What's on Your Mind?

by Kyzrati on 20120826 , under ,

The mind probe is now ready for your perusal of brains everywhere!

(click for non-fuzzy version)

Actually, it would be fun (useful, even) to later use this or other similar devices to actually get some insights into what a sentient being is thinking (AI hints, flavor text, etc).

The window is nicely animated, but again I'll save the video for a UI compilation that I'll put out with R7, which is scheduled for ARRP 2012.

Of course the same screen is also used to examine your own unit stats, so the long list of extraneous stats has been removed from the HUD since they can be accessed here:

(click for non-fuzzy version)

I may at some point add the ability to choose a stat and compare its value across all your squad members, if anyone would find that useful. Also, I'd like to limit the mind probe to sentient units only (which could be easily scripted through the text files using the new object traits system combined with effect conditions), but right now it's like the original X-COM: any target goes. A separate device could be designed for analyzing mechanical targets.

You'll notice that I've resurrected the melee stat which was included in the original X-COM code but not actually used in the game. If you weren't following early development or haven't tried the demo yet, you may not know that pretty much *any* item can be used for a melee attack.

The default data I'm using right now (not necessarily balanced properly) has most items with 100% base accuracy (note that by X-COM rules that doesn't mean you always hit) and take 30 TU (unique melee items and terror unit melee attacks are different, of course). It only works if you are adjacent to the enemy, duh. The damage done by the default melee attacks depends on the attacker's strength, though again this can be overridden for special items. I also added some common damage types (bludgeoning/slashing/piercing) that can be used to define melee attacks.

Melee is generally not as deadly as actually shooting a weapon, of course, but it allows for lots of fun new mechanics, like dedicated melee weapons (e.g. knives, light sabres, etc.) and bashing down weak terrain (or even sturdy terrain like walls using a sledge hammer!). Melee attacks can also cause knockback on the target if your strength is greater than theirs, and if your strength is also great enough to smash through whatever is behind the defender, then you'll smash them right through it. So you can, for example, whack an alien with a baseball bat and send him flying out a third-story window so he hopefully falls to his death from impact damage. In fact, if you had superhuman strength, you could theoretically smash aliens right through walls, and if it collapsed part of the structure the debris would even fall on them, which would be pretty funny... Of course, you have to watch out for powerful aliens doing the same things to you.

Now that the mind probe is done, that leaves only one item from the original X-COM yet to be implemented: the psi-amp. The effects are already possible through the current system, all that's missing is a menu to select from a list of usable abilities when an item has more than one. I'll save that for R8, though, since I need to get to adding new items and content for the next scenario.

Warning: Wall of semi-technical text follows.

In other news, a couple days ago I also finally added particle templating! Meta-programming (or in this case "meta-scripting") is incredibly useful for rapid development, enabling easy creation of multiple variations on a concept. In this case, the engine can now read in particle template data from the text files and, while parsing particle definitions, automatically generates all necessary variations of a given particle to meet template specifications.

While quite simple to implement, it becomes a huge time saver during the content design process, making it possible to more easily create multiple particle variations by detaching design from general behavior (i.e., great for lots of different effects with minor changes from a base design). In practice, it's mostly useful for recoloring, but can be used in other creative ways. This got me really excited--doing things like this always seems to tickle my geeky side (perhaps my biggest side).

I'd been thinking about adding this feature for a while, but it hadn't really become necessary yet. However, with the numerous colors you see in the profile window, templates make a lot of sense: What would've taken almost 200 particles to implement ended up taking only 8 (!) with templates.

This reminds me of back when I was rushing to finish Cogmind for 7DRL 2012 and had to quickly recolor a bunch of X@COM particle effects to match the many types of weapons available in Cogmind--lots and lots of copy and paste, which could've been avoided completely had particle templates been ready back then!

So I've also gone back and rewritten other X@COM particle systems to use templates as well--just the blip particles used in the motion scanner were collapsed from their original 42 long lines of particle parameters to 6 long ones and 8 short ones (the latter a tiny chart used in combination with the six template particles to generate a full set); the text typing effect originally required six lines for every new color, but now it's six lines to define the behavior, and one for each additional color! Yay!

Here's the entirety of the script lines needed to animate the typing as it's currently done in the game (the red template chart defines the colors):

Templates also make for better design by allowing you to concentrate on what's different about the particles, instead of wading through endless rows and columns of data looking for those specific little differences.

2 comments more...


  • Kyzrati

    Thanks! Right now the game is most often talked about in the forum thread over on Bay 12, though the conversation is generally minimal except during new releases since the game is still missing a lot of its planned features and many players are waiting on the sidelines. Bay 12 is a great forum in any case--highly recommended to join over there.

    Others join the blog itself and get post updates with google reader. And there's also the RSS option if you use a reader.

    I'll eventually start my own forum, but it's still too early for that.

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