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Alpha 3 Planning

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Disclaimer: A mention of dates or features here does not mean that the features in question will be included or the Alpha will be released at a certain date. This topic is merely for discussion and plans might change. Also, while everyone should feel free to add his/her opinion, the opinion of official team members and regular contributor's will weigh more than that of someone who's just a forum member. This is not an attempt to be mean, just a reminder that you should not be disappointed if a feature you personally would like to see in the next Alpha gets pushed back, in favor of something one or more of the developers consider to be more important or that needs to be completed before other things.

To me this release should mostly focus on "solidifying" things and not as much on adding new features, that said I don't think it should be forbidden to add new features. Also, we should preferably aim for a mid-December release, to keep the release cycle relatively short and to have a new version out in time for Christmas without having to work on it on Christmas.

These are some things I think would be good to have done for this release:

  • Completing most of the things left over from the Alpha 2 milestone
  • Reimplementing the Hotkey system ( http://trac.wildfiregames.com/ticket/567 )
  • Implementing a GUI config system (preferably in the style of the new in-game GUI, so it doesn't have to be re-designed later to fit the rest of the GUI)
  • One major new feature, perhaps territories/settlements?
  • Some smaller things, but with a focus on bug-fixing

Any thoughts on the above? Something of the above that really isn't feasible? Some other major feature that really should be implemented?/Should be implemented rather than territories/settlements?

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Major feature: I'd prefer something like gather auras, so that the Mill, Farmstead, etc. have a reason for being. I've given scout towers a large LOS radius, so they are useful, even if they arent up to spec. But Farmsteads and Mills currently have no use, gameplay-wise.

Some UI things: Switch over to individual portraits for unit icons instead of portrait sheets. Remove "stamina" bar from buildings and give them "fidelity" or "loyalty" status bar instead. New Loading Screen.

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Major feature: I'd prefer something like gather auras, so that the Mill, Farmstead, etc. have a reason for being. I've given scout towers a large LOS radius, so they are useful, even if they arent up to spec. But Farmsteads and Mills currently have no use, gameplay-wise.

Some UI things: Switch over to individual portraits for unit icons instead of portrait sheets. Remove "stamina" bar from buildings and give them "fidelity" or "loyalty" status bar instead. New Loading Screen.

I second that :ok:

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Major feature: I'd prefer something like gather auras, so that the Mill, Farmstead, etc. have a reason for being. I've given scout towers a large LOS radius, so they are useful, even if they arent up to spec. But Farmsteads and Mills currently have no use, gameplay-wise.

Some UI things: Switch over to individual portraits for unit icons instead of portrait sheets. Remove "stamina" bar from buildings and give them "fidelity" or "loyalty" status bar instead. New Loading Screen.

Ah, agreed :ok:

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I don't think all of this will make it, but here are my thoughts on some of the things.

  • Reimplementing the Hotkey system ( http://trac.wildfiregames.com/ticket/567 )
    - Would be nice to have, but I hope it's not a really big project that would take all the development cycle. I would delay it in that case.
  • Implementing a GUI config system (preferably in the style of the new in-game GUI, so it doesn't have to be re-designed later to fit the rest of the GUI)
    - Not sure what you mean by the style, since the the in-game GUI already has a settings dialog. I thought this would be the persistent options screen in the main menu which would mean that it should match the menu style and not the in-game style.
  • Switch over to individual portraits for unit icons instead of portrait sheets.
    - This is important for future development
  • Ownership Changing based on nearby units.
    - Would be nice. It would provide the basis for building/unit "fidelity" or "loyalty" and territories/settlements. It would be great for animals too. Also, it would provide a sort of trigger-like functionality for scenarios (get to location to claim something).
  • Garrisoning for buildings.
    - Basically done by Evans, should be included. It just needs to be checked and applied.
  • Gather auras for Mill / Farmstead
    - Would be nice
  • Defensive arrows for fortress/scout towers
    - Would be nice
  • Make in-game exit and delete dialogs consistent with rest of in-game theme.
    - Would be nice
  • New Loading Screen.
    - Would be nice

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also something i think we need to have is 'double click to select units of the same type' and 'shift+click to add to selection'. also the way the selected units icons work needs to be re-thought. i mean now if u ctrl+click it selects that unit and unselects/deselects all others, ctrl+click should actually unselect/deselect the unit. and a simple click on the icon should select that unit without unselecting the entire group(in other words make it the main unit)

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I don't think all of this will make it, but here are my thoughts on some of the things.

