Friday, October 26, 2012

88 – Winter is coming

Hey hey! Dropbox was down for a while so I thought that I wouldn't be able to post today. No such luck! :)

Let me give you the cliff-notes of the recent developments. Lately I've been using a Twitter a lot, even though the Twitter widget broke on the blog. I need to fix it somehow.

I continued working on the world scale. This is a lot harder than it seems. I guess I need to implement a more flexible system, probably by defining a customizeable value for a meter and making the engine take that into consideration at runtime.

I also did a lot of cleanup, worked on physics and made the terrain a lot larger. The terrain is now 2 square kilometers. Unfortunately  this takes up more that 1 GiB RAM. I need to pull off some crazy magic tricks and get this way down. A 10 square kilometer max map size would be just great.

I also added fog support for a few shaders. The view distance is not that great, I'm hoping to improve on it.

But the big new feature is skiing! Have you ever played Tribes Ascend? It is similar to skiing in that game. Basically you are able to reach very high speed and use natural or artificial ramps to launch yourself in the air. Currently the maximum speed I was able to reach is 168 km/h (this may not be accurate because the world scale is not that accurate yet).

But how can you reach such ludicrous speeds? Back in the Dwarves & Holes days I wanted to write a few fluff posts, detailing every single playable race. I never gotten around to it, and I'm not sure I want this for the new concept, but if I do, I will be bringing back one of the races as the single playable race: the Mages. These extraordinarily powerful creatures from another world (that have an extensive backstory in my head) will be the star of a sandbox/RPG building game. Their almost limitless power is balanced by their huge physical frailty and long cast time for most spells. Some spells might take days to cast, but here is where time compression will come in! Obviously, in combat you won't be able tot do time compression, so you'll have to stick to spell you can cast in real time.

And this is how an mortal creature will be able to reach high speeds and ski all over the landscape: magic! To make thing interesting I'll make skiing governed by a quick-to-regenerate resources. You will also need to have skiing turned on when landing in order to prevent a gruesome death. I'm hoping to achieve a balance where you ski on the ground and look for ramps to propel you into the air, where you can regenerate your resource and reactivate skiing prior to reaching an obstacle. Add a nice rhythm to it.

Another possible power is a gravity defying stop in mid-air that also creates a shockwave. Skilled skiers might be able to land near their target and moments before hitting ground trigger the spell and throwing everything at the point of impact in the opposite direction. In my head this has a very anime feel, hopefully it will work out in game.

Why do you need a shockwave spell? Can't you just ram things? Well skiing has a gliding and force neutralizing effect. So if you ram something with skiing on, the impact will be minor. If you ram it without, you may be able to kill your target, but you will also kill yourself. Hitting something with 100+ km/h will probably explode you and your target.

A third spell that I'll add is a blink:  a short range stealthy teleport. With upgradable backstabbing. Yup, stole that idea from Dishonored! Except for the backstab.

I find skiing interesting and even at this early stage quite fun! This raises a few interesting questions because skiing is very rarelly encountered in games and I think never in a RPG. One of these questions is: do you need fast travel? For now I'm thinking that there will be fast travel for money between larger settlements and a mark & recall spell, but otherwise you'll rely solely on reaching high speeds with skiing. So no point-on-the-map quick travel.

So here is a short video with the first incarnation of skiing and some live terrain manipulation. It is a little bit jenky, hopefully I will be able to improve upon it:

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