Think random development thoughts!

I was talking to someone yesterday via IM about an addon for Garry's Mod (though it's a generic thing I'm going to address). He proposed something, and we talked about whether it's possible, the complications involved, the complications in making it accessible to players and not a risk for people using it, and finally whether the end product would be worth the effort involved.

Doing this allowed me to make a few observations about discussing development with someone who isn't a developer:

  • They'll make a lot of valid points, especially some good ones relating to the accessibility/method of use of something, but they can easily misjudge how big a concern their points are, especially in early development. For example, the person I was speaking to thought that keeping players from ruining other's fun, or crashing the game for themselves or others, was a serious consideration for a tool right from the start of development. In reality, restrictions and limits are easy to implement compared to the main bulk of the features.
  • For obvious reasons, they can't know whether something is possible. Therefore, you spend an inordinate amount of time exploring the realms of impossibility unless you want to prevent them contributing at all, which is of course wrong. I had the peron I was talking to attempt to persuade me I was wrong in saying somehing was impossible at one point, which was REALLY awkward.
  • They severely undervalue random spontaneous combustion of any entity.
I may sound a bit of a prat, but I'm really just typing some of my thoughtstream. I've got some of my best ideas from talking with people who couldn't make their ideas into reality themselves, but these ideas always need so much refinement they become all but incomparable to the original proposal. If anyone actually reads this blog and everthinks a developer, big or small, should do this or that, just think: if I were discussing my issue with them, would my concet be bulletproof against physical or practical objections?


And now, for something completely different: Toolgun Minigames!

I think I've posted about this before, but I released it and it's getting lots of interest, support, and even development... actually, I can't be bothered to make a long post. Just get it! Forum thread


Now it's called 'Industrial Warzone'

As title declares, the gamemode does have a new name. It looks nice in the server browser, and gets across the whole killing thing aptly, so it'll do.

Gamemode content? There's a fair bit of snazzy stuff since last real content post. There's a weapon select menu you can see in one of the images (you can scroll through weapons or press the appropriate number, it'll appear when you are selecting then fade away; you can only hold two weapons and they are each assigned either slot 2 or 3). When looking at a weapon, it tells you what it is (later down the line it might tell you what upgrades it has too). A few more major upgrades have been added for late-game, namely 'SMG Back-recoil Boosters' (a secondary fire is unlocked on all SMGs that pushes you back from wherever you are facing: jump then look down, and you can boost yourself high in the air, ammunition allowing), a 'Rifle Grenade Launcher' (all rifles get grenade launchers that can hold two impact grenades; they do some damage, or can be used to blast yourself into the air without being damaged, and don't affect normal firing so you can do it mid-combat without stopping bullet fire), and 'Rifle Energycell Tech' (rifles fire pulse-rounds instead of bullets; no recoil, and rapid interruptable recharge rather than magazine-based reloads).

Woah, block of text. tl;dr?: upgrades that allow you to fly or jump around using weapons, and lasers.

You can also see the WIP directional indicator on all the screenshots. I think it looks pretty sweet, even i it is just an adaption of an arrow featured in a previous gamemode. Right now it points you to the nearest undestroyed enemy shield generator, or their power generator if both shields are down (you can C4 shields and the power gen, but there's no actual win connected to reaching and exploding the power gen. Next on my list.)


Gamemode stuff

I'm probably renaming the gamemode to 'Industrial Warfare'. There's nothing productive about the gameplay, so why all it Manufacture?

In other news, progress IS being made - slower than before - there's lots of neat stuff now there wasn't before, and the gamemode is half-playable. I think public testing might commence by the end of this week, even, though I've still got the whole of the utilities tree to do (which is more of an idea/plan block than anything). And the minimap. And the help. And pretty much everything.

No harm in optimism.


BACK to reality, whoops there goes gravity...

Got my GCSE results today. And, well, they were pretty awesome. So yeah, I win. Woot. Now I've just got to do every other examination under the sun.


