by Kyzrati on 20130517 , under
After writing a simple base class for importing and displaying images from REXPaint (*.xp), I decided it was pretty boring just throwing the images up there on the console. Our UFOpaedia's going to need a little more pizazz than that. What to do...
I know, why not integrate the image display class with the particle system? All we need are commands that particle scripts can use to interface with the various components of a REXPaint image (ASCII, foreground/background colors). Done. Particles are now capable of drawing their data from images, and thereby manipulate their appearance.
Here are some simple examples recorded from a test console running in the game:
And those examples use only one image layer, while the system is capable of reading each layer of the image individually, some of which could be pure color/ASCII effect layers designed in REXPaint to enable a mixture of procedural and designed art. Theoretically the system could be used to create some far crazier effects, or even animate images (though I don't imagine going that far myself).
by Kyzrati on 20130511 , under
For any of you interested in the modern computer-aided impressionism/abstract art scene, and I'll bet there are at least 0.63 of you, this announcement should be cause for an immediate download! :)
I've set up a separate blog for it here where you can download the latest release and read about the features, find more screenshots, etc. All further REXPaint related news will be posted over there.
Here's the main paint mode interface in action, along with a floater for all of your ASCII floater needs:
|You can see earlier stages as I worked towards the "final" design (though not really final--just me doodling).|
by Kyzrati on 20130504 , under Mods
Yep, it's a terror mission.
Like the Farm mod it has high replayability given that you can start with different squads and craft, and face off against different randomly chosen races (intel will tell you which at the outset, in case you'd like a different opponent).
While it's probably not too difficult to at least survive this mission, getting a reasonable score is an entirely different matter.
One advantage you'll have compared to the original game is you can press 'n' when a soldier is facing a civilian to have them follow that soldier, and even lead them to an evac zone if you want to get them off the map (to make room for bigger explosions, of course ;p).
Another change from X-COM is that the Lightning squad can carry sniper rifles, described here by 10101:
- Light Sniper Rifle:
Weakest of the sniper rifles. Only slightly more damage than a normal rifle. Slow but accurate aimed shot and a snapshot like the rifle, but slightly slower (best snap of the sniper rifles). Eight shots per clip.
- Laser Sniper Rifle:
Superior to the light sniper rifle in everything but the snapshot which is horribly inaccurate as you have to aim while waiting for the beam to charge. Damage ranges between laser rifle and heavy laser. Unlimited ammo like all laser weapons.
- Heavy Sniper Rifle:
The mother of all sniper rifles. Due to its bulk the snapshot is both innacurate and slow. Aiming takes even longer than with the other sniper rifles (90% TU) and you have to load each bullet seperately. On the other hand it is the third most accurate weapon in the game (after the blaster launcher and the HWP-blaster) and its damage is as high as other explosive weapons (approximately equivalent to an alien grenade or small launcher).
|We've so got this--an Avenger carrying four tanks, and two mutons with their backs facing us... (First tank rolls down the ramp and is shot to pieces by plasma fire from a different angle.)|
10101's Farm mod has also been upgraded to X@COM R9.1, which fixes the ambient sound bug on restarts.
REXPaint update: X@COM's ASCII art editor is almost complete--the only bit remaining is its built-in file browser, so the next post will most likely introduce the new development tool and its features.
by Kyzrati on 20130427 , under Brainstorm
Ideally each entry will be accompanied by an image, albeit drawn as ASCII art. Note this does not mean conversion of images to ASCII (which doesn't count as "ASCII art" in the same way that simply lowering the resolution of an image doesn't qualify it as "pixel art"). According to the current plan, images will be comprised of the standard 256-character code page 437, probably including at least some use of background colors as well.
ASCII art fits well with roguelikes since both tend towards abstract representation of objects,
so I figure that many RL players can also enjoy ASCII art. That said, enjoy these samples I've been working on while testing concepts and tech/tools:
|ASCII concept art, who would've guessed...|
I'm still a beginner at this ASCII art thing (this being my first attempt ever), but your discerning eye should be able to recognize them. One can hope.
