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October-04: Mr. Robot
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:26 am    Post subject: October-04: Mr. Robot Reply with quote

Project Status Announcement:

We have made the decision to slow down Battlescape development for a while.

As part of developing the new 3D engine, effects system and networking code, we had been using two already existing but unfinished projects as test beds (we always have a few things bubbling under). Both these projects require a narrow engine feature set compared to Battlescape, and one in particular has started to overtake Battlescape in terms of development time. The main challenge with Battlescape is in the AI and gameplay implementation which only really involves me so Darren and Nick ended up surging ahead with our other projects.

We are now convinced that it makes sense to actually finish them first, as the projects nicely utilise core features fundamental to Battlescape. Whilst a difficult decision for us to make, we are now happy that it is the right one, as it will vastly improve the wide range of technology which Battlescape will be making use of.

We can give some details of the first game, tentatively titled MR.Robot. A 3D isometric adventure/platform/puzzle type game, inspired by the old Ultimate titles like Knightlore, Alien8 and Pentagram. We don't want to revel too much yet though, better to wait until it's more presentable. We'll keep the second under wraps for now until things are more settled, I don't want to talk about anything until there are screen shots and working prototypes. As Mr.Robot enters the final development phase of level design, level building and testing it is going to suck me in more and more. The main thing to stress is that Battlescape is still being worked on and is definitely on the way, everyone's input on the forum has helped shape that game into something really special and we want to take the time to do it right.

My Dev Diary for this Month:

Up to this point i've still been working on Battlescape, i've been implementing targeting among other things. There are a number of different types of weapons:

Instantaneous - things like lasers, machine guns and rifles fire in a straight line that instantly hits the target. Very easy for the AI to use, just point at the target and fire.

Projectiles - a more realistic implementation of a rifle or an unguided rocket, a discrete object moving in a straight line slowly. If the target is moving you now have to predict where it is going and aim there if you want to hit it. Still fairly simple to implement.

Gravity projectiles - a tank shell, a discrete object affected by gravity that traces a parabola as it travels through the air. Looks lovely when you see all the arcing shots but getting the AI to aim correctly to hit a moving target is very complicated indeed.

After a lot of head scratching and book searching i've got all three types working properly so tank battles look very nice.


Last edited by Poo Bear on Wed Oct 27, 2004 12:10 pm; edited 6 times in total
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Fost
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not too much from me - as I've spent some time in Cyprus! Which was very hot, but had fantastic kebabs and beer! (Keo beer rocks!)

Currently I'm working on initial 'doodle sketches' for the robots that will appear in 'Mr. Robot':
Mr. Robot: Robot Thumbail Concept drawings

Once I've hit on a shape I like, I'll usually work it up into a more detailed concept sketch such as this:
Mr. Robot: Asimov Concept Art

Before Working it up into the final model:
Mr. Robot: Asimov Render

Although often the doodle sketch may be enough for me to get a clear vision in my head of the 3D model that I can work on straight away. It's much more efficient than working in 'the industry' where you would have to produce concept art that would require approval from management before you could do anything. This way the entire debate of what style of model to make happens in my head Very Happy and I can spend more time on the game artwork. The downside is there's less hand-drawn art to stick in my portfolio Wink


Last edited by Fost on Tue Sep 05, 2006 11:13 am; edited 3 times in total
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Goober
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Joined: 11 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aside from continuing work on Mr Robot, I've been working on integrating the script language with our shader system, adding support for vertex lighting to the shader system, and writing vertex shaders to do our lighting. Let's go over this stuff a bit.

First of all I made an early decision to only support vertex shaders when doing vertex lighting, even if they are in software. Only a small class of cards "lose out" in this case - GeForce1/2 and Radeon7000 class cards. For cards that have no hardware transform and lighting it's all pretty much the same because they'd have to do it all in software anyway, and a vertex shader could potentially be faster than the fixed function pipeline because it's optimised for a specific case. I don't see this choice being a problem for the lighting models/number of lights/world complexity that we're aiming for, so it makes sense to keep the engine simpler in favour of requiring the CPU to do some extra work.

One issue that has become apparent with the recent lighting/shader work is that currently the script language is still without a high level language compiler, mainly due to there being higher priority things to deal with. This is kind of a pain because it means I'm the only person here that can write shaders that make use of the script language in any way. This affects more than just the lighting though, because Fost intends to use texture coordinate animation for some effects, and the script language will need to be used to set up data for that. Short-term there shouldn't be a problem, but it will definitely be easier when there is a high level language to use, to give Fost the freedom to try things out without the latency of needing to get me to implement something for him.

