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Progress (Update January 6)

Posted: 27 Jul 2009, 23:14
by Caydr
AA Next:

Research: 100%
Change Implementation: 75%
Balance: 30%
LUA Stuff: 20X5%
Graphical improvements: 5%
Testing: 30%

July 27:

-I have identified target areas of AA which need to be improved with the highest priority
-I have done some limited research on new engine features which have been introduced
-I have watched several BA games, identifying strengths and weaknesses in the AA design theory
-I have found novel solutions to several major problems with AA/BA's design flaws
-I have not yet done any serious research on LUA possibilities or their implementation
-A large number of changes have already been made
-In the last few years I've thought of new and interesting gameplay possibilities as well as improvements to side differentiation without taking away too much of the OTA flavor
-I have gathered playtesters
-The first alpha has been playtested once, and it appears to still have compatibility problems with the new, improved Spring engine; all known problems have been corrected

Re: Progress

Posted: 29 Jul 2009, 04:50
by Caydr
I am now going through every FBI file and standardizing various... stuff. Unit categories, sight distance, radar distance, etc. Might bring a minor performance benefit from the reduced LoS reading since a ton of units have silly little 50 radar ranges and such. Not sure when that was introduced.

More importantly, the unit files are a mess. This is long overdue. Eliminating minor energy/metal production/storage that units have had that were never documented. Standardizing slope tolerance based on structure size. Eliminating excess unit categories. Removing useless OTA tags. etc.

After this I intend to go through the mod, bottom to top, and rebalance every single unit according a more consistent system.

Re: Progress

Posted: 30 Jul 2009, 05:56
by Caydr
July 29 Update

-I have designed part of a global balance system overhaul and have begun implementing it; this is a massive project on a scale unlike anything I've done before with AA
-Engine incompatibilities due to old code have been fully resolved
-Minor visual tweaks nobody will ever notice
-"Participated" in an SA match
-Failed miserably in said match

The major overhaul mentioned above is still only a small part of the global rebalancing effort I have begun. I've been working on it for two days straight (off work this week) and I haven't even scratched the surface. I basically have to modify and then later verify every single unit FBI file, one line at a time. The initial release will be pre-verification.

To reiterate, the first new release of AA will be pre-alpha quality, basically to see if the game is functional. I'll only need a few testers to play a game, I will spectate to ensure everything functions as expected.

After that I will begin to phase in the balance changes that I am working on separately but simultaneously.

I have a fairly solid date in mind but I'm not going to say what it is until I've seen just how long this first stage of the overhaul is going to take. I'll be working hard at this nonstop for the next two weeks at least, so do not expect even a possibility of anything before August 9 - that is the very earliest I expect to have anything to show.

Re: Progress (Update July 29)

Posted: 01 Aug 2009, 00:35
by Caydr
Update July 31

Spent about 8 hours working on AA today, now I need to relax a bit. Still just mostly working on backend stuff nobody's probably ever going to see but which should have been cleaned up a long time ago. Some stuff will have a noticeable gameplay effect though, hopefully a positive one. Tomorrow I hope to finish this up. I might be crazy but I thought the game seemed to be running a little faster... probably not.

Re: Progress (Update August 5)

Posted: 05 Aug 2009, 20:52
by Caydr
Update August 5

As I go through the mod's code, I am fixing lots of things but even more quickly getting new ideas. I'm doing all kinds of work but overall not making a lot of progress toward 100% completion.

Re: Progress (Update August 5)

Posted: 06 Aug 2009, 01:59
by Caydr
Update August 5 pt 2

Finished with Arm, starting on Core now.

I've been on vacation from work since the 25th of July, which is why I've had time to work on this heavy-duty stuff. I spent until about the 29th on planning and research primarily, and have spent the past week reworking the Arm side.

My vacation ends on the 10th of August, so from that point progress will slow down a bit. Finishing Core and finalizing the balance structure will probably take until the end of August, after which local testing will begin. When I and my team are finished with that, the testers who have signed up on the testing topic will be given a copy to play with.

The private beta will not feature any visual enhancements to what you're used to from "old" AA. These things, such as improved explosion effects, LUA interface, and various other LUA stuff, will be a prerequisite to the public beta.