Manufacture screenshots!

Screenshots! nothing else.

Kind of annoying because there's not so much to show, but there's been leaps and bounds coding-wise. Oh well. It'll be done when it's done, and fopefully it'll be interesting then too...


Gamemode objectives: a dilemma

So, I made the utility framework, and the cloaking device, and they work. But there's not much to do with this stuff, because there is no gameplay to speak of! One thing I hadn't carefully considered when I thought of the gamemode was exactly what objectives players would have.

My initial thought when proposing the gamemode to myself was a money-based victory condition, like that of Science and Industry. However, in the end this didn't make much sense because there weren't good, efficient ways of boosting your income and decreasing that of the opponent. What was needed was a clearer objective that involved explosions.

After much tinkering with crazy ideas whilst discussing with others I decided the ideal (or, most implementable ideal) objective for players was to destroy the enemy equipment producing enemy weapons (later refined to be a power generator). To make things interesting, though, players must take down shield generators to gain access to the power generator. All the generators are going to be destroyable using C4 charges all players will have. I'm sure there will be various tactics to planting charges - cloaking in and stealthily placing, taking everyone out then placing, having other players distract the enemy then placing - which is great. Also, players will have a big waypointed thing to run towards, even if they don't understand anything else, which is fantastic on a playability point.

Still no pictures! I promise some soon, honest.


T-T-T-Tricka Utility...

So, I've finally done enough house-cleaning of the gamemode and got started on utilities. This is probably going to be one of the most complex parts of the gamemode, if I do complete it, because unlike with weapons and suchlike there's no existing framework to work on - half my job will be making sure players are properly synced, which is fine for a single-shot device like a scanner, but less fine for a cloaking device that constantly drains charge based on movement speed and carrying weight. Ah well, I'm sure it'll work out fine, and let's be honest, any amount of coding is worth it if you get jetpacks, right?

I probably forgot to mention when I added player upgrades. Although my original plans didn't really include having player upgrades (why would a gun manufacturer upgrade their staff?) testing made it quite clear that later in the game players will need more health, and perhaps armour, for fights to last more than a second (I'm looking at you, fully-upgraded M4A1 that fires at 1200RPM). But why leave it at extra health? Players can also research move speed and jump power upgrades for their team. Combine this with holding only a light pistol and you can run and jump hilarious distances - which is awesome.

Not much more to say. Once I get round to doing research icons, I'll post screenshots of the somewhat visually improved techtree. Other than that... I guess gamemodes take time. <:/


Manufacture sees the light of... private online testing...

So, we had a test of the gamemode as of yesterday evening. It was... interesting. It flagged up some coding issues (odd stuff happening with weapon dropping resulting in players seeing themselves holding rifles when they have crowbars; health regen occurring instantly) and some gameplay issues (rifle research beats SMG research hands down; pistols are too inaccurate to be useful). Which is great. Solving problems is satisfying work when it's so quick to do (Lua being easily wielded).

Weapon dropping is something I've obviously just fixed outright, but the gameplay balancing is a completely unique barrel of sharks, to subvert a metaphor. It requires careful consideration, because it's hard to weight what impact one change will have.

Something I'm implementing that I hope will help is weapon weights. Pistols are light, SMGs also quite light and rifles (usually) heavy. More weight, slower movement speed. The interesting factors will be upgrades to your sped, upgrades to your ability to run with heavy weapons, and upgrades reduing the weight of weaponry. Though the base weight values for weapons are somewhat plausible, I have no intention of making the upgrades realistic - expect 1kg SMGs and suchlike.

