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Particles! Oooohhhhh!!!

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Thursday, Jan 26

So I spent last night and today working on the particle effects for the game's explosions. There are two times during the game that something explodes. One is when a player places enough planets in a system to expand, in which case the planet blows up and seeds the 4 adjacent systems. A less common event involves the solar body special system, when it reaches a critical mass (after 7 planets have been placed or seeded into it) it goes supernova and wipes out any planets in all 8 surrounding systems regardless of player color. I used two particle effects that shipped with T2D for these explosions. The effects actually fit the bill perfectly, but I'm sure our artist will still want to play around with them [smile]

I also added support for the rest of the special systems in the game in addition to the ability to show and hide special systems. Hidden special systems appear as empty systems in the game until a player drops a peice on the system, revealing the hidden special system. Just another way to design challenging maps.

Additionally, I've tested the game out with 3 and 4 players as well as planets/stars exploding in a chain reaction. In short, the only thing I'm really missing is a test for victory conditions!! Holy crap but Conquest mode is almost done [grin] Once Conquest mode is fully tested I'll work on the in-game menus before starting work on the rest of the game play modes. looking well on-track I must say...

Anyhow, here's the gallery - enjoy!!

This is the game editor with the new special system visibility icons in action. They're small and hard to see - I'll make them bigger though and I'm sure our artist will give me a better graphic to use too, haha. You simply Ctrl+left-click while the Systems palette is chosen to toggle the visibility of the special system on (icon showing) or off (no icon)

Here's the same map shown before in the editor loaded in the game. Notice how the special systems that didn't have an eye icon on them are now hidden from view

Aha! We found one! Placing a planet on a hidden special system reveals that system and takes action on it just as if it were visible anyway, which means you still complete your turn. This sucks for black holes, asteroids and (maybe) solar bodies, but is a nice surprise for space dust and nebulae

Here's the map with the rest of the special systems revealed

Ok here I'm setting up the board to demonstrate some game play. In the center of the map we have a blue planet with 3 rings around it. This blue planet is adjacent to 4 other systems (up, right, down, left). Therefore we need to add one more ring to this planet (by dropping another peice on it) in order to expand...

Like so! Notice now that the system where the planet used to be is empty (explosion not shown), but it seeded the adjacent systems (all the planets have an extra ring now - the one at the bottom has two extra because I placed one there the turn before to cycle through the red player). Note also that they are now all blue planets. This is how you take over other player's planets and force them out of the game. If the system that had exploded had been on the sides of the map (3 adjacent systems) or a corner (2 adjacent systems) - it would have taken less rings to expand.

Now if you'll direct your attention to the top-right corner I'm going to drop a couple of planets into that solar body and...

Nova!! Big boom and shockwave particle effect sets off as the planets surrounding the star all burn and die. You have to watch out for solar bodies cause they can really ruin your day

After the planets burn away the solar body returns to its starting state. The one in the bottom-right is about mid-life and the one in the upper-left is one planet away from going nova, so players do know how close stars are getting. Being an astronomy buff I had our artist make the star stages transition from blue (young) to yellow (mid-life) and red (old) before exploding. Always nice to put a little educational material in [wink]

Check the bottom - left for a planet in the middle of getting ready to blow up

Here's a shot of a planet exploding. There's also a shockwave you can barely see going vertically. I want to add a horizontal one as well, that would be perfect. Note the planet below is getting ready to go too - when planets explode they seed adjacent systems which can in turn cause those systems to explode. Chain reactions like these are a major part of the game.

Oh and in the explosion screenshots, the map may look like it has artifacts but it's just the slight camera shake that accompanies the explosions.

So there you go! Hopefully by this weekend I'll have the victory, end game and in-game menus all wrapped up. Then what?? How bout a n alpha release?? Let me know if you'd be interested!!

Till then...
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