Category Archives: Progress Report

Progress Report: September 2019

As announced in the last update, there’s nothing new this month I can present. But since it’s been quite a while since the last video, I recorded a short play session to show how everything is fitting together so far:

The video chronologically demonstrates the following:

  • Attacking an enemy ship
  • Player taking damaged, which is visually reflected in the ship graphics
  • Defeating enemy ship, winning gold
  • Sailing to port
  • Repairing ship with gold the player just earned
  • Buying and selling some items at the trader
  • Going out at seat again, attacking another ship (player ship graphics now are back to “pristine” since the ship has been repaired) and defeating said ship
  • Spawn lots of ships, pressing the interaction button -> menu pops up that let’s player chose preferred action

Other News

I already finished my other project, which means I’m back at Devils of the Sea again!

I always wondered, how emulators were made/what they exactly had to do to get games running.
So, I decided to develop a prototype of a CHIP-8 emulator for Unity.

The project was super interesting and I learned a ton! Anyone can check out (pun intended) the source code over at GitHub.
But be aware that it’s just a quick proof of concept and there’s not much code quality to speak of. Please don’t take this as an example how things should be done.

Progress Report: August 2019

Break Time

As expected, there’s not much to show for August. Some bugs were fixed, some stuff was changed to make use of new Unity features and most of my time was spent on game design.
The rest of this blog post will probably be unusually personal but hey, it’s my blog and after all I’d like it to be authentic and for me, that also means to be open about it if the project hits a speed bump for whatever reason.
There most likely won’t be too much to show in the near future neither since the design phase for duels will still last for quite a while. Further, I’m currently also working on another project which will probably take up most of my time for a month or two.
I’m aware that working on something else will have a negative impact on DotS development short term.
But long term, I also believe that the project will immensely benefit from me working on it with as much passion as possible.
I’ve been working on it for quite a long time without any real breaks. Believe it or not, it’s been already more than two years since I’ve set sail!
For the first time since I embarked on this adventure, I feel a little tired and there’s this other project that really captures my interest and fascinates me and which I really want to play around with! It’s this kind of excitement that results in having problems falling asleep because you just can’t stop thinking about it and lie there with a grin and can’t wait for morning to come so you can continue working on it! 🙂
It would just feel wrong not to pursue this!
I promise it won’t take too long (I know, that’s the case with every project but this time, that will really be the case (like in every project)!)
I’m sure working on something else will be a great breath of fresh air which will invigorate and allow me to come back to this project with a lot of new-found energy and ideas!

Progress Report: July 2019

It’s not entirely finished yet but I’m working on a system to give the player a choice of what to do whenever he interacts with the world and multiple interactions would be possible.

Before, one of all possible actions was chosen at random, which wasn’t very practical, neither for playing nor for debugging.

Interaction menu

Outlook

I’m not sure what I’ll do next. First, I’ll have to finish this system (still some kinks to work out). After, working on a fencing system is high on the list of things I’d like to do. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I still have no idea, what I’d exactly like to implement.
If I really go down that route next, I don’t expect to be able to show too much in the next few months because not only will I have to implement whatever I come up with, I’ll also first have to go through the creative phase of coming up with something…

Regress Report: June 2019

Regrettably, I didn’t make a lot of progress during June. Over 3 weeks were spent on fixing a bug (or, as it turned out along the way, several bugs) that caused either the player ship, the enemy ship or both to seemingly not move smoothly/stutter during combat.

When plotting out the movement over time,  everything was looking smooth as can be. That’s why I relatively quickly realized the problem had to be related to the camera, which turned out to be true.
I won’t go too much into details here but it had to do with the fact that different things in Unity are moved at different times (things controlled by the physics engine e.g. update their position at a different time than things controlled by Unity’s path finding/navigation system) and also at what points in time the camera was moved.

Normally, I don’t care too much for visual glitches at this time but I had a feeling that this could heavily impact core code components that determine how and when I move objects and I felt that such a fundamental design decision should be corrected as soon as possible.

In the remaining week, I didn’t have enough time left to finish something new I could present.
Admittedly, I felt a fair bit of frustration after spending 3 summer weekends just to get back to where I was before. That certainly doesn’t help with motivation but you’ve got to take the bad with the good and there’s always next month!

Progress Report: May 2019

  • Most important: I might get some help in the near future, which I believe would benefit my project greatly and also make working on it more fun; it’s nice to be able to share a passion project 🙂
  • Spent quite some time on soundtrack related stuff. It’s not yet the right time to share anything, though.
  • Updated some menus and made other small graphical changes to test out stuff like reflections in real battle scenes.
    Although graphics aren’t important yet, there’s still a need to test some things out from a technical perspective to see if and how they could be implemented.
  • Internal restructuring so scenes now can detect if they were directly started from the editor or loaded from another scene or save game. This is needed for components to know if and what initialization data they should load (e.g. player position).
  • Added the shipyard which allows for repairing ships. Finally, we have a very small but 100% gameplay loop of “Fighting ships -> win -> receive gold -> go to port to repair ship -> rinse and repeat”!

Progress Report: April 2019

Ahoy!