Something else I think would help is utilities. Take, for example, the situation of someone sitting on top of their base with a rifle, picking off players with superior accuracy upgrades. Right now, the only solution is to nick an enemy rifle (tough when you can't get close), research rifles (not fun or interesting from a variety standpoint) or get really lucky with an accurized SMG (rare). A fun solution would be a cloaking device, similar to the C&C Renegade stealth troopers ability - you are completely invisible beyond a range of 40-60m, but once you get closer you become more visible. This would allow players with short range weapons to get within their effective range before the enemy can start accurately shooting them. This sucks for the rifle users, though, so why not allow them to research a tool allowing them to scan for cloaked opponents? Of ourse, this would make cloaking useless, unless it required holsterig your weapon, and reduced your field of view so you are vulnerable to ambush...

This gamemode could be very, very interesting, I think. :D


The new GMod gamemode: Manufacture

This post is just about Garry's Mod. As if half of my posts aren't.

I could tell you about previous failed gamemode attempts. I could tell you about Crazy Delivery, which was a success in some ways (a technical achievement) and a failure in others (players couldn't work out what to do)
. I could tell you about Incursion, and how it rose and fell in the few months between now and my last real post. But I'm not actually going to develop on any of those points, because surely a blog is about talking about what you have done recently, and what you are doing.

So, Manufacture. RabidToaster is handling the mapping side and some of the coding, I'm drilling away at the core code and the interface. Seems a little weird doing this because I thik I have slightly more mapping experience than RT (maybe not? will he ever read this? only if I link him), and he does core cde a hell of a lot better than me, but we'll just see how this goes. We've been working for 5 days now, I think.

Two teams - rival firearms manufacturers - Nexus Inc. and Resistance Ltd. (Combine vs. Rebels!). The objective of a team is to end the game with more money than their opponent - manufactured firearms that players don't use are sold for profit, respawns, equipment damage and firearms theft account for lost revenue. Th
e fun part (hopefully) is that players can select what weapons and upgrades they want to research for their team in a menu, and these researches when completed manifest themselves immediately on the production line(s) of the team that did the research.

The production lines are the coolest things that are 100% working right now. Weapons pop out of some equipment one side, and are sold at the other. Anywhere in between you can pick them up and use them straight away.

What I was working on yesterday was weapon upgrades. I made a framework for researchable upgrades that can choose what weapons they want to be applicable to, and then do various things to them. For example, if I research Large SMG Magazines, new MP5s and UMP45s from the production line automatically get upgraded to use magazines of 45 bullets. Curently I've only done boring upgrades - damage, accuracy, ammunition capacity - but eventually it would be cool to have some silly, radical upgrades, like one that makes all your weapons use lasers and rechargeable energy cells instead of bullets. The one issue wih such big changes is how to appease players on a team who don't like lasers - well, we'll see if there are any!

The next big thing apart from making some weapon upgrades for rifles is giving the gamemode some actual gameplay and objectives. Stuff like players scoring points for kills, respawns reducing team money, some sort of destroyable equipment and bonus incentives for stealing enemy weapons (taking them back to a machine in your base to boost research?). But this stuff is mostly simple... the gamemode is going well so far, and I can't see any problems popping up in the immediate future (as long as we have good enough help that players work out how to play).

Gallery of images: (Parts of the HUD are temporary. The tech tree and its graphics are incomplete.)

Woo, I actually got images working the way Blogspot wants me to make them work.

Comment on my use of bold, by the way. I wanted this to be easily skimmable.


There's me, forgetting to update

I've decided it's probably about time I updated this.

...I'll do an actual post later. For now, I'll just say I've been up to quite a few things! <:D


I'm back!

I'm representing my new state of mind using a different font.

Things seem to be getting better. Dropped GCSE Art (one of the courses I've been doing at school) because it was making me mentally unstable how hard it was to actually come up with anything. As a result, coursework seems under control. Mock exams went really well, no reason I can't get lots of A* (the top grade) GCSEs.

Garry's Mod: made Finger Sniper SWEP which is pretty cool and has had a positive response. Probably doing some other stuff too.

Team Fortress 2: Our clan 'Pissed Geese' has been making some real progress. For example, we aren't losing every match we enter into. Hooray!

Audiosurf: is awesome.

That's all I can remember happening in the last while.



