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Author Topic: Productive tangents...  (Read 30196 times)
pspeed
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« on: April 05, 2015, 03:48:14 AM »

So, as you may recall, I got Mythruna pretty close to being able to hook up the real networking.  Accounts can be created, characters can be created/managed, etc... the next step was a "Play" button which requires hooking up all kinds of network stuff.

Now, to do it right I'd also have to port over my networked physics prototype code... the ones with the balls that you could push around.  That physics engine is "mostly" compatible with Mythruna's but basically the physics code and the networking code were kind of too tightly coupled.  It was a final prototype but still a prototype after all.

Given how I found a few nasty/pervasive/yet-unfound bugs in the entity system networking code when I open sourced it... due to other kind users finding them for me... and because it made me clean up and bullet proof a lot of stuff... I've been toying with the idea of packaging up this network API as an open source toolkit.  That requires that I fully extract the too-tightly-coupled physics piece and clean it up a bit.

It also requires that I have a simple game to both test and demo that library.

Since Asteroids is the simplest game in the world, I thought making a multiplayer version with a few additional features might be kind of nice.  Players can login to an arena and blow each other up or shoot asteroids or whatever.

To properly test the networking zones, ie: the way the world is divided up to save bandwidth, I really needed an approach where the players' view of the world is limited.  The easy way to make a multiplayer asteroids is to let everyone see the whole arena (zoom in/zoom out maybe) and go from there... but it doesn't really test the zones.  In fact, it would completely ignore them.

So I really wanted something more hunter+strategic.  But finding other players in a large space arena could get pretty tedious... the ships need tools.  One easy one is a sensor ping but I also thought it would be nice if you could see recent energy trails.  I had some ideas on how this might simply be done but I didn't know if they would work or not... and if they did work it might have just looked totally stupid.

Given that the whole game changes depending on which approach is taken, I needed to decide before doing anything detailed with the design.  So I built a simple prototype using some off-the-shelf assets.  (This guy Kenney makes some pretty cool stuff: http://kenney.nl/assets/space-shooter-redux)

You can see that first prototype from last night in action here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38DWS-4TTXM

And tonight I was able to prototype the energy trails:
https://youtu.be/hHyNRhbr9pA

From that video's description:
Quote
Prep for making a simple multiplayer asteroids++ game to test a networking library (the one I will use for Mythruna)... I had two major design directions I could take: 1) full situational awareness where each player could see the whole arena and combat was more twitch+tactical, 2) you can only see your nearby surroundings and must find other combatants through sensor pings and hunting... and in this case, I really wanted ships to leave an energy trail behind depending on how much power they consume. But I had to prototype that... that's what this is.

I use the engine power to vary the strength of the energy trail but in real play it would be more complicated than that... ie: trail would be dependent on how much energy you are generating to fill your shield/laser/engine batteries or how much energy you are expending on each (for example, shields-up would cause constant signature.) Thus it would be possible to fill batteries and completely shut shields and engines down to temporarily blank your energy trail... it's a tradeoff.

At least that's the theory... and the (2) sounds more fun to me and is not much harder once I figured out how I want to do the trail. It also is a better test of the network zones anyway.

Note: the jumps in brightness are specific to the video. Also, I will probably smooth the edges and stuff in the final version.

Now I can proceed with a detailed design and then decide how much of that I actually want to implement and publish with the networking code.  I'm trying to keep the basic game implementation to about 2-3 man-days of work... with about another 2-3 man-days to polish the networking library.  Given that my max free-time burn is about 15 hours a week MAX these days... hopefully I can finish it in three weeks or so and get back to networking Mythruna.

We'll see.
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Rayblon
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2015, 09:28:54 AM »

Are you going to be selling the asteroids game or will it be free? Just wondering if I should prime my wallet or not. >:3
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2015, 09:46:54 AM »

My wallet is ready also!
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2015, 10:57:31 AM »

How much will it cost?
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Rayblon
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2015, 11:07:19 AM »

How much will it cost?

