Well this week has been more of a planning week rather than a doing week but these plans will help the game more in the right direction. Some of the biggest things we got the ball rolling on was the start of the AI system. Other plans have been less glamorous but are things which will impact the places you can visit in the world, so not glamorous but massively important. We’ve also been demo’ing the game to groups of people over the past few weeks too and we’ve had some really cool feedback.
Growing the team
This week we made the greatest change to the game, we got a new guy to start work with us. Brian is joining us to build on his experience and research to help develop some of the key AI architectures for the game (discussed below). We’ve also been discussing a long term project of starting work on solving the coolest problem of all, how to make the game networkable. Brain is awesome at C# and has already been giving advice on the coding, especially using LINQ to manage some of the complex stuff going on behind the scenes.
Brian and myself have been talking about this for a while now and to be honest, we’ve been getting pretty excited about some of the possiblities we can implement in to this diverse universe. First a bit of background, I’ve completed a Master in AI and both Brian and myself are currently doing PhDs in AI related topics. So it makes sense to have a play with AI in the game environment.
Our grand vision includes two key parts…
- Traditional Style AI – So controlling NPC’s to do things in the environment. So each world could have its own AI styles based on its inhabitants and it will give the worlds a bit of life. I imagine something ranging from The Settlers with NPC mining and running a small town, through to some crazy dangerous NPCs like in Serious Sam. Along with wildlife, etc/
- Evolving AI – We’d love to through in some elements of evolutionary worlds into the game. I’ve studying genetic algorithms before and we have discussed how this could possibly be applied. We are going to try to make this happen as part of a research project.
- Global AI – We want the universe to feel like a universe so we think we’re going to need some kind of structure to manage that. We can’t run individual AI processes for all of the billion worlds you can visit so we will need some way of managing that. We have some plans for this, but lets see how we get on first.
I’ve been listening to feedback and looking in to different ways on how to improve the visuals of the game. One of the things I’ve wanted to do was implement an even lower poly version of the terrain. Maybe just to see how it looks, I really don’t know. I then started looking around at other peoples work, just to get a feel and ended up have few tweets backwards and forward with Jorge Reyna Tamez (@GQ5154) who’s working on some really cool stuff (see below). I love what they’ve managed to do, theres a lot of technical work gone into this.
I kind of reminds me of the Eco Survival Game (website), which also looks awesome.
So I’ve changed the mesh script to tweak the mesh a little, nothing anyone would notice. I had a play around with a few bits to try to modify my existing code to make the terrain have less triangles and verts. It didn’t work, but I really didnt try long enough.
I’ve also spent some time thinking about optimisation, I already have some plans but I don’t want to implement them just yet because at the moment I need to see what is going on within the world. If I asset pool and limit area of land generated then I will loose this ability, plus some AI characters might been those things to work properly. Anyways, some bro called Jan Schicho left a message on the facebookings saying ‘yeah but what about people with older PCs’ and this is true, I need to think about these guys. I guess my best answer is to says – ‘yeah, I feel ya and I’ll keep them in mind’.
Randomly the guy then goes on about an unoptimallized (it must be a new world for super awesome) minecraft clone. I did ask him what he meant but I think he was busy trolling someone else. But he had a point.
The final thing behind the scenes was creating an small test area which uses the same game logic/code. This will speed up the develop of parts of the game. Previously, everytime I wanted to test something I’d have to wait for a full world to load in. Now it is nice an quick.
Finally, I made a scene in Blender to showcase some of the assets I’ve made for the game. I can not stress enough, I am not a 3D modeller but I am happy with how it is going. Here are the the first 2 HD renders. Star Trek uniforms are just for show, they will not appear in the game.