Tuesday, August 16, 2011

pre-alpha-3 – Day 16 - Stone Power

Cheers to another very fruitful day of polishing and bug fixing!


I have slightly redesigned the editor: using the menus was very cumbersome because you had to swap a lot between all the tabs. I removed the menu and added a vertical toolbar that nicely takes advantage of today's widescreen predominance:

The icons are not that pretty, but they are fairly self-explanatory, have tool tips and are diverse enough to be easily memorized if all else fails. Now I can easily switch between the tabs and I'm thinking of assigning keyboard shortcuts to all the tabs.

This was a usability/cosmetics change. Now for the real deal: two of the action groups are now fully realized, being 100% parameterized with the appropriate skills and pretty much ready for QA. In my previous examples explaining task filters, you may have noticed that tasks used to depend on some field from a class called EngineParams. But there is a better place to define these constants: in the skill editor!

Here you can see that the mining labor from the miner skill gives 100 experience points, has a duration of 7200 seconds and consumes 0.01666666667 task specific energy (a second). Skills now gain XP, but I'll wait with actually implementing leveling up until I balance the game. Speaking of balance, the game is pretty poorly balanced right now. It will take a lot of play testing on my behalf and others until the balance improves. Just to give an example: two hours raw dig time is not a good value. The difference in energy and time between a novice and master miner is pretty much negligible. If you are not under attack you have plenty of time to use an inefficient dwarf for digging or take another dwarf from another task to finish quicker. With two hours, the game does not incentivize you enough to use the best dwarf for the job and thus you won't appreciate and get attached to your top workers. And you won't miss them when they die gruesome deaths. After a little play testing, I think that a duration of 6-8 hours is more aproriate for a skill 5 dwarf, and every point could knock off 20-30 minutes from that. This way your master miner will do a lot more wok than a novice. What do you think?

Here is another sample skill:

Stone detailing is still physical work, so you get an energy penalty, while in the case of gem setting you do not. The durations will get increased.

I also redesigned the skill system and now, for the first time, it is capable of handling any skill, not just a few that have their logic implemented in the game engine. There is one caveat though: these skills must be production skills, i.e. take any number of items, any workshop you wish (official or from a mod) and must produce some goods. With this new system, it is possible to create a mod that adds a new skill and a new industry to the game, and your dwarves will be able to learn and level up that skill.

With the skill system in place and task filters from the first two task categories using the system to its fullest, I went in and updated the interface for these categories.

This is the new "wall actions" panel:

Oooooooooops!!! This is the new "wall actions" panel:

Carve options have been removed and we have two new actions. These actions are not planned for 0.1, but they will be part of the final game, so I though I should add them now. But what do they do? Let's see if the popup helps a little:

"Fortify wall" is an operation with which you use a wooden log to better support the wall and the ceiling. In the future I'll implement wall and roof collapsing. I don't want this to be to stressful, so for average size rooms you won't need to fortify walls. But for huge rooms, you will probably need to. But you will still be able to use it anywhere, even if it is only cosmetic.

"Decorate walls" will allow you to place things on walls: wall carpets, metal plates, paintings, flags and what not. And in the far future, when steam punk mechanism, logical gates and "circuit boards" will be implemented, you will be able to place triggers on walls with this action. Until then, this option will serve only a cosmetic purpose. The difference between this and engraving is that engraving is a action that carves out small pieces out of the wall to form a pattern, while decorate takes a finished item and nails, glues or otherwise attaches it to a wall.

Carve options have been moved to their own panel:

The entire carving system has been greatly cleaned up. Only chairs and "cests" are passable. Some spell checking is still pending! And a couple of option are still missing. In a future version I'll replace these buttons with an icon grid, because some items can have multiple angles, like stairs.

And finally, the quick dwarf inspector now uses obscure three letter words to show you what dwarves are doing:

I hope I did not forget anything, like I did in the last post. I forgot to document how map caching now takes up to two multiplication less per tile, bringing the grand total to zero multiplication per tile. This should improve performance a little.

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