Category: Game Development

Fiancée Game – 11 – Big Stuff’s Done

Estimated Hours of Work Since Last Update: ~20

   One of these days, folks, I’ll get to a regular update schedule on this thing. Maybe. I hope. Probably not during Fiancee Game’s development. Anyways! Not a lot of time overall went into this update but a lot has been implemented here. Let’s get to it! As usual, if you’d like a more detailed look at everything that’s taken place for this update, check out the Fiancée Game Trello or follow me on Twitter.

Shopping!
   I’ve basically hit the point now where only a few major ‘systems’ remain to implement before I consider the game ready for the content/polish phase of its development. Shopping was one of the two major ones (the other being the conversation system). This turned out to be both easier and harder to implement than I’d thought it would be. Getting shopping working involved me having to rewrite how I handled drag-and-drop interactions between item slots. It also saw some updates to the tooltip system. There’s also finally an inhabitant in Towne, a trader. With the next update I’ll be adding some conversation to him as well.


[Left-click for .gif-y goodness!] Selling! Buying! All the things you expect at the minimum from a proper RPG!

Talking!
   In an effort to get back on the dev train and get some work done, I decided to spend a few hours of a recent-ish Sunday stream doing some gamedev. The talky-talky system was the result. At least the bare bones bits of it. You can watch a VOD of the stream here if you’d like to watch me flail around. Overall the system was inspired by Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. The UI style is my take on the Baldur’s Gate formula, but how the conversation system works ‘under the hood’ is very much inspired by the conversation system in Neverwinter Nights.

   Supported in the system as of now is the ability to check for variables on the player so that NPCs can tell if they’ve met the player in the past. I can also have conversation options cause effects in the world. Currently that’s limited to opening the shop, though. It’s designed to be stupidly easy to expand on, though. So yeah! This was the last big thing I had left to implement. Since this and the Shopping systems are done it’s mostly things that I consider much easier to implement that are left.


[Left-click for .gif-y goodness!] I’m basically Bioware now.

Other Features
   Partially to test selling items and partially as an eventual convenience feature, I added a new skill to the Adventurer skill tree: Transmutation. Transmutation opens a special slot in your inventory that essentially allows you to sell items while you’re out and about. You earn substantially less money from transmuted items, but it allows the option to keep adventuring should the player decide to do so. Unlocking this skill will require a bit of investment into the Adventurer skill tree, requiring learning two other skills before you can take it (those being the Item and Gold Hoarder skills, which increase item and gold drop rates respectively).


Sell loot from the convenience of the dungeon in which you found it!

   As part of getting the shopping systems implemented I also finally got around to making inventory and item/gear slots respect screen resolution. This means the inventory can be moved as needed and at higher resolutions I can basically stick it wherever I want on the screen should the need arise.

   In addition to the stuff above, I spent some time fleshing out systems that were already in place. Combat saw some additions, notable the ability for the player and companion to employ the Defend and Flee options in combat. The Defend action grants the user a small bonus to their Defense as well as granting them physical damage mitigation and resistance. On top of the defensive bonuses, Defend also grants a semi-potent combat buff on the round following defense that empowers the user. Finally, as long as a character is using the Defend action, they cannot be reduced to less than 1 hit point unless they’re already sitting at 1 hit point. This means that I can, at some point, implement horrific boss powers that will instagib pretty much anything, but can be avoided via clever use of the Defend option.

   Alongside defending is the ability to flee from combat. As of right now, the chance to flee is based on the difference between the player’s level and the average level of all enemies faced with some scaling to make fleeing from lower level enemies substantially easier. Fleeing does come at a price, doing so causes the player to drop a percentage of the gold that they’re carrying. I might implement some Adventurer skill tree abilities that lessen or remove gold drops if the player is fleeing from an enemy that is lower level than them.

QOL Stuff
   With all of the new features added, I also took some time to finally put in functions to make play a bit ‘cleaner.’ No longer does gameplay start with all the interface options open, everything closes as would be expected. I also now have the game assign your first skill point based on class where previously everyone just started with a free skill point.

   As per protocol I also squeaked in a few new pieces of gear that will turn up at some undetermined point. These items are basically the high end of what the player is going to be able to find in pre-expansion content.


