It's been a busy two weeks! This is the game at 14 weeks of development. The new screenshots
are on the official AVWW page, and here's the new video:
Here's a quick rundown of what is new since update #9, followed at the bottom by a few longer explanations of some of the items (overworld maps and soft focus in particular):
The Executive Summary
The most visually apparent change is the new soft focus style around the entire game. It makes our colors more saturated and dramatic, it ties all the elements together, and it's really a big improvement.
We've also hugely redone the way that overworld sections work, and it's way more varied and interesting now -- marrying some procedural techniques with some aspects of hand-crafting.
And last but definitely not least, we've put in a ton of work on crafting, NPCs, settlements, and more -- all that "what is my motivation for playing this" sort of stuff, versus the mechanics of how
Overworld Map Changes
* We now have a map editor, which is a standalone .NET 2.0 program. It's got a variety of functionality for drawing, filling, smoothing, and so forth.
* Overworld chunks now use heavily-randomized maps to generate a structure of obstacles, entrances, lost-in-windstorm points, and open paths. This marries designer creativity with procedural processing, resulting in thousands of possible obstacle setups per individual map; and when combined with the existing randomization and chunk scripts for populating outdoor areas, the possibilities are multiplied even further.
* We now have three maps in six variants, four done by myself and two done by Erik. This already creates a huge variety, but there's much more to come! Some are very open, and others are more closed and twisty at the moment.
* All of the overworld chunks are now 256x256 in size (many of them were previously 128x128). This is fourfold increase in size, making each tile on the world map something like 2/3 the size of the the entire Zelda 1 world map. The maps that are applied also now make them vastly more twisty, which makes them feel even larger.
* The Ice Age (thawing and regular) now are the first regions to include new "Point of Interest" scripts, which define certain unusual landmarks that are not centered around a building. Very little has been done with this so far, but a lot more will be in the coming months.
* Having a sky visible over the top of a cliff used to be something that was more limited and which was built into the chunk script itself, but now it's randomized by region type and these can appear at any time. This makes for less duplication of chunk scripts while still providing more variety. These also dynamically combine themselves with the overworld maps, making for even more variance.
New Entities And Background Tiles, Etc
* We now have both flowing water and flowing lava in many chunks (lava only in the lava flats, and with three different visuals possible all in one chunk), and these are presently always bordered by one of six different kinds of sedges (plants) for water, and one type of burnt-sedge for the lava.
* We now have a new shadbush obstacle type that is used in places like the woods and small towns.
* We now have a new winter mahonia type of reed, which is dramatic bright red and now used in the ice age in some circumstances around buildings.
* Added in a new Weed Patch type of plant, which is a tall and imposing sort of armpit-level undergrowth that you can walk through. Presently this is limited to Small Town areas; some are absolutely plastered with it, while others just have a few spots of weeds here and there. It really differentiates them more from other areas now.
* Added two plum trees and one walnut tree, which can be seen in the various grasslands areas (walnut trees mainly in the grasslands-with-tree-clumps regions).
* Added about sixteen new vehicles (including new ice age futuristic cars), including many more that are broken, flipped over, etc.
* Added three new "factory stacks," and some concrete barriers, that currently show up in the junkyard and later will be used elsewhere.
* There is now a second type of sky, in addition to the one we've had since the first developer diary!
* Added in a higher-level new The Deep region, which is an evil place filled with pulsing darkness. We're not going to be showing screens or video of this, players will have to find them in-game on their own!
* There are now chasms, rocks, and large birch bushes that work as obstacles on the world maps in addition to the aforementioned lava and water. The south, east and west sides of the chasms aren't completely polished yet, but they're getting there. Most of the angles and the north are the way I want.
* There are now shortswords, broadswords, and rapiers in addition to longswords, and they all handle a bit differently (stabbing versus slashing, speeds, powers, etc).
* Three massive new ice age fossils are now seeded as occasional "points of interest" in the ice age regions. These are a good example of something that is interesting but which isn't a building, which serves as an anchor point on the map.
* Dropped item bags (that a player intentionally put down, or dropped when they died) now show up as a blinking orange blip on the minimap, so that they can actually be found again in the middle of large chunks.
* The minimap now shows obstacles as dark tiles, aiding in actually finding your way around. Additionally, trees, hatches to the underground, vehicles, shipping containers,and roads all show up as a middle-dark color, adding extra shaping and information to the minimap. All of this is only shown in parts of the chunk where you've actually found the Point of Interest that reveals that section, of course.
* There are now three sizes of minimap that can be toggled through using the M key (128, 176, and 256). 128 is the old size, and 176 is the new default. Personally, on my really large screen I really like the largest minimap size. It's really easy to see a ton of detail even in giant outdoor chunks on it, now.
* The player dots on the minimap now blink between a larger state and a smaller one, making them MUCH easier to see and find.
* Entrances are now shown in the minimap, instead of explored points of interest (which are mostly pointless to show, anyway). The entrances are now shown in full red, rather than light red, so that they are much more visible, as well.
* The region level is now shown in the in-game hud (that's pretty important info!).
Settlements And NPCs
* Settlements are now a part of the game, which is a huge step forward, although they are fairly simplistic so far.
* NPCs who live in settlements can ask you to forge a safe path (using wind shelters) between their settlement and another nearby settlement.
