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February 06, 2023, 02:17:39 PM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsBattleJuice Alchemist – RPG with deck-building & bullet time
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Author Topic: BattleJuice Alchemist – RPG with deck-building & bullet time  (Read 50336 times)
marcgfx
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« Reply #540 on: January 09, 2023, 03:38:05 PM »

I think the tower idea is interesting, but I don't understand what it can do. Is there a gameplay reason to create such complex shapes, or is it just for the sake of having fun and building something unique? Not making a mini minecraft are you? I'm questioning my own tower ideas atm, so I guess I cant help questioning yours Tongue
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Alain
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« Reply #541 on: January 09, 2023, 10:10:57 PM »

BATTLEJUICE ALCHEMIST DEVLOG:
Navigating Complex Structures


Hey folks,

I hope you had a great start into the new year! After a few days off, I committed myself to some interesting problems that came up while working on the new base building system, which I'd like to share with you.

BattleJuice Alchemist is mainly played in top-down view, so it is more difficult to deal with buildings, especially multistory ones than let's say in an FPS game. Our game has to set elements invisible in a clever way, here is how we handle it:


Now that base building comes into play, I did not want a floor/story based system, but one that provides more freedom for players who want to create things like this:


The solution is quite simple: blocks that are at a certain height above the player and obstructing vision on the player are turned transparent. But there is another problem to tackle that is related to movement. The common way to move in BattleJuice Alchemist is "mouse click to move", no problem here. But you can also move with direct input keys such as WASD. All movement takes place on a navigation mesh, which can pose a problem.


So with the possibility for all kind of weird structures that players can come up with, we can't simply move right, when the player presses the key for moving right. I came up with a solution that takes into consideration the angle between the player's current and target location, but also the ratio between linear distance and navigation path length. When pressing right, it is desirable that your character automatically navigates around a pillar instead of bumping into it and stopping, but you would not want the character to walk the way as shown in the right image above.

I hope this small peek into the everyday challenges of development was interesting to you.

Thanks for reading and have great weekend!

Alain

Just dragging this over to the next page Wink



I think the tower idea is interesting, but I don't understand what it can do. Is there a gameplay reason to create such complex shapes, or is it just for the sake of having fun and building something unique? Not making a mini minecraft are you? I'm questioning my own tower ideas atm, so I guess I cant help questioning yours Tongue

Oh yes, of course base building will tie into the gameplay. I just needed to get the basic building stuff and navigating player built structures out of the way first. You will be able to construct elements such as traps that deal damage to enemies. That's why you can also bring your tower with you. The traps need to be powered, so you need power generating blocks etc. All this requires a lot of coding, but also making the necessary models. Today I'm working on this fun little engine thingy




Balancing wise, I have to do some more testing, because the towers provide you with firepower, so generally enemies need to be buffed. But I don't want to just increase their HP. I came up with a mechanic that takes underused systems into consideration, I will talk about that soon.
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marcgfx
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« Reply #542 on: January 10, 2023, 03:38:19 AM »

I can tell you my thoughts on my base building approach. Currently I have only prototyped some visuals and building mechanics. I like that it gives the game a new interesting aspect, I don't like how it will completely mess up any kind of balance I have been working on and will likely introduce a huge amount of problems. I am a little worried it's me simply avoiding dealing with the actual issues I have so far. Adding a layer on top will just make things more complicated. I have not yet decided to remove the building idea, but have told myself to focus on the rest of the game first.

I can imagine that your tower could be something like an in between mission. Build up defenses on your base, withstand a horde of enemies attacking, then get back to the main game. I have trouble seeing how you will bring a building along on your journey that even fights enemies. Seems insanely complicated, but I hope you pull it off. It just seems like its going to turn into an entirely new game.
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Alain
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« Reply #543 on: January 10, 2023, 08:44:07 AM »

I can tell you my thoughts on my base building approach. Currently I have only prototyped some visuals and building mechanics. I like that it gives the game a new interesting aspect, I don't like how it will completely mess up any kind of balance I have been working on and will likely introduce a huge amount of problems. I am a little worried it's me simply avoiding dealing with the actual issues I have so far. Adding a layer on top will just make things more complicated. I have not yet decided to remove the building idea, but have told myself to focus on the rest of the game first.

