As you might glean from my mutated Parental Advisory guideline, SJ’s story and characters have received some attention recently. The Luminar faction became slightly more relevant to both gameplay and story. Stuff that was added:
- A recurring puzzle element that substitutes keys with something much more interesting, based in Luminar technology
- A Luminar-related item that has far-reaching implications (gameplay, faction lineups, skills, player choice, potentially bad ending)
- Almost-love triangle between main characters became pretty-much-de-facto-love triangle
In general, during the last few weeks and months, the game’s overall design and themes seem to consolidate. No completely new features have been added for quite some time, but existing gameplay elements were improved and new connections between story elements established. The main characters, their motives, personalities and relationships have become deeper. A few things that were still sketchy have been solidified. Story now influences gameplay more directly.
SJ is definitely no longer a game about shooting bad guys. It does still have quite a lot of weapons and combat, but the story is demanding more and more room. It should touch on a number of issues that you don’t see in most games too often.
Out with the old
A recurring issue has been how SJ would deal with the levels it had inherited from the Remake Quake project. In the past, some parts of those were cut and substituted by things such as completely new setpieces. Other parts were more difficult to deal with (and harder to admit they really had to go.)
The theme continues… without further ado, I have decided to dump the entire former e1m2rq level instead of just the outdoor part. It is succeeded by the temple setpiece and a completely new temple dungeon.
The new temple dungeon is designed from the ground up for SJ, including SJ-specific things such as patrol routes, faction installations and facilities, and cutscene locations. It will consist of five small layers arranged vertically. I have designed these layers in such a way that I can build the basic layout rather quickly, then connect them later. There is quite a bit of circular layout going on, with faction patrols and sentinels as well as other factions’ camps providing for emergent gameplay. I feel that this was a much-needed decision. The old RMQ dungeon had been built with a different game in mind, after all, so it was best to dump it.
Cut areas from former RMQ levels:
- The beginning of e1m1rq (Doom 3 homage part – needs rebuilding for SJ’s opening)
- The entire e1m2rq
- The beginning, middle and spiral staircase area of e1m3rq (to be completely rebuilt, spiral staircase moved into temple dungeon)
All this stuff will be dumped into The Rune of Earth Magic, so it’s not lost or anything. This made the decision a lot easier, and both projects end up benefitting from it.
Game in game
OK, one new feature might actually be added; I have an interest in writing a simple board game AI using QC entities; this might end up being a minigame inside Scout’s Journey where the player can compete against NPCs for goodies. The game is based on Tablut/Brandubh/Hnefatafl to fit with some of SJ’s Norse leanings. I haven’t decided on the board size yet, but I made a first board model/texture anyway.
Shadowmaps now work on the heightmap terrain, which is a step towards dynamic sun shadows in outside areas. Terrain isn’t lightmapped, so shadows from vegetation etc are quite welcome.
We don’t get shadows from alpha masked images yet, but this is doable by writing some GLSL. Obviously needs more polishing, but it’s a step in the right direction. Performance is better than stencil shadows, but once I make full use of this, we’ll be at a point where SJ requires a comparatively beefy PC. I’ll probably provide menu options to reduce the system requirements eventually (mostly lighting related.)
From the mixed bag
There’s more, such as new music, new charms, improved cutscene scripts, more technical documentation, the beginnings of LDDs in addition to the GDD, and probably other stuff I don’t remember off the top of my head. I’m still looking at a way to present some of the music on the blog. Apart from that, I’m still aiming to get the first two levels presentable and then dive into modelling and programming again.