I demoed Miranda at Full Indie at The Pint Public House tonight. I nearly missed the start of the meet because the parkade I usually park in was undergoing renovations and had only TWO non-reserved parking spots (which were full.) I then tried the mall parking ($16!) then the T&T grocery store parking (1 hour max - no signs to that effect anywhere) then finally I parked on the street for $6. If you were at the meet you got to see the raw video I've put together so far for the trailer - quite a few people loved the idea of Mansion sur Mont. I also had a number of people come up who have seen Miranda before and were impressed with the game's progress. I am quite encouraged that nearly everyone asked about public playtesting.
As is always the case, the first guy who tried the game hit the one big UI bug I've been putting off fixing. Luckily only one other player tonight hit it.
I was pleasantly surprised to have someone come up and correctly guess the provenance of the game's name. I shared a couple of the easter eggs in the game with him.
As always, I learned some valuable things from watching people play. The first is that I'm going to need to add the Starcraft style (left mouse selects, right mouse attacks) controls in addition to the classic Command & Conquer style (left mouse selects, left mouse attacks) that I prefer. For about half the people who took the helm, their expectation was Starcraft controls.
The other big lesson is that people click a lot more than me when moving units. Several people would click on a unit, then start clicking all over the terrain. What I realized after watching a couple of people do this is that visual and audible feedback for actions is needed when the action doesn't happen right away. With Miranda's pathfinding, units wait half a second after the player selects the destination before the unit starts to move. This gives the pathfinder time to calculate the path and send it to other players so that units start moving at the same time for all players. Other RTS games have a similar delay, but when the player clicks on the destination the game says "moving out" and plays a little click animation. The plan has always been to have that feedback, but with that not in yet, players would repeatedly tell the unit to move to different locations before it had a chance to start moving, resulting in no movement at all. I'll be adding that audible and visual feedback sooner rather than later.
Thanks to everyone who came out to tell me what they think of the game so far. Your help is invaluable.
One of the 5 new weapon effects: Cannons, missiles, lasers, lightning and flamethrower. Moving on to explosions.
I have written 200 blog posts on the development of The Imperial Realm::Miranda
. It turns out developing an MMO is a complicated business!
When I started the blog back in November 2009, I wrote: I'll state up front, I realize how ambitious a project an MMO is. Even a small MMO is huge, I get that. But I still want to try. Chances are at the end of my time on the project, there will be nothing resembling a game. I think the value here will be what is learned along the way.
While what I have learned has been amazing and valuable, the biggest benefit has been the opportunity to watch my little girl grow up in person instead of over Skype. Developing Miranda has been thousands of late nights, constant budget analysis, a small fortune, stress - and a much closer relationship with my wife, who has been amazing in her support of Miranda. Miranda is
a game. We built her and I am thrilled.
I kind of wish I had a big announcement to make to celebrate this milestone, but if you've been following along you already know that I have a trailer and some big game features still to finish... Pre-Alpha Release 4 will be out by New Years. There, nailed it.
I'm finally feeling pretty good again after a week of having a cold, but progress was kind of sporadic this week. Friday was great fun though! While I have been working on other parts of the trailer I have been thinking a lot about why combat isn't as exciting as I want it to be. I had a bunch of ideas and that all started to come together Friday afternoon.
A couple of my biggest, baddest bugs fell this week. There are three different types of bugs programmers face: there are bugs where you can easily reproduce the bug and know right away what the problem is, those are pretty easy to fix. There are bugs where you know what the problem is but fixing it is a huge effort (usually because it is in a system made of dozens of massively complicated components.) Lastly there are the really bad bugs, the ones that aren't obvious and can't easily be reproduced. Those ones can take days.
I once worked on a crash bug in a Need for Speed game that took about an hour to set up, and it took 59 attempts to get the bug to reproduce one time. It turned out that the bug depended on the WiFi dropping a UDP packet. When that happened, two packets arrived in the reverse order they normally arrived in, generating a crash.
The six year anniversary of the start of development on The Imperial Realm::Miranda passed quietly this Monday while I was busily fixing bugs in some new elements for the upcoming trailer. (The people on the mailing list just received the advance scoop on that.)
Miranda's development has taken too long. I'm the first person to admit that. I feel a little awkward now when someone asks me how long I've been working on the game. I've often described Miranda as wildly ambitious but now that it is coming together, I think it is going to be unique and surprising for traditional RTS players.
[Miranda has certainly come a long way since this first multiplayer session back in 2011]
So what can you expect from Year 7?
Something I discovered people are quite floored by when I demo Miranda is when I zoom out from my base, then it switches to map view and then just keeps zooming out. While I don't yet have the full 300x300KM map, even my 20x20KM test map gives a pretty good sense of how big the environment is. So that needs to be in the trailer. The map has been working for a long time, but when I took a close look at it this week, I found a few little things that needed to be addressed.
Every once in a while being a programmer is a useful skill.
For years I fought with Pixela's broken ImageMixer software to try to get it to download videos from my Canon Vixia HF S100 camcorder. The software worked about 30% of the time, which was enormously frustrating. Recently the PC with that software had a hard drive failure. I couldn't find the original software CD. Canon's website now recommends CameraWindow, ZoomBrowser and ImageBrowser for the HF S100, but after finding the camera box with the serial number and entering that, downloading and installing the three packages, not one could see the attached camera. I'd had enough.
While watching TV with the wife last night, it took just four hours to write new Windows software to locate the attached camera (or storage card,) download the videos, thumbnails and photos from the camera and copy them to a PC with a naming scheme consistent with what I used to get from ImageMixer. I should have done this years ago.
Recording game video is not as easy a problem as you might think. You likely want to record at 1920x1080 resolution, 60FPS so that's 1920x1080x3x60=373,248,000 bytes every second (373MB/s.) My disk drive is pretty quick, it can do around 85MB/s, some newer hard drives can break 100MB/s. My first video recording system wrote every frame as a PNG and I liked to call it the crash-the-game-button. It would record about ten seconds of video before it ran out of memory and crashed, however once I had half a video recording system, I kind of wanted to finish it. Actually, that's not true. The reason for all this work is that I'm not satisfied with the quality of video produced by screen capture programs. The trailer for Miranda needs to look as good as I can make it.
I've been working on the first trailer for Miranda pretty much continuously for six days now. Sometimes when you get a good idea, its hard to leave it alone. The first ten seconds took four days, the next five seconds I've got two days in and counting.
The first shot of the trailer is fully CG. I've tried CG work before, but never was really satisfied with what I produced. It was OK, but not good enough to show anyone. I put the new shot together with Blender
which I've grown to appreciate is kind of amazing. Blender used to have a terrible, terrible user interface. It doesn't anymore, a change which really surprised me.
D'oh, now I see the problem. I'll see if I can reproduce that. Thanks!
I'm a little confused. It looks like you alt-tabbed out then went back and the tanks were still moving, rendering and clearing away the shroud. What's shown in the video looks OK to me...
hey, this is the video of alt-tab bug. let me know if u need anything else to help with the issue
A few people experienced crashes during account creation. To work around this, make sure your Windows clipboard has plain text in it. One way to do that is to highlight this sentence and copy it to the clipboard before starting Miranda.
Also, if ...
Thank you, this
should answer some of your questions.