Fauxranda is The Imperial Realm's new stress client. A stress client is a game client stripped to the absolute minimum, no graphics, sound, or user interface with a simple scripting system tacked on so that many, many, many of them can be run on a single PC in order to simulate large numbers of players connected to the server. Fauxranda logs into the server, creates 100 tanks (and a construction yard) then drives them randomly around the map looking for things to shoot at. While it does that, it finds bugs. Hopefully all the bugs, so that players won't have to. The other goal of Fauxranda is to help me optimize the server so that I can reach the goal of supporting 1000 players on a single server.
The first time I played Miranda with the shroud rendering enabled I was surprised by how much scarier the game had become all of a sudden. Now I was wondering what was in the dark just beyond the line of sight of my tanks.
"These reports of assassination attempts on Marvel are clearly fabricated. It's ridiculous. If someone really wanted that little girl dead, she'd be dead. She doesn't even have any bodyguards! If all these so-called attempts have been foiled, where are the assassins? We live in the safest time in the whole history of The Imperial Realm."
- excerpt from Royal Press Briefing, 3 Strongdays, 30695 Y.O.E.
Monday I finished up the effects while harvesters are harvesting. Now the harvester gives off clouds of dust and resource fragments spray out as well.
Friday was fun, I got to spend some time recording temp audio cues for the harvester.
[Harvester returning to Base]
The rest of the week was spent fixing bugs and getting the AI controlling the harvester to work. The good news is that harvesting is now working just like I wanted. Here is a harvester on a resource field with very few remaining resources.
[Nearly depleted double-yield resource field being harvested.]
If you have an old Core i7 sitting around idle, upgrade that thing! I've been needing a PC upgrade for a while, so I was quite pleased to discover that with a few new parts, running my most demanding games still only uses 40% or so of my old first-gen Core i7. I'd love a new PC, but the smaller cost of upgrading the other components to have a competent gaming PC is surprisingly worthwhile.
It has been over a month since the last status update, but nobody worry, the game is still proceeding! I just had an unplanned delay. I've been working on resource fields and harvesting. Three weeks in I realized what I had wasn't going to be as fun or as pretty as I wanted. I did a redesign and had to throw away most of that work. C'est la vie.
Miranda Devastated Former Capital The Imperial Realm M31V J00443610+4129194
"Miranda was a Jewel. For twenty thousand seasons she was the seat of supreme power in The Imperial Realm. Until the Emperor burned her. Fool. But from the ash, the Emperor's Ridiil discovered something unexpected. Something immensely valuable. But the secret was not to be kept for long. Not even long enough for the Emperor to act. The race to retake Miranda and control its incalculable fortune was already underway."
- excerpt from Chronicles of The Imperial Realm 29,600-31,200 Y.O.E.
Another fun night! I took a big stack of business cards with me tonight and after 3-1/2 hours of continuous talk, I came home with just one. I talked to a whole lot of really interesting people: a woman from East Side Games who shares my love of Age of Empires, I talked game design with a developer working on MechWarrior Online, and I spent several minutes talking with Justin Smith, the guy behind Desert Golfing who put on a great talk at the Full Indie Summit in October.
I was quite surprised when someone suggested people may perceive Miranda to be a hard-core game like EVE Online. While traditionally RTS games are considered more hard-core than other genres, and technologically Miranda and EVE have similarities (big map, single world simulation, PvP gameplay, both ladies' names) the play experience of the two games is intended to be quite dissimilar. I think the key difference between Miranda and a game like EVE Online is the level of jeopardy. In EVE Online if you make an error you can lose a ship worth thousands of dollars, that you've been working to afford for years, along with weeks or months of character skill advancement. In Miranda if you make an error you may lose a base you spent a few minutes and some in-game resources to build, maybe a few cool unit components you won in combat, and some pride. That's it. The long-term progress you've made in the game is never lost and the setback is intended to be manageable rather than crushing. Even among RTS games, some are more hard-core than others. Miranda takes a lot of its design cues from Command and Conquer which is a more moderate game than for example, Starcraft with its professional league play and APM focus.
Overall the feedback from people was very positive, which for a lone developer is like pure oxygen. Lots of people were taken aback at the scope of the game. Yes, I should have picked something easier. So many people had stories of playing classic RTS games like Age of Empires and Command and Conquer. There is a lot of nostalgia for classic RTS gameplay. Nearly everyone was enthused to try Miranda out themselves. A surprising number of people commented that there aren't any other games like Miranda - I may have found a niche.
When I got home, my little girl who was supposed to be sleeping, talked my ear off for 20 minutes straight about her day. One of the reasons I left AAA was so I would be able to know my daughter - so far that at least has worked out really well.
I know some of my friends working in AAA would be pretty amped about a 1 frame per second frame rate increase, but after four days work I was hoping for a bit better results.
Models in Miranda are edited in Blender, exported to Collada format, then a tool converts the Collada file to the LSG (Lair Scene Graph) file format. The old tool would convert each model component (body, turret, wheels, treads, etc.) into a vertex array and an index array (mesh.) The thing you might notice is that many models have several identical components (like wheels) and duplicating the renderables for each of those wheels is an inefficiency.
I've been adding tutorial elements as I come up with them (red arrows on UI while playing, tooltips.) Eventually I plan to replace the "wall of text" on the layout screen with voiceover. Does anyone know of games with really good tutorial ...
I think that heat map it is an awesome idea, i must admit during the play test i did struggle to put down buildings etc, one thing i would recommend is a good tutorial at the start of the game, i have seen games that had lots of potential come and ...
That "Dementors" screenshot looks like it would actually be an awesome animation for something equally sinister. Any ideas for a chemical or biological warfare superweapon, maybe? Or maybe some really nasty volcanic vents?
I had the good fortune to play on one of the test weekends, cant wait for this to be available to get my teeth into properly, any ideas on a time line for a release or is it sit and wait, which is kinda fun too ;-)