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Blog Entries posted by jacobus

  1. jacobus
    I released an early (too early from some of the reviews) version of this game around six months ago. Since then a lot of things have changed – more of the game runs in the VB allowing for much smoother animations and responsiveness. If a mob is hit with a non-lethal attack (happens more in later levels) they will get knocked back in order to provide some visual feedback to the player. The player’s weapon is shown, and in many cases a muzzle flash accompanies each firing of the weapon, the grenade explosion looks better and very importantly the end of level calculations are much improved allowing for a logical progression between levels. From a playability point of view the most important change is likely that the player’s character now automatically aligns itself to the underlying character grid – this means that the weapons now have a much higher chance of hitting the mob you think you’re aiming at.

    ZA is a bit of a departure from my usual techniques of having pre-defined maps and offloading as much of the graphics and other data as possible to the disk. Despite having everything onboard in a single executable, I still have a fair bit of memory left over. Procedurally generated playfields are much easier to deal with!

    Not sure what else I need to add to the game - I’m considering allowing the flame thrower to start fires in the buildings and have them slowly consumed. Although this would be a cool effect, and fun to code, I’m not sure how much it would add to the game. Perhaps I should save this for some future firefighting game … hmmmmmm
    ZA is almost ready for release – many many thanks to Stefan Both for his testing and motivational support!

    Stay tuned!
  2. jacobus
    This is a project I started (in BASIC) way back in the early 80’s and put aside for many years. I recently found the original code, and after having a good laugh decided it would be an excellent project to re-write in Quick.
    The concept is simple – you’re an 18th century farmer dropped onto a forty acre/field grant of land and you have 50 years to try to survive and if possible thrive. In the process of surviving you will have the opportunity to develop the land, raise crops and animals, build the necessary infrastructure, weather disasters, and if you’re both lucky and smart - build some wealth.
    This game is intended to be a simulation and thereby has some relation to reality. It is not intended to be easy or even fair. Farming is a difficult proposition nowadays and a few hundred years ago it was too often an extremely labour intensive path to starvation. The game tries to mimic some of those former realities and provide a challenging experience.
    Warning - it will take a long time to play. Currently each year takes approximately 30 minutes of real time – so for a successful game you’re looking at an investment of 25 hours or more. I only recently sped things up from the 1 hour real time to 1 year of game time ratio I had set, so things could have been a lot worse! During each year of game time, there will be moments of frantic activity where you try to do many tasks in a short amount of time – such as planting and harvesting. Other times you’ll be sitting around watching things slowly develop and hoping you’ll be able to harvest enough crops before winter.
    The land will need to be closely managed – swamps drained, wells dug, fields fertilized, wood lots cut and replanted, barns and silos built, animal stocks fed, and disasters managed.
    The gameplay will consist of a graphical representation of the farm, along with an extensive menuing system to direct your actions. Crops will grow as the seasons cycle and their readiness to harvest will be clearly visible. Natural disasters such as hail, wind storms, fire, politicians, and plague will strike without warning. Winter comes and destroys any unharvested crops and tests the farmers ability to lay way sufficient food.

    The Environments
    Four types of environments are available in the game. Each have unique characteristics which should be considered carefully before developing.

    With 25 per game, Forests account for more than half of the land area. Forests contain valuable wood and although they can be easily ploughed under and planted, forests grow slowly and are vital building products.

    Grasslands are the obvious first choice for development. They can be easily ploughed under and planted. Grasslands are somewhat limited, and you will find only 10 of them in a game.

    Four swamps inhabit the landscape in your game. Each of them will need to be drained before they can be utilized. In order to drain a swamp, you will need to build a very expensive Windmill.

    A single desert exists in your game at the beginning. Deserts are fields with no water and zero fertility. In order to develop a desert you will need to dig a well and spend time spreading fertilizer. Be warned, any field that is over used and dry out and become a desert as well.

    Soil types affect how well crops develop and the risk of damage to your equipment. Soil types are:
    Swamp Too wet, you must build a windmill to drain
    Rocky Dangerous to plough – you may break your plough
    Clay Poor growing
    Sandy Poor growing
    Rich Better growing conditions
    Loam Best growing conditions
    Desert Nothing grows, must be fertilized and have a well dug
    Along with soil types, each field has a state that affects what can be done with it. These states are:
    Fallow Untouched, ready for work
    Ploughed Initial ploughing has been done, field can be planted but will not produce well
    Harrowed Field has been harrowed (must be ploughed first). Optimum condition for growing
    Planted Field has a crop planted
    Weeded Field has been weeded – improves growing conditions
    Harvest Field has been harvested, will return to fallow over the winter

  3. jacobus
    Almost ready for primetime, Imp is now mostly lacking in completed levels. I had originally planned for 10 to 12, lowered that to 8 and am finding an infinite number of distractions that prevent me from working on them. (all the levels are roughed in right now, I'm working on populating the extras - mana, barrels, arrows, etc - all the pickup stuff). Using Excel and some custom VB code makes it a lot easier, but it's still a grind having to place every object and then go back and test how things are balanced. The attached screen cap shows some walls, trees, mobs and other pickups.

    Perhaps I should plan to enter Imp in the next ABBC contest - that would give me a good deadline. Possibly a better solution would be to stop branching off onto other projects (Bruce, Warcow, Squirrel, etc).

    I have around 750 bytes free - not sure what other features the game needs - it could benefit from some more/improved sounds of course.

  4. jacobus
    Part 1
    My household's content of quivering lips and sad eyes finally reached critical mass recently and prompted the purchase of a pet. Since mom is deathly allergic to anything with fur (and the kids are too, but they'd never admit to it), we had limited choices. Fish are fine but they don't seem to to enjoy cuddling very much, and birds are too damn noisy. We finally settled on a Bearded Dragon - silent, sedate and requires little or no parental intervention. Bearded Dragons are native to Australia, and as that I have it on good
    that everyone from Australia is named either Bruce or Sheila, we named the pet Bruce.

    Part 2
    I hate platform games. Mostly (entirely) because I really suck at them. I had a planned a platform game for a long time but had not really given it much effort since I really didn't feel a connection. After watching Bruce chase after crickets a few times, I began to rethink the platformer idea. I envisioned Bruce climbing the walls in search of either lunch or escape (yes, I know Bearded Dragons cannot climb walls, they leave that sort of nonsense to gekkos, but please allow me to indulge in a little artistic license). Since the pinpoint jumping part of platformers is what really bugs me, I thought I could try something a little different. In this game, you control Bruce (who else), in his quest for dinner. The walls consist of various surfaces - some slippery, some not, some completely different. Bruce will have to navigate each room while avoiding falling to the floor. Path-finding, timing, puzzle solving and patience will be key - not impossibly accurate jumps.

    Basic control and movement are in place, I still need to do a lot more work on animation, different surfaces and map layouts. The playfield will be an 8 way scrolling map consisting of 8x6 tiles - 16 wide by 12 high. Bruce is animated with three players. In the linked video, Bruce slides down the purple bar and gets pushed up the textured tiles.

    More to come...

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