Paul might just make it an open source game or something... He has a history of doing things like that... Like, alot.

That said, it's definitely a wallet worthy game.


@OP Say, how will the multiplayer work? Is it local? Will there be servers or something?

I can see this game going farther than just multiplayer, personally. I could see this becoming something huge if it's polished the right ways. Maybe there aren't just asteroids and spaceships out there, for instance? Or maybe have there be team based multiplayer and stuff. Really, I'd be cool with you giving this more time just to flesh it out more. It'd be a great game to play chilling out with other Mythrunians.


Some ideas I got on the spot:
Resource matches: A gamemode where the first team or player that reaches X resources wins. This would be a sort of collection gamemode where you hunt for special asteroids that are mineral rich or something and carry them back to a freighter ship. The bigger the asteroid, the bigger the payout; but also the most energy you must expend to carry it home.

CTF: Self explanatory; perhaps there are mining plants on large asteroids to capture?

PvE: Maybe a sort of gamemode where you have to fend off waves of alien ships? Then again, you'd need an AI for that... But it'd be cool.

Battlefield 2142 Demo: No clue what the gamemode was, but I played it for years. Basically, there are two warships that have unlimited numbers of men and shields, but a vulnerable core and multiple access points when the shields are depleted.


Just some ideas...


ALSO WHERE DA HECKIE IS OUR FROGGEH GAME.

I WANNA BE DAT DARN FROGGEH!
« Last Edit: April 05, 2015, 11:25:53 AM by Rayblon » Logged


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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2015, 02:34:02 PM »

Answers sort of in reverse order...

re: The "FROGGEH GAME"... Dragonfly Odyssey is on hold at the moment waiting for more models.  I need a decent game-ready dragonfly before I can proceed and given that I'm not actively working on it at the moment, I think the guy who offered to model one for me has prioritized it low on his to-do list.  A tad ironic... but anyway it lets me focus on Mythruna-related stuff for the moment.  Every time I play the song and picture the end of the game, I really want to get back to it, though.

re: The rest.

The plan is to produce a simple game that I can progressively add stuff to... but the base simple version is basically:
-connect
-select a name and ship, no login or anything
-plop into the game and can shoot stuff and other people and your score is tracked
-basic game mechanics are that you have laser, shield, and thrust 'batteries' that slowly charge.  Using these reduces the battery charge (firing the laser, getting hit in the shields, thrusting) and if the batteries are empty then you can't use that thing until you get more charge.  You can control how much of your generator is partitioned to each one... so maybe you always trickle more into your shields or whatever depending on your particular play tactics.  Any of the three if charge in isolation will have enough charge trickling in to run that particular item continuously... shields being the exception since there is no fixed drain, it depends on how many things you are running into or how many shots your are receiving.
-if you get hit without shields, you die.  Shields = heath, basically.  You might be able to survive some glancing bounces against a planet or asteroid... but that's it.
-power-ups would include extra batteries to increase the amount of charge you can hold... and extra energy to give a quick charge.
-there will be some small planetary body (small in relation to your ship size, ie: not realistic planet size) that will exert gravity.  Enough to potentially orbit said planet.
-asteroids will exert some amount of gravity based on their size.

Some of those features may get cut for the open source version depending on how playable the game is without them.

The full version of the game, at this point not necessarily open source, would be slightly more MMO-like in that you have real logins and your "ship" exists outside of the specific arena combat.  ie: you can earn credits in combat and buy/sell batteries and upgrades for your ship.  In this mode, you would login to a lobby where you can chat with the other players online.  One arena combat game is running at a time and if you miss the opening then you can hang around and bet on the outcome with the credits you earn (you earn some small amount of credits just by being online).  Maybe you can also pay credits to add more asteroids or NPC mobs to the arena or something... one shot sort of deals to hedge your betting. Smiley

You should be able to bet on things like:
-player X wins
-player X loses (last place)
-player X kills most asteroids
-player X kills last asteroids (last place)
...whatever stats I can end up mining and have a best/worst, you should be able to bet on with some n:1 payoff scaled non-linearly by how many players are playing at that moment.

