Monday, December 19, 2011

Pre-Christmas Update

I'm getting ready to nosedive into studying for finals, so development is likely to slow down a bit in the coming weeks.  Christmas vacation (if studying for finals counts as "vacation") may impair progress even further.  In the spirit of both Christmas and intellectual reflection, I thought now would be a good time to pause and look at where we are, and where we need to be going.

Where we Are
As of today, we have a very detailed story, which Kacey is transcribing into something more pleasing to read than a bunch of notes and IM logs.  The idea is to publish a history of the Project Orbit universe in periodic updates.  Eventually, this will be compiled into a single volume and published on the game's wiki in time for the first public release.

As much as we appreciate ninjas and robots, it's time
to throw our own models in the mix.
It may seem strange to put this much effort into a background story for an RTS game.  After all, strategy games with good stories are about a frequent as adult films with good plots.

But having an intuitive sense of the universe goes a long way towards understanding what the game is about, and what your units can do.  Labels, unit models, avatars, and voices are descriptive and guiding, but only if they stand on firm ground.  Kacey's work on the plot is to gameplay design as concept art is to 3D modelling.

Brian has shifted gears and is working on a model for a human infantryman.  Right now, all of our testing is being done with stock OGRE models.  As satisfying as it is to see game logic unfold, it all feels a bit pointless when the models and terrain are foreign-- it's like we're not really working on our own game.

We'll soon have our own models, at which point we'll post some screen shots and video clips of our progress.

Where we are Going
If I were to sum up our 6-month plan in a single phrase, it would be "steady as she goes."  Our first milestone is still to have our units on our terrain demonstrating basic movement.  Shortly thereafter, we'd like to see some simple combat animations and logic.  I originally made predicted that this milestone would be reached by the new year, but that's looking increasingly unlikely.  But not to worry!  We'll try to have it by Valentine's day so that you can show your girlfriend how awesome we are.

On a more technical level, this is where we are.  I've set up a very basic game engine which implements the Model View Controller design pattern via message passing.  Of course, I took a couple of shortcuts in order to take advantage of some handy features in the OGRE API.  For example, OGRE implements a buffered input system with callback functions being implemented directly in the game loop.  This is handy because it avoids having to publicly broadcast messages to all listeners when we know that only the player controller listener is interested in those messages.  So instead, we call the relevant member function directly from the game loop.

So as of 12/19/2011, progress continues and things generally seem to work again.

For a ragtag group of amateurs, this ain't bad...

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