Escaped Onslaught gamemode. Returning to fun things. The last few weeks have been a mixture of elation and hell that I cannot cope with. Now it's over.



An Onslaught gamemode

I've been working on an Onslaught gamemode for someone. I can't particularly remember why I offered to make it, but my memory has always been a bit odd, I'm sure I had a reason.... it features stuff like a reduced-functionality version of the spawnmenu, a class select menu, and lots of stuff trying to kill players. Which is all good, right? Anyway, I really just want an excuse to put more screenshots on my blog. Yay.


Exam week over, back to 'real' work

Working on the gamemode again. It's sharpening up. Still got to finish the HUD and incorporate the rest of upgrades, but hell, it's LOOKING good already. Little touches like changing the offsets on weapons and customizing the bullet tracers have made all the difference - that, and Ep2 blood effects.

Here's a basic lifetime, in chronological order. I cheated - you're not meant to have 3 weapons - but hell, for the pictures... :D

P.S. this is dm_powerhouse, I didn't make this map.


Not dead - yet

Exams next week. Tomorrow. Mmmm... I'm positively shivering in anticipation.


Ironsights Designer released

Released (thread), and the initial response has been great (thanks everyone posting replies in the release thread). Nice to get it somewhat done; I'm sure they'll be feature requests down the line, but mostly I think I'm ready to move onto something else... a scripted weapon pack perhaps, some sort of 'brutal' take on what CSE tried to do.

Or I could, you know, do that gamemode I suddenly stopped working on. Either way...

New picture of ID


Weekend projects never do work out

I'm still working on the Ironsights Designer. The base is the same, but it's come a long way - there's now a menu allowing players to use thier mouse, instead of the original myriad of keys, and you can change the weapon model without using the console (although support for that is not yet fantastic). Interface still looks nice, and new options like testing firing animations so you can see whether your offsets are suitable for weapons with multiple fire-anim-ending positions. All in all, should be a good release, where I can bask in the praise of the 3 people who look at the release thread.

School isn't fantastic, but could be worse. Examination fever is coming over the horizon - should be interesting.


Ironsights Designer: making rubbish hexed weapons with ironsights just got easier

Working on something that should be very useful to a small number of people for a very short amount of time. It's inspired by Kogsitune's useful Ironsights Helper which allows you to move along each individual axis of position and angle offset using left-click, right-click, and cycling axes with right-click, Reload and Use, is various fashions. It was a good tool, but I felt that it still took far too long to get good positions, and precision was a complex task. For my take on the idea, I've used mouse control allowing you to drag the weapon around into position. There's four different axes groups to work on - Pos X/Z, Pos Y, Ang X/Y(P/Y) and Ang Z(R), which you switch through with secondary fire, and holding primary goes into 'drag mode' where your mouse movements are converted into offsetting.

This is a screenshot that's a little outdated from where I am now, but shows the idea:



No more short summers

Computer now fully operational again. The encased fan in question had, on extraction, collected so much dust there we no airway through which air could escape from it; to save further complication, the manufacturer the computer was bought from just gave us a new fan. Computer is quieter now, and I can sit down and properly play all my games again, hoorah!

Pity I don't have any time to do so, really. Oh well - such is life.


It's the end of the world as we know it...

...well, it isn't, but I enjoy lying. Its the end of the holidays. I haven't done half the things I said I would do, and unsurprisingly I haven't done the other half either. Sounds like the prefect reintroduction to real work.

Played a bit with actual Source modding (taking an SDK copy of HL2 and fiddling with the C++). It was pretty fun, actually - I didn't do much except create a few tutorial entities and modify a couple of the HL2 weapons, but I've enjoyed doing it, and I feel confident that once I am finished with Garry's Mod (perhaps after this gamemode...) I will have somewhere to continue to where I will be to a greater extent training my ability to understand and, ultimately, write game code. It looks hard right now, but so did Lua; within a couple of months of getting into the correct attitude (declaring variables properly and all that shiz), I'm sure I could be as fast at C++ as I am at Lua now (which in some cases is pretty quick).

