Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Damage texture and particle video test

This doesn;’t look as good as it will, and I’m nto happy with it, but I’m working on damages to ships today, and trying to get both reasonable damage texures (fail!) and nice particle effects for both moving and stationary damaged ships.

Without ILMS budget this is hard. Also, this is primarily a test of the idea of capturing video and posting it to youtube for comment. Let me know your thoughts. I shrunk the window to 800×600 so the capture was high quality and small filesize. Lots of stuff here is placeholder.


Part of today was spent on the fleet design screen adding pilots as a requirement. This is something I’ve got from the old travller game. Basically some missions will have a limited number of trained pilots for your ships, thus limiting the number of small fighters that are viable for your fleet.

I also finalised which space backgrounds would go with each mission. Then it was on to some graphical stuff…

I’ve added a new weapon, which is an ECM blaster that knocks out the targeting systems of a ship for a few seconds. Ideally you would have a ship that acted as ECM cruiser to knock out the weapons of the enemy cruisers before you sent in your fighters and bombers to blast them to bits :D. As a result, I need a graphical effect on the target ship to show its been zapped.

The existing shield effect isn’t the same sort of thing, because it’s a seperate sprite drawn on top which surrounds the ship in a sphere. I needed something that ‘hugged’ the outline of the target ship. In a 3D game, you would maybe have an animated texture which you applied to the ships mesh, but these ships are sprites so that won’t work. The solution has been to layer two textures together and render them in one pass. Basically, I have a generic ‘lightning effect’ texture which is drawn on top of the ship, but I tell directx to use the alpha channel from the ships sprite as the alpha, and the color data from the lightning to draw the effect.

That bit was a pain to get right, but once done, I then needed to animate it. That is being done by having two lots of texture coordinates for the effect sprite. I leave the first set (for the ship, used as the alpha mask) at their defaults, and the effect color layer uses the second set. That lets me ‘ripple’, scroll or shake the effect texture, and still have it ‘wrap’ closely around the outline of the ship. It works, but I need to program a decent movement effect, and do a proper effect texture. Then I’ll post screens :D.

Deployment Interface

I’ve been redoing the deployment screen for the game today. I’m a bit unsure of how this bit should work. basically the flow of the game is this:

  1. Select Scenario
  2. Select ships to form a fleet for this battle (with limits)
  3. Deploy ships in formations and issue basic orders
  4. Run battle

The deployment screen is basically where you say “The Enterprise should get no closer than 5,000 meters to the enemy cruisers and blast away, while fighter wing 3 protects it, meanwhile bomber squad 2 will charge in and attack the enemy frigates”

So you need to do lots of fiddling. The current interface is shown below (click to enlarge)

The fleet is on the right, you drag them onto the map to position them within your deployment zone (light rectangle). eventually, approx enemy deployments will be shown on the map too. The sliders on the left is where you adjust the rules of engagement for each ship. This is all very fiddly because do I allow you to set multiple waypoints? And do I make the maps bigger so positions are more tactical? if I do, the ship icons will get horribly small on minimum res (1024×768). Do I abandon support for 1024×768? or allow this screen to zoom or scroll?


Scaling up ok

At princecs insistence, I stuck a metric ton of ships into the game and ran it with fraps to see how it managed. Still 70-80fps in release mode before Ive gone optimize happy, so not bad:

Better Shields

I spent part of yesterday and today working on the shield effects for Gratuitous Space Battles. The old effect was shit, but it was only placeholder. It was just a simple alpha blended sprite that draws over the ship, fading in and out as the ships hit like this:

There was a lot wrong with it. firstly lasers seemed to shine through it, secondly there was no feeling that the ship got hit from a certain angle, and there was generally not much pizzaz. The newer version is better but still needs work:

Now I have the incoming laser fire stopped at the right place, plus the shield itself has 2 layers, a feint all over effect, and an angled blast front image which faces the point of impact. I think it looks lots better. What I don’t have yet is any sparks or particles rippling out from the impact point. A simple particle shower is easy, but ideally the particles would ripple around the shield in a realistic spherical sense. I’m not sure how easily doable that si without doing it all in 3D, which is overkill.

Right now I’m working on spaceship breakups on explosions so I’m taking a break from the shields stuff.