Category Archives: AutoFire

Snowmageddon and ‘splosions

Seattle was pretty well snowed in for the last 4-ish days, so I was hoping for a long weekend to work on the game (between back-breaking bouts of shoveling). Welp. I got it, but did I end up with a ton of progress? Well, I got some new points of interest in on the maps, improved the roads, threw exploding cars based on attack angle and its velocity and some other fun things…

Unfortunately, I ended up battling stale pointers and strange issues for most of the time. Ugh. A more robust system that doesn’t poop out exceptions every blue moon is good, but I am sooooooo ready to get back to the fun stuff.

But on the upside, I was able to cap off the weekend fixes with a stress test… 🙂

Tiles, tiles and Tools

I was just thinking about the challenges of generating a city map for Auto Fire and realized that I’ve accomplished a whole lot and haven’t really discussed it in a long while.

City layout workspace

Really early on in development I created some tools to generate block templates that get placed during map generation. This allows me to work with actual crafted sections of map (with variant buildings and other things that can be adjusted after the template is laid down). It’s more or less a requirement for cities since the classic “cave-style” procgen or even dungeon layout techniques don’t work as well as I’d like.

I create template patch objects that have a bunch of data attached to them such as exit points (for cities) as well as a variety of variable bits like spots for random decor and building styles (depending on the generation profile I’m using).

The block data that I save out actually even supports 9-slice scaling, so I can declare borders to be of a fixed size, but the center to be a repeating tile section that can be any size. It’s really useful in some situations like when I want a long crafted section of wall, or a large 4-lane boulevard on a city map.

For cities, however, I actually work mostly in blocks that are 4×4 in size, with street connectors that are 1, 2 or 4-lanes in size. If I want to make a larger block such as 4×8 or 12×16 I can do that as well. Getting the whole system to rotate blocks properly was probably the hardest part (you can see in the build right now that I have a few multi-tile objects that don’t yet collide properly… my work is never done).

I’ve got several workspace maps that I use to create these blocks of content (desert outpost, city, overworld, etc), and it’s a scalable system that could support a whole ton of layouts. When I say “damn I gotta work on content”, making 10x the tile variations and cities with specific flavors are ways that I could take advantage of the systems I’ve created.

Anyway, this approach isn’t particularly new but it works great for my needs… It deserves a more crunchy article dedicated to it, but it’ll have to go on the to-do list for sometime in the future. For now, hope the peek at the approach was a little interesting.

Auto Fire – Version 0.5.7

Some smaller updates to Auto Fire today… But since a good friend put the game through its paces on his stream, I discovered a number of bugs that I wanted to squash but quick:

Watch TANGLEDEEP PASSED LOTCHECK let’s play games from PlayDungeonmans on www.twitch.tv

Visuals/Fluff

  • All menus use standardized buttons and fonts now
  • Music for the garage
  • Screen darkens behind popups, drawing your attention to the UI when necessary
  • Adjusted the vehicle view in the UI to reduce visual noise.

Bugs

  • All cars now have everything socketable and swappable.  Locking equipment slots with fixed components is a feature, but not something I wanted to lay onto players at this early stage.
  • The equip popup now has a functional scrollbar, so you can use whatever you pick up.
  • Fixed hover information getting stuck if you exited the menu from the inventory screen
  • Fixed boss taunt popup issue

As always, it’s free right now, so go check it out on Itch!

Auto Fire Update: v0.5.6

Some new Auto Fire coming in! Check out what’s new:

New Equipment:

  • Mines: When anybody (including you!) moves adjacent to one, it arms and then explodes 1 second later. Be careful!
  • Oil Slick: Lay down a strip of this, and any cars that hit this immediately lose their grip… perfect for tight quarters like the city.
  • Flaming Oil:  Leave behind a trail of flaming death. Sets whatever enters it on fire.
  • Wide Smokescreen: Create a whole volume of smoke, 3 across

Gameplay:

  • The player can choose one of three cars at start with different weapon and equipment loadouts:
    • The Stallion has 3 Junkthrowers, a smokescreen and an oil slick. Good starter vehicle if you’re just getting familiar with the firing arcs
    • The Panther puts 2 Bolt Rifles, one front and back, as well as a minedropper and smokescreen. Its longer range makes for stronger hit, but you’ll need to pay a bit more attention to your facing.
    • The Cricket is small but has a short-range machinegun on its front. It also can spray flaming oil behind it. Good vehicle if you wish to stay mobile.
  • Things can now be set on fire, for continuing DOT. Right now just hooked to the Flaming Oil, although other weapons including the flamer will definitely be dealing this out.
  • There are now two sizes of cities… There’s a medium-sized 64×64 city, and the old huge 100×100 city (which is much rarer). The appearance of the smaller city in the overworld map is different.
  • The default boss is far less overpowered now. Sorry ’bout that!

