I Want My Mommy

by Kyzrati on 20120525 , under ,

Morale is in, and works how you remember/expect it to. So now you can shoot your friend in the foot when he (and you) least expect it!

Check out the results of a total berserk rage as described in the log:

There you can also get a glimpse of the log coloring (which is available in the current release, R6, but I never put up a screenshot showing how it looks, for those of you who aren't downloading the intermittent dev builds).

Despite the thoroughness of UFOpaedia.org, some questions remain as to how the system works, which I resolved using what I guess are the most likely and appropriate methods:
  • How much morale is lost by an individual unit when it is only injured? (I have it set to use half the value of an ally death.)
  • How do non-X-COM, non-alien factions (e.g. civilians) fit in? (I have this handled on a per-faction basis, whereby it affects only the individual shooter, and X-COM soldiers lose morale for killing civilians, while aliens gain it. This behavior is easily moddable, of course.)
  • What are the precise alien equivalents for the human ranks where morale calculation purposes are concerned? (The data I've got now sets alien "leaders" equivalent to colonel, and "commanders" equivalent to X-COM commanders, and all the remaining applicable aliens are squaddies, except where N/A.)
  • How much stamina is drained for fleeing units, if any? (I left it as normal, though I believe the original doesn't actually deduct TU/stamina for panic movement.)
  • Do fleeing units trigger reaction fire before they reach their destination?
  • Exactly how many TUs do berserking soldiers get? (I've got it set at 125% their normal TU, which makes some sense--UFOPaedia says they get an absolute 255, but that can't be right since it would enable units to fire a ridiculous number shots..., and no one has confirmed that value for certain. From what I remember, I think they are only restored to full (100%) TU before berserking, but I would have to go back and play the game [yet] again to confirm it. Still have yet to do that, but I'll definitely need to set aside some time for it eventually to make sure I get everything right.)

Some of the strangeness in the original has not been carried over, of course:
  • Fleeing units will not always head southeast
  • Fleeing units behave according to normal movement blocking rules (i.e., no walking through other units)

I'm not going to put these extended options in the game yet, but some ideas for the future of panicking:
  • Out of ammo? Charge up to an alien and repeatedly bash it in the face with a rifle butt. That would be great...
  • Could also have different actions based on varying degree of panic
  • Civilians jumping out of high windows to escape aliens (not unlikely), most likely plummeting to their death (for anyone who didn't already know, units jumping through windows and other fragile terrain has been possible for a while now, but civilians won't normally do it yet)

Morale effects are optional and can be turned off, like just about everything else. By necessity/extension, unit rank was also coded and actually means something now.

Below are a few more log screenshots of a game played in Area 51. Nothing exceptional, really, and these excerpts don't show much of the possible unique text and interesting events, but I haven't had enough time to gather a collection of fun logs yet.

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R6: "Bleeping Good Time"

by Kyzrati on 20120517 , under

This isn't the big release I intended it to be, but I figured it'd be nice to get a playable demo back out there so anyone new to the game can try their hand at perforating some aliens.

There's no new scenario this time around, or any new gameplay at all--R6 is mostly a batch of UI changes.

As described in the previous post, the engine was refactored to support multiple fonts simultaneously, which will play a big part in future UI design. Using multiple fonts of different sizes isn't very true to the console tradition, but square fonts aren't very readable, and readable non-square fonts aren't all that great for a tactical map since they distort space, so X@COM should benefit greatly from mixing the two--square fonts for maps, and narrow fonts for text. (The R6 HUD still uses the wide text font, but will eventually be narrowed once it's redesigned.)

The temporary message feedback system was replaced by a more proper version which can be easily expanded and modified through the data files.

A new Combat Log window is now available, where you can read all about your squad's glorious exploits. The log is still in its infancy, but already includes more than 80 different message types. On completing a mission, your score and log are output to an html file (it'll show you the file name and path). I originally had it writing to a text file, but decided it'd be nicer to retain the log message colors, hence the html.