That's really funny, your worries are exactly the same I have :D In my case, at the current point in time I am forced to work on features that are not on my official production schedule to finish the game, because it would disqualify me for some funding opportunities. So this is the perfect excuse to implement things like the tower. And I have always wanted to add base building, so I am quite pleased to get to do it. Like you, I don't want it to be an afterthought that is just slapped on. That's why I want to use the tower to tighten some lose ends. E.g. I want it to tie into the totally underused day-night cycle. I'll elaborate more on that in future devlogs. Again, it is really interesting that we are working on very similar aspects at the moment, let's keep each other posted!



I can imagine that your tower could be something like an in between mission. Build up defenses on your base, withstand a horde of enemies attacking, then get back to the main game. I have trouble seeing how you will bring a building along on your journey that even fights enemies. Seems insanely complicated, but I hope you pull it off. It just seems like its going to turn into an entirely new game.

You are right, I really have to be careful to not add something that turns the game into a completely new one. But I am quite confident I will be able to pull it off. I hope the experience will be one where players have a lot of choice how they want to play. Fingers crossed Wink
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #544 on: January 15, 2023, 07:25:23 AM »

Great update. Absolutely love that you're taking the time to figure the machines out and animate them like that Grin
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Alain
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« Reply #545 on: January 15, 2023, 10:08:50 PM »

Great update. Absolutely love that you're taking the time to figure the machines out and animate them like that Grin

Thank you! It is also a lot of fun to get to do some 3d modeling, texturing and animating. I hadn't done that for a while Wink
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vdapps
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« Reply #546 on: January 16, 2023, 08:42:00 AM »

Hi Alain! Juicy update as always and congrats to Epic Launcher visibility. Great feat! Gentleman And Happy New Year to you!
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oldblood
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« Reply #547 on: January 16, 2023, 12:13:39 PM »

Love the idea of the traps and the power-generating blocks. You're making fast progress on all this! Definitely sounds like complexities on top of complexities with your already established world and systems. I don't envy you for needing to test and validate all this this.

In my case, at the current point in time I am forced to work on features that are not on my official production schedule to finish the game, because it would disqualify me for some funding opportunities.

Forced to work on items that are not on your schedule? I find that a little confusing. Meaning essentially funding is tied to you adding in features like building that were not a part of your original roadmap?

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Prinsessa
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« Reply #548 on: January 17, 2023, 04:26:06 PM »

Great update. Absolutely love that you're taking the time to figure the machines out and animate them like that Grin

Thank you! It is also a lot of fun to get to do some 3d modeling, texturing and animating. I hadn't done that for a while Wink

Glad to hear it! You're good at it! Grin
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Alain
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« Reply #549 on: January 18, 2023, 01:28:24 AM »

Hi Alain! Juicy update as always and congrats to Epic Launcher visibility. Great feat! Gentleman And Happy New Year to you!

Glad to hear it! You're good at it! Grin

Thanks you two Smiley


Love the idea of the traps and the power-generating blocks. You're making fast progress on all this! Definitely sounds like complexities on top of complexities with your already established world and systems. I don't envy you for needing to test and validate all this this.

You are spot-on, tying it all together and testing is what is the most time consuming part.


In my case, at the current point in time I am forced to work on features that are not on my official production schedule to finish the game, because it would disqualify me for some funding opportunities.

Forced to work on items that are not on your schedule? I find that a little confusing. Meaning essentially funding is tied to you adding in features like building that were not a part of your original roadmap?

Right, this is in deed a bit confusing. The funding I am talking about is the German federal one and they do not fund projects that are already in development. This is why I am currently polishing the prototype (technically not the same "project") and do not start main production, because I applied for funding of the main production.
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« Reply #550 on: January 20, 2023, 08:28:47 AM »


 Today I'm working on this fun little engine thingy





WOW, this is eye candy.

