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Monday Dev Update #68 (with screenshots)

 
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jeb
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 5:28 pm    Post subject: Monday Dev Update #68 (with screenshots) Reply with quote

Development during week 34-2007
We worked a little on Harvest, trying to improve the OpenGL renderer's performance for the Mac version.

We have also worked a lot on creating the Daria world map. Thewreck has created new artwork as usual, and Miklotov, Jellocube and Milktoast have been adding new areas.

During the last two weeks we have also been working on a "height system" in Daria. The system would add hills and mountains to the game, which looks a lot more alive and dynamic than the usual renderer. This is what the game looks like now:

And this is what the game would look like with heights:


I'm writing would look like because we haven't decided if this feature will be included in the game or not. The reason for this is that it's a very expensive feature, both to the game's performance and development time. We are currently witnessing a big FPS drop in the Direct3D version of Daria (the OpenGL version hasn't suffered so much), which will require a lot of optimizations to fix, but the system also has other problems.

I decided not to mention this feature in the last's week update because I don't want to give you any false hope, but at the same time we want to show you that we are working on the game. Our plan now is to determine how much time the height system is worth, and if we haven't been able to make it working properly in that time, we must choose to skip the idea.

It may seem strange to you that a height system is expensive, since it appears in a lot of 3D role-playing games. The problem we have is if we want the game to stay as a beatiful 2d game (which we want), everything must be rendered orthogonally to the screen. That means we can't use a 3D camera, z-buffering or other functions that are basics of 3D rendering. We are going to make some research on the subject to see if there are any other technologies we can use, but that also takes time on the feature's quota. I guess we'll keep you posted.

Planned development during week 35-2007
We will release the Mac version of the Harvest beta, and continue working on Harvest. Our main priority now is to finish and release Harvest.

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Ozma
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:06 pm    Post subject: Interesting.. Reply with quote

I have to say, the heights do make the environment more detailed, but I fail to see how they affect the gameplay as far as making the world more detailed. One thing about WiA that I noticed was that the world was basically flat - nomatter if you were near the shore or in the plains, it was all on the same plane. I would be more interested in seeing height applied using relative planes. For example, mountains could be implemented by using a mountain on a plane and having a path going up the mountain that goes to higher planes only reachable using the given path. The game would remain completely 2D, but I think it would liven the world.

Does that make sense?
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Ozma
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:04 pm    Post subject: ... Reply with quote

Upon further inspection, I realized that the "heights" were correctly distorting the original flat landscape. I had thought it was just clever use of highlights and shadows. That said, it does do an excellent job of "hiding" a bit of the "tiled" look.

I also realized that my previous post was pretty murky. I was basically just trying to describe giving the illusion of height by way of special graphics. Think Escher.
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jeb
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I'll post some more revealing screenshots some day. Maybe next monday dev update Smile
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Fledge
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd prefer something a little more like Age of Empires (I & II) in shading the hillsides. Also, chunks of rocky cliff side might be good.

I'm glad you didn't go the "Final Fantasy Tactics" way though (a standard turn-based strategy RPG elevation style), because it is crudely blocky.

I also think that if you want feedback, you should tell us how heavily you plan to possibly implement it. All you've given us is a visual. There are other things than visuals, as much as we all love a good screenshot.

For example, would it effect the battle system? Ranged attack height difference? Defensive properties of fighting downhill? (Are there any in real life to imitate?)

Would this justify implementing overlapping layers, almost 2.5d gameplay with an isometric view? Like, a bridge you can walk under and over?

But if you ask me, all things considered as stated so far, I'd say not to add height. Daria is already choppier than most 2d MORPGs. I think it will make its livelihood as a 2d MORPG by focusing on gameplay rather than graphics, as WiA did. But not to the same extent as WiA, since Daria has better graphics than most free or semi-free 2d RPGs, though they aren't 3d. I'd say if this isn't going to improve gameplay as well as graphics, which it could, don't implement it. It won't be worth the sacrifice. And in my case, I'm already having graphical problems with occasional lines of out-of-place pixels appearing in animated water in the Silly Alphas. I don't know what it would be like with even slower FPS.

On the other hand, if you want to go all out and add all the practical gameplay adjustments that a height system can offer, go ahead! But not if it's only visuals.
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