Demo 13

Web log of development issues.

Demo 13

Postby adamsderk » Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:35 pm

Greetings,

Well, demo 13 is out knowing that there are major changes to the engine still to come. Unfortunately, the updater system doesn't support downloading the executable file (since it is being used to run the program that is trying to change it). This was a good stopping point though as it has the ballistic leading and indicator and the jumping has been overhauled.

But my mind is on what is still to come. There are two big ones right now.

The first is terrain generation. I am looking to generate the terrain before launching the mission. This will allow the player to interact with the area before launching. Along with this will be a much more involved mission description file. I'm hoping to provide the ability to select drop point before the mission and provide some "intelligence" on possible opposition forces as well as improve the object placement (read buildings and trees).

The other which has been hinted on the boards is falling for Mechs. Trouble with bounding boxes and collisions and rotating animations kept falling from being practical and with all those issues still there, it was a rethinking of the process of falling that made it possible. Mechs will fall on their knees or rear, staying within their bounding box. That means no "prone" Mechs as in the CBT rules, but it is a lot better then leaving it out completely.

Falling presents an additional challenge in adding "piloting skill." Now I abhor using a "number" for a skill that should be owned by a players abilities. Your rank, that's a number, your ability to pilot a Mech should be based on your gameplay. So the solution is to add a "balance meter." This will be a 2d surface with a pointer that is moved by the actions you perform and the effects to your Mechs. You as a player will be able to "bring yourself back into balance," but only at a specific rate. That means you will have to plan and set yourself up if you want to pull off a risky maneuver without falling. This also means that I will remove all movement restrictions... that's right you can run at full speed and turn on a dime (and end up on your rear). If you bump into something, your balance will react. If you get hit by weapons, your balance will react. So, if you are a good pilot, your gameplay will show it. If you are a green pilot, your gameplay will show it also.

Should be fun :)

Thanks.

P.S. I am curious if adding the balance meter will require removing the to-hit modifier as firing while running may reduce "pinpoint accuracy" being a problem.
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Postby Smoking_Mirror » Wed Jun 25, 2008 11:30 pm

Sounds great, I think BTS is really moving in the right direction.

I'm downloading the demo right now, it's taking a while though. May want to think about including a torrent download in future. I don't mind a slow download, but I feel better about doing it through a torrent download as it reduces server load, and it can actually be more convenient for a big download. (I'd hate to be trying t get the file with dialup).

For the future, you may want to include a safe mode on balance simulation. So that new pilots can manage the mechs without falling over all the time. It could be frustrating for a new player otherwise.

When it comes to terrain, would you be able to use some specific maps? I can't export in the needed format, but I've been experimenting lately in realistic terrain generation, and had some good results, I can export in 3ds or object mode. The results are procedurally generated to an extent, so I can make them as big or as small as needed (they can then be tiled for in game). They could also be tailored to include special buildings or roads and rivers. If it is something you can use, what would be the limit on mesh size (5,000 or 10,000 polys for example?)

Later I'm going to test the blender exporter to try and get some falling animations ready, first I'll just produce a few test animations and see what you can do with them (if they will actually work at all), and then I can adjust the import file in line with your feedback. For now I'm holding back a few mechs I've made lately because I want to make sure the standard I've set for the texture generator is right (I don't want to change it again once it's done, because I want all the mechs I make ultimately to have a unified appearance so it's important to get it perfect). I've also been reworking the textures on mechs I've already made, so that they fall in line with the new standard.
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Postby adamsderk » Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:23 am

Smoking_Mirror,

Good point about "safe mode," I'll be sure to put it in.

You are free to play with terrain, it is limited to 256x256 which is what I'll be working on next. If you can provide me with the algorithms that you come up with, I'd be much appreciative.

I'm playing with the falling animations too, I'm curious about what you can come up with.

Thanks.
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Postby SandMan » Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:37 am

Derk,

My jump jets are just sputtering, and only one of the directions even does that. Anyone else having JJ trouble?

As an aside, BTS seems to like my new X52 joystick even less than the sidewinder. :x

//SandMan
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Postby adamsderk » Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:53 am

Sandman,

It looks like the config.cs file wasn't included. I will set up the updater tomorrow to push it out.

Thanks.
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Postby adamsderk » Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:02 pm

Everyone,

Well it looks like I missed some important items in packaging the demo. It requires an update to fix them, so please download the update and apply it.

Thanks.
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Postby Smoking_Mirror » Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:18 am

Well, when it comes to terrain I've just been using simple noise types; Perlin noise and voronoi ridges.

The idea is to combine these two types in a convincing way. I've found that voronoi can create really good weathering effect on hills, and also if one of the axis is scaled by 200% to stretch the texture and the colour contour is reversed (giving domes instead of craters) you can get some really good sand dunes or hills.