Public beta release should be towards the end of September, most likely, with a production quality release in October.

Re: Progress (Update August 8)

Posted: 09 Aug 2009, 04:08
by Caydr
Update August 8

In the interest of wasting as little time as possible, I will be ignoring all Core units for the time being. I will work on them once I've completely finished all the work on the Arm faction.

Earlier I said Arm was done, I was talking about the huge overhaul project, not the balancing and everything else.

This should allow testing to begin sooner rather than later, and at the same time avoid implementing changes to twice the number of units when lots of those changes are still experimental and will probably have to be redone or reverted entirely.

This stuff I'm doing is really different from anything I've done before for AA. It's more like building a new mod than just an incremental change on the old version.

Re: Progress (Update August 11)

Posted: 12 Aug 2009, 04:55
by Caydr
Update August 11

The game is now basically functional, most of the biggest things are done but untested and probably broken.

I'm about 10% done implementing a strategic (zoomed-out) icon system. My goal is to have a unique icon for every unit that could want to access quickly as well as for all major unit categories.

Re: Progress (Update August 12)

Posted: 12 Aug 2009, 23:25
by Caydr
Update August 12

I've spent most of the day so far researching and implementing LUA.

A list of the widgets which will be included and which ones will be active by default will be forthcoming. At least a few of them will be customized.

Re: Progress (Update August 12)

Posted: 14 Aug 2009, 03:11
by Caydr
Update August 13

Worked almost exclusively on LUA and various bugfixing today. I'll be able to begin actually working on what matters pretty soon: balance.

Re: Progress (Update August 15)

Posted: 15 Aug 2009, 09:23
by Caydr
Update August 15

Spent more quality time with LUA. I'm mostly making minor improvements to widgets that are otherwise excellent to begin with, but which I would not be comfortable releasing as-is for one reason or another. For instance Advanced Players List.

One small thing I did was, fix it to automatically dock with the right side of the screen by default (can be adjusted by the user and settings are saved), and tweaked its color system to be more relevant to human eyesight.

People can see green very easily, red easily, but have difficulty seeing blue when all of the above are at similar "absolute" brightness. It won't highlight (with outer white glow) unless the color of the name actually requires it.

I also did the kind of nitpicking with various other UI stuff that no normal human could tolerate. Fortunately the time I spent earlier in life watching Naruto filler has steeled my resolve under such circumstances.

This LUA stuff should be done with by the end of next week. Earlier I said I would put LUA off until the end, since it's strictly visual and adds little to gameplay, but after seeing what's possible as far as user interface goes, I knew it would be a decision I'd regret if I tried to push this thing out the door with the basic Spring UI.

Because of the testing cycle I'm in right now, "change this number, recompile, launch game, throw things, repeat," I've been in the Main spring lobby a lot of the time. People have been asking lots of questions and I answer as many as I can, but specific details about my plans for balance-related things aren't something I want to discuss too much. Some of the ideas are really good and I want AA to make a splash when it's released. Others are horrible, and I don't want anyone to know about them... If you see me idling please leave me a message, but be aware that I might take up to fifteen minutes or so to reply in some cases, depending on what's on my agenda.

Re: Progress (Update August 19)

Posted: 19 Aug 2009, 23:12
by Caydr
All lua-related stuff is finalized now, I'm not going to bother with it again until the rest of the stuff is done.

Re: Progress (Update August 19)

Posted: 21 Aug 2009, 11:45
by Caydr
Update August 21, 5:51 AM

Contradicting my post from a scant few hours ago, I've gotten back into the lua crap. :cry:

But I'm happy to report that I've just finished my first 100% original widget. Nothing fancy, just something I've been needing for the sake of UI integration.

It's interesting, when I look at a script that completely boggled my mind a week or two ago, it's like plain English now. Well, engrish anyway.

There are still 5 scripts I would like to customize to a greater degree, and 2 or 3 others that I'm waiting to hear back from their authors about regarding some minor usability issues.

All going well, by the end of the weekend I should be back to work on more important stuff.

Re: Progress (Update August 21)

Posted: 23 Aug 2009, 12:43
by Caydr
Update, August 23

Spent much of the day trolling forums. By the end of the day I'd built up enough action points to get some serious modding done.

