Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Game Maker Progress 46: Zooming, Tile Up-Scaled and UI Scaling

Hello everyone,

The last week has been focused on something which I've been meaning to do for a while. Previously the sizes of the map tiles were around 200 x 200 pixels. As such - all UI elements were designed with this in mind. This size made it difficult to put certain detail into the art of the game, and as such - I've been meaning to scale it up to a larger amount - a tile is now 800 x 800 pixels. This has meant that the UI needs to also be scaled up in size, to match the new tile sizes as the camera is further zoomed outward. 

Since I was working with the scaling - I decided to put in Zooming once more; since this feature was planned to be in the game - which I decided to put on the backlog for a while. Now re-added - my goal the past week was to ensure that if I decided to scale up the tiles once more - I wouldn't have the issue to re-adjust the size of the UI again. 

After a few days of working out the mathematics of it - it's working quite well! The system essentially increases the scale of the sprite of the UI element, whilst also maintaining it's position on the screen. This was done by using variables containing the distance from the centre of the screen where the camera is centred, and then using percentages to position the elements on the screen. As long as the scale of the image was correct - the element will remain in place whenever you zoom out.

This has - of course - meant that I have a day or two of going through various UI elements and adjusting the code that positions and determines their scale. However once that's done, everything should be in working order and future proofed to deal with this automatically if I decided to upscale the tiles again!

Until next time,
Dylan

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Game Maker Progress 45: What's next?

Hello everyone,

The next development cycle is under-way - the next play-test currently planned for the end of August. Due to the shorter cycle this time around - the feature list includes far less time-heavy work; and will instead of focus on fine-tuning the issues with the core game-play loop. 

One of the major changes will be moving towards a new way to build your nation - starting with villages, and expanding into larger cities with districts. This has a two-pronged benefit - the first being it eases the player into the growth, requirements and expansion of larger cities, and it also provides a more believable feel to the way the nation expands and grows. Together with this - new structures will be added, together with new resources, all to help encourage a different approach to solving various problems faced within the game, and also tackle new obstacles.



Warmth and health are both planned to be within this next build. Simplistic versions of the larger systems - but it will help gauge the effect of these systems on the game itself, until slowly expanding them to become more enticing and engaging, in relation to planning and consequence. Nation Traits - one of the features which has been planned from the very start - will also begin to be implemented. Nation Traits can be seen as the nation's general understanding of a particular field. As Farming is done more and more in the nation, your people will learn more about farming - unlocking new benefits, structures and ideas. This will help give both a feeling of progression - as well as an indication that the new budding nation is finding it's footing in it's new land.

That more or less tackles the more in-depth and complicated features that might give rise to unexpected issues. Some are prioritised over others - however, they should all fit within the allotted time-frame. Finally - a number of less work-load intensive, more convenient features are planned - such as the ability to view the composition of the workforce in a menu to know how many people are doing what - to an event tracker which will help inform the player of any issues that might be arising, or any events of note.

Much of what's been decided has been based on the feedback generated from the play-test - it was both a motivating and highly insightful experience, which I plan on hopefully replicating more and more as the game progresses forward. 

Until next time,
Dylan

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Game Maker Progress 44: Play-Test Update and Planning the Next Step

Hello everyone,

Yesterday - the first group play-test of Foundation of Civilisation took place. Whilst the game is still heavily in development, the first feedback was both promising and insightful! I was a little bit nervous - as I think many people tend to be when showing of their new work; especially when it is of personal importance. The overall response to the game was positive - the game in it's limited state shows promise to being a fairly enjoyable game to play. 

Before-hand, I'd like to take this opportunity to, again, thank the play-testers for their support and willingness to help try the game at this incomplete state - which I am confident will help make it a far better experience as a game!

A small informal survey at the end of the play-test helps shed some light on how the play-test went. The results will now be used to help plan what needs to improve, what needs to change, what is highly requested to be added next, and where there is interest. Needless to say - this was a small play-test of around 6 individuals, so the size of the sample is limited - but it remains useful none-the-less.

When asked what should be prioritised for the next build of the game - the average responses were as follow;

========================================================================

Higher variety of resources and approaches to fulfilling different needs and tasks: --------------2.16
More structures to build that perform different tasks: -------------------------------------------------2.3
More depth to the population: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------2.83
More depth to the environment [By environment - it is referred to the tiles which structures occupy]: -------3.16
Better reasons to explore the world itself: ---------------------------------------------------------------4.6
Better authentic-feel to tiles: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------4.6

========================================================================

At it's current state - there is also a major need towards giving players a reason to plan ahead, and perhaps even the tools to plan ahead better. When asked how much did you plan ahead when placing your structures, players responses average was as follows;

========================================================================

How much did you plan ahead when placing your structures? [1 not a lot, to 10 a lot]: -------------- 5

========================================================================

When asked about what they'd like to see in the game, the suggestions and ideas were highly varied. Ideas ranging from different types of events to help cause disruptions to the game, which would make planning more critical, to tools that would aid in planning, and controlling the nation itself. Many of these suggestions will likely find themselves in the already planned out systems, to perhaps even being added to the list of features to be added in the future!

The next week will involve planning what to add and test in the next prototype build - which I am hoping to schedule at the end of August. Needless to say, due to the shorter cycle [For the first prototype, it was a 2 month cycle] - less features will be added, and the focus will likely be on both refining what already exists, and adding new features that are planned out for testing.

Thank you for reading through this if you have, and thank you for the play-testers who participated in this play-test!

Until next time,
Dylan