Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Game Maker Progress 39: Weather and Seasons

Hello everyone,

Two key systems were implemented in the last week; weather and seasons, together with a resolution manager. 

The weather and seasons are two of the most basic or fundamental obstacles that players will need to contend with and plan for. They do not necessarily pose negative effects - for instance, farms produce far more during rainy weather - they do however, suffer a production hit during winter time. 

For the moment - the only way the player can tell what season and weather it is currently is by looking at the indicators at the bottom left of the screen - with the left showing season and right showing current weather. This is, for the most part, temporary as I wish to reflect the changing weather on the tiles themselves - as well as provide a better indicator to show the current season and weather. I also have plans to have area-specific weather events, for instance rain in the north, and clear skies in the south, these are however in the back-log; as the priority is to have a playable prototype using these new systems.

The resolution manager is an addition which I find to be quite enjoyable and pleasing. The resolution manager calculates the optimal resolution based on the width and height of the display that the game runs on. The game's resolution will then adjust based on this figure - allowing it to be played on various screen sizes fairly well. That being said - I hope to implement a way for players to choose the resolution and aspect ratio they wish later on. For the moment, this does aid in providing play-testers with a build that can adjust as required based on the display they utilise.

Everything is progressing nicely - the game's systems are nearing a stage where the game can be played, however there are still a lot of systems, code and elements that require attention before I can begin to play-test the game, and begin thinking of more advanced systems to put into place.

Until next time,

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Game Maker Progress 38: Continuing Foundation of Civilisation Project

Hello everyone,

After a fair amount of time focusing on other work; it's time to continue on Foundation of Civilisation. One of the first steps after the fair amount of time being not working on the project was to re-adjust back into the work I had already done - and seeing how to adjust to the new schedule now that University work is for the moment complete. 

I have chosen to move the project onto Game Maker Studio 2. The new work-flow and features have already proven to be extremely valuable - the most key of which being the new layering systems within the room editor. This has made layers the interface, various instances of objects and so on - far simpler and intuitive. 

Whilst Game Maker Studio 2 did allow for a very simple import of a GM1 project - I have slowly been adjusting the project to not use any of the compatibility elements that come with importing the project. Eventually, I aim to make sure that the project is a GM2 project rather than a GM1 project. Now moving forward what are the priorities? 

The first priority will be getting the project to a playable position and to begin testing in that way. As I have previously spoken about - getting the core of the game-play working is urgent. As such - the first milestone will be that - having the project to a state where the core game-play is functional. After this is done, other game-play elements will be added to add depth, and ensure the user interface is intuitive and convenient. 

Much of what I've achieved in the past week has been hidden system components - such as getting the population code working, the work-posts code working, and changing old systems to fit into GM2 in a way I can work with GM2's workflow easier moving forward. I have begun working on adding the UI elements needed to play the game.

One of the key pieces of the UI elements was the selection of structures. I had a few ideas on how to achieve this in a way that does not take over most of the screen, but also relay the information needed in a manner that both clear and readily available. The above image shows one of the structures available to be built, the Artisan district; by selecting it, you open a few interface elements that will fit as shown on the right image. 

I will also be adding At-A-Glance [AAG] elements that give the player information on specific tiles that they can access during game-play quickly. Depending on what type of structure, the AAG elements will differ - for work-posts, the players will be able to quickly see the workers set and maximum amounts, the efficiency and the current production of that work-post.

It's good to finally be working on this project once again - I plan on getting the playable version ready as soon as I can so that I can begin getting feedback on the new way the game plays - and work with this new feedback to improve the project.

Until next time,

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Types of Resources in Games

Hello everyone,

Things have begun to settle down and I can begin thinking on continuing the blog and progressing on my personal projects. Something that during my research has come to mind, as well as when I continued reflecting on how to better design and develop Foundation of Civilisation was regarding Resources. Something which I will be discussing today.

As I researched certain concepts of Economics, and began to reflect on their application when talking about digital game economies, I began to think that it may be worth distinguishing between different types of resources. A possible way to distinguish these is based on their ability to impact game-play;

Short Term [Here we talk of Execution]
E.g. Consumables
Ability to affect game-play now. Whether it is by affecting specific parameters such as Health and Mana, or by apply certain effects such as Invisibility or curing conditions.

Medium Term [Here we talk of Tactics]
E.g. Currency
Ability to affect game-play outside of now. Such as the ability to purchase items like potions to prepare for combat.

Long Term [Here we talk of Strategy]
E.g. Attribute Points
Ability to affect game-play after a long period of time. Such as the ability to specialise the player character in specific ways.

One does need to look at the game in question - for instance, a sword in a game where upgrading equipment takes a very long time - might be considered a Medium or Long term resource; if a game however uses durability, and the sword needs to be replaced regularly, one might consider it to be a Short term resource. Why would making such distinctions be useful one may ask? Simply put - it can allow you to make better informed decisions on design choices and what players will likely be thinking about when they are planning their characters. This can help you guide new players, or offer better choices and alternatives to existing players. 

Another reflection was the idea of how do resources behave in game economies? Resources can be consumed, they can be Exchanged or Traded, or they can be Refined into other resources. This is nothing special per se - it's pretty straight forward. However, when dealing with resources is such a prime activity within Foundation of Civilisation - this will likely allow me to better optimise my code, and think along the lines of what players could potentially do with resources - opening up opportunities to use the resources in a variety of different ways, and ultimately providing players with a more interesting experience whilst playing the game!

Until next time,