Today I spent my time giving another basic system a complete overhaul. The statistics in question make sense numerically now, with some actual rational thought behind things.

Rational thought. I knew I should've tried this earlier.

This most recent round of changes might break a few things but I think it will be better in the long run to get these things sorted out sooner rather than later. It might be a bit of a hurdle to get other mods to implement similar changes, but at least there will be a well thought-out standard that can be used when it's needed.

I'm being purposefully vague... this is one of those things that I put in AA originally, it became "the standard", and was never given any more thought. The problem is, it was never really given thought in the first place, I just picked whatever seemed to work reasonably well.

Also finalized some unit icon stuff, nothing too serious there.

Re: Progress (Update August 23)

Posted: 08 Sep 2009, 05:49
by Caydr
September 7

I got pretty burnt out from doing nothing from modding, so I took a couple weeks off to troll the forums instead. My break's not quite over yet but I'll be back to work pretty soon, by the end of the week probably.

Re: Progress (Update October 14)

Posted: 14 Oct 2009, 21:05
by Caydr
Hello, I'm getting back to the modding now. It will take a couple of days probably just to re-assess my situation before I can start doing real work, but in any case: STILL NO VISIBLE RESULTS.

I think I was prematurely getting into lua too much, then when a gadget was updated I'd resync my own modifications, then another gadget would be updated, repeat, repeat, repeat... I was spending more time tweaking lua than actually working on the mod. I learned a lot, but it's not really my field of expertise so why bother becoming "moderately useful lua developer #3384" when there's only a handful of actual mod developers? The gameplay is what's important.

I'm going to stop fooling around with lua until I have a release candidate - I have a working interface and nothing else is really needed at this point in time.

Re: Progress (Updated AGAIN October 14)

Posted: 23 Dec 2009, 17:53
by Caydr
December 23 (I should probably start adding a year to the date, mmhmm?)

Lost motivation, found some pills on the floor, got motivated again. Spent the intervening time getting my new avatar just right. I predict a release by March 07.

One major accomplishment today was achieving some clarity on my complete reworking of movement classes. My objective is to break as few maps as possible while making future map design easier. Currently it can be difficult to create areas which, for instance, kbots can climb but vehicles can't, or underwater land bridges which ships can cross as well as vehicles.

The reworking should make this a lot easier. There will be fewer graduations in climbing ability, and they will be more evenly spaced across the possible terrain slope angles. It will be possible to create areas which no units can cross, even spiders. I've also reduced the depth tolerance for amphibious units so mappers will be able to make impassible water areas. Movement classes have been simplified and made a lot easier to comprehend as an end-user.

One example of how this will improve gamplay is, if you know a kbot can climb a given slope, then an amphibious vehicle can also climb it. However, an ampibious kbot will be able to climb slopes that amphibious vehicles can't, since the "amphibious" attribute will always mean it can climb better than normal units. It's my hope that this will prevent amphibious units from being at a total disadvantage on all-land maps, further increasing your strategic opportunities.

There was already something like this present in AA but it's been refined and made much better and more intuitive (I think). If it's sounding like I've dumbed things down, on the contrary: there are actually more movement classes now than there were before.

This is just one of MANY sweeping changes to how AA will be played. When I said before that this mod will be completely different from any existing mod, including BA and previous versions of AA, I meant it.

More updates will be added as the mod continues to progress.

Re: Progress (Update x2 December 23)

Posted: 06 Jan 2010, 20:39
by Caydr
Update January 6

Oh lua, I can't quit you.

Despite attempts to restrain myself, I've delved back into tweaking lua. This is a tremendous waste of time since I'm learning a lot as I go, rather than spending time on what I'm already good at. I really enjoy learning new things though.

On the upside, whenever AA's finally released you'll get a good set of tweaked-for-interoperability-and-awesomeness lua scripts as well.

Re: Progress (Update January 6)

Posted: 06 Jan 2010, 20:42
by Caydr
My first complete script, I actually made this back in August... Because I'm trying to make AA's interface as professional and polished-looking as a commercial game, I can't have the map floating around being troublesome. This script locks its size and position to fit nicely with the Red UI widgets I've implemented.

