Saturday, 3 August 2019

Plan for graphics tiles

Since I got my new computer and Blender 2.80 has been released I have an idea to recreate game object tiles in 3D. It may sound like a bad idea, but I think it's not that difficult. Items will probably be the easiest, because there are lots of parts that can be modified and copied (like handles and blades of weapons etc.). Besides not many people know that I am a 3D artist/animator myself, I just didn't get jobs from that area but have been mainly working in office environment for years.

I haven't tried this before, but I know there are some things to consider. First you need to match some kind of grid with items so when you render let's say 512x512 with 32x32 tiles the items are in their own "tiles" and don't bleed to others. Then again it's quite easy to fix if that happens by moving or scaling that object. The second problem is I guess the scale, because 32x32 tiles can only have certain amount of detail. This in fact can make the whole process easier, because you don't need a lot of detail and items need large, possibly even cartoonish parts in them.

The great thing about 3D is that it's easy to rotate and scale objects if you need to change their perspective (viewed from top in the actual game) or colors (materials). And on top of that you can create matching shadows and lighting for all items in a matter of seconds. Well, the downside is that modelling is kind of difficult and slow, although I'm pretty good at it.

It would be nice to have new graphics put in the game as soon as they are made, but it requires some changes. I need to change the .wst format to a regular image format and then copy new tiles over old ones when they are made. Some object graphics can be put into one image to have less image files to handle. The new system has to be programmed for all tiles, but copying tiles from .wst to image is not a big problem, it just means I have to succeed in this 3D idea. But I think it's the right way to proceed, because drawing tiles in 2D is even harder.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Back to game design

After finding solutions to some technical things I've returned to creating content or more like trying to get things playable. It feels a bit weird, yet nice. At the moment I'm working on character creation which involves some RPG system design as well, with skills in particular.

The RPG system is going to focus on gear and skills, not in experience because there is none except in skills (as a limited way to advance). I never liked experience based systems myself so this is an attempt to try something different. I guess you could look at getting better gear as "experience" of sort.

I feel like the technical solutions I've reached are not going to change this time, for real. At least not in a dramatic way like before.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

What I learned about inheritance today

Working on the game object class hierarchy I was confronted with a problem that I had not been able to solve - until now. The solution is I guess kind of hack, but I think it's only fitting. So when you inherit from another branch of class(es) the "main" branch can't use the class in that other branch without virtual functions defined in the base class. These functions can use either components which is a common way to use classes when you are not sure about inheritance, or derived classes, both using function wrappers which is bad, because it can generate duplicate or similar code.

My solution is a virtual function in the base class that returns the slice of the derived class from another inheritance hierarchy. The base class obviously returns zero for non-existing slice, but any derived class can return the proper part of it simply with return this. Slicing doesn't matter when you return pointers, it just works. When the sliced class is abstract enough it doesn't cause problems with decoupling it from the host class. Real life examples are things like the opener part of an object such as door. It can have status (open, closed, etc.) and lock data as in case of this game, and another example is the actual container in objects that can contain items. Both "slices" are abstract in the sense that they don't need information about the host object when they are used. The routines that use them can have the host object pointer as well and it's the case here, because you may need to do things to base class object as well like change the graphics frame when door is opened or closed.

The reason for all this is remove "empty" virtual functions and functionality from base classes and other classes in the hierarchy that are not using some derived class functionality. With this new way to handle some aspects of game objects I can split the main hierarchy to object types that use only the functions they have and it's possible without writing multiple wrapper functions to each class, because those classes are virtual parts themselves.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Class hierarchy of game objects

The structure of game object classes is something I'm going to rewrite, maybe before source code release. The problem was that I believed the "common" knowledge that you should avoid inheritance and especially multiple inheritance in C++, and use components, not only as in component based approach but as datatypes inside the class. But if you are using classes and OOP, then what is the point of that? There is no point and not only that it has made the game object tree quite difficult to maintain.

But what about things like the dreaded diamond? It is a silly thing to dread, because any advanced programmer can't make that kind of simple mistake in inheritance. The real difficult thing is the class hierarchy itself, because you need to make independent branches that don't rely on some base class data if the class is not inherited from "main" branch.

