Monday, 10 January 2011

Team Mango Dev Diary

It's been ten months since the release of Dysnomia, and I had hoped to have at least one more game out on the Xbox Live Indie Games service by now. 2010 proved to be a busy year outside of games development (which is only a hobby for me, after all) and time has been short. Now I'm back to a regular schedule, I have a list of projects that I intend to finish this year:

  • Run! to be released on XBLIG shortly
  • Game 4 (still untitled!) on Phone 7, and XBLIG shortly after
  • Game 4 on Windows
  • Dysnomia on Windows
  • and lastly, Dysnomia on Phone 7 (still tentative)
So that's six releases of three games on three platforms. The only real tall order is getting Dysnomia working well on the phone. There's currently some framerate hitches that I'm assuming are garbage collections, so more optimization to do on that front.

I'm wrapping up Run! this week, there's less than a month to go before XNA 3.1 games are no longer valid for submission on XBLIG, and I'd rather not spend the time to port to XNA 4. The game's been the best part of ready for several months, with just a couple of levels to finish and some pre-submission tests to run through. I'll be glad to get this one out the door!

Things are progressing well on Game 4, the first RPG game I've attempted. Basic melee combat is in and generally feels nice to play. As Game 4 is being developed simultaneously for all three XNA hardware platforms, I'm taking the time to ensure a solid user experience no matter what the control method. For instance - while nothing is set in stone as yet - the movement and basic attack controls are mapped as follows:

Movement - Xbox: Left stick Phone 7: Single-tap Windows: Left click
Attack - Xbox: A button Phone 7: Double-tap Windows: Right click or double click

For what will be the equivalent of "magic" attacks, the Xbox version will make use of the other three main buttons, which will be player-assignable in a method similar to Deathspank. On the phone and Windows, the UI will make use of tapable/clickable icons for quick access to three user-definable "spells". The Xbox version will use auto-targeting for ranged attacks, whilst on the phone and windows the player will be able to click an enemy to fling a "spell".

We're still developing the storyline and game mechanics, so I can't yet explain the reason for the quotes when talking baout "magic". Suffice to say, the game doesn't make use of regular fantasy-RPG magic. Whilst some attacks will be familiar, others will be completely ridiculous. Hopefully in a funny way!

I've started work on a WPF application to help with editing the conversations that occur between the main character and the NPCs in-game. I love the rapid development environment offered by VS 2010/C#/.NET. Just being able to slap a new application into your game solution, quickly knock out an interface, write some codebehind and bam! a functional tool that will save so much time compared to writing out the XML content by hand.

At the moment, it simply serializes a list of conversation steps to an XNA content XML file that is read in and deserialized in the game. It will become more complex as the quest system gets added, with specially marked steps to control the flow of conversation according to the completion status of associated quests.

And, just to wrap up, a quick video of the first iteration of the conversation screen:

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