(Edit: and if it wasn't obvious, non-combatants get to watch the arena session while it's happening, of course.)

To play in an arena combat session you must "buy in" by putting some credits on one of the open slots.  If there is high contention for slots then the top N bids are accepted for that session.

Arena combat would work a little differently in that in this case it would probably be a larger arena and I would add the 'hunting' features that let you find other players.  These would be the energy signature trails as well as a sensor ping that you can initiate... kind of like a sonar pulse.  It costs energy to perform and other players will be able to detect your ping... but you eventually get an echo back from all ships letting you know what direction they are in.  (Note: there may be a way to 'hide' from these sensor pulses by landing on an asteroid....)

Killing other ships may drop some of their power-ups... they lose them and you can take them.  Not all... just some... so that death costs something.

When no arena combat is going on (or perhaps if I support multiple simultaneous game fields) you can play in solo mode where you cruise around an arena filled with asteroids and NPC mobs just to keep from being bored and maybe earn some resources through (rare) powerups.

At this point I could continue evolving the game to have larger asteroids that can be 'carved' with lasers into bases... potentially a meta-space between arenas where your bases can live, etc..  More "persistent world" type of stuff.

re: "cost", I'm not sure yet.  I could sell the game as a one shot.  I could sell servers or whatever.  Or I could go with a free-to-play model where the game is exactly as I described above but you could 'buy' additional credits if you don't want to wait/earn them.  I could also just put up a patreon link or something. Smiley  If it does turn out to be as fun as I think it might... then it would be nice to get a little extra revenue coming in to pay for my server costs.  It would also potentially let me put servers up on real hosting if they become popular (and pay for some Mythruna pro hosting as well.)

But... the bottom line: step 1) get a minimally fun and playable game to test networking.  And that's no small thing because if it isn't fun enough for people to want to play then there will never be anyone on to play with... and then I can't properly test the networking.
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2015, 02:41:31 PM »

One nice thing is that the asset pack I downloaded pretty much has everything I would need.  There would be no way I could finish this game quickly without all of that.  It's even got attachable guns/engines, as well as different laser bolt styles... even has power up icons already.

Here is a pic of some playing I did on Friday night after downloading it... just seeing how easily I could form more complicated ships.  (The asset pack includes three base player ships in four colors... as well as a bunch of enemy ships, different guns, etc..)



For the full version, I may tweak the assets to allow real time color replacement so that you can pick two or three custom colors/textures for your ships to stand out.

Anyway, having the art already done is a huge boon.
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Rayblon
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2015, 02:51:15 PM »

Let there be texture packs! Cheesy

I'd love to be able to deck out my game with the classic looking ships.
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2015, 03:17:22 PM »

Let there be texture packs! Cheesy

I'd love to be able to deck out my game with the classic looking ships.

Actually, swapping out ships and stuff would be dead-simple.
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Rayblon
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2015, 03:39:26 PM »

Actually, swapping out ships and stuff would be dead-simple.

You are gonna be king of the asteroids by the end of this. xD

Also, the hype is real. The hype is real guise ;-;
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2015, 04:51:22 PM »

A few questions/ideas...

1. So are you planning to host all the servers, or are you thinking about allowing people to host their own... or is that undecided as of now? If it helps, I suggest pushing it like you do Mythruna, myself. There is one issue that I see coming from this, though. If someone hacks a server they run to give a ton of credits... well, you know.

2. Mods...

3. I think you could do premium content... but it'd be better off as cosmetic stuff imo. Even if you could earn your way to the top, P2W gets alot of flack even if it's not giving you a distinct advantage. Maybe you could model after TF2 in this regard. Even then, premium currency, if you choose to have such a currency, should be something you can earn as well, just, you know, really difficult to earn. That way the poor people don't actually miss out on anything if they invest thousands of hours into the game, which people may very well do...