User Interface:

  • Automap icons for exits and garages
  • Title screen popup allows player to enter name and choose starting vehicle.
  • Health and armor UI over various enemies only appear when that component is damaged… reduces UI spam overall.
  • Took a unifying pass on my amateur-hour HUD, so that everything has a more consistent look. Thanks to my developer friends for the feedback!
  • The vehicle display is now unified with weapons and armor in a single location.
  • Weapon names now pop up on the vehicle display so you are clear what weapon (and what side) you’re firing.
  • Updated icons for some equipment
  • Status icons are larger and more attention-grabbing.

Audio:

  • New sounds for rockets, flamers, and cannons.
  • Stingers and music now doesn’t start until a map is fully loaded.
  • Ram and explosion sounds are replaced with less terrible ones.
  • Vehicle acceleration (and visual effects) only play when speed is actually gained, rather than when you press forward (so it adjusts to “coasting” once you hit max speed).

Visuals:

  • Rockets have new effects and sound
  • Car body shakes when moving at high speed, camera shakes less.
  • Overworld cars now visually swerve and arc like the cars in tactical maps.
  • The borders on terrain maps look a hair better.

Bugs:

  • Fixed some elements of map generations on height-mapped terrain (although there still is a bug in there).
  • The Homestead and Walled City (both of which were ugly temp maps with very little functionality) cannot be entered. Will be replacing them soon. They are marked as not being able to be entered in the overworld.
  • The Boss site in the city (which announced, temporarily and rather cheesily, “Here Comes the Boss”) no longer can be seen. It was intended to be a marker for system use, not player facing.

I’m starting to enhance the equipment now, and am looking forward to new usable items and updating the inventory for its use. The future is bright!

New Auto Fire Update – version 0.5.5!

Another update to Auto Fire has come down the pike! A lot has happened in the last couple of months, so it’s great to get a build out…  

Thanks to Itch.io for providing the app and the Butler tool so I can more easily post patches in the future.  It’s like Steam for the rest of us. 🙂 Checking out Perforce and my Trello, here are some things that went down:

  • Added an automap so you can see where the hell you’re going.  You can bring it up with the [Q] key.
  • Added a faction system.  Each sector has a generated gang that rules it, and a boss that controls each combat zone.  Defeating the boss clears the zone.
  • Boss arc now includes escalations that spur the bosses to taunt their forces and you with procedurally-generated shouts.
  • The quest system had some work done on it.  Now the player is automatically assigned a quest to take out bosses of places they conquer.
  • You can check out the current quests in the Character menu, by pressing [Tab]
  • Quest completion now has a dialog box and some information on the results.
  • The encounter dialog has a new layout, and it shouldn’t justify its text strangely anymore.
  • The Shotgun soldiers are much less deadly than they were.
  • Unity 2018.3 update, which should improve terrain performance a bit.
  • Some of the road decals had dreadful performance, so exterior spaces run a bit better now as a result.
  • Toying around with a little bit more of an intro on the title screen. 

Visuals:

  • I’m trying an outline shader on all gameplay objects to help them pop from the background.
  • Pulled up and adjusted the lighting to mellow some of the hard shadows that was creating visual noise.  Terrain  is a fair amount brighter now.
  • The garage looks a bit less out of place now.  Still work to consolidate the colors.
  • Difficulty now represented with bullets.
  • Time slows when you die.

Bugs fixed:

  • Armor sides weren’t appearing on the vehicle with the proper direction.
  • Multiple Line of Sight fixes.  You should not be able to be hit through obstructions now.  Fog uncovering on the map, the fire arc grid, and actual combat should all reliable return the same LOS results.
  • The player was able to exploit a bug that allowed them to use any side weapon against enemies in any direction.  Fixed.
  • Removed some visual stray VFX sprites on the scouts.
  • The (correct) car model appears again on the inventory and garage menus.
  • Exploding barrels had stopped harming things.  Fixed now.
  • Vehicle models now have manufacturer logo in info.

Check out version 0.5.5 here:

Download it from Itch.io!

Content Flow

Not a lot of talk coming from me lately, but Auto Fire is coming along as always.  I’ve been trying to bind all these systems I’ve created into some structure that pulls the player through the game more effectively.  Driving around and blowing things up is great, but there’s no goal yet.

I’ve been working on a faction system that allows various groups to occupy each location and sector on the map.  These factions have unique names and a variety of bosses under their employ, and each owns a location.  Various types have different types of bosses and relationships with other factions, etc etc.

On the upside, I was able to mess around with some more procedural generation and come up with boss names and even randomly-generated quotes.

In addition, I realized that I was going to hate playing through progression without having an automap, so I set down to work on that last night……..

It took all of two hours.

Dammit, I should have done this a year ago.

I owe everyone a build, and I’m hoping that a real content flow will warrant that.

Auto Fire Update v0.5.01

I had a bit of a weird week because I was coming off the RoguelikeCel, but after the feedback I got I knew just what to focus on for this new update.

Get Auto Fire v0.5.01 on Itch.io

Enemy Cars

  • Enemy cars can shoot again!
    • Yeah sooooo I recently added some infrastructure so that player vehicles can have unique loadouts that are independent of the model of car itself.  …annnnd while I got it all working for player vehicles, I broke the ability of enemy cars to have their own weapon loadouts too.  So they didn’t actually have any weapons mounted. 😛  Fixed!