When doing RL GUI mockups a few years back I used ASCIIPaint and WEPaint over on the TIGForums, but they suffer from clunky interfaces and are a pain to use, especially when compared to eigenbom's ASCII Paint fork which I discovered only recently. He's done an awesome job of making this type of software relatively user-friendly, and his fork is what I used to draw the above images.
I used only the colors provided in his standard libtcod palette, which was in some cases limiting (sure there's the whole "limitations breed creativity" idea but in this case I was missing a few shades that would've helped a lot). The point of my tests was elsewhere, anyway: Attempting to determine whether ASCII art looks good enough at large sizes using a square font, the main issue being code page 437 is traditionally represented using the non-square IBM font, and trying to force it into square cells tends to result in far too much empty space that can impact the density and thereby cohesion of an ASCII image.
Obviously we want the art to work at any size X@COM can be scaled to, so I drew the above with a 16x16 font, then reloaded them with a smaller font to test their appearance. What do you think? Both look viable to me.
Having said all that, I'm pretty sure that my next task here will be to take a quick detour and code a new ASCII editor, one that will write to a format that X@COM can read and display directly in game. While the main purpose is to create a tool to streamline creation of the game art, and there is a chance it will later be used to create multi-cell UI pieces that could be a component of for map overlays (though at this point I'm not sure whether that will be necessary), and it will also be useful for drawing UI mockups in the near future. I also enjoy seeing what creative works users come up with, as seen in the TIG thread (there is some cool-looking stuff over there), though it would seem that by now everyone is kind of ASCII'd out so I'm not too hopeful on that front.
The editor of which I speak, likely titled REXPaint after the engine it's based on, is feature-wise more or less eigenbom's fork minus a few elements I don't need, plus a few I do need that it lacks.
On the new/different side you'll be able to
- browse through all art assets from within the editor itself and switch over to painting mode at the press of a button
- do in-program palette editing and manipulation (with a true color picker)
- use layers for easier tweaking (and possibly other advantages later)
Below are some REXPaint UI mockups, not exactly feature complete (or even correct, since I've changed my mind on a few parts since drawing these up). The second one includes the concept for a browsing mode interface.
The color choices aren't too important at the moment, since re-skinning the interface will be very easy.
by Kyzrati on 20130422 , under Mods
This mission varies widely in scale since your squad lands in either a Skyranger, Lightning, or Avenger and begins with tech-level appropriate equipment as you face off against any of the possible UFO types including the scout, harvester, supply ship, terror ship, or even a massive battleship. (It's an impressive job considering the current limitations of the modding system.)
HQ will notify you of the class of UFO at the site (which may be either crash-landed or on the ground carrying out its own mission) and you can opt to press F10 to randomize the mission. As usual, beware facing off against against psionic races since they won't hesitate to mind control your soldiers with perhaps dire consequences for squadmates...
While the experience should be very similar to the original, at least one tactical difference I noticed while playing is that you'll be able to smash through hedges instead of always shooting your way through (jumping over low walls and fences would've been another option, but we decided to postpone the parkour functionality). Then of course there's the fact that we have gravity in X@COM, so you can literally bring down an entire barn with explosives if you like, or collapse upper floors by shooting out lower walls.
Get it on the files page, of course.
|Can you guess what's on top of those four round things?|
by Kyzrati on 20130401 , under Release
hum of nearby power cores,
the twittering of alien terminals,
the footsteps of soldiers making their way across a lawn, pushing their way through foliage, and trampling crushed glass as they investigate a decidedly large opening in the side of a now-abandoned house, or the sound of aliens sneaking down a wooden hallway towards that very opening. Or not sneaking. You'll definitely know a sectopod when you hear one--let those mechanical steps strike fear into the heart of many a brave field commander!
charging of powerful laser cannons,
brick walls crumbling from an explosive impact,
spent shells rattling across the concrete,
bullets ricocheting off UFO hulls,
grenades bouncing down the hall (if you're close enough to hear this one, um, was nice knowing you),
glass storefronts being blown out (try the pressurized gas explosion of a small launcher for the coolest effect--since it just gets the windows ;p)
falling furniture smashing into a lower floor,
a growling reaper that must be right around the corner,
and the roar of a massive... well, you'll hear it when you do (hopefully before you see it so you still have time to run).
