Thursday, June 30, 2016

Combat mechanics

This is an interesting article on the combat mechanics for Tyranny by the Game Director:
When you perform an attack in Tyranny – whether it’s a basic weapon attack, casting a spell, or using an ability – your Accuracy is compared to the target’s Defense to determine how well the attack does. As with Pillars of Eternity, each attack can have one of four possible results: Miss, Graze (attacks deal less damage, status effects are applied for a shorter duration), Hit, or Crit (attacks deal greater damage, and status effects are applied for a longer duration).

Your Accuracy is determined by one or more character skills. A basic attack will use the skill associated with the weapon you’re attacking with. A spell will use the magic skill for that type of spell and the character’s Lore skill. If more than one skill is used, their values are averaged together to produce the final skill value. Accuracy bonuses from weapons or abilities are added to that base value to determine the final Accuracy for the attack. The skills used to determine Accuracy are also the skills you gain experience in for that attack.

Each attack targets one of five possible Defenses: Parry, Dodge, Endurance, Will, or Magic. Enemies and party members have different strengths and weaknesses in these defenses, making some attacks better options against one type of enemy than another.

Accuracy is compared to Defense, and the resulting difference is used to modify the combat result table. Higher Accuracy results in a greater chance to Crit or Hit, reducing the chance to Graze or Miss. A lower Accuracy has the opposite effect, making you Graze or Miss more often.
Dev diaries are a great way to learn about how designers and developers tackle the challenges that appear during the development process and how they think through the various options.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Getting Up and Running with Spriter

Spriter is a 2D character animation tool that was recommended during the last Devgame class.

When I was an apprentice clown, my master taught me that one of the first rules of clowning is "Stay green."  It means always work something new into your performance.  Let it grow and evolve.  Far be it from me to disregard the teachings of my master.  I got Spriter and gave it a whirl.

I've talked my code-monkeys into trying the Unity plugin it because it simplifies my work for me. To give them a leg up, I animated a treasure chest opening, added the plugin, and put the chest in Unity.

This gif is unable to do the animation justice, alas. In Spriter and Unity it's quick and fluid.

For code monkeys who wish to play with it, here's what I learned:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Forgotten Japan

Hardcore Gaming 101 has a very cool summary of retro Japanese computer gaming:
Japan has long been viewed by the West as a console-centric country, ever since Nintendo and the NES. But there is another, mostly forgotten world of Japanese gaming history, in which thousands of games were developed for various Japanese computers over an 18 year period that stretches from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. For all that Nintendo started, it was the open hardware of NEC and other companies that allowed small groups to form and become giants. In fact, some of Japan's most recognizable franchises, such as Metal Gear and Ys, actually began as computer games. The early Japanese computing scene was an intense flurry of creativity that launched the careers of many prominent figures in the video game industry, while also establishing some of the most famous video game companies, such as Square, Enix, Falcom, and Koei.

Japanese computer games were also exempt from any of the licensing and content restrictions that all console makers have imposed in various forms. These early games give us a rare glimpse into a world of Japanese creativity unfettered by censorship and outside pressures, which has never since been replicated. The content ranges from rampant drug use and presidential assassination (XZR), to tender explorations of love, sex, and relationships (Dokyusei), to mature and suspenseful horror (Onryo Senki), and even to one of the first rape simulators (177), predating the infamous RapeLay by 20 years. The content is not always tasteful, but the lawless atmosphere resulted in some of the most unique titles in video game history....

A forgotten era

The personal computer industry in Japan began much like everywhere else: as a response to Intel's creation of the world's first microprocessor, the 4004, in 1971. Both NEC and Toshiba successfully developed their own microprocessors in 1973, and over the next few years a number of personal computer kits and homebew packages were released by companies such as Hitachi, Fujitsu, NEC, Toshiba, and Sharp. Much like in the West, these early computers were primarily for electronics tinkerers and enthusiasts, and had to be programmed by the users themselves.

The early 80s saw the release of the first fully-fledged 8-bit computers designed with average users in mind, rather than amateur programmers (although there were still plenty of those). Three companies eventually shared the 8-bit crown: NEC, with its PC-8800 series; Fujitsu, with the popular FM-7; and Sharp, with the X1. NEC would later come to dominate the Japanese computing scene for over 10 years with another computer, the 16-bit PC-9801, but Fujitsu and Sharp were able to maintain a small but loyal following by staying competitive and eventually releasing two incredible 16-bit machines of their own: the Fujitsu FM Towns, and the Sharp X68000.

One important thing to note is that much like the early computers produced by Western companies such as Apple, Commodore, Atari, and IBM, almost all Japanese computers were incompatible with each other. This led to intense competition among the computer makers, with each vying to establish its own architecture as the dominant standard. Once NEC, Fujitsu, and Sharp took the majority of the market, the remaining computer makers banded together around the MSX, a shared computing standard developed by Microsoft Japan and ASCII. Despite being fourth place in the Japanese computer race, the MSX and its successor eventually achieved popularity in South America and Europe, while the Big Three never found success outside of Japan.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Shots Fired

I need to animate dwarves and orcs shooting in multiple directions.

Let's start with south. First, I draw the crossbow loaded and ready to fire.
Next I draw it post-firing:
Next I draw it raised as we load a new arrow.
Problem is, this animation is terrible!
Technically good enough for the target, site, but the purpose of this internship is to impress industry insiders, thus make contacts, thus make money, thus fund my own game dev projects.

Problem: I don't have enough time to animate all the inbetween frames.

Solution: Smears to the rescue!

First, we draw the bow firing:
Next, we draw the bow being raised from the empty position to the raised position.

Next, we draw the bow being lowered to threaten foes once more:

None of those pictures look good. They don't have to. They aren't going to be visible for more than a tiny fraction of a second. Their goal is to convince the viewer that the animation is way smoother than it actually is.

I think they succeeded, don't you?
One direction down, four more to go.