No matter what I’m working on, I always make time to add gear. Props to anyone who catches the references for these items!
Read More Fiancée Game – 11 – Big Stuff’s Done

Fiancée Game – 10 – Nearing Feature Complete(-ish)

Estimated Hours of Work Since Last Update: ~27

   Time for another update! Work’s been particularly rough this year, on both fronts. I’ve definitely not had as much time to devote to Fiancée Game as I’d like, but I’ve made a great deal of progress in what time I’ve managed to squeak in here and there. I’d like to get at least one more dev stream in before the holidays start up full swing, but we’ll just have to wait and see if that’s possible. As usual, if you’d like a more detailed look at everything that’s taken place for this update, check out the Fiancée Game Trello or follow me on Twitter.

Combat
   The majority of this update has been mechanical and graphical updates to combat and many mechanics thereof. Since last time I’ve implemented the first tier of abilities for all the primary classes (magician, priestess, rogue, warrior), and fully completed the basic skills for the rogue (tiers 1 to 3). I’ve also added support for buffs/debuffs on all MOBs.


Stunning!

   In addition, I’ve finally gotten around to adding some animations to combat. It’s amazing how much better it feels to have enemies animating when they attack and having (basic) particle effects go off with attacks. There’s currently a bug in my particle implementation that causes it to only work when I’m testing it in the Unity editor, but I’ll get that fixed for the next update, ideally.

   To go alongside the combat updates I’ve gone ahead and gotten around to implementing a fair number of item properties. Mostly damage-dealing stuff, but properties like Stunning (has a small percent chance to stun an enemy on any attack) are also in there. If nothing else it gives me a large number of cool effects to work with.


Animations! Enemies flash red when they take damage and wiggle at the screen when they attack.

Character Creation
   Character creation has see an overhaul as well. The screen is now much clearer, has proper working tooltips, and I even managed to squeeze in a fifth class and added proper ability point allocation. Overall I’m much more pleased with the presentation. I’ve also gotten a proper ‘quick start’ implemented alongside finally getting around to implementing each class’s starting gear.


New and improved character creation.

   Character creation is now much cleaner looking than it used to be and also gives you more information on-screen. Alongside these implementations I also rebalanced starting class attributes to be generally lower than they were previously.

UI Improvement
   The UI has seen a bit of work, mostly in updating fonts and getting displays working as they should. We now have basic tooltips in the post-combat loot screen. I’ve decided against providing details for items found as part of loot, because I want the player to get an idea of what items are worth picking up through play as opposed to just mousing over everything and taking what’s worth the most money. The player won’t be able to actually gauge an item’s value until they take it to a shop to be sold.


Examining items after a fight gives you a little information, but not much.

   I’ve also finally gotten skill trees implemented to the point where I’m (more or less) happy with how they work with regards to UI functionality. I’m currently half working on getting them set to draw lines between skills that require one another (Backstab, for example, requires Shiv — I want the UI to automatically draw a line between the two skills), but it’s definitely a work in progress. I also got bored and added self-calculating values to tooltips; abilities that scale in effect now display their scaled numbers instead of giving a baseline and expecting the player to do math to figure out the proper numbers they’re working with.


Skill tree navigation and display. I still have some prettying up to do, but I’m happy with the layout. Lots of room to expand, too!

   Finally, I’ve updated how tooltips are displayed. While they look the same, they’re much faster to draw and use less system resources. I still have some work to do on them, notably adding a delay to when they actually appear on a mouse-over, but I’m fairly happy with how they work now.

What’s Left
   With this update I’m nearing the end of what I consider to be the most major hurdles of Fiancée Game: the major systems that make things work. I have a few left, but once they’re done it’ll be on to what I think is going to be the hard part of finishing the game: content development.

   The first of the two major systems remaining is the conversation system. I’m leaning very heavily towards a conversation system reminiscent of the Infinity Engine games, or Neverwinter Nights. Due to how they’re structured, I’m most likely going to throw together an editor in either Visual Basic of Visual C# that’ll let me put them together more easily than doing everything by hand. Before the conversation system is done I’ll need to to be able to have tests for various conversation options as well as the ability to fire off triggers so that I can start combat at the end of a fight, or reward the player for a completed quest.

