State of the Game #3

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Another week, another update!

So, what have we been up to this week? LOTS! We have moved away from the editor and are now working on gameplay mechanics. This means lots of testing and adding in gameplay features, like enemies. Also, a new test level!

 

So you might be wondering about the enemies. Right now we have 2 basic types, the Tank and the Turret. Here are the main things we are working on:

Vehicle Movement: Tanks and other wheeled bases will move significantly different then the direct control leg types. We are working on creating a fun experience with the wheeled bases, while still accounting for design issues, like what if you flip? Is it un-flippable? These types of questions have a huge impact on how they will play and react. Currently we have a basic system that will allow freedom to lose contact with the ground (like ramping over the top of a hill), but it is heavily controlled in code and has some correcting that happens in air. So far this has struck a nice balance of being fun, while still being stable.

Target Selection: We have a simple weapons AI in place. AI units will evaluate their weapons, choose the ones that are best for the current situation and fire them at you. This was pretty fun to get up and running. M.A.V. uses a physical projectile system, so bullets are affected by gravity, have a velocity, can be accelerating, so getting the AI to be accurate was not as simple as fire at the target. Right now the AI’s calculations are accurate enough for them to hit you consistently at fairly long ranges (>600 meters), even if both of you are moving.

AI Manager: This is a system to control the basic properties of an AI, from aggressiveness, accuracy, teamwork, etc. It adds the ‘human’ element to the AI so even if two identical tanks are fighting you, they have different ‘pilots’. This is just in the beginning stages right now.

So, one of the things we really pride ourselves on is modularity. Since everything in M.A.V. is modular, the AI had to be as well. Using the above as components, the current AI system can pilot ANY unit we currently have. The components can also be stacked, so you can have an AI manager controlling other managers that are piloting different units. This modularity allows us to easily extend the content of the game and provide new and interesting situations for you to face.

The Test level

This level is our ‘Traversal’ test. It is very hilly, some mountains, some flatter areas, some cliffs. This will be our proving ground for how well our animation system handles the terrain, how well our AI path finding performs, and it will incorporate some simple combat and objectives.

Other updates

With working enemies we have some basic combat now! One of the keys to the combat is that each part is destructible. If your weapons take to much damage, they will be destroyed and any parts attached to them will be lost as well. This forces you to approach combat in a much more tactical way. If your cockpit is destroyed, your M.A.V. is done. We are debating about how to handle Leg/Mobility damage. We either want fully destroyed legs to cease working, turning you into a turret, or be fully destroyed and it has the same effect as a destroyed cockpit, or possibly allowing you to still move but at a heavily reduced speed. I am leaning towards the disabled route, but it’s not final yet.

That’s all for this week!

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