  • Reimplementing the Hotkey system
    - Would be nice to have, but I hope it's not a really big project that would take all the development cycle. I would delay it in that case.
  • Implementing a GUI config system (preferably in the style of the new in-game GUI, so it doesn't have to be re-designed later to fit the rest of the GUI)
    - Not sure what you mean by the style, since the the in-game GUI already has a settings dialog. I thought this would be the persistent options screen in the main menu which would mean that it should match the menu style and not the in-game style.
  • Switch over to individual portraits for unit icons instead of portrait sheets.
    - This is important for future development
  • Ownership Changing based on nearby units.
    - Would be nice. It would provide the basis for building/unit "fidelity" or "loyalty" and territories/settlements. It would be great for animals too. Also, it would provide a sort of trigger-like functionality for scenarios (get to location to claim something).
  • Garrisoning for buildings.
    - Basically done by Evans, should be included. It just needs to be checked and applied.
  • Gather auras for Mill / Farmstead
    - Would be nice
  • Defensive arrows for fortress/scout towers
    - Would be nice
  • Make in-game exit and delete dialogs consistent with rest of in-game theme.
    - Would be nice
  • New Loading Screen.
    - Would be nice

So I would like to quote on each of these....

* Reimplementing the Hotkey system ( <a href="http://trac.wildfiregames.com/ticket/567" target="_blank">http://trac.wildfiregames.com/ticket/567</a> )

- So this is important because the current system causes bugs and it does not work properly and people are having to hack around it and I don't like that and so it should be reevaluated. We are trying to close out some of these old tickets.

* Implementing a GUI config system (preferably in the style of the new in-game GUI, so it doesn't have to be re-designed later to fit the rest of the GUI)

- This is the options screen, that would allow you to control any of the options that are currently in the cfg file, I already have most of the work done for this and just need to check it in. Once again this is just something that should have been there from the start.

* Switch over to individual portraits for unit icons instead of portrait sheets.

- I do not think this is that important as some of the issues mentioned above... This is a very minor thing and does not really effect gameplay.

* Ownership Changing based on nearby units.

- I think this feature needs to be properly designed and thought out, something we should be trying to do before we go forth with a feature is think it through a little more than we have been. I think features like this one would have been put into the original design if we thought it out a little more, but I think we should think about it a little more, maybe get the design solid in Alpha 3 and implement in Alpha 4.

* Garrisoning for buildings.

- This is slated for Alpha 3

* Gather auras for Mill / Farmstead

- Here again I think we should talk about this feature make sure its what we want and then design it and finalize it and then see if have the time to get it into Alpha 3

* Make in-game exit and delete dialogs consistent with rest of in-game theme.

- This seems like an easy thing to fix and we could most likely get into Alpha 3

* New Loading Screen.

- Should be simple enough to add I think.

I would ask everyone look at the task list that we already have for Alpha 3 as we not only need to add stuff but also fix stuff. One of the major issues that we seem to run into is we kinda keep moving forward, and get around to fixing the older bugs when we have time. Fixing the issues is just as important as adding new ones :ok:

http://trac.wildfiregames.com/query?status...lestone=Alpha+3

This is the current list we have 28 things, some of these things are just waiting reviews of patches so we could likely get more in as I mentioned some of the tasks above could get in if we have time... I mean obviously the things on the current list should get done... We are going to do another pass on the backlog to see if anything new should be picked up in this release.

Also something we should mention is we have already started to look at what Alpha 4 may include and right now it looks like the focus will be cleaning up multiplayer a little bit and some of the bugs related to that and just making the overall flow better for the users. Obviously this would include more gameplay specific stuff like some of the things mentioned in this thread, so keep that in mind there is a long term planning goal here for getting what everyone needs to get done.

I think Alpha 3 is going to be primarily a clean-up release, in that getting rid of some of these old annoying issues or systems that have not been touched in awhile but maybe need some of the cob-webs cleaned out; but as well as adding some new stuff. Obviously this could change if feneur wants it to :)

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* Gather auras for Mill / Farmstead

- Here again I think we should talk about this feature make sure its what we want and then design it and finalize it and then see if have the time to get it into Alpha 3

This feature is interesting for me and maybe I can try to implement it. But I don't understand how dropsites are related to auras. I suppose that dropsites should work approximately so:

1) unit is gathering resource up to it's maximum carried count;

2) saving his current position to return later;

2) searching for nearest dropsite for this type resource (probably using the RangeManager component);

3) drops resource at dropsite

4) returns to saved position

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But I don't understand how dropsites are related to auras.

The design (from a few years ago) required that wild resources of timber, stone and metal were collected within the aura of Civic Center or a Resource Center. So, the idea was pretty simple - if the resource was within the aura, then you could collect the resource. This was further constrained because you could only build Civic Centers and Resource Centers in a territory that you had ownership of. The citizen soldier or female citizen would collect the resource a entity defined rate until the resource slowly depleted into the player's bank and reached a quantity of 0 - then it would move on to the next nearest resource. There wasn't a "shuttling" feature where the unit would move back and forth between resource and drop site. Hunting and foraging were excluded from these restrictions.

