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Wavinator

Text interrupts or "drop your cargo & I'll let you live!"

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How would you recommend text interrupts being implemented for a real-time game? aka, how to do a "this is a stickup!"? In Freelancer when a pirate or police ship demands that you drop your cargo you get a pop-up dialog box telling you what they want and giving you the option to ignore or comply, but the game keeps running (and you keep moving). If you leave the dialog box up long enough (presummably to read the text) you can get so far ahead of them by the time the dialog box expires that their demands are pointless. What would have been a good way to avoid such an problem? Should pirates who detect juicy cargo or cops that scan contraband somehow disable you? If you're disabled, then there's really no point in them making a demand, is there? Or should the game grind to a halt so that you have time to read the text and click the dialog box? Maybe such sequences should be implemented as cutscenes where the foes position themselves around you and you get the option to talk your way through or abort? If so, how should multiplayer be handled? (I know some will propose an all speech option, but the more text and interesting conversation you'll want to have the less of a chance you'll have to do this.)

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
How would you recommend text interrupts being implemented for a real-time game? aka, how to do a "this is a stickup!"?

In Freelancer when a pirate or police ship demands that you drop your cargo you get a pop-up dialog box telling you what they want and giving you the option to ignore or comply, but the game keeps running (and you keep moving). If you leave the dialog box up long enough (presummably to read the text) you can get so far ahead of them by the time the dialog box expires that their demands are pointless.

What would have been a good way to avoid such an problem? Should pirates who detect juicy cargo or cops that scan contraband somehow disable you? If you're disabled, then there's really no point in them making a demand, is there?

Or should the game grind to a halt so that you have time to read the text and click the dialog box? Maybe such sequences should be implemented as cutscenes where the foes position themselves around you and you get the option to talk your way through or abort? If so, how should multiplayer be handled?

(I know some will propose an all speech option, but the more text and interesting conversation you'll want to have the less of a chance you'll have to do this.)

Don't use modal dialogs. Instead, have some kind of a notification area. If you don't respond within X seconds, the pirates assume you're ignoring them and will open fire or perhaps merely reinforce their demands by firing a warning shot. Likewise, if you turn and flee, the pirates would give chase.

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The actual how *very* much depends on what your game mechanics are like (i.e. how travel works). More info please.

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Original post by Hase
The actual how *very* much depends on what your game mechanics are like (i.e. how travel works). More info please.


The devil's in the details, as they say. :)

Interrupts would happen in these areas:

Flying
Using the mouse/joystick to actively steer or the AI in the form of autopilot or NPC pilot. If in space, there's a special "iFTL" (interplanetary FTL) mode that's basically a warp with some status bars to manage; a "jump" that has a "charging up" delay before jumping to another star system; or a dive into a wormhole, which happens with a "collision" with the point.

There's also the issue of getting an interrupt as you're attempting to dock and whether or not the enemy simply lets you escape into the station / capital ship / jumpgate.

You control throttle, vector and various other sensor / weapons settings. If you're running something larger than a fighter / shuttle, you may have an NPC at the helm, in which case it's simply the NPC reporting the demands.

Pirates or police trigger on a successful scan based on their personality, number and your threat value and reputation. If you're flying at iFTL velocities (multiples of light speed) you can be stopped with a missile or an "interdiction field" which is a huge wall (generated by another ship's inverted jump drive). A slower ship tries to fire a missile at you; a faster ship pulls in front and raises the wall.

Driving
You get comm messages similar to with flying. Probably a more simple case unless you consider the ability to ram into enemies or run them down with little damage (unlike with ships).

Mouse control again with keyboard handling throttle.

Walking
On foot you can be ambushed by enemies coming out of shadows or "decloaking" and sticking a gun in your face. This is really where an "I surrender" mechanism is needed (even if the surrender is temporary).

If you access anything other than options or talk, your enemy attacks or interrupts the move with a warning. Enemies adjacent to you can de-equip or even take your items.

Again, mouse-look and movement controlled by the keyboard.

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The Escape Velocity series is a set of top-down 2D space flight/trade/combat games. Communication in those games occurs in two ways - through dialogue boxes, which pause gameplay, and through one-line alert messages at the bottom of the screen, which don't. The former is really where any changes in the AI occur (e.g. answering incorrectly makes non-hostile ships become hostile, or giving a bribe buys off enemy ships), while the latter is used primarily for notification of intent ("You have entered a restricted area; leave now or be fired upon" where all ships in the area spawn as hostile, but since you warp in a distance away from everyone, you have time to react). It works quite well, though since it's a single-player game, it doesn't have to worry overmuch about pausing gameplay. For multiplayer, you of course can't pause gameplay at any point, really; the dialogue boxes should still work, but the player would need to process them more quickly because the universe keeps changing. There's nothing inherently wrong about that so long as the dialogues are simple. If you want to put plot in here, though, you should probably set up some system so that the people involved in plot can't be disturbed by other players.

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I think just have a dialog box, and if you are 2 far away just make it disapear, otherwise if you are close and take too long, just have a timer showing until they will attack.


.....
wavinator have you made any parts of your game yet , so u could post screenshots?

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Quote:
Original post by johnnyBravo
I think just have a dialog box, and if you are 2 far away just make it disapear, otherwise if you are close and take too long, just have a timer showing until they will attack.


Unfortunately, except for the timer, this is pretty much how Freelancer does it, and it's really easy to abuse to the point that you don't even respect someone who demands your cargo. This makes it so that you really only respect being shot at and would make situations like dramtic orders to stand down impossible.


Quote:

wavinator have you made any parts of your game yet , so u could post screenshots?


Hey, thanks for asking! Right now my priority is fundraising and networking. I've decided that my best chance for success is investing in people and licenses so that the team will be local, people will be committed, and it will have a much higher chance of being finished. I started on "internet team project" route, and although several good people were interested as I looked at the the fate of other projects I began to see a need to try and get more resources for this idea.

So basically no screenshots yet (unless you want some pretty awful examples of how I've been abusing the Torque engine [lol])

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HAve a little chime go off when somebody tries to contact the player. The player must press a key to respond. Then bring-up the dialog box. This way the player can consciously choose to to ignore the communication.

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If your flying system has cruise speed or any sort of smooth navigation, you could have enemies spend some seconds locking in your speed / bearing, and have them consider any significant deviation from these values as an escape attempt.
you want these to be:

flying: small speed variation, bearing changes < 90º
driving: small speed variation (unless near a corner, should return to std speed after leaving corner), bearing changes < 180º
walking: no running (keep walking or stop is ok), bearing doesn't matter.

An interrupt should be aborted during docking *ONLY* if the base/ship you're docking to is safe. Say, a big station which is protected by the police. Or if the interrupt is from the police, it should proceed unless you're docking with a monster criminal capital ship, in which case the police should take off.
There should be no interrupts once you've started docking.

Hope this is what you needed.

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