May 21 2013
So it’s been a busy month. But not so much for MT2.
Most of my time has been going into paying work. But I’ve been getting some things done in MT2 around the edges. Most notably, I’ve hooked up a new system for generating roads and paths. I’m pretty happy with it. I’ll show some screenshots in the next few days. Basic idea is that it now carves the roads into the terrain, basically overwriting the themed terrain type. You can continue building terrain underneath the road; the road just floats over the terrain surface (carved down into it).
I’ve been spending a lot of my time looking into AI bugs in the simulation. I finally tracked down a problem which caused AI developers to occasionally slow down a lot when approaching a work site. It was extreme enough that in my usual AI testbed level, the developer which was given the job of building the Inn would usually take so long to reach the building site that all the other AI developers would complete at least two queued jobs before the Inn-building developer even arrived to start constructing the building. I fixed the bug (it was to do with the path variation code which causes entities to not precisely follow the “shortest possible path” to their destination. The developer ended up in a version of Zeno’s Paradox, infinitely choosing to travel just 30% of the way to the target, and taking forever to actually reach the destination). Fixing that bug also seems to have fixed another problem I’ve seen a few times; AI players who eventually stop moving, while in the middle of questing. If a monster comes up to them they’ll fight it, but otherwise they just stand still and don’t do anything. Haven’t seen that again since fixing the bug, so I’m guessing that they were being affected by the same bug.
Regardless, I’m getting back into AI refactoring. There’s still some awkward bits in the AI code, particularly around quest handling. And things appear to go catastrophically wrong (ie: crashy) when someone completes all available quests in the game and wants to do another quest. A little code cleanup should set that right, I hope.
A big concern I have right now is the terrain rendering. The new infinite-zoom terrain system (which I love, and can’t imagine why I didn’t implement it in the first place) is fantastic, but the terrains don’t look so great from above — the visual style was kind of designed to be seen from a forward-view, not a down-view; it was intended to consist of color-only, with textures used to add edge detail, while still maintaining the smooth color appearance. And it just doesn’t read well from a top view.
I’m intending to build a MS3 demo in the near future. My goal for it is to actually accomplish what I’d intended for the MS2 demo — a fully playable vertical slice of the game, similar to what would be in perhaps the second or third tutorial level of the full game. I should really set a date for that.
In other news, I’m reducing my hours at paying-work, so I can dedicate a full day per week to MT2. That starts in about a month. We’ll see how much that boosts development speeds.