As many of you noticed, yesterday’s update was an April Fool’s joke. So no, we’re not going free to play. What we are doing is pushing hard on the grindstone on the next release. Here’s all the stuff that’s happening right now at Team Radiant. Wall of text incoming. Brace yourself!
Save and Load
The save and load infrastructure is in place and working well. Save is pretty much instant, and load is surprisingly fast (it takes much less time to load a world than to generate one). The job now is to adapt all the game systems to the save/load infrastructure, and of course fix the bugs that fall out. This work is ongoing now, and we’re making strong and steady progress.
Here’s a quick shot of the Save Game dialog. Each save slot shows your town name (did I mention you’ll be able to name your town next release?), the in-game time, and a screenshot. Look closely and you’ll see that the screenshot includes the GUI at the time that you hit save…one more bug we need to fix.
Stephanie continues to crank away at the farming system. The ability to plant farms and collect crops is totally done. Now the whole thing has to be tuned: the rate at which crops grow, how long it takes to harvest, how much each person needs to eat a day, how long people can go without food before starving, and more all need to work together. To facilitate the tuning, we’ve built a mammoth spreadsheet that simulates the farming system and a town of 6 hungry settlers. That allows us to tune any individual parameter and see the effect on food collection and starvation rates after days of simulated play.
After playing around with a couple of different possible models, we’ve settled on one we like. Now the job is to tweak the in-game implementation to match the new model and try it out in the actual game.
As we add more systems to the game, there are more and more things for you the player to manage. To keep things simple, we’re adjusting the UI to show only information that’s relevant to whatever you’re doing at the time, be it managing your farms, building a new building, or harvesting resources. There’s a lot too this, but the general theme is to hide all the HUD-like in-game elements like the blue stockpile boxes and translucent building blueprints, and only show them (and their associated UIs) when you’ve indicated that you want to fiddle with that particular thing.
We’re about 1/2 way done with this, but I’m cautiously optimistic so far. The game looks a lot more natural in the steady state. No more giant blue boxes littering the landscape.
Albert has started work on the combat system! This is a long road, so don’t expect combat in next release and maybe not even the release after that.
The first step is to get AIs to communicate with each other. So far AIs act independently, sometimes managed by an overseer who can direct multiple AIs at once. But there hasn’t been a need for AIs to message each other directly, until now. The reason for this is of course that in combat you have pairs of opponents, an attacker and a defender (this is an over-simplification. Of course you can have many attackers ganging up on a single defender, etc), and their actions need to be coordinated.
For instance, a dramatic re-enactment of Ai coordination:
AI1: *peacefully minding its own business*
AI2: “Surprise! I smite at thee with my sword!” (play a sword swing animation)
AI1: (rolls defense check) “Knave, your attacks are useless against me!” (play parry animation)
AI1: “Taste steel!” (play awesome sword swing animation)
AI2: (roll defense check) “Gahhhhh” (play hit animation)
Coordination, minus the painful dialog, is pretty much working. Next steps include
- Integrate the combat AI routines with the existing AI system
- Make some combat classes
- Add the ability to (indirectly!) control squads of units by making defend zones and patrol paths
- Teach the AI game master to send enemies to your town based on game conditions (time of day, status of your town, etc)
- Make lots of interesting enemy scenarios
Like I said, it’s a long road, but we’ve started down it.
You may notice a big omission from the list: building! Building is of course the center-piece of the game. It’s incredibly important. Tony will turn his full attention to the building system once save and load is in place. This means that building will definitely fall behind the rest of the game in the short term, but over the next few months you will see major improvements to the build system compared to what we have now. So don’t worry. We’re on it, just not yet.
I hope that gives you a feeling for what’s going on in the team. As you can see, we’ve got a lot going on! The next two to three months should be particularly exciting as the “prototype with potential” that we have now develops into a real game.