This week I continued to work on my ship detailed statistics by giving crew statistics.
Some of the key things are the moral, along with the number of days of food, water, and cash that you have on board. I’m not really happy with the layout for this, I’ll have to think over it a bit more as to what I’m actually going to include on the panel. For now it will do, but…
Next up is pretty clearly the mission panel, the only one panel that doesn’t have any information there yet. As previously mentioned, that will take a re-write of the mission system, which I will start to work on soon.
I started a project this week that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’ve wanted to visualize how my world appears in terms of the key parameters I generate, namely the Altitude, Temperature, and Moisture, and to a lesser extend Wind. In so doing, I set a system to save an image of the world, which I likely will use in other places, likely for doing pre-generated worlds. Such an image looks like the following:
A typical world looks somewhat like this:
Basically I made the distribution of mountain peaks follow more of an exponential decay, such that the highest peaks are quite rare, leaving most of the land quite flat. Before the terrain was much more uniform, only slightly tapering off at the higher elevations. In other words, I tried to make it look something like this (For the above sea levels, at least)
The temperature mostly follows the latitude, but I have a parameter to tweak it by a number of degrees per km of altitude. Currently I have that set to 7, and I basically tweak it to preference.
Currently I do not have all of these parameters available for edit to the outside world, but I should be able to have them soon. Expect that coming soon!
Among other things, while do doing I fixed the bug that sometimes happened where there would be a very plain looking world, with little coastal features. While I might do a bit more tweaking of the world generation system, as a whole I am much happier with it now then I was last week!
The item of most concern with the world generation remaining is the fact that the moisture is still too high. I’m planning on working on that during the coming week, hopefully something will come out of it that looks much better!
I also did a bit of tweaking of the cost of goods, which should reduce some of the strange issues I’ve seen. Haven’t fully tested it out yet, but I’m happy overall with the way things are going!
I’m likely going to give away a copy of a class on Unreal Multiplayer development in one of my streams. Follow me on Twitch to find when I stream, and maybe you can win this course!
I’m amazed at the amount of improvements that I have been able to make after having playtested Colonial Sea Trader. It is a much improved game over where it was only a week ago, thanks to the good feedback that I was able to get, between being put in to the situation of having the game ready to play, playing it, seeing it played, and getting some direct suggestions from people.
Most of the feedback I personally collected was in the forms of bugs. I noticed a lot of things that most players didn’t, like the money could sometimes become negative, the load time was huge, the fonts displayed were wrong, and quite a few other things I noticed by watching people play. These I made some huge improvements on, and I can say that many, if not most, of these issues are addressed!
I already wrote a whole blog article on it, but I’ve improve the loading speed immensely! The load time now is only a few seconds, as you can see from the below game dev vlog.
The other big improvement is the price list, which now allows for selecting items to be prioritized. I also did a few other tweaks to how it looked, and you can see an example below:
For the next week, I’m planning on doing streams both Monday and Tuesday evenings, working on improvements to the selling dialog, some kind of a way to indicate if the good prices are better, some tweaks to the pricing model, and other UI type changes.
Aside from that, the biggest thing I’m going to work on is if I only want to allow moving to cities, and what that might entail. I am increasingly thinking that I will only allow moving to cities and other points of interest, and not just traveling to any point, but I’m not completely sure. At the very least, I will only allow moving to a city if a city is within a few tiles of a city. Let me know what you think!
I decided I’m going to try something different. I was listening to a GDC talk about a number of things, one of the things was streaming your development work. I decided, why not? So I have set up a Twitch account, and figured out how to make it work. I did do a single test stream Friday, and it worked quite well. The next time that I will do it is today at 12:30 EDT, 1630 UTC. I know it’s only a few hours notice, but I’d love it if any of you could jump in and say hi, and see how things are going. I’ve set aside a number of topics to try and make the stream more interesting, I’ve decided no one wants to just watch me spend 3 hours digging in to a code base that I’ve been working on for over a year to fix some obscure problem. Mostly I’m going to focus on UI and Player Experience. So please, stop in. I’ll keep going until I can’t anymore, assuming there is interest.
I’m continuing to work towards the District Arcade, in only 2 weeks! I missed the date last time, the correct date is September 16th. As I previously mentioned, playability is the major thing that I am working on to improve with in the game prior to the event.
I started my test stream by playing the game, and carefully taking notes of where I felt the playability was lacking. The first area was that the price difference between buying and selling was just too high. I tweaked my settings a bit, and ended up with a price difference that was about 10-20% of the cost in most instances, which seems much more reasonable than the 2-3 times the cost I was seeing before!
