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Game Play Question

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I normally wouldn't make an entry without a screenshot, but for reading week I'm up north on a rather crappy computer and I can't compile Escalation. I'm still working on it though and should have plenty of fancy screenshots ready next week.

Anyway the reason for this entry is that I have a question for everyone. Basically since the view in Escalation is top-down, but the map format allows for areas to big huge, possibly spanning multiple "screens", should I allow monsters to fire on the player even if they can't be seen? If the answer was no, then I suppose the player should only be able to fire at monsters on screen as well.

Right now I'm leaning toward "no", because if a bunch of projectiles where to just appear on-screen it could still be impossible to tell where the source is due to distance and if the monster has moved.

As usual, any input is appreciated.

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I'd say try it both ways before making a decision. Having monsters that are unseen fire on the player isn't such an unusual concept, in FPSs they do it all the time, ie monsters that are behind you, that are above you etc. If the monster can see the player, then the player should also be able to see the monster, provided that they are facing the right direction.

Maybe you could try zooming in and out based on the players LOS, ie when the player has a long, clear LOS in the direction that they're facing then you zoom the viewport right out (for top down, moving the camera "up") so that they can see everything that they'd be able to if it was first person, when the player only has a short LOS then you zoom in.

Think about how the early top down Grand Theft Auto games did something similar to allow you to see far enough ahead to drive. The difference here is that it's based on LOS rather than the speed which the player is travelling at as in GTA.

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LOS doesn't play much of a part of my game though, at least not for the player. Since the player is in the middle of the screen, turning around doesn't actually change any of the visible area. Also unlike an FPS, everything that's onscreen is rendered regardless of the players angle. It would be somewhat cruel to place the player into a large area filled with monsters and not only not able to see what they're hit with, but also not know where to go. It's easier in the first person to just look around for a door.

I will be implementing the zoom feature though. However I'll have to cap it since levels could be huge and I don't want the players framerate dipping below 60.

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I believe there should be a small buffer zone where if a monster is within like X units of the current field of view they should be allowed to attack. I mean if the monster is just about to appear on the screen it should probably be attacking already. It would make the world feel a little bit more alive I believe.

Other than that, my main mantra I would follow would be, "If you can't see them, they can't see you." :)

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I guess a zoom feature is going to compound the problem further, since if a monster only shoots when on screen, you could stop an active monster from firing at you just by zooming in the camera so it goes off screen.

It's a tricky one. I'm posting more to sympathise than to offer a solution [smile].

[EDIT] What about if an enemy does not become active until the first time it appears on the screen, then remains active thereafter regardless of whether it can be seen or not? Don't know if that would work, but at least the player would then have some idea of where projectiles were originating, and it would solve the problem of enemies stopping firing when they were zoomed out of shot or the player ran away.

I've implemented a similar system with far simpler 2D scrollers in the past and it always seemed to feel quite intuitive.

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@Iced_Eagle: Yeah already implemented :) Although it had more to do with monsters appearing even if half of them was already on screen. It looked like they just appeared out of nowhere.

@EasilyConfused: Well monsters are always active but they can only chase and shoot at the player after they've spotted him. With the current system if a monster where to start its attack state but the player zoomed in, the attack would continue. However the monster could not attack again until in the buffer zone, but it would still chase the player.

While the player could just zoom out to see the monsters, the monsters also gain the same advantage.

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One of the problems with Glow was indeed that offscreen monsters could fire at the player. I worked out no proper way to get around this. [crying]

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