[Blog] Where are we now?

It’s hard to believe that the last blog post I did was back in August. Man, time goes by so fast. Some people probably think we’re done and aren’t working on the game at all…well, that’s not the case at all. My goal was to have a new blog post every month at least, twice if I could do it. However, we’ve relocated to another part of the country and getting situated had changed up my priorities quite a bit. Work on the game has continued, though.

One of the biggest changes comes with how animations were done. I don’t want to get into the technical aspects of it, but I’ll say that the way I had laid out the animation before was clunky…for lack of a better word. I created the animation state machine when I first started working on Skullforge a couple years ago, then changed how some things worked once I could use Unity’s mecanim system. This was built on top of what I had already and it wasn’t integrated properly. Which caused some strange animation behavior. I knew this had to change as there was no way the game could release in that state. Unfortunately, this would be a huge undertaking since I would have to rewrite large sections of code.

Skullforge_96

As fate would have it, I started talking to another game development friend about this and he provided some excellent insight into the whole system and this meant that I wouldn’t need to do as much of a rewrite as I thought since I had originally planned out how animation states would work and the core of that philosophy was solid. The key was how to integrate it with Unity in a flexible way. It didn’t take long, but the animation state system in the game works like a charm. I’m pretty proud of how it all turned out. Solving this riddle and cleaning it up a bit helped improve how the game handles spells and abilities. I’ll have more to show on that in the coming weeks.

I’ve also began using a specific set of models which provide me with enough flexibility to have different races and NPCs in the game. Up until recently, I’ve been using some generic models that were purchased off of the Unity Asset Store. Some of them looked nice and served the purpose, but others didn’t. Not only that, there wasn’t a lot of consistency between models. I hope this new system we’re using for the game provides that. I’ll admit that it’s not stylish, but our budget is EXTREMELY limited and that means we have to make due with what we have at our disposal. I’ll be happy with just a consistent base of models that is uniform across the game. Should be able to see more of this in the coming weeks as well.

The other major area we’ve started working on is artificial intelligence. The A.I. in the game so far is pretty pathetic. Enemies get stuck behind walls, will chase the player forever, don’t have any sense of flanking so they get stuck on each other, there aren’t any cooldowns on their moves so they’ll just attack forever, etc. My original goal was to work on this system slowly and refine it as time went on. It worked well enough in the beginning, but now that there are more complex systems in place the lazy way I had A.I. implemented in the game was showing how terrible it was. After some consideration, I decided to go with some middleware to get it the job done. Getting it integrated into my current state machine has proven to be a challenge, but it’ll be worth it in the end as my NPCs should be smart enough to not get stuck on walls and will try to surround the player instead of standing there attacking the player forever. This will also allow me to integrate everything into my new skill/spell animation state machine. It’s been a bit of a slow process and I’m ready for it function like it’s supposed to. The key point is that I have to write whole sections of code to bridge the gap between my system and the middleware and that takes time.

Finally, we’ve been working on how to get cut-scenes working. I’ll admit that I’m not good at this. I know very little about film and making movies, so even the terminology is foreign to me. I understand that cut-scenes are an important part of any RPG all the way from SNES games to the PS4. Not having them would limit what we could do for quests and want to have a nice variety of quests and a nice story to keep people engaged. This has not been easy and I’m still struggling to get it to work. I keep telling myself that it’ll all be worth it in the end.

There are a lot of other little things that we’ve been working on, but they’re small things that are important to the game, but don’t make good blog material. Needless to say, the game is still chugging along and we’re still working hard to get it done and released some time next year. I hope that you guys really enjoy what we’ve crafted and if not, then we’ll do better next time!

Oh, and I’m talking to a musician that I hope (and pray) will do me a HUGE honor and craft a couple of tracks for the game. I guess I’ll find out in a couple of weeks, but it would be awesome as hell if he did this. Fingers crossed. Take care everyone.