May 5, 2014

Telepath Tactics April 2014 Update

Hello, tactics fans! We’re another month in and another month closer to the release of Telepath Tactics. So what did we get done in the month of April?

  • New character portraits!
  • I took some more time to practice pixeling–this time, I edited the “cast” animation for the pyrokineticists, making them about 50% longer to bring them more in line with the animations for the photokineticists and skiakineticists.
  • We have two new battlefield objects: the village well and the caravan wagon!
  • I’ve now finished the (surprisingly time-consuming and laborious) work of spiffing up the character info boxes. Both summary and detailed info windows now feature graphical icons for Health, Energy and Movement, as well as a Star icon to denote characters whose death triggers defeat for their army.
  • I’ve put an especially large amount of work into the detailed character screens, which now display all of the character’s attacks and let you mouse over said attacks to see each attack’s name, element, cost, base damage and description. The detailed character info screen now also lets you scroll between characters on the same team using the mouse wheel (or the left and right arrow keys).
  • I have been taking the time to fill in audiovisual gaps in the attacks roster, ensuring that all skills have appropriate sound and visual effects. There are a few left to fill out, but the work is now mostly done.
  • As part of this task, I have now programmed effects for all four of the game’s ultimate elemental AOE attacks; I made some videos showing them off and discussing their uses, which you can see below:

  • As part of the work of making those big, flashy visual effects work with the game’s engine, I had to program in some new features for attack visual effects. In particular, this included forward/backward and left/right offsets for positioning visual effects relative to the target. I went through and added offsets to all visual effects which needed them (the element blast attacks in particular, which were spawning right on top of the caster instead of directly in front of him/her).
  • Attack reticles now calculate and display an attack’s chance to hit right below its eventual damage. Due to the deterministic nature of the game, this will usually be 100%, but it’ll give you a clear indication when that dips below 100% due to things like Dodge, blindness, or attacking while standing on ice.
  • New script actions: AddTag, RemoveTag and AddTagToArmy allow you to dynamically change characters’ tags over the course of a battle (thus allowing you to script changes in AI behavior, among other things). FlipPortrait, too: this tells the game to flip the direction of a character’s portrait so it looks like they’ve turned around.
  • Added one last character attribute to the game: charY. This one tells the game where to vertically position characters and objects within the space. I had previously had this function hard-coded into the game, but it was starting to get laborious carving out exceptions, and would not have given modders the necessary flexibility to do total graphical conversions, so I took the time to make this a user-editable attribute.
  • New attacks! Consistent with my giving photokineticists Blinding Cloak last month, I’ve now given skiakineticists Fury (raises a character’s Strength), cryokineticists Douse (ends Burning status and raises Heat resistance), and pyrokineticists Melt (ends Frozen status and raises Cold resistance).
  • I’ve updated prior battles and cut scenes. Among other things, I finished the battle at Adelbrae, and have updated another battle with a pressure trigger that damages characters who wander into a campfire. (This required fixing a bug that found its way into the code which was preventing pressure triggers from working properly.)
  • Caravan BattleI have now added a new battle into the game where you defend a caravan from attack, with two NPC characters you can talk to and potentially recruit into your army (assuming you make it to them before the enemy overwhelms them).
  • Updated documentation in the game manual for script actions DamageChar, DamageCharAt, RemoveConv and RemoveCurrConv.
  • Other minor aesthetic changes concerning doors, fences and gates, plus some balancing changes to certain characters and objects in-game.
  • Updated the map editor so it now preserves triggers, tags and lighting attributes within <Unit> tags in maps.
  • I’ve added in some failsafes so the game no longer freezes if you accidentally use a MoveChar script action with a character that doesn’t exist on the battlefield.
  • Fixed a lot of bugs, as per usual–though some of the bugs fixed this time around were particularly serious, including a few which had crept into the game’s AI routines and were degrading the quality of CPU decision-making (as well as occasionally causing the game to break).

All in all, I ended up spending longer than anticipated on polish this month. I’ve been taking my time creating new content so that everything that makes it into the game is really good, polished work–but with that said, I admit that it’s going somewhat more slowly than I’d like. I am going to try to spend less time polishing during the coming month and more time just creating battles and cut scenes.