Back from Hell

by Kyzrati on 20111113 , under

DLL Hell, that is.

Spent some time wading through boring non-X@COM-related code, working out various annoying library dependencies. Finally got all the correct compatible versions playing nice with each other, then tested the new engine--seems to work fine. Then ported the game code over to the new engine, and X@COM looks... suspiciously unchanged:

That's because it's still using the same old DejaVu font (little coincidental pun there). The point is what it's now got under the hood: The foundation is in place for much more interesting design possibilities now that it's a completely different engine ready with sound support, archived resource access, parent-child console interaction, command processing (as opposed to kb/mouse processing) and more.

Now back to work on the game proper. The latest addition is a second particle engine, this one 2D, for animated interface effects. We'll see in the next post how it manages to draw windows!

I've also been playing with new fonts. Eventually there will be multiple fonts to choose from while playing, but I'll need to decide on an official default appearance. The problem is that square monospace fonts aren't all that easy to read, and the ones that are don't look all that great. On the other hand, square cells are somewhat essential for tactical strategy to avoid distortion of space.

Another issue is the font's readability in words vs. single characters. With more stylish fonts, identifying a character/letter by itself (i.e., on the map) may be more difficult when it doesn't appear in a word. Perhaps this could be solved by using a separate font for the each the map and interface text, but then that's not very console-like.

Anyway, here's the alternate test font I made recently:

Doesn't look all that great yet, but it's passable.

5 comments more...


  • Anonymous

    Welcome back!

    I'm in the middle of trying to create my own (first) roguelike, and I'm finding your progress on a roguelike of one of my favorite games of all time both fascinating and inspiring. The only difficult thing is trying to remain patient. :) Thanks for your dedication and for keeping us in the loop!

  • Kyzrati

    Thanks, you hit on a good point: patience. I'm sure that plenty of people out there are eagerly awaiting major progress on the game, but I'm getting much busier these days with unavoidable life/work issues. Unfortunately those will persist for quite some time, though they won't stop me outright, for sure (just slow me down enough to grind on the patience of fellows like yourself :).

    Add to that another short-term roadblock: Skyrim. I haven't played any AAA games in a couple years, and suddenly this one is eating up all the extra 1~2 hour blocks of random free time that I used to devote to X@COM. Blame Skyrim!

    Also, as much as I'd like to blast through the next phase of development, it's actually requiring a fair amount of patience and planning to make sure what I do now doesn't place too many limitations on game design later. For example, I was about to add the inventory screen, but before doing that I want to redesign the armor/equipment system to make it 100% modular, so that later on different armors, or creatures, can have different numbers and types of inventory slots. So it'll support the standard X-COM arrangement, and others later on (like modular tanks, or a light power armor with fewer slots and movement bonuses, or a powerful exoskeleton for hauling extra equipment, etc).

  • Kyzrati

    As of last Friday I quit Skyrim--great game, but it was eating up my free time. (It'll probably be more fun to play at some point in the future on a new comp, anyway, rather than with my laptop using the lowest settings.)

    Still busy in general, but at least now fans can rest assured that what spare time I have is going towards working on a game instead of playing one, so I can pick up the pace again.

    That said, technical issues slowed down weekend progress. X@COM is my first project under Win7 and VS10, and neither is compatible with the ancient version of the memory debugger (Purify) I've been using for...ever.

    Now I need a replacement, and nothing seems ideal. I'm sure as hell not paying the unfriendly price of $1600 for the latest Purify. Looks like I'll have to set up either VirtualBox + XP + VS8 + Purify or VirtualBox + Linux + C::B + Valgrind [+ Wine?]. What a mess.

    For now I'll just move ahead with coding, though I know there's at least one nasty memory error out there somewhere that I introduced during sweeping changes made a couple days ago... Shouldn't have done so much coding while tired and confused! :)

  • Canageek

    I think that if you are coding your own console anyway then you might as well take advantage of it by putting different things in different fonts. Then the player could select the UI font totally separately from the in game font, etc. You could also load different fonts for different locations: Build the base/location out of all the same characters, but in, I don't know, Computer Modern instead of the default font.

  • Kyzrati

    I was thinking of doing just that. Right now the engine doesn't support multiple fonts in the same window, but it could without much difficulty. For now I'm not going to mess with it, though.

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