July 1, 2013

Telepath Tactics June 2013 Update

Welcome to another monthly update on Telepath Tactics! I’ve spent a significant amount of time this month making arrangements: hiring new artists, signing up to show Telepath Tactics at shows and conventions, and (most excitingly for me) arranging a sabbatical from my day job to work on Telepath Tactics full-time.

The sabbatical begins on July 8th; I’ll be moving into a coworking space with some of my friends and fellow Chicago indie devs, where I’ll be working on Telepath Tactics as if it were a day job. This is great news, because it means I’ll actually have the time to get a lot of work done without sleeping 4 hours a night and/or ignoring my girlfriend!

So with that in mind, what’s gotten done over the past month on The Actual Game?

  • Julia Buge has completed the game’s item graphics, and I have integrated them into the game’s inventory system. There are 41 icons at present, ranging from consumables like bandages and ointments to special items like keys and scrolls, all the way down to Renaissance weaponry and fantastical steampunk contraptions. (And as you might expect, the icon set can easily be expanded by modders who want still more types of items available to them.)
  • I’ve hired the extremely talented David Hammond to produce the game’s dozens of character portraits. We’re making good progress on those–so far we’ve got generic portraits for male and female cavaliers, bowmen, spearmen, swordsmen and lissit (lizardmen):
  • I’ve added support for character portraits to the game. Characters now have “default” portraits that appear at half-size in the detailed character info pop-up. Character portraits can now be added during dialog as well using the new AddPortrait script action, with options for team color palette swapping, directional facing, and custom placement. The new MovePortrait action lets you animate an existing portrait such that it actually moves around the screen during dialog; I have tentative plans to add mouth and eye animations as well. RemovePortrait removes a particular portrait, and ClearPortraits removes all of them.
  • Lorne Whiting has finished expanding the Cave tileset with dozens of great new tiles: angled shoreline tiles, chasm tiles, wall tiles, mineshaft tiles and elevation tiles mean that I’ll be able to create some really interesting (and nice-looking) battles set in the mines of Kovit.
  • Tyvon Thomas continues his excellent character animation work; we’ve finished with the shadowling and lissit and are now working on assassin animations. Here are two of my favorite new animations–the shadowling’s Shadowport and lissit’s generic “buff” animation:


  • I’ve recoded a portion of the dialog script system so that successive IfXGoTo and GoTo actions will behave in an if / else if / else manner. (There’s a more detailed explanation of what this means here.) There’s a new GoTo action that behaves as the “else” in this setup.
  • I’ve expanded the capabilities of the SetStat / IfStatGoTo actions; you can now edit a character’s level trajectory on the fly, from the attacks they’ll learn right down to the probabilities of gaining points in certain stats. (This is one of numerous features necessary to support player-driven character class selection and meaningful changes during a class promotion.)
  • You can now define a character’s starting equipment right in CharClasses.xml using the new <StartingInv> tag rather than having to guess the map where the player will first use the character and use a GiveItem action in that map.
  • I’m roughly 80% done coding in reusable standalone scripts that can be called from dialog using a new RunScript action. (I’ll post more about these next month after I have them finished and working.)
  • Both Telepath Tactics and the Telepath Tactics map editor have been updated such that they spawn error pop-ups if a file is missing, but otherwise let you continue playing without freezing up.
  • The map editor is now a standalone program that does not need to be run from within the Data subfolder of the main game.
  • Oh, and of course, I fixed a ton of bugs.

I admit that I am not 100% satisfied with my own progress this past month; I spent a huge amount of time giving feedback to my artists and integrating assets, and not nearly enough time coding and writing. (Admittedly, this wasn’t helped by all of the business administration stuff mentioned at the start of the post, nor by a surprise week-long visit from my parents.) I expect to progress far more rapidly during the following months, particularly so once I start working full-time.

As always, I’ll continue posting updates on Twitter and on the Dev Log as I go. Until next time!