And that's just the beginning.
Weighing in at 850 sounds, R9 is the true beginning of creating the sense of immersion I envision as being core to the X@COM experience.
It's been a while since we had a nice whole number release following the modding bonanza that was R8 (which resulted in some very beneficial iterative development).
The highlights of this release are a super fast (relatively speaking) engine refactor (old post) and, of course, the new sound system, which I've posted a bit about recently, but here's a quick overview:
- Ambient sounds are sourced from objects in the surrounding environment (area-based ambient sound will come at a later time when the map generation supports it)
- Volume is distance-based, and allows for different falloff models depending on what makes the most sense
- Weapons and explosions currently use a temporary set of sounds, a quick job meant just to cover the basic X-COM content
- The system is, as usual, easily moddable: there are hooks in the data/code for weapons, destruction, various types of impact, death and injury, ambience, item interaction, etc.
- Sound is also integrated with the event/ability scripting system, meaning just about anything can be audible if necessary
Among the smaller additions, melee attacks that fail to destroy terrain objects now show messages indicating how effective the hit was. This was a great community suggestion, since you generally don't have any idea whether what you're using to bash down that heavy door is going to knock it down anytime today. Later this will be slightly less of an issue once you can examine damage and integrity values in-game, but for now it could save you some time, especially useful in Rookie's Tale where melee items are the norm.
The log now implements message folding, so consecutive identical messages will just increase the count on the first one by using a suffix: "<x#>"
Proxy grenades now require priming as in the original. Don't drop them at your feet after priming them! Dropping them and picking them up again will deactivate them (of course you can only do that if you haven't moved from their location, or you use some kind of psionics to move them, entirely possibly one day as we've seen in Rookie's Tale--unlike the original, flying units cannot drop down to pick them up.) The game still supports grenades that auto-activate when thrown, for modding potential (that and X@COM smoke grenades still automatically explode).
On the scary side, aliens can use grenades! Oh my... This feature has not been retroactively added to old missions, though--it's only available in mods, and only where the modder intends it (by putting 'nades in alien hands ;p). At least there's only a *chance* they'll throw it at you.
So you want to finally hear all these new sounds? There are currently three ways:
- The simplest (though not quite as fun) is to download the demo and run the sandbox, where you can play around with the weapons, shoot the house, etc.
- You can also replay the old demo missions, but because game sounds are *deactivated* by default, you'll have to turn them on manually by editing the mission's .bat file: add the "-fullSound" command line switch. I recommend against this option since the experience will be fairly inconsistent given that they contain additional non-standard content for which there are no sounds.
- Or... play this new mod created specifically to show off sound effects!
|Welcome to Ground Zero.|
So after years of playing X-COM you're a pro at taking on one landed UFO, sure, but how about multiple UFOs at once?
The weakest opposition you could face will be two medium scouts, plus whatever has taken up defensive positions in the surrounding structures, plus whatever else decides to show up depending on your performance. On average there will be around 3-4 UFOs, though, among them sometimes a large scout or even a terror ship.
As usual, expect some surprises along the way, though this is still a more traditional tactical mission, so don't bother using anything in the environment--I didn't go crazy with that system like I did when testing it in Rookie's Tale.
Beware of sectoid and ethereal leaders, since some of them may be capable of mind control (requires LOS though), and also try not to bunch up too much lest a well-placed alien grenade wipe your whole team out.