This are the things I got done in April:

  • Finished savegame/loading refactoring (at leastf or now 😉 )
  • Thanks to the revised save system, I was now able to easily add some more things that get persisted in a save game and thus won’t be lost anymore when you switch between maps or load a save game:
    • Direction player character faces
    • Direction player ship faces
    • NPC ships on overworld map
    • Damage taken during ship fights.
  • Added a game over screen
  • Game now pausing overworld when opening the menu
  • The blog now runs with https, which will hopefully further improve the search ranking.
  • Fixed various bugs (walking animation bug,  ships sometimes vanishing just after spawning, etc.)
  • NPC ships can now be attacked in overworld
  • Made a big update for the NavMesh2DSurfaceBaker. This wasn’t needed for DotS but someone using the 2DSurfaceBaker asked for some new features. I’m happy something I made is useful to someone and wanted to support them as good as I can. Just listing this here since it took the whole Easter weekend and I want to give you an overview, where all my personal coding time went . Hopefully, this will also pay off for DotS in the future 🙂
  • Defeating an NPC ship now nets you some loot and allows you to return back to the map

Over all, I’m quite happy with the results. Since the player now can attack the spawning ships and gain some loot, we’ve finally got something resembling a small gameplay loop.
A thing I’ve long been waiting for and felt like I was “almost there!” for about a year now…

Progress Report: March 2019

Originally, I wanted add some more gameplay related content. However, as I was working on it, I realized that I would make more sense to first rework the save system as well as some stuff concerning persisting data across different scenes.

Here’s a shot breakdown of what I roughly did in the end:

  • Lots of changes concerning how games are being saved/loaded and how the game state is kept between different scenes (ongoing).
  • Since Google also considers the page loading speed when ranking search results, my CESMAPRM (Chief Executive Social Media And Public Relationship Manager , also known as “I”) optimized this blog which, before the optimizations, sometimes took forever to load.
    For those loving numbers as much as I do, here are some. According to gtmetrix.com, I managed to:

    • Increase the Google PageSpeed Score from F(49%) to A(96%)
    • Increase the YSlow Score from D(63%) to B(86%)
    • Reduce the full load time from 4.4s to 1.3s
    • Reduced the page size from 2.95MB to 1.62MB
    • Reduced the HTTP requests from 73 to 27
    • Lose half a day of work
    • Learn more about WordPress than I ever wanted to
  • Created a makeshift title screen
  • Replaced the old text system with a new one to get clearer texts without having to tinker with every text to get it looking nice and sharp:

    It’s easy to see which parts of the text in this menu are already using the new text system and are a lot sharper.
  • Created some simple AI ships for the world map. Ships spawn randomly in close proximity to the player, sail to and then enter a port. Here’s a short video demonstrating this:

Progress Report: February 2019

  • Moved all my in-house hosted tools (code repository, issue tracker, wiki) into the cloud. As is the case with a lot of things in IT, what initially seemed like a simple task, got quickly out of hand. Everything that could go wrong (and some more things..), went wrong and what I estimated to be done in 6-8 hours ended up being close to 30.
    I’m still glad, I did it, though. It was just a question of when and not if my home server failed. And when that moment would have come, it would have taken even more time to recover the data and set everything up again, let alone the cost of getting new hardware.
    One thing less which causes a latent and constant feeling of impending doom 😉
  • I started learning about shaders. This admittedly didn’t have the highest priority for the project but I felt a bit frustrated after the whole “move to the cloud” thing and sometimes you got to reward yourself 🙂
    Here’s the result of trying to create some kind of water reflection effect for the naval battles:
  • Figured out how to implement some UI related things.

Progress Report: January 2019

A lot happened in January but most of it I already posted.

I mainly:

  • Developed a system to generate NavMeshes (data telling the AI where it can move) from 2D objects.
  • Finally finished the first naval battle prototype.

Out of curiosity, I created a chart that shows how many issues I created and resolved in the last 120. I was surprised how well you can match the pattern in this chart with things happening in my life:

It’s alive! It’s alive!

Finally!

At long last, I can happily present the first version of the ship-to-ship combat AI!
It’s really simple, for instance it’s trying to aim at the center of the enemy ship, while often aiming a bit more towards the bow would make more sense.
But for a concept of proof, I’m more than happy with it!

Here’s a short video demonstrating the AI. The black ship is controlled by me, the yellow one by the AI:

Progress Report: December 2018

  • Added some more commands for AI controlled ships.
  • Upgraded to Unity 2018.3 which required quite a bit of effort on my side but also got me some nice new features.
  • Replaced the system to import maps into the project because the old one wasn’t 100% compatible with Unity 2018.3.
  • Lots of refactoring in preparation to write an AI for ships.

What’s next?

Short term, my current goal is still to get a simple naval combat ship AI up and running.
All the building blocks are there now but even if I’m only aiming for a very simple AI right now, I will probably have to spend quite some time on research to make sure that whatever I come up with will also lend itself to plug in more complex AIs.

…and theeeeeeen (are we there yet?!)?

I’m not sure yet. There’s a myriad of things I could tackle after that but right now, I’m really not sure what would make the most sense. I’ll have to think it over some more.

Since this will probably be my last post in 2018, I already wish you all a happy 2019!

Progress Report: November 2018

One of my next goals is, to implement a simple naval combat AI to finally have something playable. I feel, this should have happened way sooner. Sure, you can sail around a map, enter ports, buy some things, etc. but that doesn’t feel like a game (no matter, how rough).

An AI deciding “I should catch up to the other ship!” or “The ship is in bad shape, I should flee!” is no good, if it doesn’t know how to catch up/flee/etc.
That’s why I’m currently working on some simple movement patterns.