Its been awhile since my last update, but that doesn't mean I haven't been hard at work fixing up A22. While I haven't gotten much done gameplay-wise, I've really taken a chunk out of the menu system, and a few underlying things that you guys will appreciate, so read on......
As I said before, not much has been getting done on the gameplay front, as I have been hard at work getting all the behind the scenes stuff to mesh with the actual game. In the process, I've created quite a few handy little GUI elements, such as buttons that slide to another location when rolled over, and little toggle switches that can be set for either on or off. Unfortunately, it seems that it is rather hard for someone who doesn't already know where the GUI elements are, to interact with them, as all the text is the bright HUD green. Fortunately, we were able to solve this by making interact-able(?) items have a slight "glow" to them. The slight pulsating seems to sub-conciously let the player know to click that object. Anyways, the menus are coming along quite nicely, and hopefully they'll be done soon and I can go on to the fun stuff!
This is a nice little touch that allows the player to choose to either restart a mission from scratch or quit the mission completely, instead of having to remember what key does what. Its a little touch, but I think it adds alot to the "completeness" of the game. (NOTE: Mark has yet to touch this menu, so please forgive my sub-par art[wink])
I was catching up on my favorite journals the other day, and I happened upon a post by HopeDagger, in which he showed off his options menu, complete with a bunch of performance options for those not blessed with fast machines. Well, with Hope's entry as my model, I set out to try and allow people to turn off the unneccessary visual niceties that sap the framerate out of the game. I determined that one of the main sources of slowdown in the game is when a bunch of particle emitters are on the screen at one time. By creating a "tons-o-particles" option, the player can choose to either let the particles fly, or have their intensity toned down a bit, and it results in quite a big performance boost when lots of stuff is onscreen, but it makes the flames just a little bit underwhelming. Another large sapper of FPS is, believe it or not, the clouds. Yes, those huge 256x256 puffs of texture actually suck up alot of FPS because they are alphablended, which kills the framerate when alot of them are onscreen, so I added an alphablending option that allows the player to turn off the blending on the clouds and other large objects. Yet another performance boost is actually related to the particle one, and it is flamable trees. Since trees and bushes are the easiest thing in the game to set on fire, a large number of them can be ignited really quickly, which results in, you guessed it, an assload of particle emitters on screen at one time! So I added a "flamable foliage" option, that turns on and off the tree's ability to catch fire. Other options also populate the options menu, such as subtitles, and music volume.
Here's a screeny of how the options menu looks as of 10 minutes ago (Note the awesome looking on/off buttons (Marks handywork), and my shitty "Slider" texture, "BACK", and "SAVE" buttons. Don't worry though, he'll fix 'em sooner or later....)
Before about a day ago, whenever you selected what level you wanted to play, the game automatically jumped into it, and you immediatly began playing, which made the game feel quite jittery and rushed. Now, whenever you select the mission and click "FLY", the screen fades to black, and the missions "official" name is shown, along with a "subtitle", which can be used to add background to the mission, for example, you could have a mission title that looks like this:
"The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades"
....Well, I'm sure you guys can come up with something better, but I think that illustrates what I'm getting at. Anyways, after showing that for about 2 seconds, the screen slowing fades into the game itself, which, after it has completely faded in, unpauses, and you begin playing, fun stuff......
I couldn't believe I didn't have a config file sitting around for the game, and now that I have actual settings to remember, I whipped one up, so the game can now save its settings, preventing the player from having to reset it everytime they want to play. Just another little touch.......
I must say, I'm quite impressed with alot of the stuff going on in journal land these days. I would single you guys out individually for all the kickass stuff I'm seeing, but HopeDagger already tried that, and I'm sure that I too would forget someone, and incur the wrath of the frowning emoticon, so I'll just say that there are quite a few journals that I've been watching at with great anticipation for what comes next, and I haven't been disappointed yet.....
Well, thats all I've got for now, Mark and I start having a computer class together tomorrow, so hopefully we'll be getting more stuff done now. I'll try and have such a huge lag time between entries from now on, I've just been so busy with stuff that I find myself asleep before I finish writing one of these entries. Anyways, I'll talk to you guys later, Peace Out!