Another issue that's recently come to my attention (thanks to Matt N), is that my avatar no longer matches me. My hair has grown considerably since I obtained that avatar and I feel the need for change. I think this will become my top priority task for the next couple of weeks Wink
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icarus
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Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Location: Olympia Washington



PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

finaly but you should have told us in september, I had to go to months whithout my monthly dose of cool screenshots
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Fost
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, sorry for the delay - but I hope everyone understands that we needed to be sure this was the best road to take before making an announcement.
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Doom III



Joined: 20 Apr 2004
Posts: 117



PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

because of your reasons i think good decision guys. now i have 2 games to look forward to. Very Happy

just so long as we dont lose the dev diaries. they are fasinating.
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Johnh



Joined: 06 Sep 2003
Posts: 160



PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2004 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait a second... I'm getting deja vu.
Sounds like you're pushing back the release date. Just like Blizzard does with every single one of their best games. Like Diablo 2. Or Warcraft 3. I like Warcraft 3. I think this means I'll like Battlescape even more...

mmmmmmmm... I sense a higher-quality game coming our way.
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James



Joined: 28 Nov 2002
Posts: 153
Location: Sheffield



PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2004 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just saying to somebody the other day how much I liked games like Fairlight, Head Over Heels, Cylu and Cadaver and how it's a shame nobody does them any more. Looks really nice so far.

How are you doing the controls? Will it be direct camera-relative Mario style controls, or the more traditional rotate-and-go-forward system, like Resident Evil and the like? Is it strictly 4 directional isometric or will you be able to move freely?
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Goober
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2004 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The control system currently being used is pretty much like [url=http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek.cgi?regexp=^Head+Over+Heels$&pub=^Ocean+Software+Ltd$]Head Over Heels[/url] or [url=http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek.cgi?regexp=^Batman$&pub=^Ocean+Software+Ltd$]Batman[/url]. The camera is in a fixed position and the controls move your character in each of the major compass directions. We are thinking that diagonal movement will be possible too, but it's something to be played with to see if it adds anything to the game or just makes traversing some rooms more difficult.
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Weeble
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Joined: 25 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2004 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you played Mastertronic's [url=http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek.cgi?regexp=^Rescue$&pub=^Mastertronic+Ltd$]Rescue[/url]?
It's not isometric, but it isn't a million miles away, and it's one of my favourite games ever. I might have mentioned it here before.

You must enter a space-station overrun by space-pirates and try to save 8 scientists and their experiments. In particular you must save the Ultimate Discovery, but you can't tell which one it is. The game involves running around, shooting pirates with your pea-shooter of a gun, and moving crates and ammo boxes and other junk around to try to block the pirates and keep them away from the vulnerable scientists. The thing is, the pirates don't just go for you. They'll smash up anything and everything, including the valuable teleporters, medical stations and door controls that help you in your job. Some of them are impervious to bullets, and these can only be defeated by finding a missile from the ship's stores, putting it on the ground and shooting it when the pirate comes close. Of course, this damages or destroys pretty much everything else in the room (except you, thankfully).

Other exciting items you could find included medikits, that healed you when you ran out of health; ammo boxes that filled up your gun when it ran out; fuel (precious fuel) that allowed your space-ship to take off when you were done; and crates that you could blast open to find another item. Every item had a further two uses - to block the path of the pirates, and to guide the movement of the (suicidally stupid) scientists, who would run in a straight line until they hit something, pick a random direction and start running again.

I particularly enjoyed erecting barricades against the pirates. I eventually figured out a pattern of placing items at the edges of screens that could completely seal off areas of the ship from the pirates, without which it just wasn't possible to save all eight scientists and experiments.

I don't think Mr Robot's going to be very similar, but I think it's similar enough that I think there might be good ideas to take from Rescue. And besides, if you haven't played it, you're missing out.
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r000000b
Starscape Jedi
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Joined: 10 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
We have made the decision to slow down Battlescape development for a while (hopefully 6 months at most)


does this mean you are expecting to finish Mr. Robot in 6 months?
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hopefully sooner, Fost and Goober have got quite far with it while i've been labouring with Battlescape.
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r000000b
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Joined: 10 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, are you going to start a new forum? What is the story behind it? is it in the starscape/battlescape universe?
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Fost
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

r000000b wrote:
Wow, are you going to start a new forum? What is the story behind it? is it in the starscape/battlescape universe?

Yes, new forum is ready to go, but we want to finalise various bits of information first, so it may be a while before it's open.

So far we have been thinking this would be another Starscape universe game, but there are many factors we are already aware of that may force us to reconsider that idea.
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BluePhoenix



Joined: 08 Jun 2004
Posts: 96
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fost, that rendering is....just...wow....It looks like picture taken with a camera rather than a computer rendering!
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