor_at the moment). It's not a simple mouse click of dialogue option.

I'm trying to keep as much of the game off UI as possible, and questing is part of that.

Thanks for the great question!
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brainwipe
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« Reply #66 on: May 21, 2021, 11:24:35 AM »

Collating feedback from the playtest was hard. I was forced to take a long, hard look at what I had and list the future options before doing any more work. It meant stopping. Taking stock. And try to answer the question: is it fun?

The answer is - not yet. But it could be.

The core mechanic of pipe laying is fun but once that's complete, there are few reasons to mess with it. Even when you crash, you tend to fix what's there rather than lay a whole load more. I want there to be short-lived ports that appear as part of quests and damage but that really isn't enough.

So I decided to look at the next features. Before playtesting, I had my mind set on updating the environment - to make it more interesting to explore but after considering the design in depth, I realised that it was only going to improve the experience for 1 or 2 players; I needed a new job to do inside the Clomper.

That would lead me to blueprint collecting and crafting (which is pretty easy to imagine) or the heat management system. Steam is pumped from the boilers and generates heat doing so, there could be a management piece to that, we'll see how it goes.

More detail and explanation here...





Thank you for following along, I do appreciate all the thoughtful and insightful feedback.
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Alain
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« Reply #67 on: May 23, 2021, 10:07:03 AM »

I think it was a nice idea to take a step back, take a look at your core gameplay and explain it to us while doing so. Your concept is very unique and I am sure you will manage to make this a coop experience that is super fun!
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brainwipe
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« Reply #68 on: May 26, 2021, 01:00:32 AM »

Thank you, Alain! You're right that taking a step back was very important - it is so easy to have your head inside the bugs that need fixing and the problems that seem unsurmountable.

Family commitments have grown in the last few months and my regular gamdev slot early in the morning is no longer possible so I am scratching out time toward the end of the day. I'm not very productive between 21:00 and 22:30 as my brain is spent most of the day at work. I am managing something most evenings, even if it's just a little bit.

Thank you for the support, your replies make the world of difference.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #69 on: May 26, 2021, 03:48:43 AM »

Ah, the "limited brain budget" problem. I know the feeling, even though I'm not doing any game dev myself. On days where I'm really productive at work I never have the energy left to do my own programming projects afterwards.

Maybe that means it's a good time to focus more on non-programming issues, like the gameplay design? Might be a bit easier to work on for now
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brainwipe
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« Reply #70 on: May 26, 2021, 01:02:50 PM »

Love "limited brain budget" as a concept. We like to use Christine Miserandino's Spoon Theory as a quasi-numerical measure. Been really useful during lockdowns, we use them at work too - "I'm low on spoons today".

I'm not surprised that I'm not alone! Gameplay design and graphics are both good things to work on late and I scribble a lot in notebooks if I'm struggling to do just 10 minutes. Tonight I went cycling in the gap between my day job and my children murdering each other and that helped replenish a little, even if my legs do feel a little wobbly now.

I managed to get the core maths behind the heat management sorted and I think the balance is about right; except tuning for player numbers.

Thanks for taking the time to share; I think that's how we all get stronger in the end.
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« Reply #71 on: May 26, 2021, 05:14:15 PM »

Yeah, I'm browsing the forums now because I'm out of energy from the day, heh. Tired
Anyways, first time seeing your game. I've also have a group that I play coop games with on weekend nights. Recently I've been wishing we had some more coop games to play. Some the games you mentioned at the beginning of your video we haven't tried yet. But I'm also curious to see where yours goes and potentially give it a go. Smiley
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brainwipe
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« Reply #72 on: June 11, 2021, 06:25:30 AM »

This dev log took a long time to setup - not so long to record! I talk about how I go about designing the new heat management feature, leaning heavily on how I think about the maths.





I've finished the feature already but I am swamped yet again with Mirror/netcode/multiplayer bugs. I keep finding new things that just don't synchronise properly and it's starting to get me down again. I seem to be fixing and refixing the same 10 things over and over, probably creating new issues as I go.

I wish Unity had an official solution that was production ready. I feel so let down by their ambivalence.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #73 on: June 11, 2021, 01:03:00 PM »

"Beige.. the whole country is beige"

I was managing to keep it together until then but somehow I lost it at your mild-mannered disappointment in your own nation's unofficial color scheme there

EDIT: Single take? Watch out Tom Scot, there's a new youtuber in town!
« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 01:08:11 PM by JobLeonard » Logged
brainwipe
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« Reply #74 on: June 12, 2021, 12:29:48 PM »

@JobLeonard - I'm glad that made you smile. Evil-editing-me decided not to cut that out. That video wasn't one of my best but I wanted to do it anyway! I'm flattered to be compared with Tom Scott. Unlike Tom, I could only do one take as my family had returned and it was a matter of time before someone needed to use the room.  Cheesy

I'm pretty much complete with the feature, I've just got a full regression test to do as I changed a few underlying systems for the 100th time. It's really satisfying to see the board with an empty TO DO, just the regression ticket in Doing and a full Done column with 31 tickets.

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brainwipe
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« Reply #75 on: June 22, 2021, 12:15:57 PM »

Although summer in the UK is lovely, the longer daylight hours mean the kids play for longer and are more restless - that makes it more difficult for me to eek out time. Also, they're bigger now. My youngest was 2 when I started Clomper and now she's 4 and all about her daddy. That aside, I am still crawling along with progress!

Heat management is a balancing act. The player sets the steam from the boilers and then the machines consume the steam. The more steam you want, the more heat is going to be made. If you don't consume any of that steam, the boiler will heat up and go bang. There will be situations where the player wants to risk blowing up a boiler to go really fast so it won't go bang immediately - the longer you leave it at top-temp, the higher the change it'll go bang!

More in the dev log - and bloopers - cos I recorded it after a long day!





The next feature is breathing life into the Clomper, with sound, more animations and hopefully a little soul. Smiley
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #76 on: June 22, 2021, 11:04:21 PM »

Would you say that summer heat management is a balancing act too? Wink

I'm having a hard time programming when it's this hot, tbh
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brainwipe
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« Reply #77 on: June 23, 2021, 04:02:55 AM »

Summer heat management is a pain in the neck! I'm still WFH and our house doesn't have a dedicated office, nor does it have aircon (most of the UK doesn't). Working from an office is looking really good right now!

I find that the heat just drains my ability to concentrate - it sounds like you're in a similar boat. How do you keep cool?
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #78 on: June 23, 2021, 06:22:02 AM »

I don't, really. Other than windows open at night to let the cold air in, and closing them during the day to keep the heat out
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brainwipe
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« Reply #79 on: July 22, 2021, 11:11:30 AM »

The heat has sucked most of my productivity out of the evenings. I think I'm having to work harder during the day through the heat (in the UK there's little or no aircon in homes) and that's leaving the tank empty in the evenings. This isn't a complaint, more an explanation of why my progress has slowed. I can forgive myself for it, although it's not easy. On nights when my brain is too hot to start, I find myself feeling guilty for doing very little. I do have other hobbies that I can only do in good weather, so I'm making the best of it for those.

Still, I've made progress.

The current batch of work is all about breathing some life into the Clomper. I'm adding sounds and giving more life and movement. I started with the core-system sounds (laying pipes) and I have a big list of others to add. They're good fun to do with Audacity, microphone, free downloads and a great Jonas Tyroller video to get me started:



Uncharacteristically, I also began work on something just for the hell of it: Fire Sprites. You can see the WIP in the video, and some other attempts too.





I hope everyone is doing well!
« Last Edit: July 23, 2021, 01:01:42 AM by brainwipe » Logged

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