Wherein the pendulum analogy completely breaks down
Hello, I’ve returned. No, I didn’t forget to blog– I’ve just been busy. How busy, you ask? Well, Scourge now runs on Flash, HTML5 and on native targets, and on top of that it looks super great, so, pretty damn busy.
Scourge on Flash
Scourge on HTML5
It doesn’t look like much until you type in the “
makeGame” command. If you follow it with a number, or with the word “
circular“, you can see the game “running” with some slightly different parameters. I suggest this one:
makeGame 4 circular
Anyway. How exactly has Scourge changed in the past eight months? [ More ]
the pendulum has swung back to graphics
I’ve realized recently that Scourge’s client has many layers, and jotting down a list of those layers helps maintain my perspective of the work yet to do. Distinguishing layers is an easy activity – if System A connects to System B, and A can invalidate B, but B cannot invalidate A, then A is a layer above B. That’s helped me identify the following layers, each of which has its own problem space:
- Server connection – are we online? (HTTP/UDP comms)
- Session – are we authenticated and up to date? (user object)
- Battle – who are we fighting and what actions can we take? (the ROPES)
- UI Narrative – what action/data is the player considering? (narrative tree nodes)
- View – What does each button and view component look like? (view objects)
- Renderer – What does each particle look like? (glyph objects, model arrays)
- Graphics – What does each pixel look like? (GPU buffers, write-only)
And that’s only the stuff that’s going into the demo! I left out the AI stuff from this list, because like the state of the human player, it interacts with this layer cake at some level. It’s just a higher level than the one human beings interact with.
Anyway, while I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the Session and Battle layers in the past, for this post I will focus on the Renderer and Graphics layers, which I’ve been working on for the past three months. They’re only a piece of the puzzle, and currently the Graphics layer is dependent on Flash and Stage3D, but that’s a small price to pay for the ability to work this stuff out while I wait for Haxe 3, H3D and NME’s OpenGL features to stabilize. (As I’ve previously mentioned, Scourge should be able to target every platform that one can target through NME, which is quite a lot. The graphics pipeline just needs to mature a little. I will color your pixels!) [ More ]
new opportunities present new challenges
So Scourge had this hiatus, during which I just didn’t have the chutzpah to tackle the problem of designing a game with AI and network play features. Briefly in late 2011 I looked into writing a new View for the prototype, which simplified the GUI considerably and made interaction on touch devices more straightforward, but I put that work on hold as I started to scope out the rest of the project. Let’s face it– views are interesting, but for a game like Scourge, their design needs to take a back seat to the core functionality. I’d have plenty of time to design a view later, when the rest of the game was functional.
So I started asking some deep questions. Why was I even doing this project? Obviously it’s one of those side projects I regularly work on for the sake of revitalizing an old idea; some pretty game or application from a simpler time is no longer widely available, and I have the skills to bring it back. Classic Jeremian time-waster.
Aside from that, though, Scourge is a chance for me to build something new and creative on top of something familiar. Even if you’ve never played Fungus before, I have faith that you’ll like the core gameplay, once there are opponents to play against. That gives me a platform to propose further design challenges and to pursue really ambitious goals, which I can learn a lot from. [ More ]