Perlin noise gives a good aproximation of canyons and valleys, if the scale is big enough and the contrast is high enough.

The key is to combine the different types of landscape generation in interesting ways. This keep the terrain usable for games, because of course if the details are too extreme the result is impossible to navigate. It also allows for Islands of interest, which are not navigable, but serve as cover and landmarks.

Here's some examples;
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In these examples, I've exaggerated the z axis slightly so you can see the details so you can see what's happening. In reality the details would be quite subtle. Even with just a small effect, once you get on the ground it can be quite pronounced.

ImageImage

The important thing is that slopes don't become too extreme in the "play area" between landscape details.
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Postby SandMan » Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:34 am

I think it looks pretty nice with the exaggeration on. Our terrain options could probably use a few hills that force you to go around them.
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Postby adamsderk » Fri Jun 27, 2008 4:11 am

Smoking_Mirror,

That is the process that I use to generate the terrain. I have also applied algorithms that simulate water erosion. The trick is getting a balance between terrain features and playability for 1,000,000,000 possible applications of each set of parameters. I am going to modify the process to allow me to visually check each possibility, unlike now where I just hope each one works (and they don't).

I'll post some images of what I come up with, when I have something to show.

Thanks.
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Postby Smoking_Mirror » Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:28 am

Well, when you use ordinary perlin noise to build the mountains/hills you get a feature which essentially covers 50% of the map with unnavigable terrain. (unless you make the hight difference between minimum and maximum really, really low).

However, if you use a modified tone curve which cuts out the low half, you get some nice flat valley floors.

Using another permutation of the Perlin noise as a subtractive mask further cuts down the unnavigable space to just 25%. That way you have a terrain feature, instead of a impossible obstacle.

I live in Korea, a country which is 75% mountains, and I can say that those areas which are fully covered in mountains would be impenetrable to any kind of war machine (as the British and Americans found in the Korean war). Most of the activity in the country though such as, roads, houses, factories takes place in the valleys, where most of the terrain is pretty flat, apart from the odd isolated peak.
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Postby Smoking_Mirror » Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:07 am

BTW I've had no luck with Jumpjets in Demo 13.

I added the patch, but still nothing. I tried the jenner, and panther. I think if two mechs don't work then the rest probably don't too.
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Postby SandMan » Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:38 pm

Jets are working fine for me (beautifully, in fact. Actually useful now). Try running the patch on a fresh install. And remember that the jets have new controls (Ctrl+8 jumps forwards, etc).

Still can't really do the 'jump behind someone and shoot them in the back' maneuvre, though. I was imagining that a jumping 'Mech could turn freely, and that it's orientation would have no effect on the jump path. This would open up some opportunities.
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Postby Smoking_Mirror » Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:03 am

Oh, ok I got them working.

I use a laptop with a plug in Keyboard (to save straining myself when typing). JJs work with the number keys along the top of the keyboard (using CTRl), but not with the numpad.

Looks good though.

Maybe the AI needs some training on how to deal with being flanked. The ones I was playing against forgot to slow down when turning during combat so it was easy to get behind them and blast their rear torso.

Maybe just something which lowers the speed to 50% when engaging the enemy at close range. It'd help them to keep up their turning speed and stop them from getting flanked by fast moving units.

The lead indicator seems to work in exactly the opposite way to the one in MW3. The MW3 one showed you where you have to fire in order to hit. The BTS shows you where your shot will go if you fail to correct your aim.

I think that's a pretty good idea though, helped greatly when using SRMs, they are actually useful now.
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Postby adamsderk » Sat Jun 28, 2008 4:11 am

Sandman,

Mechs can turn freely in the air, but at a rate in line with the rules. I agree they do not have the "flexibility" that is described in the fluff.

Smoking_Mirror,

Interesting about the numberpad not working, I couldn't find those keys specified, so I assumed that they were the same as the ones across the top. But since they aren't (I develop on a laptop without the numberpad), I will find out their names so I can put them on the numberpad, which was my initial intent.

The AI does need some work, I have learned a lot in my last two creations of the AI and the next version will be better still (they still can't use jump jets).

Now, I haven't played MW3, but I figured that you should put the blue circle over the target and fire. Isn't that "where you have to fire in order to hit?"
--EDIT--
Oh, I get it, in MW3 you would fire into air and hope you hit, where in BTS you actually get to put the reticule over the target, but your reticule has moved.

Thanks.
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Postby elitewolverine » Sat Jun 28, 2008 5:55 am

imo mw3 was the best incarnation of cbt and fps, and kinda what i hold all other mechwarrior, bt, games to in terms of interpeting a board game into a 3d non turn based game...imo was that good, even kept clan vs is stuff as needed as well as many other different things that were so fubed in mw4+
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