Ocean got alive finaly. After much thinking and researching about right technique for sea rendering (and there are many), I opted and delivered two overlapping and semi-transparent textures, (cloud and lava tiles generated in GIMP), moving over each other on 3:1 Lissajous curves. Sweet! Trails got remade, to be more smooth and pretty. I spend more time in Blender, working on towns, trees, chests, barrels and animated birds. Meanwhile I introduced myself to Python as well as Blender API, and played some with Blender to Marmalade exporter. I decided that *ALL* visual art will be done by yours truly, and will be using stock or cc by-sa 3.0 music and sound effects. Found some gamedev blog entry reminding me that it is easer to fake 2d/3d art than faking a working c++ code. On that conjecture, I listened to some creative commons music while ordering easypen i405! :)
Yes, it has been a year since I started this. The most demotivating fact ever. But. Didn’t quit. How many actual hours? I don’t really know. :) If I was 8 hours a day on this, my guestimate is that it would be one month instead. But I don’t have deadlines so I pretend that I don’t care. Do I see the light at the end of the tunnel? No. Another year at least then. I guess all, ahem, great, things take time. Just ask James Cameron. I find it hard to check “completed” on anything. Everything can be done better. Faster, more pretty, more play worthy. I have a feeling that each fancy feature I add on top, it doubles the total game value. And that never ends. Each new idea I renounce with excuse of keeping focus, seems such a shame. It’s such a shame you can’t change terrain, pinch and zoom in and out, build and own new cities, walk on land, post on facebook, play on Windows/Mac, choose a soundtrack, have guilds, drink rum, meet girls, drink more rum, marry, upload pictures and logos, have treasure fleets and silver trains. “It’s such a shame, it would be so cool and it’s not that hard to implement”. As if each feature would double the number of players. I need to have end in sight. I need to focus on slowly wrapping things up. I would really like finalized and polished package before Christmas… some year.
Having enough of candy, I’m moving back to regular diet. Quests. Generation, purchase and completion of each. Along with trading and ship plundering / looting, this is one of the cornestones of gameplay and gold income. I have made up up to nine different types, differing in purchasing price, capacity and reward. Destination cities are dynamically randomly selected within distances related to your ship type, while distance is proportional to reward. Menus as splash images are now implemented on town docking, so one can now at least quit game in decent fashion. ZLIBed JSON is again involved for transfer, seems to be working fine. For testing I did deploy game on Kindle Fire and it worked great. Proverbialy, time does work for me since hardware is gaining on me!Also, I decided that to use towns as purchasable realestate, making it the real goal of the game. Each transaction will increase it’s price by 10% percent. Total net worth will be used as global hall of fame.
Felt like some makeup should be added. Textures were easily added to landscape, and it is looking good. Figuring at least couple of different should be used (snow/ice, desert, grass, earth, stones). Also, fancy semi-transparent clouds have been now generated, dropping a lovely dynamic shadow on both land and sea. But. I found my game moving too much to realistic look and feel and away from cartoonish like, which I think I want. Not sure “wat do”. Found a great article on cartoon like GL rendering and thinking about maybe using it. Also, sea and cannon trails are now implemented, using 10 last server points. It looks good, but animation is kinda jumpy. Either way still wondering about pure sea effects, should it be random waves animated textured polys just scattered around, or should I use one large pseudo shading animated caustic map….
Upon receiving enough hits from cannon or land, you die. Conceptually not so simple in MMO, IMHO. So dead player should be punished, but not to much in order to avoid anger and blasphemy and other negative emotions. But not too little either, to avoid indifference. Same goes for killing rewards which have to be motivating enough, but still leave a dead player in good mood. Not an easy task, as every online game seems to be dealing with it differently. In order to avoid hyperinflation, literally, reward and punishment should be about the same. Don’t have magic number yet, but I recon about 25% of everything onboard should do it. But you magically keep your sinken ship, yay! When dead/sunk, you will shortly respawn in last docked city with penalties applied. Docking taxes included and game saved. :)
Nothing wrong about retroactive blogging… I guess. So what’s new? Canon fire. Left and right, with reloading time, collisions and damages. Looks good, even without sounds or FX yet. Currently farmost left and right tap trigger it, but UI is also TBD. A-ha moment: cannon speed vector is to be added to ships, duh! Also, inital speed and position vectors for newly created objects is calculated to fit weighing function. Cannonballs are modeled as simple spheres with shadows embedded, so no real ballistics, just flat linear motion. After a while they, ahem, disappear. Playability wise, still not sure if range or cannon size should be used. Number of canons and reloading times should be enough to differentiate ships. Meh, we’ll see.
Game pricing model will probably be a, all too much popular, freemium. Free for all with in-app purchases of proper ships, upgrades and city governing positions. In free mode you will not have firepower, and a small short-ranged ship. Concept seems to be working great and well within “let your game be your marketing” mantra. Still a lot of time to change minds. I did some projections on time-frame, and it does not look too good. At this rate I am in for at least another 8 months, almost half of it going to 2D and 3D artwork, sounds and fancy visual effects and another half to features and gameplay.
For the first time I think i might have a feeling what actual gameplay might look like. To get gold, players will need to complete quests and missions, which can be contracted in towns. Those will mainly require sailing to increasingly distant locations. Sailing takes time, which takes food, which takes cargo space, which is defined by the type of ship owned. Ergo, ships have range, but also strength, speed, turning, wind usage and of course firepower. Ships can be bought at towns and can multiplayer battle, damage and sink, leaving some gold and food for looting. Ships can be sank by enviroment as well (storm, reefs and if unlucky giant octopus!). Each city docking costs a small gold fee, but allows savegame, food refill, damage repair and upgrades. You can be titled gouverner of any town for public name display and earning docking interest. It will be facebook integrated for login, achievments post and getting drunk on rum with your friends, if docked in same city. :)