Watch this before reading my opinion on F2P games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0CnQCol23w
Some things I like about F2P:
I. You will have a huge community in comparison to a P2P community
II. This larger community means more significant community-made contributions.
III. "Hey, Paul is a nice guy. Maybe he has other cool games to play."
IV. A generally more diverse community. You'll get people playing on here from all around the world simply because they don't have to (directly) deal with all that credit card jargon.

Some things I DON'T like about F2P:

I. The larger community may also be less invested or lower quality; You open the floodgates and the masses start pouring in indiscriminantly, having a pricetag keeps the people that are genuinely interested and willing to make positive contributions playing, while also keeping out the lower quality masses. Of course, that's not all-inclusive, but I'm sure you get the point.

II. We live in a world where free to play translates to low quality for alot of people... and with good reason. TF2 and Counterstrike being the exceptions, there are lots of monumentally bad F2P games, not all of which are P2W. So, it may also scare away some people.

III. F2P forces you to strike a delicate balance between the Pay to win and Play to win elements of the game. If you can pay 50$ to buy the most powerful laser cannon in the game, well... You might do it. You'll get an insane advantage over other people in the process and then you will probably get called a "buyer" when people see you go from the default cannon to this supremely overpowered beast of a weapon. The people who don't pay get mad at the paying players, and consequently end up marring the reputation of an otherwise splendid game when they complain. However, if you don't have any game altering(but not exactly enhancing) premium content, nobody will buy in the first place other than the really nice people that pay to look good. However, introducing cosmetic items increases the amount of art that is needed, and makes texture packs harder to produce...  However, if #5 is like a furnishable base, then perhaps you could sell furniture and such for premium credits. This is a great way to introduce paid premium content without actually giving the user anything that gives them an advantage... which is pretty solid. Everybody likes having a well furnished home. Still, though, it's a delicate balance and it may anger people anyway ("Well I EARNED my chair!").

IV. HACKERS! Gah. Free to Play is hacker bait, as I feel you already know. It's risky and they're clever little turds. The way I see it, you don't want to give them a chance, because it takes alot longer to patch a hack/exploit than it takes to find one. Of course, hack prevention is always an option, but no security system is perfect... Unless you're talking about Dead Frontier. That game makes hackers CRY. xD

4. I look back to a game called Counterstrike and I see something. I see down the scope of the sniper that just capped me from 300 meters away. I think that, later down the line, there should be skill based matchmaking so the newbies don't get dominated by the Asteroid pros.

5. How will the asteroid bases work? Will it transition to a sort of Terraria thing or a zelda top-down experience with furniture and little people walking around? Or would you just fly around inside of it? I know it's a bit early to ask, but I was wondering. Personally, I'd love some top down action and being able to see my actual character.


You're so devoted to us, spending time you could be using to work on other stuff talking to us. :>
« Last Edit: April 05, 2015, 06:26:23 PM by Rayblon » Logged


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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2015, 08:56:47 PM »

Just randomly because directly addressing everything in your post would take a while. Smiley

No, I don't plan to setup my own server farm for this game... nor do I plan to host a central login server or anything.  Maybe it evolves into that.  So if there is a 'paid credits' model then it's just for my server.

Regarding battles, skill matching will be an issue that will probably come up sooner rather than later.  Really, that's just down to skill and hard to say what "better" is.  For example, all guns will have a tradeoff.  If they fire faster than their shots are weaker, and so on.  So customization of weapons is more about your matching your play style.  Maybe later we have "epic ships" or something that truly are more powerful.

That being said, loaded up with max batteries would be a distinct advantage.

For bases, I just figured it would be something like carving out the inside with your lasers so that you can park in there... maybe evolving to being able to attach stuff to it or something.  I tried to imagine how something might evolve in-game if there were larger asteroids with tougher skins that lasers only took chunks out of rather than splitting them.  It seemed reasonable that some player would dig a tunnel and hide.

