This week i’ve spent some time working on the procedural map generator. It now creates more object types, and two different kinds of populated places, rural and urban. With that said, the architects still have some things to learn about city planning..
It now also produces a few destroyed buildings, that are more interesting for gameplay. My biggest problem with it right now, and stopping me from applying it wider is handling height differences in populated places. There is some functionality there to account for it, but there sometimes still occur big slopes in the middle of “streets”.
With the new missions, i decided to replace the old generated maps, with these, that are more interesting, as well as take “swamp” and “crossroads” back into the rotation for “Patrol” missions. Here’s a shot from one of the new maps:
The build also contains a few fixes;
A shader bug, vLightDir not being consistent across the shaders.
Proper feedback when login fails.
I’d also like to remind you of the “View” function. Pressing “V” will show you what the selected squad can see, and if they can fire at what they see. Green representing tiles that are possible to attack, and the lightness of the tile shows how well they see it (or rather, how difficult it is to spot an enemy in it). Example:
A fresh update has just been uploaded to the server. Lately there haven’t been many new features added, but it’s been more of an effort to enhance what’s already in the game, before adding new stuff.
Focus is on making gameplay smoother and more enjoyable, and fixing bugs that detract from the game experience. There’s still some way to go, but there should definitely be a big improvement compared to a couple of months ago.
This latest build fixes a bug with fog being added to the scene for each new mission, but never removed, resulting in a Silent Hill-esque experience after a while.
Also, a bug had snuck in that seemed to hang the game the first time a mission was played.
A new vegetation system was added a couple of builds ago, with more varied trees (still more to come on that front). More effects and smoother animations has also been added.
Some notable things on the engine (jMonkeyEngine) side include a faster UI system, and hardware skinning on characters. This should equal better performance.
Here’s a couple of screenshots of a new mission in the making, with an urban theme.
It seems that there have been some problems during the last couple of weeks (months?) where people registering with a gmail account (and possibly others as well) didn’t receive their account confirmation link and password.
This problem has now been identified and resolved, and if you have had this problem, you should be able to retrieve a new password using the login screen
Icons representing cover grade has been in fashion in games the last couple of years, so i decided to add a first version to Hostile Sector as well. In HS, there are two types of cover; Tile Cover, which is uni directional, and could be general rubble, trees or other things that can be found inside a tile. Right now, forests provide the highest Tile Cover in the game. The other kind of cover is Directional Cover, and are different kinds of low walls, or in some cases, adjacent tiles to items blocking a whole tile. These (currently) always give the same kind of cover and halve the chance of hitting someone behind them. In other words, it’s pretty good to stay behind them.
Now, those have been in the game for ages, but it’s been difficult to know for players. Enter cover icons! If a squad is in a tile with cover, a small shield (how original!) will show up above them. This will have different color depending on the cover value. Red, bad cover. Orange, a little better cover. Yellow, decent cover. Green, good cover. Blue, excellent cover.
Directional cover is a bit misrepresented right now, as it will show up as orange (but will look better the more sides that are covered). But then again, it won’t help at all if the enemy shows up behind you.
Two opposing squads, one with a directional cover (orange). The other is inside a Forest tile, giving them slightly better, an uni directional cover.
There’s no new features in this update (despite the season), but there’s however been quite a lot of maintenance and bug-fixing going on. Apart from things that should speed things up on the server-side, i’ve also tried to fix a couple of long-lasting bugs that seem to affect quite a lot out there.
One that has been fixed (fingers crossed), is the notorious dodgy tutorial practise targets that seemed to evade the best of shots. This was due to shots sometimes terminating prematurely, which should lead to other problems as well. It proved tricky to reproduce, since my own soldiers usually have automatic weapons where the amount of bullets neutralized the effect.