The problem is, the moment I take the leap from GMLua to Source and C++, I won't have the kind of support and documentation I've come to expect due to the amount we get in the Lua community... looking on the Valve Developer Wiki, information on some things is scarce, because the C++ implementation allows people to be so open that not even all the basic capabilities could be entirely documented. Visual C++ 2005 (Express Edition obviously) is great because it's easy to find the value of constants by putting your cursor over them for a second, and the actual actions of functions via searching parts or the entirety of the game solution (all the code files available to modders).

Still, no fear. B the end of tomorrow I'll have my head buried so deep in schoolwork (and sleeping after doing it) that I won't have any time to commit to anything that's actually going to impact my future. Hoorah.


Feeling disabled

I seem to be spending my last two days of freedom doing absolutely nothing. Nothing sustantial anyway. Gave some helpful replies on the GMLua forum, helped/annoyed a friend who's making an achievement system by throwing ideas at him, made sprinting in the gamemode disable your weapon (I will make your first-person view weapon 'semi-holster' when you sprint, a visual aide to your inability to fire), listened to lots of music (mmm, Coldplay), felt inadequate and doomed. Avoided doing schoolwork (tomorrow will be a nightmare). I feel like taking a picture of myself and putting as a caption 'procrastination'.

Less annoyed at the gamemode rocket launcher visuals now. They'll pass, at least.


My Todo List for Codename 'Evo'

Thought it might be fun to show people my todo list as of now. It will no doubt expand.


Not quite meltdown, though...

Some fan hidden within the computers actual processor has broken down, meaning the computer overheats and shuts down if I do anything strenuous on it. It levels off at 70C even when I'm not doing anything... so that's a little annoying, because I cannot effectively do any scripting until that's fixed (warranty, overcomplication, awkward phonecalls, etc.)

Three days left of the holiday. Mmmmm. Well, it could be worse - it could be three days time. Reading Pratchett's Discworld novels at a helathy pace (1 1/2 a day): pretty awesome. Listening to Muse for some reason or other.


No good smoking

It's really hard to get a good smoke effect, via Lua, In Garry's Mod. Which makes trying to make a rocket launcher REALLY DIFFICULT, I mean, seriously awkward.

Yesterday was good (but I forgot to post). Got lots of work done on the submachinegun and shotgun of the GMod gamemode. SMG laserguide is fun - toggleable by right-click, it's a red beam from your weapon that bounces on metal surfaces (your bullets also bounce off metal surfaces). You can see other people's laserguides - I took these screenshots using some bots (Blogger is being very evil about me adding images):

Photobucket Photobucket

Computer shutting down randomly during playing Crysis. I'm suspecting something overheats based on the fan going into hyperdrive when I reboot the computer, but I honestly do not know. Source games (HL2, GMod) are unaffected so I am still fully functional.


Oooh! Oooh! First post!

Heh heh heh, well here we go, eh.

I haven't really got anything to say - I created this blog primarily so that I can pretend that I can remember what happens from one day to the next. (I can't.) If you've arrived here, you've probably misclicked somewhere; if you haven't, then take everything you may accidentally set your eyes upon with a pinch of salt.

Working on another Garry's Mod gamemode. To be blunt, we barely have any - the only 'finished' gamemode that involves NO sandbox influences would be Zombie Survival, and that has a huge number of rough edges. So I'm working on a gamemode that's all about just blowing everyone else up. Trying to avoid being too much like GMDM, but chances are Garry will never release that anyway, so I'm not hugely worried. I'm making sure I keep a suitable focus on effects and postprocessing - the impressive part of ZS is definitely the way it deals with visuals, so I need to make this a serious priority if I want to make a gamemode that's better.

Real life: 1 week until holidays end. Ugggh. I'm just trying not to think about it, particularly not the 'what about all that schoolwork you told yourself you were going to do?' part.