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RTS Aspects - Order Visualization System

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Here we go, this is the stuff I've been waiting to code up, and is the whole reason I'm making this game. I've spent years building up a somewhat decent environment to build this RTS game on & finally I get to code the meat and potatoes of the game :-D

The main area I've been working on these last few days is the "Order Visualization System" since it's going to be crucial that you know where your guys are, & what they are doing at all times.

Here is how movement orders & area orders [such as patrol, defend, sell drugs, etc.] are displayed -

The first image shows the raw movement waypoints, the 2nd image shows the results after doing a Catmull-Rom interpolation to smooth them out. The images at the bottom show how circular orders are represented, also area orders with arbitrary dimensions.

When you give an order to a gangster(s) a icon is placed in the game world. You'll be able to add additional gangsters to an existing order by selecting them and right clicking the existing order icon. This will allow you to send reinforcements to a certain areas, etc.

Here are some screenshots of the order icons...

You can also see the order selection menu [on the left side of the screen] has been expanded, the scrolling made it too cumbersome. Now it fades / scales into the corner if the mouse isn't over it.

Also you might notice that two icons slightly overlap, this will be taken care of soon. If you give an order to multiple gangters at once, it will group them all into the same order, instead of creating one for each gangster.

This is how the order paths look when you're controlling a gangster...it is updated in real-time if you are controlling the gangster. I will add more information to the user interface about the gangster's current order.

Right now all 'area' orders are just treated as Patrol orders...This is how the patrol /area orders are looking...

Some other notes about the order system in the game...
* The orders will be completly syncronized across all teammates online...so if I give an order you'll be able to see it instantly if you're on my team.
* You can give orders to client controlled gangsters in your gang.
* You cannot over-ride orders given by somebody with a higher rank [Lieutenant cannot change a Boss' orders].
* I need to disassociate the 1 : 1 mapping of orders -> gangsters.
* You'll be able to mouse-over the order icon and get info about it, such as who created the order, what time it was created, and how many gangsters are performing the order.
* Going to display the current status of the gangster above his head [idle, alert, under attack, busy, etc.] by using simple icons...idle would be a "Z z Z" alert would be a " ! "...etc.

New features regarding 'Respect' -
* Controlling a gangster costs 1 respect point per second.
* You earn respect by killing enemy gangsters, selling drugs, through businesses, etc.

ZOMG normal mapping....

Any comments on this stuff will be appreciated...of course more info etc will be coming soon.

If all goes well, should have a playable / nearly finished build by beginning of April. I'll add an extra month to that just to be sure. It's getting close though, I can taste it [grin] after 3 years of work.

- Dan
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Ah, the gameplay! Are you intentionally drawing the paths over the buildings? It find it rather irritating. Other than that, good luck on the balancing part afterwards.

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Yes, turning off the z-buffer makes it so you can see orders anywher in the city, the solution is to make it so the player can toggle z-buffering on/off.

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That's a good solution I guess. Maybe the current path (if one is controlling a gangster) should have a slightly different color to distinguish it from other, possibly intersecting ones?

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Actually it's the only path visible if you're controlling a gangster :-)

I can't wait to finish this up, and get it into some major testing...

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Hm, that does simplify things. :-D

I can't wait to get my hands on a build of the game. Especially now that my exams are going to be over in four weeks, enabling me to spend my free time wisely by play-testing games.

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Does this mean that up till now you've not actually been able to playtest the core game mechanics?

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Hey superpig....well it was all in there before, it was just hard to tell what was going on. The hardest part for me has been finding a suitable interface for everything. I've finally got things setup in a way that will work.

My last interface iteration used a right click menu to perform all orders. I've been through a few other setups before that...and wasn't happy with them. Things are starting to come together in terms of a workable user-interface for everything.

A few weeks/months/years ago you could give patrol orders, but you wouldn't know exactly where the guy was patroling because there was no feedback. It was all hidden from the user [and was not really user-specifiable].
I guess one thing that really threw off my progress on the gameplay mechanics [about 2 years ago] was switching from a top-down isometric view to a full 3D view...I've been playing catchup with GTA/Godfather/Saints Row/etc. ever since.

Though I have no regrets, I think making that decision was one of the best I've made...I'm happy to finally see the other aspects [the sole purposes of my creating this game] starting to come to fruition.

- Dan

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Looks great as usual, just one quick comment:

New features regarding 'Respect' -
* Controlling a gangster costs 1 respect point per second.

Do you mean controlling a gangster in 3rd person, i.e. walking around as a gangster? If so, this concept strikes me as a bit odd. The boss coming down to take matters into his own hands actually feels like it should gain you respect. Additionally it looks like players would be spending most of their time controlling gangsters, so why would you want to make them 'pay' for it?

Just my 2 ignorant cents [smile]

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Well because controlling a gangster gives you an advantage, and as such needs to be limited. You can really clean house [compared to the AI] if you're controlling one of your guys. They're not really 'paying' for it, more like 'saving up' for it.

As each game progresses, maintaining your respect levels isn't an issue so you can take control whenever you want. It also prevents people from going jihad at the beginning of a game and rushing somebody's HQ, they won't have enough respect points built up to be effective.

Actually this system has already been prototyped in the game 'Rise and Fall' which I've lost many hours playing. I'm planning on being more forgiving with my character control, they made it such a rare thing...I'm not going to restrict the player as much.

Btw. it's not ignorant 2-cents....it's a good question. It's hard for me to explain all aspects of the gameplay via text, I usually leave lots of stuff out. I'm working all day & every day towards getting a beta version out there & it'll all be explained :-D

- Dan

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