Times, trials, and turbulence.
Phew. Thursday and Friday were the university’s “Club Days”, where all of the various clubs gather for two days in the Student Life Centre to show off their wares and recruit members into their ranks. This is my second time helping man the booth for Club Days, and it certainly hasn’t gotten any crazier. 🙂
It’s packed. Perhaps not as ridiculously so as I’m making it seem, but it’s definitely bustling all day, so it’s very hard to engage in discussion and conversation with people that are more than a foot or so away.
My tactic was largely to stand out in front of our booth — I learned quickly that standing behind it would ensure nobody could hear what you were saying — and say something like, “Interested in game development? Y’know, making games?” to anyone who’s eyes lingered on our three-fold poster for more than two seconds. Given two days of doing this, I’ve managed to aptly categorize potential developers into X genres:
- Gung-Ho’ers. These are the rare ones that when you ask them about game development, you can actually watch their eyes light up with glee as they fumble with the pen beside the sign-up sheet. These folks have had previous experience (usually at an intermediate level) with game development, enjoyed it, and were already looking to get some more. Not-so-coincidentally, these were always programmers.
- Shruggers. A few notches down from the aforementioned genre, but the Shrugger usually shows some promise. These are usually artists, musicians, or writers that have only just had the notion of combining their skill (be it art, music, or writing) with game development. The concept seems to bedazzle them somewhat, since they sort of shrug their shoulders, nod their head to themselves, and then write their name down. We’re trying to have more to offer non-programmers, so hopefully these guys will stay.
- Ambitionists. These ones are either dripping with promise, or are laden with failure. These people look to be really excited about game development, but then again, they also seemed really excited about the last five clubs that they visited and are holding pamphlets from in their other hand. They’ll sign up pretty quickly and write something like “Everything!” for the Area of Interest section. Either they are legitimately interested in game development, or we’ll never see them again.
- Long-Shots. To be honest, they weren’t really that interested in game development in the first place, but after chatting and convincing them for a few minutes, they sort of manage an, “Oooh, I guess…” and write their name on the sign-up sheet. Usually they have a fairly developed skill in one of the areas (usually any of them except programming, oddly enough), but they aren’t really too interested in applying it to game development. Oftentimes it seems to be a, “Oh I don’t want to be a nerd” thing. If they show up for the initial meeting, it’s a surprise.
- Impossibles. “Have you ever wondered how games are really made?” I would challenge the passerby of this genre. They would walk a few more steps before actually briefly making eye contact, “No. Sorry.” and just leaving me standing there. These are the most common, naturally enough. There will always be the bulk of the crowd that just has zero interest.
Long story short, we ended up with about 80 names written down by the end of Friday. This certainly beat last term’s record of ~60 names. We barely had enough room for everyone during the initial meeting, so I don’t know how we’re going to cram everyone into one room this time. It’s going to be intense to be showing the grandness of gamedev to such a huge audience! (Gah, this Thursday!)
Skirmish: Ever Forward
It’s been a while since the last update, which has been largely unavoidable. Classes and assignments consume the vast majority of my time, with the gamedev club and social life chewing up most of what’s left. The tail end of all of that is what little time Skirmish receives. Bit by bit though, it’s getting there.
The props shown in the last update are now unified under a generic “Item” class, which will abstract the things like picking things up and throwing them away, which will work the same for all items.
Similarly, an even more abstracted ‘selection highlight’ interface exists for Props in general, which will really serve as a visual indicator so that the players knows when s/he is in range of a Prop in the world that s/he can interact with. Green will represent a pickup-able Prop, whereas later on there will be other colours for things like Switches/Buttons or Staircases/Elevators or defusable landmines.
As shown in the above screenshot, a simplistic inventory interface was implemented to allow me to develop the inventory system without needing to actually make any decisions about how the HUD will work. Right now the player can simply scroll through their inventory. Also shown, the game will work upon the assumption that the player can only have one “Held” item at any given time. This differs from the previous Skirmish insofar that there will not be quick-use hotkeys for throwing grenades or using a melee attack. At least not in the same sense. This will probably be possible via macros or a similar facility.
The last thing remaining on the “basic item interaction” system is discarding items, which works by throwing. Since most online games like to have a simple discarding system, such as, “drop item in front of player with no forces applied”, I figured that I would spice things up. The player will be able to ‘charge’ any given throw, meaning that a player could simply drop the item in front of him-/her-self, but the option remains to fully charge the throw and actually heave the object at an enemy. This will be particularly useful with certain items, like knives. Additionally, this will mean that the ability to pick up background Props (chairs, plants, trash cans) will also be on the feature list again, since these will function exactly the same as any other Item.
I’m aiming to put up a downloadable demo tomorrow, featuring the version I showed in my last entry (the “gun-spawner”). The plan is to get feedback about how well (or not well) the game runs, and to ensure that the game launches/runs properly on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
And, given the late hour, I think I’ll save my ravings about writing binary tree algorithms in assembly (for my CS 241 course) for the next entry as well. Hoy. 😉