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Space combat prototype - debriefing Part I

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As you've probably noticed, i haven't posted a lot of development updates recently - and there's a good reason for it: the release of the Infinity Combat prototype. For the first time since two weeks, i finally have an hour to spare, which i decided to spend writing this report: a "debriefing" of everything that happened during the past weeks.

The development of the combat prototype has been, to say the least, chaotic. It all started with a few criticisms that i saw on the web here and there, saying that i was purely concentrating on the technical aspects of the game, but not the gameplay. Of course, that is partially true, but i had already done a bit of work on gameplay-related areas, such as the physics, the generation of the universe, etc.. But in early March, i had an idea: to make a new prototype, not a technical one this time, but that would concentrate on a gameplay-specific area ( combat )... and this prototype would end up in a fully playable game ( although not as deep as a full game ), that anybody could download and test.

The goal in this prototype was triple:

- to test the early gameplay mechanics, especially the combat side.
- to test the controls, physics, collisions, and network protocol, and to fix bugs in those.
- to monitor performance and stress test the server in actual "real world" conditions and internet latencies. Of course, i'm not speaking of running a true MMO here; but how could i run an MMO if i already had performance problems hosting a small arena-based game hosting 20-30 players ?

Another thing that i thought would be useful would be, as a motivation boost to everybody ( me, but also the other developers and contributors ), to have deadlines. Now, i didn't want to be too strict about deadlines, but having a goal certainly helped.

Initially, i had planned to develop this prototype over a period of around a month. Development started in March, and was supposed to end in early April. Of course it didn't work out that well.. i didn't take into account various "external" delays, such as:

- the release of a new version of ASEToBin for modelers to be able to work ( a bit less than a week lost )
- me being sick for a week
- the release of Oblivion ( one week and a half lost ! ).. arg
- the PCGamer interview ( a bit less than a week lost )
- a technical demo for various interested companies ( one week delay again )
- the Minas Tirith project deadlines ( one week and a half )

In the end, i released the first "public" version, which i called 0.2, on Sunday 7 May.

The prototype was supposed to be opened "progressively", starting with 4 players to test the network, and up to 10-16 players after the first bugs ( note that those weren't unexpected, and indeed were present ! ) after a couple hours.

I certainly didn't expect 60 people to show up in IRC, all screaming to play...

To be continued in Part II: madness a few hours before launch.


Video of the latest release (0.3) from yesterday, Divx4 + MP3, 67 MB

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All I can say is wow. Increadible work you're doing here my friend. Keep it up, everything looks like it's progressing very well!

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Looks fantastic.

Very very impressive. Although I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that. Nor to tell you this either, but keep up the good work!

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Yeah.. and this week i will work a bit more on the graphical part. Adding new effects, particles, explosions, lasers, etc..

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SICK! =D It's exciting to see some actual gameplay, even on a smaller scale. For a prototype, it's pretty polished. I'm surprised that it's reached this level in such a short time!

Any way we can see a "follow mode" of the player in a vid cap? It's pretty hard to see what the players are doing from a distance third-person perspective. Watching them take down the larger ship was pretty exciting. Showing what the player is actually doing in a moment like that would cause the sportage of much wood. =b

- Jay

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Very cool!

I'm curious on what method you are using for tracking positions over a large scale without losing precision?

Are the players limited to a zone? Are you using doubles for position info, or some type of sector + offset algorithm?

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I'm curious on what method you are using for tracking positions over a large scale without losing precision?

A while back ysaneya said the planets use doubles for positions, then subtract from camera position to yield floats for rendering. Don't know if he is using that for the combat prototype (though no reason not to).

Wonderful work Ysaneya, hopefully this will kill the cries of "Vapourware!".

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