If you played Cogmind, you'll recognize the text animation effects and sounds, which were from this previously unreleased version of X@COM to begin with (I've been sitting on most of it for a while now). If the message sounds annoy you, you can mute the game with F6. (Don't forget to check F1 help for new commands.) It won't be so annoying later when it's accompanied by a wider variety of console bleeps and bloops as you give commands and watch the battle.

Although it doesn't affect current gameplay, R6 comes with the refactored anatomy system. Future modders will be happy to know that they can create new body parts, then combine those parts into completely new beings where the body part parameters do actually have a number of gameplay implications. This system was already described in an earlier post.

There's also a set of new larger fonts available which can be activated for a 1280x960 window, along with somewhat improved fullscreen support. The larger fonts were a quick job--I just blew up and the normal fonts and tidied them up enough to prevent graphical artifacts, so they don't look nearly as good as the official fonts will when I get around to dedicating more time to them. Here's a shot of one of the font sets available at the higher resolution (click for full size):

The next release will bring some new gameplay and yet more UI windows.
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Tune Up

by Kyzrati on 20120511 , under ,

Rogue Engine X, which was originally blazing fast, just got a little slower***, but it's going to be worth it!

Several months back I was fretting over what to do about the low readability of square fonts when you have long text strings or even a paragraph to read. After all, it's hard for the eyes to quickly parse that kind of unusual arrangement of characters--too much empty space. Eventually I threw out the idea of multiple fonts as not necessarily worth dirtying up the elegant and extremely efficient console-handling code in the engine.

Then a little while back jday brought it up again over on #rgrd and reminded me how important the text is in X-COM, so I started to think about it again, and realized that if it's not done now, it ain't gonna happen. Well... it's already happened, so I don't have to worry about that anymore!

Seeing as how it's going to revolutionize the upcoming UI, I had to fit it in now or the entire layout would have to be redesigned in the future. And revolutionary it is... think about all that extra info which can fit in there! The HUD will be twice as informative; the in-game log will be easier to scan; reading descriptions and stories won't torture your eyes; map overlay text will be a lot more readable, and more readily distinguishable from the map ASCII... the list goes on.

In order to keep the speed reasonably fast, the engine restricts the narrow text font width to exactly half that of the square glyphs so it lines up nicely for the rendering system--a bit limiting, but it still works out. Compare the appearance of these windows:

The command list. Though this particular window eventually won't exist in this form, it's a good example of how much easier it is to scan a list written using a narrower font.

...is now...
The inventory screen.
...is now...
The log window. You guys haven't even seen this one yet! Text message work is still ongoing, and I haven't chosen colors yet, but this is a prime example of how reading a bunch of wide text would be quite annoying. In case you're wondering what the hell is going on, this is an X-COM rookie deathmatch in the sandbox =P
...is now...

Note that the specific fonts shown here are of course just something thrown together for testing.

One advantage of the new system is that the game now supports an unlimited number of fonts, which the engine organizes into sets that can be easily modded in through a configuration file. So the UI will now be able to introduce different individual fonts for different purposes, wherever it happens to work well aesthetically.

Look for a modest R6 soon.

In other news, I see that Xenonauts is kicking butt on Kickstarter after only the first couple days. Makes me jealous, and has also gotten me fantasizing about doing something similar with X@COM one day. Thinking realistically, there's not quite the same potential fan base for a non-graphical remake, but it doesn't hurt to dream! It'd be pretty amazing to attract enough money to develop X@COM full-time for a bit. Of course, to get on Kickstarter I'd have to rebrand the game (and perhaps instead tack on the original X-COM content later on as an unofficial "mod"). Not really a big deal, since it's just a bit of text, and my ultimate goal is to take this far beyond the original anyway. Meh, who knows.

***Okay, maybe not just a little slower... The required changes ended up dropping the REX rendering loop to something like 40% of its original speed. Sheesh...
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