If you feel outgunned, Malachai can be a useful ally if you can find him early. He'll join you and follow around, hopefully covering your back with his minigun and super deadly skill with throwing knives (close combat only). Once he's joined, shift-f to highlight his position since he's an allied unit not under your control. (Malachai is one of our fans from YouTube whose enthusiasm for R9 has earned him a place in this mod =p)
Like exodus, completing this mission "successfully" shouldn't be too difficult (you could always hide, wait most of it out, and at least survive...), but scoring well will be quite difficult due to the various penalties for failure to achieve objectives.
Your primary goal is to take out power sources, and for that purpose you have a good number of remote charges. As a reminder of how to use them, (p)rime them with an empty hand to create a detonator, then place the charge and (u)se the detonator when ready to set it off. Make sure to place/throw them close enough to the power source to be able to destroy it!
This mod also includes a special new kind of remote explosive, the Hull Breacher, designed specifically for breaching UFOs and giving you a different point of entry for alternate tactics. Make sure you place them immediately adjacent to a UFO hull or wall, flip the switch, and surprise some aliens from behind!
|Jackpot! Look at all those power sources...|
So now's your chance to command a newly audible heroic squad to prevent the equivalent of a local Armageddon. Good luck if you're forced to land at night...
My advice: Move quickly, because the longer you take the harder it will get.
X@COM is finally getting some truly video-worthy content (sound makes a huge difference), and I was working on a Ground Zero compilation to show off this release, but lacking the time to edit and polish it I've put that aside for now. In any case, you can always download and play a round if you'd like to experience it now, or wait until I do get a video out there--now that sound is mostly in place the visuals/UI are going to start improving in leaps and bounds.
I'll be leaving for a couple weeks soon so there won't be any new posts for a while, but when I return in late April there will be a brand new sound-enabled mod ready from one of our modders.
by Kyzrati on 20130319 , under Progress
This phase of development only goes as far as implementation of the core sound system, and inclusion of a majority of the "generic" sound effects that we know we need:
- bullets/projectiles colliding with different materials
- spent shells hitting the ground (again, material based)
- item throwing and colliding/landing/falling/dropping (not all the same thing)
- melee swings and strikes (dependent on object struck--and whatever is swung, but for now that's mostly the same metallic objects)
- door manipulation
- grunts/screams from injury (pretty limited for now, esp. on the alien side)
So nearly none of the "unique" content you see in the demo scenarios has sound, instead all I've done so far are the parts that are sure to go into the final game. Obviously as you heard in the recent video there are sounds for the core weapons and explosions, for testing and, of course, fun :)
As for ambient sounds, while I had previously labeled them "unlikely", they are just so easy and beneficial to the atmosphere that I had to implement them, too. So now your soldiers can hear the pulsing hum of the UFO power core, beeping of terminals, wind in the trees, and fire. More will come later with the actual game content, although yesterday I couldn't help myself and added an event-based sound that plays on mission start if you have a Skyranger: the sound of the craft bay doors opening and lowering the ramp. Ambient sounds are heard by the currently selected unit, if any, and fade in slowly when selecting a new unit so as not to get too annoying while cycling through many units.
Check out this debug shot visualizing the volume of ambient sounds heard around a UFO:
here). They don't work absolutely seamlessly, this being a grid world with discrete positioning rather than one with the more fine-grained resolution you'd see in a normal 3D game, but they get the job done well enough.
As with everything else, the entire sound system is controlled through text files. You just drop files in the audio directory, add their path to the sound definitions (along with their ranges and falloff model), and use them wherever in the data. The engine also supports the creation of sound channel groups for more precise control through particle script commands.
For the player, sound control is divided into three groups, UI, game, and ambient, which you'll be able to toggle and set volume for individually, though for now I'm not going to include commands for that since it will be handled through an options menu.
With this R9 is pretty much done, though I'm thinking of creating a quick mod that can better showcase the sound system, as all these cool new sound effects will be deactivated in the normal demo scenarios (you can manually activate them, but the overall experience will be inconsistent).
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