The feature was already implemented (as well as territories) in the past versions of the game before Philip's rewrite. It should be easy to reconstruct the feature.

Here is some more info (not sure if these are up to date for code, but the design likely is):

http://trac.wildfiregames.com/wiki/XML.Entity.Traits.Auras

http://trac.wildfiregames.com/wiki/XML.Entity.Actions.Gather

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This feature is interesting for me and maybe I can try to implement it. But I don't understand how dropsites are related to auras. I suppose that dropsites should work approximately so:

1) unit is gathering resource up to it's maximum carried count;

2) saving his current position to return later;

2) searching for nearest dropsite for this type resource (probably using the RangeManager component);

3) drops resource at dropsite

4) returns to saved position

Nope. :ok:

A gathering aura is a radius that allows units to gather within it. A <DropSite> is a building that casts this gathering radius. Like in AOE3, there is no resource shuffling.

As an addendum to Jason's post, I believe we decided that:

- Hunting could occur throughout the map, without auras. This is so a player could "poach" an enemy's herd of deer.

- If the Mill's gathering aura bled into an adjacent territory that you don't own, you can still gathering within it. This allows you to "leech" resources from an adjacent territory.

- Fields and Corrals must be built within the aura of a Farmstead or Civ Centre.

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More resource notes. One thing that I haven't seen a design for is the UI: how does a player know when/where they need to build more dropsites? E.g. when you tell a unit to gather some trees that are out of range, what happens? (Error message? Pick the nearest in-range trees? Shade the out-of-range trees in red and/or display range circles around dropsites, when selecting a gatherer and moving the mouse over resources; or display nothing, or something else? What if there's too many gatherers for a given dropsite? What should gatherers do when their dropsite is destroyed? etc)

Reimplementing the Hotkey system
I think I can fix that fairly easily - most of it can stay the same, it just needs to interact properly with GUI pages and scripts. (Should be able to start that tonight.)

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Some of your questions, Philip, seem rather intuitive to me and are easy to answer. When hover over resources out of range, then the cursor changes to the appropriate gathering cursor, but with a red "no smoking" symbol over it. Try to task them and you hear a simple, "ang!" sound. Also, clicking a drop site should give you a visual representation of the aura. When a dropsite is destroyed (and the gathering units are not within the radius of another dropsite), then they would go to idle. I don't know what you mean by "too many gatherers" for a given dropsite though. I really hope we don't use Rise of Nations' system with "slots." It should be fairly free and unencumbered. No slots.

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- Not sure what you mean by the style, since the the in-game GUI already has a settings dialog. I thought this would be the persistent options screen in the main menu which would mean that it should match the menu style and not the in-game style.

Well, preferably there should only be one config/settings dialog. What I mean is that the style should be more in accordance with the new in-game GUI than the old "yellow" one, i.e. the darker buttons rather than the lighter ones etc. Where to draw the lines between what's a style and what's not is something we've discussed before though :ok:

It should be fairly free and unencumbered. No slots.

Agreed, no limits. If we'd use unlimited resources like EE2 and others do, then slots/limits to the number of gatherers would make sense, but as long as the resources are finite there should be no reason to have those.

I think Alpha 3 is going to be primarily a clean-up release, in that getting rid of some of these old annoying issues or systems that have not been touched in awhile but maybe need some of the cob-webs cleaned out; but as well as adding some new stuff. Obviously this could change if feneur wants it to

Nah, the focus should be on clean-up, big-fixing and that kind of things. Gameplay improvements/new features shouldn't be avoided altogether as it's hard to write up a nice release announcement with just bug-fixes :) , they should definitely not be the main point though.

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I agree that "gameplay" per se doesn't need to be a focus in the next release. It can clean-house, sweep away the bugs, and add some much needed features like an Option Menu. A better looking Loading screen would be mostly a UI and Art dept thing rather than "gameplay." The only significant gameplay things I'd like to see would be the gathering auras. I can even give the impression that we're releasing more gameplay stuff than we really are by releasing another faction. All it takes is to move the assets from the Internal to Public mods. That alone would make some end-users happy.

EDIT: EDIT2: Nixed "control groups" suggestion.

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I'm following this project around 2008(not sure though) and haven't checked for a while that you already released Alpha 2 so I didn't know how you're going to implement things.

But I suggest that the AI scripting module is separate from the game for easier AI development and more people will might contribute.

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Moving a faction from internal to public sounds very sexy from a promotional point of view :ok:

What about a wallsystem ? Like in Age of mythology? any chance for that to happen in Alpha 3 or 4 ?

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Walls are complex. We're not sure when we'll even begin to work on those. Plus, we have a couple of competing ideas of how walls should/could work. I even think there is room for both implementations, actually.

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