Status and Idea

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NiteHawk
Game Developer
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 2:34 pm

Status and Idea

Post by NiteHawk » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:49 am

Hey guys.

Just relaying what's been going on overall. The past half year has been rather crazy for myself, reason why I haven't been on much. Between working 50-60 hours a week lately, I've been also doing university courses at full time, which is pretty much the rest of the day. Overall ends up taking up most of the day and by the time I'm done, I'm pretty much in bed. I've also been juggling some legal stuff with my license which still isn't done, but should be soon again (Huzzah!).

For the most case, I've been dealing with getting my masters in computer science, but been doing some extra courses on the side. Some have to deal with gaming programming and modeling, which has been quite fun. I have a specific course where I'm currently having to develop a game within two months (pretty much), so I'm aiming to do a Gradius type game, just for kicks. The base of the development is done in XNA, which I've been actually pretty surprised that I quite like it alot. It's a nice system to use, and has support for Xbox360/Windows 7 Phones (gross).

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The deal with SF is it's pretty much been at a stand-still for the last year. I haven't been able to get the network portion done because it's such a mess and I couldn't even get anyone hired to do it. So it's been pretty much a stand-still in terms of SF 2.0. The issue is redoing almost everything is pretty much like creating your own game, except SD technically owns it. Another issue is without a giant amount of replacing the functions and organizing the coding, it's going to keep being a mess. I want to continue it, but I'm looking at other options at the moment.

I'm actually looking of redeveloping SF as a new 'game' completely. Of course it wouldn't be called SF, but the same principles would be involved. I may even actually do a prototype for school, then just actually use that for an actual game base. We'll see though.

The idea is to use newer tech and improve on alot of areas. Doing it from scratch also allows me to ensure things are done a bit more properly in areas, including the network coding to something I can actually understand and handle. XNA also supports networking, though I'm unsure on how stable it is, I would presume alot better then where SF currently sits, and it looks virtually simplified enough that I can improve on it a good deal and ensure no syncing issues af SF 1.3x has.

Modding is probably a big deal in any community to keeping the game alive and the playerbase alive, but there are many games top down shooters that support modding.. I haven't seen many games that do support online capabilities though. (I do know theres a small handful, but in more recent times the whole MP versions been yoinked, because the claim is *It would unbalance the game too much*). I do want to actually create the single player portion/storyline first, but I'd work on achieving a good MP experience as well. Obviously the first few versions won't have any network support, but I'm going to see about doing it piece by piece, (Aka, get the ship moving on a black background, get that working with network support first, then do the next thing, blahblah.)

There's a couple ideas I want to think on improving, and I'm sort of wondering what the community would think on these:

1. Models or PNG Images - Overall, the difficulties for model files would be a bit tougher. Model files now in days are easy to get by, and you can get a ton of models. It also becomes easier and looks nicer because you can make the ship virtually do anything in game, and make it more realistic with proper lighting and other things (EX. Rotating the ship turns the ship slightly as an effect). But virtually you can get any ships possible, startrek, starwars, etc. Google Sketchup even has a ton. I'm not sure what kind of model files I can support yet, since I haven't gotten deep into testing this area yet, but it's very much possible.

As for PNG images, this is a easier method. I'd most likely do them easier then SF does. The idea would be one image that rotates with some anti-alias on the ship to smooth it out. You can end up having animations on the ship such as lighting with spriteSheet style images. Most likely though I would want to try to either have it make one larger spriteSheet on the go or have players define it. In XNA having only a few images that load different 'parts' of the image works alot quicker and you save both memory and clock time. I do already however have a working per-pixel collision system (completed for school, supports spriteSheets too) which means that ships will hit each other with precision rather then box or circle collisions. This would be easier, but less dynamic, and I would say less fancy.

Still, I'm mixed between the two, but learning towards Models at the moment, says?

2. Particle System: Particle systems can make some amazing explosion, trails, shield, and weapon effects mainly. There are a few systems like DPSF or Mercury Particle Engine that are already complete. I'm looking into Mercury's first because it has a nice GUI editor already attached to it. This means you can simply load up the editor, plugin some images/textures to it, and create some funky particles. It's free to use, and open source, so can be edited to our needs even further. The system will create a file to be used with the game, and can be called as you wish for any effects you want, which is pretty rad. It's very simple to use too, here is an example I just uploaded of the basic things, plus one quick modification for something to look like a thrust effect (last thing I do). Note that this is at 30FPS, so it's a bit laggy when recording, it's actually very smooth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plEIu2pIxjc .. You miss out on effects in youtube, such as the explosion effect glowing 'white' quickly just before exploding. Makes it look snazzy ;) For the most case I'd want thrusters something like this on ships: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBBMgM3oLcw .. more like plumes rather then trails.

3. I'm wondering about a more persistent type game, with gates through systems. Could make rather interesting gameplay. I'd probably want to beef up planets a bit/make them build-able in terms of defense and other things.

4. Modding -- Something I'm trying to think how to do. I'm thinking XML files with a possible GUI editor may be a good way to go though. I've seen alot of games where you could inject a DLL file to enhance the game coding wise, but I'm unsure yet onto how that works. That might be a possibility though for expansions past the general limitations that SF had. Python/LUA could work as well.

I'd virtually overall want the same idea as SF did, just a bit more expanded.