It's a little overly-foolproof as a result of some things the engine does funny. Yes, it's very simple and not exactly a masterpiece of ingenuity, but it gets the job done. I was originally going to have it unload itself once it did its job but there's some weirdness about window resizing so... well anyway it's simple enough it's trivial to leave running.

Code: Select all

function widget:GetInfo()
  return {
    name      = "REQUIRED: GUI Minimap Size Limiter",
    desc      = "Sets the maximum default size for the minimap.",
    author    = "caydr",
    date      = "August 21, 2009",
    license   = "GNU GPL, v2 or later",
    enabled   = true


local max 			= 191 -- Maximum minimap height/width
local border		= 2 -- Border around the outside of the minimap


	local glconfig = gl.ConfigMiniMap							-- speedup...?
	local mapx = Game.mapSizeX										-- speedup
	local mapy = Game.mapSizeZ										-- speedup
	local round = math.floor											-- speedup

	local ratio = (mapx / mapy)										-- Map's width divided by its height
	local bx, by = (border + 3), (border + 3)			-- Correct for the minimap's border

function widget:ViewResize()		-- activate this widget when the screen resolution changes
	local vx, vy = widgetHandler:GetViewSizes() -- Find the user's screen resolution
	local x, y
	if (ratio > 1) then						-- if the map is short and wide (ratio above 1.0)
		x = max											-- then the X size is maximized
		y = max / ratio							-- and the Y size is divided by the ratio

	else 													-- if the map is tall and thin (ratio at or below 1.0)
		x = max * ratio							-- then the X size is multiplied by the ratio
		y = max											-- and the Y size is maximized
		bx = (max - x) / 2					-- center the minimap in the available space (this is imperfect,
	end														-- it doesn't take into account borders, but it's close enough)

	x = round(x)									-- round the X size to the nearest full number
	y = round(y)									-- round the Y size to the nearest full number
	bx = round(bx)								-- round the X border to the nearest full number
	by = round(by)								-- round the Y border to the nearest full number
	border = round(border)				-- round "border" in case some idiot entered an integer

	vy = vy - y - by							-- calculate where the minimap should sit in the Y axis
																-- ("vertical screen res" - "minimap Y dimension" - "Y border")

	if (bx < (border + 3)) then		-- if the X border is smaller than the minimum border size then
		bx = border + 3							-- set it to the minimum size.  This is to fix perfectly square maps,
	end														-- which fall under the "else" category and lose their border space.

	glconfig(bx, vy, x, y)				-- give Spring the final drawing sizes and positions

--widgetHandler:RemoveWidget()	-- shut down the widget once it has been run once... can cause
																-- problems when switching between maximized and windowed.
Paste it in a TXT and you'll find it's nicely laid out and hopefully all the comments will be helpful for people learning lua.

edit: odd, pasting that in a TXT looks like a mess, but it looks perfectly fine in UltraEdit. Oh well...

I have no idea why things made "local" are speedups, but people seem to think it's a good idea so why not.

Re: Progress (Update January 6)

Posted: 07 Jan 2010, 03:39
by Caydr
Maybe in another week or two I'll be adequately satisfied with the lua suite I've put together and get back to the rest of the work I need to do on AA...

I don't know enough about lua to write anything too complicated from scratch, but I really enjoy butchering others' work to make it do what I want. I seem to have a knack for figuring out how technical things work, even if the stuff I'm doing right now is trivial at best.

I really enjoy learning and this is why I've worked alone on AA for so long even though people have often asked if they can join the project. To me, it's not really a game so much as it's a great experiment, and to me there's no advantage to be had by sharing the workload.

I'm not really even all that concerned about releasing AA at a specific time as I am just finally being absolutely satisfied with the "finished" product. I'm sorry it's taking so long, I'm chipping away at it slowly but surely.

What's happened repeatedly is, I get an area of the game reasonably feature-complete and then I find other whole areas of development that I can work on.

From the desire to make one last "not buggy" version, I've gone to completely rebuilding most of the game from scratch, pretty much excluding only models and scripts. The giant remodeling project is about 1/8th done at last count I think, but it wouldn't make sense in my opinion to only include a fraction of the units as ultra-high-poly.

Relative consistency is ALWAYS more important than absolute quality.