Completing a Plot, and ATC Chatter

Hey Folks! Work continues on completing our first test plot. And Michael's air traffic control (ATC) script is ready!

When we left off yesterday, we could reach our quarry in the bartender snitch plot. But we weren't able to do anything once we got there. So today was mostly about adding the means to wrap-up that plot by telling a law enforcement officer (LEO) on the same station about the target. And as usual, bugs were discovered along the way :)

To get myself warmed-up, I thought I'd do a quick bug fix to restore text labels to NPCs on non-player ships. And upon setting up a test scene with docked ships, I ran into a dormant bug. My pathfinding code was tripping a null exception every time AI moved, and it appears I've never seen this before due to the unique way the ships were docked. The fix was pretty trivial, but had me chasing it around for a long time before I caught it. I was trying to get a negative element out of an array when near the edge of a ship. Oops!

Once that was fixed, and the NPC label issue with it, I resumed work on plots. I added some code to plots so that NPCs for that plot can be spawned on the same station as the first NPC added to that plot. This way, I could ensure the LEOs we snitch to are found on the same station as the bartender target. I'm thinking that if I ever need NPCs on different stations, I can probably just create new plots and link them together as-needed.

Then, I added the necessary LEO NPC, interactions, triggers, and other data needed to execute that plot wrap-up. Though my first test of it failed, as I forgot to add the most important piece: an actual context menu option to initiate that wrap-up with the LEO.

Back out of the game, I cobbled together some data for the menu item, and decided to also add a debug helper to my orbit plotter that would teleport me around the system. Even my 1000000x thrust boost was taking 5-10 minutes to cross the System, and it was messing-up my docking. So hopefully this will speed long-range testing until I'm ready to focus on voyage-based mechanics again.

Also, in the process, I tweaked the number of contacts each career step gains. The player's list of contacts was getting really out of hand during longer character careers. Sometimes as many as a dozen, and it seemed to make contact each less significant the more we had total. This will still need tweaking, but I think we are heading in the right direction.

I also decided it was finally time to add code to save/load plots, since there are cases where I don't want to restart everything just to test the end of a plot. And that's about where things are now.

On the ATC front, Michael finished his latest task of writing sample ATC dialog. These are intended to be used as ambiance in both the main menu and when using the nav/comms console in the game. I'll still need to write some code to dynamically piece Michael's script snippets together (based on the current basic one I have already). Then, record some of the spoken lines for testing, and we'll see how it sounds!

That's going on the back burner, though. At least until these plots are in better shape.

For now, though, it's the weekend. So have a good one, all. And see you next week!

Comments

ra1's picture
ra1

What is the max thrust the player will be able to use in the "real" game? If you are testing at "1000000x" thrust (which takes ~5 minutes to go to the next plot location), and the player is limited to even 1/10th of that, I don't think the "solar system" level plot points you are testing are going to have a significant effect on the gameplay at large.

If this is true, then by extension, your time is probably better spent on making the "main" part of the game better - which is I presume crew/ship interaction during flight.

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

This is true. The "realistic" thrust is more like ~1g, which means days, weeks, or even months of travel to cross the System. Which is meant to be akin to Firefly or The Expanse.

Originally, I planned on minimal fast-forwarding, perhaps like Sims. And you're right that would mean very long trips that focus more on intracrew relations.

I am prepared, however, to adjust the game design in favor of whatever turns out to be more fun. Right now, this plot system seems like it could produce some fun systemic play (and maybe even drama, to boot). It might mean fast-forwarding more, or even "end scene, 3 days later at port." And just have the game simulate everything that happened in between.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

ra1's picture
ra1

You could split the difference and have a "fast-forward until next major event". Which could be something like "SOS from nearby ship" which you are contracted to respond to, but puts you behind schedule and puts your bonus at risk...or worse.

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

Yeah, that's the plan if it needs fast forward. Just jump to the next major event, plus or minus some effects along the way.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games