Health Bar

  • The existing health post attached to vehicles in the world was straight up and down, and hence blocking the view of important info such as the state of the front weapon, or your speed when reversing.  The style of the health bar is now adjusted to be a bit less disruptive.

Speed UI

  • The speed indicator was pretty rough, hard to see, and clunky to look at.  A few things were done to improve this:
    • Smoothed out the speed indicator angle so it rotates more gracefully.
    • Improved the speed chevrons (both the green and red) to be more visible.
    • Added grip indicator for the player on top of the speed indicator, for the player car only.
    • Speed arrows and grip indicator grow in a more visually pleasing way.

Skidding functionality

  • So the previous model of vehicle skidding either gave you complete control or zero control.  It never felt good since people’s instinct is to push against a skid in various ways to try to influence it.
  • I wanted skidding to be fun and also kind of do what you expect.  So, it got a heavy overhaul:
    • The speed indicator now has a display of “hazard levels” beyond the speed itself.  A broken chevron means that you are skidding more out of control.
    • The “hazard skid” levels supplement the standard “grip down to zero with a red speed indicator” style of skidding.
    • If you have a hazard skid, you can turn but can’t influence your movement.
    • If you are skidding but do not have any hazard skid levels, you can influence your movement by 45 degrees by accelerating to the side.  Thus a skidding vehicle can still trace wider arcs.
    • You can accelerate or decelerate your skid by pushing towards or away from the direction of skid.
    • Skidding and grip now recharges more reliably based on whether you are facing in the direction of the skid.

So that’s it for now.  I’m adding a little more info on the Itch page about the systems that Auto Fire (in its current state) will support for now.  Someone asked for a 32-bit version, although I’m not sure I’d recommend older machines until I slim down some of my meshes.  In the future I’ll put more work into optimization and alternate OS’es like Linux.

Roguelike Celebration 2018

This past weekend I attended the Roguelike Celebration, which I had heard was more of a fan gathering as compared to the developer-focused IRDC…  Still, it’s a pretty cheap flight down to SF so I decided to attend based on the recommendation of friends.  We thought it would be a good place to show off Auto Fire and gather good feedback from people that are dedicated to the genre.

What I wasn’t prepared for was that it was the single best developer’s conference I’ve ever attended, whether that was the focus or not.  Informative, entertaining, comfortable, stylish, professional… It was filled with some legendary creators and you’d be hard pressed to find even a shred of ego anywhere. Nothing but mutual respect and support, wall to wall.

These people were accessible and open.  They were humble and eager to learn themselves.  They shared openly.  Everyone was positive, whether we were discussing a text-based passion project with the classic @ for the player, or a high-falutin’ mass-market-friendly game using roguelike principles.  (Which is good, because I’m aiming slightly for the latter, although I want to stop short of making a “Roguelite”).

There was talk after talk after talk, and most of the presentations were pretty relevant to general game creation beyond Roguelikes.  In particular, Roguelike developers are intensely focused on two things…

The first is (of course) procedural generation.  This includes not just map generation, but encounter/trap creation, procedural storytelling, god/pantheon/myth/food/whatever generation, and so on.  What started as a passion for building noodly dungeon spaces has turned into a community dedicated to crafting entire universes through intensely clever processes.

The second is creating a flexible game architecture that allows for nearly infinite rule expansion.  A trademark of Roguelikes is that the creators just add on feature after feature for years and years, which lead to so many interconnected systems that have to elegantly support (for example) the player getting polymorphed into some new form that has extra arms, which allows you to wield more weapons, or being able to animate any world object including bookcases and walls, then charming them to becoming your faithful pets.

The approach for solving this issue mostly shakes out to a couple core philosophies, but the humility, willingness to learn, and eagerness to share was pretty amazing from these creators…  young or old, aspiring or legendary.

You can find the videos posted here.  Check ’em out.

At the end of the first day, they set us up in GitHub’s phenomenal common area with drinks and food and let whomever set up whatever they were working on and showing it off.  I had a potato-level laptop that barely ran Auto Fire at 2 FPS, but a fantastic soul named Jaxon (whose last name I unfortunately never discovered) was amazingly cool enough to let me use his super-baller laptop for the night.  Jim spectacularly scrounged up a giant TV and we were able to show it at around 100 fps x 55 inches.

It was a blast and tremendously inspiring to he feedback was awesome.  I got some really good comments on the game and came back with a big list of what sorts of things I wanted to take care of.

I am working on the skid model most of all. I just showed it at the Roguelike Celebration conference and got a lot of good feedback. I want players to be keenly aware of how close they are to skidding out, and to be able to better influence their skids once the tires break loose. I think a combination of feedback and control tweaks will help that.

I am eager to push into more content so that I get more of a game loop, but UI and feedback will be visited up front.  I want to get another update out before I head to Wisconsin next week.