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[Help-liquidwar6] Liquid War 0.0.11beta released

From: Christian Mauduit
Subject: [Help-liquidwar6] Liquid War 0.0.11beta released
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2011 10:13:47 +0200
User-agent: SquirrelMail/1.4.21


It's official, it's out. Quoting NEWS file:

This releases introduces weapons, to complete the team profiles concept. It
also has an exp system which unlocks the next level when you win a given level
in solo games, two new bot engines, visual enhancements including a wave
effect, a Russian translation, and fixes about 10 outstanding bugs.

> Wow great! That wave effect is just perfect.
I might still tune it, but well, just for fun.

> I will look at adjusting
> teams.xml. My plan so far:
> strange-new-world     PLAYER: red ENEMY: blue
> fishy         PLAYER: red ENEMY: green (level effect: wrap)
> liquid-dream PLAYER: red ENEMY: yellow
> nine-points   PLAYER: green ENEMY: 2*yellow (level effect:tunnel)
> acadia        PLAYER: green ENEMY: 2*blue
> playfield     PLAYER: green ENEMY: 2*red      (level effect:wrap)
> ink-and-oil   PLAYER: blue ENEMY: red + yellow
> five-points  PLAYER: blue ENEMY: green + yellow (level effect:tunnel)
> january       PLAYER: blue ENEMY: red + yellow + blue
> pizza-face    PLAYER: yellow ENEMY: red+green+blue (level effect:wrap)
> subflower     PLAYER: yellow ENEMY: red+green+blue
> fish          PLAYER: yellow ENEMY: all
Is that the order you plan? I'd personnnally would save wrapping stuff for at
least 3rd or 4th level (fishy with its "negative polarity" can be confusing
for newcomers I guess).

> The reason I focus on red-green-blue-yellow is because I think it is
> important that the player gets to understand the basic colors.
OK, this does make sense.

> One thing I worry about is that both the experience system and the
> color characteristics isn't very obvious, unless the player actually
> RTFM, but I don't really have any suggestions.
I was thinking about that lately.

Documentation is nice, but one needs to know "who will read it".

Obviously. AFAIK, many UNIX tools, and many GNU projects, target the sysadmin.
As far as LW6 is concerned, a good part of the documentation is just to get
you being able to install the game. While this is important, reality, in 2011,
is that whatever game requires you to fiddle with the manual to be installed
won't be installed at all and stay confidential. So while I still do think
it's important to have this doc up to date and expose it, the real way to make
things work is just to have a bullet-proof install procedure. So far the
MS-Windows installer has a major drawback, it does not launch the game after
it's installed. This is so standard I'm amazed msys does not have it by
default but believe it or not, doing this requires scripting and wizardry I'm
not really fond of.

Then, a good deal of the documentation is just for me and/or any hacker that
would volonteer to code in C or Scheme. This is required too, it's with the
help of this valuable documentation that I'm able to stop developping for say,
3 or 6 months, and then come back and hack happily. While ideally I'd be
working on LW all the time, it's good to have this doc that keeps knowledge
public and preserves it while time keeps running.

Finally, lots of the documentation is just for people like you, who greatly
help in game design but can't really code the low-level internal stuff. This
is, as I understand it, a good tool to communicate -> I describe the various
XML options, then you toy with them and find ways to make the game better. I
might over-simplify, but at least this is how I view things.

But among all those documentations, none is for the player. Again, I'm not a
strong advocate of PDF manuals in that case. In-game help is much better, and
even much better is obvious game behavior that makes explanations useless. In
its simplest form, LW does not require much help, with version 6 you're thrown
on the level, then naturally you try to move your mouse, cursor moves, teams
follow, it takes 2 minutes for an average player to grasp the concept. This,
BTW, is a very good point for us. Now there are the profiles, the weapons...

My suggestions follow:

1) we need a (very basic) help screen. As I view things now, we'd typically
need a bitmap (a HD720 1280x720 would be perfect) that represents a keyboard,
a mouse, a joystick, and explains the key bindings. I'm saying this for nobody
will ever read any doc that says you need to press CTRL to fire and ALT for
alternate fire. For some reason (anticipating chat...) using ENTER does not
work in that case. Same for mouse right button / middle button bindings. The
bindings are described here:
(I think there are errors in this page, I just forgot the num/keypad
bindings...). This help screen would be displayed in two contexts: a) when
bench is calculated at startup the first time you launch it (the "please wait"
stuff) and b) when F1 is pressed. This is a very basic basic help but it gives
the essentials: key bindings + informs you there's a fire option + suggests
you can use several input devices.

2) I need to find a way to display text to explain things. Basically when
selecting yellow in the menu, you would have a description for yellow

3) whenever a new color is made available, it should be described too. For
instance, "You can now play purple, purple is yada yada yada...", "yada yada
yada" simply being what is displayed when choosing purple in the menu.

One word about the "exp" system. In the current release, I acknowledge it's a
little weird. The idea was to release it ASAP so that you could toy with it
and build a first "level chain", "scenario", whatever we call it. As I used
this version, I realized that we need to find a way to clearly expose that
"there are some more levels but you can't play them now". Most games do this
by displaying unallowed levels but marking them as unplayable (be it displayed
with transparency, greyish-colors, or a big red "not available" written on
it). I think we should do this in LW6, show all levels as a teaser, only you
can't play them. Then the exp system feels natural, you play, level is
unlocked, you're redirected on it, does not seem that complex to use, is it?

> Anyways, I should also try re-design textures on the wrap-around
> levels to fit at the edges. I think I considered this at some time,
> but never dreamed that it would actually be needed. (btw, that effect
> is *so* cool)
Glad you like this wrap stuff, it's been so long since I wanted to code that.

> Understood! Would it be possible to have a greyscale image define the
> height of the map texture? This would give a lot of design options.
> One could even export a high map from a 3D program, and it would even
> be possible to avoid the "floating square" look of the levels, by
> adjusting the edges.
Yep, the greyscale to define the height, why not. But there are two options.
One is pure eye-candy, just deciding that we display 2D and a half stuff (if
possible). The other one has to do with game logic, to some extent it would
replace the "layerXXX" stuff. There's a collision here, one would need to
choose wether to use "layerX.png" or "height.png". I'd tend to prefer the
first option, make it just pure eye candy. Layer system allows tunnels which
height can't do, might be tedious in some cases, but well, it can do
everything. And let height be just for the pleasure of the eyes, have no
impact on gameplay.

> I have tried giving a level texture some fake 3-dimensional effect, to
> guess how it would look:
This is typically the sort of things I'm after with this voxel-engine
crazyness. Populate this with little animated voxel sprites, make nice camera
movements, and I think we can have something nice.

Have a nice day,


Christian Mauduit -                    ___ __/\__
Liquid War 6 -      / _")\~ \~/
Mouette & Charbons - _/ /   /_ o_\
Ultrafondus -                (__/      \/

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