How you split classes is part of the hierarchy problem. For example if you have fountains should they be a separate class that has water contain ability or should they be a part of some more generic container type class? The way objects behave is I think a good way to split, but even then some features are more generic than others. It's not easy to create a well behaving class hierarchy, but it's certainly not impossible or something you should avoid.

I think when people go for solutions like component based design it's a solution to problem that never existed. The way OOP works is just one way to do things, that's it. If you want to do something else, that's ok, but it's irresponsible to create assumptions about OOP that are not true.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Descriptions

Every object in Kaduria has some kind of description of what it is. Some games have descriptions for monsters, but often not much else. I think descriptions are a nice way to clarify what the object is, because it's not always obvious. I know this myself, because I'm not a native speaker of english which is the de facto language for most roguelikes.

It's a good guess that descriptions are also a problem, because it's surprisingly hard to write good descriptions if you have a large number of objects in the game. I've mostly tackled that with kind of comical output, because it's the easiest approach in my mind. This is also something roguelikes tend to have, maybe for that same reason.

Item descriptions have been a stark reminder why it's a bad idea to create large amount of items before cementing their data structure. Kaduria doesn't have a impossible amount of items, "only" 233, but it gives plenty of work when something changes. In this case copy-pasting descriptions from C++ files to external text file. It's not even 233 copy-pastes (you can try that line by line from some random text file and get an idea) but also cleaning the source code's struct data after that. Lot's of selecting by mouse and deleting with backspace.

Some of the descriptions aren't yet written, so it's even slower than that. If there is something "technical" in the description it also has to match the game's features. Which in some cases is not yet there. Both items and monsters are a great example of overdoing and lack of planning skills. What you should do is start from a small number of items from each item/monster class and work with that before adding lots of them.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Source code release plan update 2

Most of the text data is moved to external text files, but item descriptions are one of the larger parts not yet done. The modular design is also not yet decided and I guess there will be changes even after the project is in github.

I'm now unemployed, have been for couple of weeks. It's more time for projects like this, but somehow I feel there is strangely less time, because I have other stuff to do as well. I don't know how long I will be unemployed and in fact I'm not yet even technically unemployed, because I packed my vacation days in the end of the contract time. If you don't know what that means we get I think two days each month paid vacation which is mandatory, you can't avoid it. If you don't take days off from work those days will pack in the end of the contract. I never take vacation so I had 20 days extra time to be on vacation before I'm unemployed. I don't know what happens then, the last time I got a phone call to get in work.

Also, I'm in a middle of probably long process to get a new computer after using this Acer PC for almost 8 years I think. I could continue working with this, but it's started to run hot and getting a faster PC is better anyways, because Windows 10 and many programs require more power. I'm still keeping it quite slow and hopefully reliable rather than getting latest and fastest gear. Still seems like it's going to cost somewhere around 800-900€ when I'm building it myself. I don't know if it's a good idea, but this is the first time I'm building a PC myself. One of the reasons is that I didn't really find a good tower PC for a reasonable price. These days they are either ugly "gaming" PCs or small form factor "professional" PCs without a video card.

As I estimated in January preparing for source code release will take several months and even then there will be some old parts of the source code that are going to look funny, but they give a realistic picture how it can be difficult to keep the source code maintained even in this 50-60K range which I think is a middle sized roguelike in terms of lines of code.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Game design doc

Today I learned there is something called a "design doc" and I was browsing some examples of them. Some of them are "pitch" docs which are way too simple to accurately describe a game, but there were some that were more detailed. I've never made a design doc, maybe that's why Kaduria and my other projects took so much time to finish.

Maybe I could still write a design doc for Kaduria? I just don't see that much reason for it, but it could be something to try at least. I guess it is good to know what your game is going to have in terms of places, items, monsters etc. but why not just put them in the game without a doc? Maybe I'm missing something here.

I'm in a weird kind of situation right now, because all my projects are in state where I'm not sure what to do next, in a way. Obviously there is so much to fix that I can just start doing it and worry about those more generic things later.

Working on Banana Rogue (a derived project from Advanced Rogue) has actually given me some hope for my own programming style and source code. It makes everything look much simpler, even this huge project. The source code as technical aspect doesn't have too many problems to solve, it's more like content. Well, it's almost always the content. I don't know, maybe a design doc for content or more specific for game world could help me determine how to create the entire game world, not just some level themes.