I don't foresee this being anything but space combat... so I don't foresee ever leaving your ship.  Who knows, though?

re: F2P, yeah, I'm aware of all of the issues and that's why I wouldn't enter into that lightly.  It's much easier for me to just put my game up on steam and let others deal with the tax implications, etc..  But once a server has an in-game credit model (and that's part of the fun of keeping people online even when they aren't competing), people are going to clamor to be able to jump the gun a little... though maybe if the solo play is always available and fun enough then people will just earn credits that way.  Which serves another purpose; people who play in the arena will be guaranteed to know what they are doing at least a little bit.

And maybe I can just split the difference.  Play for free and you have to earn all of your credits.  Buy the game once and you get x number of credits when first joining the server... and a nice little "Wings" badge showing you are an official space pilot or some such.

First I have to make a game, though... then we can all evolve it together.
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2015, 08:59:12 PM »

P.S.: So far the working title is "Ethereal Space"... e-space for short.  No real reason, though... I just needed a name.
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Rayblon
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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2015, 10:34:16 PM »

I don't foresee this being anything but space combat... so I don't foresee ever leaving your ship.  Who knows, though?

Well, I guess it all depends on how you want to go about explaining the game and setting the tone. The way players can place bets and the like makes a physical lobby, at least, better fitted than a CS:GO esque lobby imo. You could imply that the battles are actually like horse races and the like; making it less of a "you win or die" situation and more of a "You win or you lose and might lose some of your upgrades in the process, but you won't die and that's why your ship is going to make a return next round". Kind of a win-win if you're trying to make a really chill game, rather than a super serious one.

With a physical lobby, you could have betting consoles and a lounge in some "spectator station" where people could chat 'face to face' and explore the environment. I see it as a good diversion for when they have to wait however many minutes it takes for them to be queued up. It'd also be a great place during intermissions and make it more of a virtual reality than other games like this; but more importantly, instead of saying "you can place bets!" you're saying "You can place bets, and this is why". Instead of pressing m for a menu, you're at an actual console when you're placing your bets. Color me easily bored,  but when the game stops being interactive, like in the case of when you're stuck in a menu, I start getting impatient; even if I CAN pay to drop in some asteroids or tab out and check my YouTube feed. Having a place where you can actually leave your ship may also open the doors to modders to do some crazy stuff too, you never know.

As per standard protocol, this is just my two cents, or however many dollars the final product costs. Tongue


PS: I guess it might expand the age range if there's a no death explanation too. As much as I'm not a fan of kids, even a three year old knows how to milk its' parents for money.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2015, 10:53:30 PM by Rayblon » Logged


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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2015, 10:54:22 PM »

Well, one way is nice because it's easy and requires almost no effort. Smiley  So we'll see which one gets implement first... and then other things can always be enhancements.

The thing is, I don't want to detract too much from the game play.

Arena combat is definitely like horse races in the sense you mention.  Losing just means you didn't win... you walk away with less credits and probably some lost upgrades.  You can even continue spawning back in during play... and maybe have the option to "tap out" but I want to encourage staying in.  It's likely that the number of upgrades you can lose in a single arena session has a max or at least won't strip your ship completely or something.  It could be a big leveler.

I want to try to keep rounds quick... I don't know what all of the "win" conditions are but I'd like combat sessions to be 5-10 minutes at most.

So when you login to the "lobby" your main interface is the map where the current combat is happening.  Maybe you can switch to different arenas if that's ever supported.  You'll have a chat bar at the bottom and betting options along one side.

Presumably if you login and can't play right away, you won't be bored because you'll be watching the current combat to size up your potential competition and maybe learn some tricks.  Alternately, you can do some solo play to practice while you wait five minutes for the next round.  (Solo play is likely to be hosted on the player's machine so as not to bog the server... with communication only for announcements and for the server to grant some random power-ups as you play.)

I have to keep it simple because man I'd love to make a persistent world sci-fi MMO... and I really have to be careful. Smiley  Down that path is major time suckage.
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