There has been a solid amount of progress on Auto Fire in the last month, though not everything has been visible.
There’s a condition system now, where entities can be stunned, set on fire, made to skid, be blind, etc, and that will last a fixed number of turns before automatically removing themselves. Nothing super fancy, but it allowed me to do stuff like cause a vehicle to spin out when it hits an oil slick.
It also allowed me to give the player’s radar more functionality, because it now “paints” targets within a specific radius for a set amount of time. Ideally the player should be able to build up sustained fire on a single opponent, or race through a group (at high speed to avoid being shot) and hit everyone with a radar ping before swinging around and taking advantage of the higher hit rate (and eventually critical hits spurred by this).
There is a new icon system above vehicles to show their current conditions, which hopefully will teach players more about the advantages of speed and choosing targets.
I did a bit of work on weapon resolution to clean up some weirdness, as well as allow for effective area effects over various volumes. I can have weapons with blast radius at impact, cone effects, lines, and more. This gave me some vastly improved versions of scatterguns, flamers, and so on.
I also switched over my missiles to LeanTween (a great Unity package that’s freeeee, although the Editor that goes with is worth throwing a few bucks at) so that I could use more sophisticated arcs (splines, eases, etc) for the projectile travel. This gave me some great drunk missiles and so on.
A somewhat smaller bit of work but vastly important was looking into problems I was starting to see in my city layout.
A couple of years ago I put multiple months into a city generation method that took pre-crafted blocks and spliced them together, street-to-street, with props and so on. It worked pretty well… However, lately the cities seemed to have wayyyy too many skinny alleyways and dead-ends, even though I remember putting a fair amount of effort into reducing these.
Worse yet, I’d started to see some passability issues and unplayable maps, which I know I did checks for. Ugh. I love dusty Mad Max wastes, but the cities are just as important a part of the game and they weren’t fun.
I spent some time trying to re-learn what the hell the 2016 version of me had made. For a little bit I thought 2016 me was a bit of an idiot… but it turns out he was somewhat clever. It was 2018 me who introduced a number of bugs that caused loops to no longer form… that guy was a jerk. Specifically I had some code that overlaid roads over previously populated obstructions to create extra loops, and those no longer overlaid properly. In addition, my passability checks were not properly busting holes through the buildings and obstructions when needed.
I added a bit more two-lane roads and discouraged alleys from forming very often. In addition, I added some new block types to my definition that had fewer buildings, so some extra open spaces could be formed. I can pretty much make an infinite number of city block components, so I’ll keep adding ones that give some more driving freedom.
Anyway, I hope to have a new version out this weekend, it’s been too long. Wish me luck!
Been working on creating some better combat mechanics and options for Auto Fire lately. One of the factors I was working on was tangibly having hit chance be affected by tactical choices such as “painting” a target with radar for more accuracy, or on the other side moving faster to avoid getting hit. I got those systems in but it didn’t really seem to matter.
I had to seriously think of how I’m dealing with accuracy, range and speed. My initial version of the combat system in Auto Fire was inspired by the system in Diablo II. It used this sort of calculation:
Chance =200% * AttackRating /
(AttackRating + DefenseRating)
Consider AttackRating to include things like gunnery skill, weapon accuracy, and other targeting bonuses. DefenseRating in contrast is stuff like range, target speed, and target size.
Multiplying the value by 200% gives the player 100% hit chance whenever the Attack Rating is more than 50% the Defense Rating… So in the average case the player is guaranteed a hit. This was the system I used in X-Men Legends, and it feels pretty good in an action game where you are directly controlling your character and only want to have misses when your opponent clearly outclasses you.
The problem with this method is that the chance to hit tapers off because it never reaches zero… Thus, I was finding that there’s only a small sweet spot where hit bonuses mattered between 100% chance and maybe 60% chance.
I do put a minimum hit chance of 10% just so it’s not worthless to attack, and I’m not sure what increasing the miss chance is going to do to the feel of the game.
I have a mechanic where excess above 100% is used as a critical chance (That is, 130% chance is an automatic hit with a 30% crit chance). I might consider doing the same on the bttom so a “miss” is a glancing blow that still does a little damage, progressing to a real miss based on the percentage. (For example, -30% is a 30% chance of a real miss and a 70% chance of a glancing blow).
I’m wrapping that back into weaponry definitions and looping back around to where I can try the new system in the wild. From there we’ll see what happens.
I’ve had a pretty busy last month (and some weather drama), but luckily I did get some meaty things done on Auto Fire.
Many people have lamented that it is difficult to control Auto Fire because the “forward” key also accelerates. Responding to feedback, the new controls are thus: If you press forward, your speed is capped at 40 MPH (that is, 2 actions per second). This way you can manage most maneuvers without crashing into everything around you (previously a popular activity in urban areas).
Speed is still king however, especially out in the badlands! A separate Boost key is used to accelerate beyond 40, up to your vehicle maximum.
A citadel is a civilized city where you can take a break, get repairs, and buy/sell items. Eventually different citadels will have their own specific functions, depending on which corporation owns it.
The cool thing is that you can now load up courier missions at a loading dock, giving you a non-combat way to earn more cash.
Gaw’bless Unity. It took like a half hour to put ragdolls on the soldiers.
I’ve also got some transition improvements, added new features in the overworld and improved the entrance/exit of areas.
We now save out fog of war between maps. (Whew that was annoying).
Quests work better! They’re improving all the time… but in this case I needed to create a quest on the fly when the player had to deliver cargo. This way I can use all the quest features like lists of rewards, player tracking, unique generated descriptions, and hooking into triggers such as arriving at a destination and showing quest markers.
Some significant bugs were also dealt with… I had previously been very diligent about properly and safely deleting entities, so that I wasn’t deleting them from a list I was parsing through. Unfortunately I wasn’t doing so when adding entities to the list. Thus C# was complaining at me nonstop, and it was nice to deal with that.
I also had a few remaining Entity pointers that I was saving across frames, which was not safe. I had changed everything over to a unique token method of tracking entities, but I had missed a few things previously. Again, good to get that out of the way and run some stress tests!
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… 🙂
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.
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.
Some new Auto Fire coming in! Check out what’s new:
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
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!
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.
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).
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.
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!