January 23, 2013

Telepath Tactics January 2013 update

Another month, another update! The first  change you’ll probably notice–indeed, the change you almost certainly have already noticed–is not to Telepath Tactics, but to the website. Which is to say, the uber-talented Jamie Sanchez redesigned SinisterDesign.net recently. If you are reading this and you need a nice site, you should hire her! She’s swell.

But enough about that–let’s talk about what’s new in Telepath Tactics. With a second go at Kickstarter on the agenda for mid-to-late March, I’ve been hunkering down and working to improve core aspects of the Telepath Tactics engine.

  • Telepath Tactics now supports branching, scripted dialog: which means the game now also supports branching campaigns.

  • By far the biggest undertaking this past month has been improving enemy AI in Telepath Tactics. There are already a number of noticeable upgrades–among them:
    • AI characters now grab item sacks lying within reach, then continue their turns;
    • AI characters now intelligently use items sitting in their inventory;
    • AI characters with non-turn-ending attacks now continue moving after attacking; and
    • badly injured AI characters now flee in the direction of a friendly healer if they can reach one.
  • I’ve implemented Rally, a feature that simultaneously auto-moves all of your characters toward a point on the battlefield that you specify. (This massively speeds up turns where you’re too far away to engage with any enemy units!)
  • I reworked the movement engine to support simultaneous movement for Rally, but this had the serendipitous effect of also allowing me to add in support for AOE knockback and move abilities that move multiple characters and objects around at once. (The most obvious of these is Pull, a new skill that moves both the user and whatever is standing in front of her backward one space.)
  • I’ve moved attacks / skills from their own menu into an Attacks Bar that sits near the bottom of the screen when in Actions mode. This makes attacks more accessible for inspection and reduces the number of clicks involved in launching them.
  • Other control improvements: since there is no longer a separate attacks menu, I’ve repurposed the A key as part of an alternate WASD camera panning scheme. The M key now toggles between Move mode and Actions mode for whatever character is selected, and the End Turn hotkey has been changed from E to Shift + E to prevent accidental presses when using WASD.
  • Telepath Tactics now features a Give function in character inventory that will let you pass items to adjacent allied characters. This isn’t limited to characters under your direct control, mind you: you can pass them to a teammate’s character, or even to characters controlled by an allied CPU player (which is handy, given that CPU players now know how to use items in their characters’ inventories).
  • The map editor has been updated with mouse wheel controls. Scroll the wheel to zoom in and out; hold the middle mouse button and drag to pan around the map, even when not in pan mode!
  • I fixed a lot of bugs, including a weird one that was preventing the mouse from working properly on computers with touchscreen support.
  • Finally–last but far from least–I’ve updated the alpha demo with all of these improvements, plus added in a small taste of the game’s Local multiplayer with 1-on-1 player-versus-CPU matches on a small map with randomized armies. Grab the updated demo here! WINDOWS  |  MAC / LINUX

You can also see many of these fixes and features in action in Telepath Tactics Teaser #10, posted here for your viewing convenience. You’ll want to watch this sucker fullscreen, in HD:

Going forward, there is one more big AI improvement that I’m halfway through and looking to have completed in the coming month: a routine that discourages enemy units from standing on spaces where they can get attacked.

In addition to all of this, I’ve hired another artist to help me make headway on the remaining character animations. I’m limited in how much I can afford to have done in any given month, however; I’ll be relying on the success of the coming Kickstarter campaign to wrap everything up in a timely manner.