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The Second Hard Part

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One of the biggest sticking points for me so far has been the user interface. I have a million ideas, and trying to narrow them down has been difficult. In particular, how will the player character interact with the game world?

A lot of this will be menu-driven; trading, talking, inventory, and the like. But the character must move through the world, and this action must be both intuitive and aesthetically pleasing. So what to do?

I do not have a lot of time to crunch scores of graphics, so I think an isometric game is out. Something top-down (a la Gauntlet) would be ideal, because I could have one sprite which I continually rotate. Flash 8 allows things like drop shadows to be dynamically generated, so the lighting could remain fairly realistic.

However, I have recently become aware of something called "Raycasting", which may allow me to have something like a first-person view for the world-travel part of the game, and possibly also for random encounters and combat. I found an example done in Flash 8 (the link to which I seem to have misplaced) which includes the source file, which I am in the proces of tearing down, prior to re-building it to suit my needs. One of the things I want to change about his engine is the fact that it doesn't really allow for variations in the terrain, other than simple color.

A few months ago I put together a Flash 8 height map (color-substitution version here), which I may cannibalize in order to add genuine terrain varation to the raycasting engine. Time will tell if this actually works.

So there it is: The two most technically challenging parts of the game - the other being the Miersenne Twister - are already well underway. In a couple of more weeks I may be able to post a screenshot, or maybe even a rough demo version.
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Raycasting is not difficult, but the art requirements for billboarded sprites are somewhat more costly unless you cheat like the SNES version of Wolfenstein and only include the "facing front" pose and have all characters point at the player. [grin]

I've never seen heightmapped terrain in use in a raycasting engine; I suspect it's not impossible but just very difficult. For this kind of application I would write a software voxel engine instead.

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Right now I am planning on making all of the screens which require interaction with an NPC static. Combat will be turn-based, much like the early Final Fantasy or Bard's Tale games.

Given the way Flash renders movieclips and bitmap data, I think adding terrain height will not be too difficult. I just need to get the rendering order correct, back to front.

I dunno. Depending on where I am in the development of this thing, say in the beginning of October, I might look in to having multi-angle sprites.

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