   The second remaining system (and probably the first of the two that I’ll tackle) is the shop system. This is something that I probably should have implemented sooner, but I’ve wanted to get the core gameplay loop hammered out before I took the time to add something like this which I consider a less interesting part of the game. I’m planning on having the shop work on a stock system. There will be a handful of items that the shop always has in stock (basic gear, healing potion, and so on), but everything past that items will be available in limited numbers based off of what the player has sold. Item prices will also be variable based on the number currently in stock — the first few items of a given type will be worth much more than the tenth or twentieth versions. I’m also likely to have the shop’s

   I also want to tackle enemy AI and finally get around to implementing consumables, but I’m in no rush. I’m hoping to get some basic AI work done for the next update, notably adding the ability for enemies to employ special attacks, but I’m going to be spending most of my time focusing on getting the shop and conversation systems implemented. I foresee the conversation system in particular being a good challenge to get working how I want it to. I’m looking forward to it!

Read More Fiancée Game – 10 – Nearing Feature Complete(-ish)

Fiancée Game – 09 – It’s Been a While

Estimated Hours of Work Since Last Update: ~40

   Oh. Hey! I have this blog thing that I totally haven’t been neglecting. I’m back!

   Update time! I’ve not had nearly as much time to work on Fiancée Game as I’d have liked over the past handful of months. I normally do my programming after work in the evening, but work has been particularly busy this year and has no signs of stopping so I’ve had to get work in where I could. I did manage to squeak in a pair of dev streams in May (Links for those interested: 1 | 2) which were a blast. I’d like to do more dev streams, if only because it forces me to sit down and work for a handful of hours without distraction. I feel that I’ve made a lot of progress given the time I’ve put in, all things considered. As per usual, if you want a more granular look at everything that’s taken place for this update, check out the Fiancée Game Trello.

   Apologies ahead of time for the lack of pictures. Most of the work on this update was on mechanics, not so much new features that are player-visible.

Old Become New
   The biggest chunk of time spent on this update was moving old systems to some much newer (and easier to work with) design choices. In the past, an enemy and a player were different types of objects as far as the game’s code was concerned. No longer is this the case. Now the player, companion, and enemies are all of the same stats_MOB class. This means that instead of having to do something like dealing damage three ways (once for the player, once for the companion, and once for enemies) I just do it one way. Nice!

   In addition to making a single mob class, I completely rewrote how items and the inventory were handled. Things are much faster now. There are still some improvements to be made in this area, but they’re far from necessary at the moment and I don’t even know if they’ll be needed in the final version of the game.

UI
   I’ve mentioned it in the past, but I don’t much care for UI work. That said, on one evening I sat down and hammered a decent chunk of time into prettying up the UI for the game. I have to admit that it certainly feels more polished, if nothing else. I’ve also switched the default font from a blocky styled font over to Fontin, which most would recognize from Path of Exile.


The windows match and tooltips now have formatting! There’s still some work to be done, but the UI is getting there.

   There’s still more work to be done (as per protocol), but it’s certainly coming along nicely and looks much better than the stock gray windows I was using before. As you can see I also added prerequisites for skills, green prerequisites are ones you meet. Once a skill has all of its prerequisites met it will have a white outline instead of a red one. Skills with green outlines are ones that the player has learned.

   I also managed to squeeze in time to finally get the UI to properly orient itself based on the game’s window resolution. It looks pretty crappy on anything less than 1080p, but you can go all the way down to 720p and it’s still playable.

The Sounds of Battle
   While I previously implemented a very basic sound system into the game for playing music, I went a bit further and implemented a sound handler. This will allow me to play sounds for the player (novel, I know) in addition to whatever music. I threw in some placeholder sound effects for combat and they definitely make it feel much more like a proper game. I was very surprised by how much more like a proper game having even basic combat sound effects made Fiancée Game feel. I also implemented fading between tracks on the music player; no longer is switching areas in the middle of a music track super jarring.

   To go along with the above changes, I picked up a few sound packs from Epic Stock Media which I’m hopeful to get some use out of for this project as well as future ones. I’m likely to pick up a few more off of the Unity Asset Store at some point, but these delay that need a great deal.

General Optimization
   Among all of the above I did some optimization on particularly bloated bits of code. I improved tooltips so that they only draw once per frame instead of once per frame per object that could draw a tooltip (don’t ask). Also, at the suggestion of MadJackMcMad (the dev of Dungeonmans — go buy his game) I made some optimizations to how objects face the camera that had some pretty substantial positive effects on performance. I still need to get a proper billboarding system implemented, though.