I read some time ago an article about what types of animations are most attractive to the eye and these sort of engine/mechanics/watch mechanism was highly mentioned there.
Keep some of these gifs in a folder for marketing content.
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Alain
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« Reply #551 on: January 20, 2023, 11:21:00 AM »

I read some time ago an article about what types of animations are most attractive to the eye and these sort of engine/mechanics/watch mechanism was highly mentioned there.
Keep some of these gifs in a folder for marketing content.

Thanks for the heads-up, I did not realize this! I'll be making some gifs and test the waters.
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Alain
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« Reply #552 on: January 20, 2023, 11:33:47 AM »

BATTLEJUICE ALCHEMIST DEVLOG:
DevLog: Don't Break that Window!


Hey folks,

First of all, I just made my 1000th post here on the forums. Thanks for all the great feedback, encouragement and nice conversations! To celebrate this, here comes an unusually lengthy and dry devlog!

Many of you might be familiar with the impostor syndrome, where people doubt their skills and have the (unjustified) fear of being exposed as a fraud. I don't suffer from it, but I am also not always completely confident that what I do is great.

I have a motion design background and don't consider myself a programmer first. Sometimes I fear that programmers might laugh at my blueprints and look down on me because of my lack of formal education in programming. So today I want to face that fear head on. I will tell you something that makes me feel stupid, but hopefully it will be entertaining and maybe even encouraging and educational.

Perhaps you have heard this quote from Michael A. Jackson before:

The First Rule of Program Optimization: Don't do it. The Second Rule of Program Optimization (for experts only): Don't do it yet - that is, not until you have a perfectly clear and unoptimized solution.

I always followed this principle quite closely Wink But I recently decided that in one specific part of BattleJuice Alchemist, I had to do some optimization. Let me give you a very brief introduction to those of you who are not familiar with optimization at all. So we have a game that we want to run at 60 fps in the end. This means we want a frame time of 16.66 ms, which is kind of a budget we can spend on calculations. I have recently spent a bit too much of my budget, so I decided to take a brief look at what I can do to reduce it. I quickly found out that my bottleneck was not the GPU, but the CPU. There is this fancy tool for Unreal Engine called Unreal Insights that allows you to find out where exactly your budget is spent. I took a closer look.


Turns out that the UI is what caused a quite considerable hit on performance of about 3 ms, so this is what I decided to tackle. I guess many of you who ever worked on a game can relate to what I am about to tell you. You are at the early stages of a prototype and all you want to have is e.g. this icon that shows that the player is low on health. Unreal has this nice drop-down menu that allows you to tie the visibility of your icon to a function that decides whether the player is low on health or not and then spits out "visible" or "invisible".


Unfortunately, this causes the icon's visibility to be set visible or invisible every single frame. No big deal, your prototype still runs perfectly. But fast forward 4 years of development and things start to add up when there are a bazillion UI elements and many are unnecessarily manipulated every frame. I was aware that I was doing something bad all the time, so why did I continue? It all comes down to this first icon...

Have you ever heard of the Broken Windows Theory? Let me quote Wikipedia:

In criminology, the broken windows theory states that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes. The theory suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, loitering, public drinking, jaywalking, and fare evasion help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness.


So when I used Unreal's option to quickly bind the visibility of my icon, I broke the first window, which I should not have done. Or at least, when I implemented the second icon, I should have fixed the first and done it right for every following icon.

Jackson's Rules of Program Optimization are great and you should not optimize prematurely. But this does not mean you should spend your frame time budget on unnecessary things because of your laziness like I did. And especially you should not knowingly do something stupid, decide everything is fine, repeat it a hundred times and still expect everything to be fine Wink

I hope you liked reading this unusually text-heavy devlog as much as I did writing it. If you want to chat about gamedev or stay up to speed with BattleJuice Alchemist, you can join our Discord.