Another tricky one is, as far as the logs tell me, a lot of players launch a new mission, but don’t seem to do anything after that. I’ve assumed some bug occurred that prevented them from continuing, and have gone through the deployment process to try to find errors. In the best case, i’ve fixed the issue through ui and “robustness” fixes (although i’m not sure). In the worst case, it’s a threading issue where on some machines (and not mine), things happen in the wrong order, making soldiers not appearing in the mission (even though it’s fine on the server). If this is the case, relaunching the mission should fix the problem.
If you have any further info on this matter, please leave some feedback so i have a better idea on where to look!
Not so many content updates in todays build, but still big news;
First of all, the Hostile Sector server has been moved to Germany. Hopefully a more central (in Europe) location will benefit all international players, but mostly those in Europe. So if you’ve experienced bad latency and response times (no matter you location), it might be a good time to try it out again. It might still take a while for all DNS’s to update, so if you can’t reach www.hostilesector.com, you won’t be able to play the game yet, either. The move seems to have worked fine, but if you notice any problems, please report them.
The other piece of news is i’ve synced up the changes made to the engines by the guys and gals (and community) over at jmonkeyengine.org. Most notably, there’s a potential fix for a shader crash happening on Mac’s (and i believe on Linux as well). In general, things feel a bit smoother, too.
Another minor change is that due to players (on Mac, i think) having troubles typing the @ sign, i’ve made it so that you can also login using your nickname. That will have to do until i track down the problem.
One last thing; If you’d like to get byte-sized news and pieces of information, as-they-happen, i recommend you to follow @HostileSector on Twitter. I try to make sure everything related to the game, but perhaps not big enough to become an entire post ends up there.
Some time ago i talked about the future of Hostile Sector, with a persistent world and base building. I also said it’s going to take a while to get there. It’s still going to.
But the latest build at least gives a taste of this future, with missions that have procedurally generated terrain.
I’ve selected a few of the terrain segments generated by the engine, and created a “Patrol” mission. The game will randomly select one of these terrain segments and the goal is to eliminate all enemies.
They replace the former missions that you played when you selected “Play Now” and chose to start a solo mission (except for the first time, when you will still get the “Tutorial”).
Likewise multiplayer games will also use them.
As you can see, the landscape currently is quite hilly. I’ve adjusted so that small slopes don’t give you an AP penalty when moving over them, and raised the maximum slope soldiers can traverse to accomodate for this.
View range is also affected by this, and you will notice that you can see much farther from the top of a hill, than down in a valley. Use “V” to see what you squad can see.
There’s also more trees in these missions. You might have noticed trees not only obscure the soldiers’ sight, but also the players. By pressing “L”, you can remove the leaves of the trees to keep track of your soldiers if they wander into a forest.
Other notable changes:
Shader fix that hopefully will reduce the number of crashes that some graphics cards produce.
The game remembers the graphical settings from last time.
More suitable image for the launcher.
Protective armor is now worn correctly in the customization screen.
It’s time for another update.
As usual there are a few UI tweaks, but also a few things that will fix issues with some graphics cards (unfortunately are not all reported crashes fixed).
A new feature this time around as well! Familiarity.
It’s only natural that if a soldier uses the same weapon alot, they will be familiar with it and how it works. This is now represented in the game by a small accumulative bonus that the soldier gets, the more they use a weapon. This bonus will also slowly degrade over time.
You can see what bonuses a soldier has in the Soldier screen.
Another new feature is that you can now see how your soldiers fare against others in a Top 100 list, based on level and experience.
Apart from the stabilization fixes over the last weeks and the downloadable versions for Windows, Mac and Linux, todays build also adds a new gameplay feature.
For the first mission every day, your soldiers will gain two times the normal experience.
I might take a moment to explain what experience is good for. You may have noticed your soldiers don’t really aim well and miss their target a lot. Once they level up, you get skill points to spend on their weapon skills (among others).
In addition, there are also “traits” which cost more, but unlock other special skills.
A new build has been uploaded, hopefully solving the problem many players have had when having created a new mission and trying to play it. So if you’ve had trouble playing the game before, try again now!
It also adds additional robustness to the network communication.