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I'd be aiming to start this around September -- around, after school is mostly complete. I'll probably do bi-weekly releases on anything added though SVN so users can test it piece by piece rather then throwing it all at once and finding too many issues/can't figure out what happened bit.

The first plans would be to:
--Initial starting screen/login/character selection screen.
--Structures for Game Engine/Display Engine
--Playerships and movement.
--Basic Particle System
--Basic systems for shielding/armor/hull, weapons, energy, etc.
--Basic planet and capture system
--Working with supporting modding as it goes. Figuring out a good modding system for both basic modding and extreme modding changes.


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I know it's a bit out there, specially since Sept would be the starting date, but I'm actually looking forward to being able to handle this in XNA. Should be fun to do, anyways.

The main reason of throwing this out is I want to get a Project Documentation going, I want everything to be organized and plotted before hand. It's no good if 90% of it has to be recoded which ends up becoming a mess it you can't support it easy. (SF has a ton of problems, such as having like 5-6 tractor functions, all do the same thing but have different variations in them, ends up breaking the game when docking sometimes and its all over the place, quite a mess, but things like that are a bad nono). So hopefully if people are actually willing/interested, I might throw one subforum up for a documentation start so I can get everything plotted. This 'will' be something I'll be doing, if anything, for my own skills in working with XNA now.

It will be Window based. Obviously since it's XNA, though. Possible XBOX360 port, since its rather simplistic to do so, but defo not even looking at that anytime soon.

NiteHawk
Game Developer
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 2:34 pm

Re: Status and Idea

Post by NiteHawk » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:51 pm

Arsanthania wrote:Well, if/when I learn how to use XNA, I'll be able to help out, but all in all, this is the best idea for how this will work. I've been considering doing it myself, and using another game-development tool, but XNA will probably end up with a equal or better result than mine would.

I personally prefer the .png idea, there have been a few good top down 2d space games that use static images with rotations, and then have either particles or animations for lights and other things on the ship-it's also possible to dynamically generate damage images to overlay on the ship images which will also increase the awesomeness.

I'm in support of this. StarDock doesn't need to be nosing around with what we're doing, nor do we need to be bound by what StarDock has decided to do with SF. SF has died, and we need to move on, be it a new project, a rebuild or something. I'm glad you posted this, though, it shows you, the head of this project, still care for the product, and want to continue it. I was starting to get disheartened about SF 2.0, as there was nothing being done on it, but this post has changed my mind completely. Talk of a rebuild and planning on this game should be done starting soon, and though you are busy, some discussion here and possibly elsewhere would be good for helping you to flush out the ideas behind the new design.

My vote is for a complete rebuild-if you can beat me to a functioning prototype, then I'll leave it to you. I have plenty of my own projects to work on, but I'll gladly aid and support this one, though maybe not financially at first, but definitely later on, after I have some money stored up.

Sounds good mate :)

I'm planning to start coding it around September. XNA so far has proven to be very nice for this type of game, and as I continue working on it, it's making me feel that it is a right choice for a remake.

I'm thinking I will create a new thread area for the game. It's good to have a project documentation on what needs to be done by priority listing, so everything is not a mess.

The problem with SF is that the game was coded without a real good structure for an online based game. Every time we adjust one thing, another 10 problems come out. It's to the point where no other coder wanted to code it, and I cringed to attempt to tackle all the problems on my own as it's pretty tough to attempt to figure out what SF is actually doing. The online coding wasn't place in properly at all, and it's resulting in us having to recode the whole thing, again, something which really isn't worth doing at this point, it's better to create something that is structured properly, and would be alot easier to manage and moderate. XNA also seems to have a nice structured system for 2D style gaming.

The idea of the new forum/thread area would be also be a good way to talk about how it should be coded in a summary, GameObject class, Movement class, figuring out subclasses, and all that jazz. Would be better to ideally plot out each area to spend less time backtracking and potentially making a mess.

I'm thinking we defo should do a simple one image and have the system smoothen it and rotate it. For lights, such as blinking lights and other things, can be tacked in through the modification/setup files per ship. Another idea on top of this would be animations, using a certain amount of frames to make 'animations' to ships that need it (maybe a dish radar that spins.) I'm interested in hearing your way for dynamic damage, though I have an idea what you mean.

I do care about SF, but SF is too old of a game (coding wise) to keep trying to revive unless you do it from scratch.

Anyways, I'll create a new forum that soon, (Tomm I should have some more time) and once we get something going more I can always grab a new domain. Maybe should use the same layout as this one, since we actually haven't used it. Could change some colors here and there if needed, obviously the logos, etc. Eventually if that does take the case, I'd prob just link sf.com to sf.net an leave it as its own, and work on this new project as its own, probably try to redirect current members to it.

NiteHawk
Game Developer
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 2:34 pm

Re: Status and Idea

Post by NiteHawk » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:59 am

Added a forum, maybe in a few days I'll send out a mail to wake everyone up for ideas.

Will add my own there, and can add more categories as needed.

NiteHawk
Game Developer
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 2:34 pm

Re: Status and Idea

Post by NiteHawk » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:23 pm

No, but I do need someone to work on the network coding, otherwise it is going no where fast. The game is fine and dandy, and I'd love to add more to it, but no one plays because the of the sync and lag issues.

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