* NPCs can now ask you to clear the area of monster nests to protect the settlement they live in, in order to gain more trust for them.
* NPCs can now ask you to explore nearby regions to their settlement, providing them with some degree of protection from the unknown.
* NPCs can now ask you for a certain quantity of an item (which if you don't give them, they probably will eventually get on their own, anyway).
* NPCs in general now have an underlying system of hopes and needs, and they have intermediate goals along the path to their hopes. These are things that can be accelerated by your intervention, but many of these are also things that the NPCs will eventually solve on their own without your help. So you can help out where you want, without being forced to babysit a guy who wants to be a better blacksmith or whatever, if you don't particularly care about his smithing ability. But if it's useful to you, you can help him along much faster!
* Characters now have crafting profession tiers, and get more proficient with crafting through various means (as hinted at, above).
* NPCs are now able to migrate from one chunk to another, useful for when they agree to migrate to a settlement (which you can now do, in a testing sort of fashion that's the basic framework for what we later have planned). They do this only after you've also left the chunk they are in.
* A lot more internal work on the state of NPCs in general is now in place.
* NPCs can now have various personality traits that affect their hopes and needs, such as professional pride and protective, as the two we're currently working on.
* NPCs now have an interest in actually building up their settlements, and there are now those with a Builder interest that build small homes and bunkhouses for other NPCs to live in.
* There are now a variety of metal and crystal material types, all used for crafting different kinds of weapons and equipment.
* All of the various spells and equipment items now have some sort of crafting recipe that can create them. And in the case of physical weapons like swords, etc, those have multiple metal tiers at which they can be crafted in.
* There are some "monster nests" that can now be found around the world, and which spawn monsters.
* It is now possible to Wait on the world map, advancing the windstorm counter by one, rather than having the only way the windstorm counter decrements be to move.
* Added a new Light Snake ability to the third ability bar. It replaces the idea of the light tracer, this time with a slower, snake-like stream of particles that move past obstacles and then clump somewhere. The snake lasts for 10 seconds and casts quite a lot of light as it moves. It has a very long logistical recharge time of 15 seconds, though, as its main cost.
* More work on the melee weapons and effects, but it's not quite there yet. We are now planning all manipulation of swords and such to be telekinesis-based, which we have some cool effects for, but it's only partially implemented.
* The system for cooldowns has been made vastly more robust, and now prevents things like spamming the healing while also mashing the attack buttons. You have to actually be strategic and thoughtful with things, now!
* Pretty much ALL of the in-game graphics have been post-processed with a new Soft Focus effect that makes the entire game have a super attractive (to us, anyway) stylized color that also is much more cohesive. Boy is this a big difference all throughout the game.
* Graphics for the twigs in the lava flats have been replaced with vastly nicer-looking burnt-bushes.
* The lava clouds in the lava flats area are only half as intense as they were before, aiding visibility and making it look nicer in general.
* The visuals for roads have been upgraded somewhat.
* The way that bushes at the edge of cliffs are done has now been completely changed -- they are no longer immobile, and are now glowy and evil looking (what I'll call "The Deep" look). I'd always intended for it to be the case where the earth was pulled down into a supermassive chasm where the sky is visible, partly by the force of evil plants, and now they look it. :)
* There's a very cool new heal visual effect.
* Lots and lots of spell effects have been rendered out, although they haven't been coded in yet. Coming soon! :)
* The new lighting model now has dimness in the center eyesight areas, like the simple eyesight model does. I had thought it couldn't be done, but it turns out it sure could! It's quite a big improvement, as players had suggested it would be. :)
* Also visuals for several new kinds of enemies that we haven't had time to actually add to the game yet (giant amoeba, etc), but which look cool. Also coming soon! :)
* The player ghost and player bones states now have an animated "spirit fire" effect.
* Characters now glow with a color that is relevant to their spell as they cast spells.
* Finally got around to updating the remaining world map icons that were still painterly.
* There are some other new ground backgrounds, such as the pine needles in the evergreen forest areas.
* Espers are now ghostly white.
* Player characters, NPCs, player bags, and dropped items all now have a new ShouldRenderOverlay property set on them, which makes it so that their outline is always drawn on top of themselves (using the new HardOutline), which gets drawn after basically everything else in the game. This makes it so that you can still see the outlines of these things from behind solid objects, grass, or whatever else.
** The MustBeVisible property has been taken off these objects, and the Sparkle ongoingcondition is now gone from the droppeditem object.
** I'm undecided on whether to always have this be on for player characters or not, as it can be a bit annoying/disconcerting in grass or shadows, but for dropped items this is definitely the way to go instead of the sparkle -- and at worst I would relegate this to a settings option, since some players have specifically asked for it.
* Improved the AI for wandering enemies such that if they are stuck at a specific point for more than a quarter of a second, they'll choose somewhere else to go.
* Several performance improvements have been made; it was already a really high-performance game, but this fixes some relative slowdowns with high-grass areas and with chunk-gen.
* Lots and lots of name files have been prepared by Erik, ready and waiting for new character sprites of different genders, ethnicities, and time periods.
* World files are now compressed to disk in a very CPU/RAM friendly way that shrinks each chunk down from 1.8mb to about 22kb, on average.
* Plenty more music and sound work, as usual! In particular there's been a big batch of sound effects this time around.