Thanks for reading and have great weekend!

Alain
« Last Edit: January 20, 2023, 09:57:17 PM by Alain » Logged

Prinsessa
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« Reply #553 on: January 20, 2023, 12:07:54 PM »

Congrats, and thanks for sharing this Smiley I feel like it's quite common among indie devs to have delved into these things mainly to realise the vision of a game and not the other way around, and you like many others do seem to be making it work regardless! Sounds like you know how to deal with these issues now that they've cropped up too, so I hope you're able to work them out Gomez
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« Reply #554 on: January 20, 2023, 02:44:43 PM »

For the record, AFAIK Broken Window Theory has been kinda debunked as a "convenient excuse to blame the poor for struggling while being poor" theory, because top-down systemic causes of inequalities are a much more significant influence when it comes to crime prevention. Or if we give it a kinder interpretation that's surprisingly on-topic: it's kinda like premature optimization focusing on the little things without profiling to find the big bottlenecks first.
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Alain
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« Reply #555 on: January 20, 2023, 10:27:03 PM »

Congrats, and thanks for sharing this Smiley I feel like it's quite common among indie devs to have delved into these things mainly to realise the vision of a game and not the other way around, and you like many others do seem to be making it work regardless! Sounds like you know how to deal with these issues now that they've cropped up too, so I hope you're able to work them out Gomez

Thank you for the encouragement! I hope I learned my lesson and I am quite sure that the opportunity to learn so many things is what has been keeping me going over years.


For the record, AFAIK Broken Window Theory has been kinda debunked as a "convenient excuse to blame the poor for struggling while being poor" theory, because top-down systemic causes of inequalities are a much more significant influence when it comes to crime prevention. Or if we give it a kinder interpretation that's surprisingly on-topic: it's kinda like premature optimization focusing on the little things without profiling to find the big bottlenecks first.

That is an interesting criticism of Broken Window Theory that I was not aware of, thanks for bringing it up (and first reading my lengthy devlog Wink )! I guess it is one of these theories where we go like "Oh yes, that makes total sense", but this does not mean it is scientifically proven and still just a theory. As you say, it makes total sense that regarding social sciences, it is very convenient to hold that one broken window responsible for problems that in reality are much more deeply rooted. I twisted the thought behind the theory to try to explain my own behavior and why I was "breaking bad" despite knowing I was on a slippery slope. Broken Window theory is just a nice picture, but what really led to my bad decision making was most likely a combination of anchoring bias (relying too heavily on the very first piece of information I learned) and optimism bias (bad things happen to others, not me).
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« Reply #556 on: January 21, 2023, 03:20:31 AM »

Unsurprisingly you're holding yourself to a higher standard than many programmers do. Lots of practices don't scale and it's not always easy to tell upfront whether an early decision like this will ever come back to bite you. Your optimizing for ease of development by using Blueprints seems to pay off so maybe you manage the tradeoffs better than you think!
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Alain
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« Reply #557 on: January 22, 2023, 02:14:20 PM »

Unsurprisingly you're holding yourself to a higher standard than many programmers do. Lots of practices don't scale and it's not always easy to tell upfront whether an early decision like this will ever come back to bite you. Your optimizing for ease of development by using Blueprints seems to pay off so maybe you manage the tradeoffs better than you think!

Thank you! It is great to hear that even skilled programmers can't always plan ahead perfectly.
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Alain
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« Reply #558 on: January 26, 2023, 10:37:08 AM »

In case you don't have plans for later today, make sure to stop by at Unreal Engine's official stream on Twitch ( https://www.twitch.tv/unrealengine ) or YouTube ( https://www.youtube.com/@UnrealEngine ) starting at 8 pm CET (GMT+1), which is half an hour after this post Wink I'll be one of the guests and we'll be talking about BattleJuice Alchemist and other cool MegaGrant projects. Be there or be square Smiley
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #559 on: January 27, 2023, 02:23:37 AM »

Well, I'm too late so is there a recording for this square dude?
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