Another major issue has been the lack of food. I’m still working on this, it’s a far more complex issue than I had first realized. Still, I think I set up a system this week that will be closer to fair, it’s going to take a while to really make it.
One thing that has really bothered me is the game looked much different in the compiled version than in the one I was running in my Unity window. I spent the better part of a few hours digging in to the code to figure out what was going on. In the end, I realized it was the Unity quality settings, the default value differed between the two versions, and made a huge difference. Check out the images below, the final product, and two test cases showing the difference between the two.
I also fixed an issue where the journal would overlap text sometimes. In the screenshot I showed last week, I was able to manually fix it, but it wasn’t working right in the game. The bottom line is, the list of cities that I allow comes from a text file, and each entry is on it’s own line. I was splitting by “/n”. I can hear half of you groaning now, knowing what my error was. Because I made the text file in Windows, there was an “/r” still attached to the end of the city. That is a carriage return, which basically means to start the text over again at the beginning of the line you ended on. The good news is, I’ve fixed this! It will now also support linux formats, FYI.
Lots of stuff happening, things are really starting to pick up! I did another development vlog, check it out below.
This week, as I suspected before, was a bit slower than I would have hoped for. As I mentioned at the end of last week, I made a trip to see the total solar eclipse (More later), which took much of my game development time for the week. Still, I was able to make quite a few changes that are smallish, but quite important. I do also have a bit of exciting news to share with you all!
The only visible change was adding a bit more decoration to the journal, as seen below. There may or may not be a subtle Easter Egg included, I give full credit to anyone who can spot it;-) Likely I will add similar tributes to others who have helped me to make this game possible, it’s been quite fun to do so.
As with previous weeks, I’ve been localizing more text. Most of this week’s changes were relating to goods, I now have most of them localized.
The biggest gameplay change this week was I lowered the time to move by a factor of two. It seems to make a huge difference in gameplay! I’m hoping to continue to do exploration in this field to improve the gameplay further! Particularly with some news that will come later on;-)
As mentioned previously, I made a trip to see the total solar eclipse in the US last week. It was really amazing, I recommend that anyone who can takes the opportunity to see one! One of the stories I heard while I was there was one that I had heard before, that of Columbus using knowledge of a lunar eclipse to impress the natives, getting them to do what he wanted to do. It made me think about how I could use this in Colonial Sea Trader. I think I’ve decided that some random events will occur that include eclipses, and will have some kind of an effect, which I’m still trying to work out. It should be quite interesting.
And lastly, for the exciting news! I have been invited to present Colonial Sea Trader at the IGDA DC’s District Arcade this year, on September 21st at Bravo Bravo in Washington D.C. If you are in the area, stop in and say hi, I’ll let you test out the game and give you a chance to provide some very direct feedback.
With the upcoming public demonstration of Colonial Sea Trader, I’m going to concentrate on getting as many updates to improve the gameplay as possible. The first was making things run smoother. The next changes will probably ensure that I have a reasonable distribution of land types, and thus good types. Stay tuned for more!
Lastly, I did post a short development vlog this week, check it out below.
This has been one of the more productive weeks I’ve had in a while. I had tentatively planned to do Ludum Dare this weekend, not having any inspiration from it, however, I decided to keep working full steam ahead with Colonial Sea Trader. And I managed to do quite a bit.
The first order of business was fixing the ugly looking square box from last week. I determined the cause of the problem was the resolution with which I was drawing the box. I set the resolution to be constant. In addition, I now only redraw the box when resizing, otherwise I just shift the texture coordinates, which allows the game to run faster. Redrawing the minimap was actually one of the longer tasks done each turn, so speeding that up helps quite a bit!
The eagle eyed among you will notice two additional changes in the above image from previous weeks. The first is that the land looks quite a bit different. While debugging the minimap, I discovered the textures weren’t being applied correctly. In the process of fixing this, I discovered a number of other issues, the most notable was that the game didn’t look the same in the compiled version as the editor. To solve this, I first determined that it was the frequency of the bitmasking operations that was the issue. In the process of discovering this, I turned the frequency way up, and I found this version, which I quite like. Let me know what you think!
The other change is that there is another button working in the bottom left hand corner. That is the price list dialog. Here is what it looks like in action:
Note that you can sort by any of the columns. I’m going to work on prettying up a few remaining issues with this, but overall, I’m quite content.
I did another video, which you can see a bit more gameplay. Take a look at it below.
On tap for this week is fixing a few remaining bugs observed in the price list. Assuming all of those go as planned, I next plan to start working on price rumors, where when you visit a port, you will get an idea of what the price of goods will be for other nearby ports, and possibly even exotic ports.