   There’s still work to be done regarding UI optimization, mostly related to text display, but I’m to the point now where the amount of effort I’d have to put into it probably isn’t worth the gains I’d be looking at. The game runs perfectly fine with how things currently are and I’m debating over whether a fraction of a millisecond worth of frame draw time is worth refactoring a lot of old display code. Were this something I was planning to sell, I’d probably put the time in to fix these old issues, but as it is I probably won’t bother since the performance gains would likely be unnoticeable on anything but the poorest hardware.

New Mechanics
   I finally implemented a buff/debuff system to the game. It’s currently only used by the player for a pair of abilities in the rogue skill tree (Dervish and Smoke Bomb), but it certainly works!

   In addition to support for buffs, I changed how random item drops work. Combat can now result in a decent pile of loot for the lucky player. Where before each creature could drop only a single item, now they can drop many. Creatures have their own personal drop tables, but also share a much larger global drop table that has a chance to drop things based on a critter’s given level. With this change came a revised post-combat victory screen; the player has up to three pages worth of loot to tab through. There’s still a bit of work to be done on it; I want to disable page navigation when there aren’t multiple pages of loot, but that’s hardly a pressing matter.


The new post-combat victory screen. I’ll get a proper !!!VICTORY!!! header image up there eventually. Maybe.

   Along with changing how loot is portioned out to the player I also modified how monster spawning works. Previously, each monster spawner on the map had to be hand-tuned. That is, each had to be populated manually. Now, in addition to allowing that, I also implemented monster spawn tables. If, for example, I wanted an area of the map to swarm with generic undead I could just put together an undead_TrashMOBs spawn list and point a spawner to that instead of having to hand edit each spawner as I place them. This also makes expanding spawn lists much easier. Where I’d previously have to go back and add a new spawn to each spawner, now I can just add it to a single spawn list and all spawners that use that list will have access to the newly added critter beast. I figure 99% of spawners will use these spawn lists. The only ones I can think of off of my head that won’t are boss spawners and perhaps rare spawners that I may or may not hide around the world.

   As mentioned briefly above, I also implemented proper prerequisites for skills. Skills can now have both level requirements as well as skill requirements. I don’t expect the player will have much trouble meeting requirements for skills if they stick to one tree, but if they branch out they might have some issues. Skill points come quickly at early levels, but as the level count increases the rate of skill acquisition decreases. A character will only be gaining 40 skill points over 100 levels and half of those points come in the first 30 levels.

Balance is Changin’
   Finally, I did a bit of work on balancing numbers across the game. While I’m not super concerned about general game balance, I do want to avoid things being too crazy. Working with this in mind, I pulled the numbers down a little bit. Character stats at creation are now generally much lower on the high end — previously a class could hit a 32 in its primary stats before spending up to 10 bonus points on them — while the low ends are slightly lower. All classes now generate a number between 3 and 16 for each stat and have 8 points pre-assigned to them. Once that number is determined the player is given between 1 and 8 ‘bonus points’ to spend as they will. The highest stat a character can start with now is, in general, a 28. Magicians can hit a 32 Magic stat, but having a Magic stat that high is needed because they are so heavily dependent on their spells insta-gibbing things where other classes have enough survivability that they can afford to slug it out with enemies if need be (a magician starts with an average of about 15 HP, the lowest among other classes is roughly 30 — magicians are going to be Hard Mode™ in the early game).

   I’ve been putting some thought into how I want ability/spell costs to scale and while I’d originally thought to have them scale with level, I think I’ll keep them static and instead have Energy be a fairly limited resource. I want using abilities to have an impact in combat, and not something to generally be spammed (that’s what basic attacks are for). To offset this being overly cruel, I think I’m going to have a character’s Energy recharge to full after every combat. This keeps the player from having to worry about “saving it for a boss fight” and lets them really let loose if they’re in a dire situation or want to clear easy fights quickly.

That’s It
   That’s all I’ve got for this round of updates. I’m hopeful that the next update will come sooner rather than later, but only time will tell. I’ve been holding off on updates until I’ve got a decent amount of stuff to go over, but if folks would prefer more frequent incremental updates I could try that, too. Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are. Until next time! (I promise it won’t be ~4 months ’til the next update!)

Read More Fiancée Game – 09 – It’s Been a While