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Re-engaged and Running

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We're back with a force, with refocused effort on asset creation and a huge boost in the programming side with James Kleinecke, who has brought with him his "Firefly" game engine. James is doing great work and has integrated the Ogre 3D rendering engine into Firefly. The coders will be working on the rest of the Fountaindale requirements over the next months.

While our art team is still thin, we're making some decent progress and should be dropping our first model into the engine very soon. It's a big step for us!

We're working on finishing up modeling and texturing on the humanoid models for the first demo, then quickly from that into animation. We'd like to get some animations running in the engine as soon as possible, so that's where the asset creators are focusing their concentration.

Work continues on the character development system. The "Essence Flow" character development system, as I've dubbed it, is coming aong well. The picture I've posted here shows the entire "board," as it were, in the inset. Comparing the main graphic and the inset, you can get an idea of the sheer scale of this thing. In total, there are 565 anchor points with an average of six or seven unique "powerup nodes" per anchor point. That yields over 3,500 individual powerup nodes. That gives plenty of opportunities for players to vary the development paths for the six main player characters currently slated for the game.

The real work in the system design is putting together all of the data. Each anchor point, it's relation to other anchor points, the nodes and anchor points it contains, and the attributes of the nodes themselves (point value and powerup value) must all be created. Designing the calculations to manage the interdependencies is pretty fun, but time consuming. Lastly, and proceeding side-by-side with creation of all of that, I've had to create a system to evaluate/test all of that data. This sub-system will save loads of work in the future in the tweaking and testing phase by enabling evaluation of all of the choices the player could make. We've got to do this to 1) ensure the player is able to develop characters comparable to the battles being fought and time spent in different areas, and 2) ensure there aren't any areas a player could gain an undue advantage early on in the game ("cheating" the system). It's a blast!

None of this work will be reflected in our first demo, but some of it will be in the second (proof of concept) demo. In the code, the handling system will be fully implemented, but only a small portion of the essence flow will be available for player use...enough for players and reviewers to get an understanding of how the system works...and enough for the players to actually have fun using it.

For those interested people, an online version of the game design document is now posted at http://www.fountaindale.net/gdd Take a look if you're curious - we always appreciate feedback.

The Fountaindale Team
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