Friday, August 03, 2012

The old playable Prologue

Here's a little teaser of what you can expect in terms of gameplay and pace. The video below doesn't show the new engine we're working at, but the OLD one, it's the old Prologue of Part I, Hunting the Hunter, back from 2008. As you can see the resolution was still 640x480 and it was programmed with Adventure Game Studio. Now it's getting bigger and better, but the pace and the feeling remain the same.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Scripting the future of SOTE

Time for a crucial update. At last, all the main features of the new MMF-built engine have been completed and I've created a custom script editor to parse and execute lines of code, based on an original syntax. The editor helps to write events with code coloring, shortcuts to directly insert strings of code and a lot of wordprocessing features. The final code is converted to plain text and interpreted by the game engine to execute actions. I use a MMF List object as script container, which loads the external script file reading it line after line, and every line is tokenizen by the String Parser with the underscore "_" as a delimeter, a character that will never show up in dialogue phrases. So the final syntax is as follows:  
Character_say_ENG_I'm not going to pick up that thing!_ITA_Non ci penso a raccogliere quella roba! 
Character_say_ENG_Maybe I can use one of my objects..._ITA_Forse potrei usare uno dei miei oggetti... 
This is a screenshot of the custom script editor with some demential random test phrases:
(No. SOTE will be occasionally funny in the best point&click adventure tradition, but not stupid)

Someone said this is becoming the Duke Nukem Forever of the adventures, and maybe that's true. But remember I'm not paid to make it and I'm alone. Nonetheless, the actual scripting may at last start officially. This is SOTE's year zero.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Travelling through hyperspace

Sometimes, when real life is like a big Australian wave of problems (no, not one to ride happily even if you're a professional surfer), reserving even a small amount of time for your passions seems just impossible. The big wave sweeps you away.
Though, SOTE is still being developed, and the pace is faster than before.
Sometimes all I can do is to jump through hyperspace towards what I like the most, whatever the cost is, enjoying the travel.

This is a snapshot of the new hyperspace effect I've recently coded in Multimedia Fusion. It's one of the few things I'm totally happy with, given my usual ferocious self-criticism.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A new beginning: the SOTE Prologue

Another small update to show some images from the new SOTE Prologue, the intro sequence coded in Multimedia Fusion which opens the game. It's a very powerful scene from The Empire strikes back, and a very popular one, only seen from another point of view and in the presence of a new witness, the crimelord Prince Xizor. Those familiar with the SOTE novelization will recall that as the prologue chapter of the novel itself, in which Xizor discovers the relationship between Vader and Luke and plots to destroy Vader killing his son, at the same time making him fall from the Emperor's grace. Nonetheless, there's a difference with the prologue written by Steve Perry for the novel: the lines of both the Emperor and Vader have been updated to match the new dialogue of the 2004 DVD edition of TESB, which back in 1996 probably was only in Lucas' mind.

The scene, as some others that will appear in SOTE, is not an avi/mpeg/flv/etc. movie cutscene externally loaded but a series of events coded into the program, so everything happens in realtime. A funny example is that the thick airspeeder traffic in the skies of Coruscant is controlled by a bunch of code lines that generate every time different vehicles. Every time you launch the game something different will happen in the sky lanes!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Save engine is complete

Just a short update to point out the completion of the save/load engine.
A new feature the old SOTE didn't have -as well as many other graphic adventures- has been added: the autosave. Its usefulness is evident, you don't have to worry about losing your progresses in case the system hangs up, while you still can save the game every time you need to go back to a particular story point.
No pre-defined checkpoints, just a quick autosave every time you enter a game room or every 10 minutes you stay in a room AND you're not idle having a coffee...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

SOTE is back on track

You're right. The risk is that this game could become a new Duke Nukem Forever. It's a risk I want to avoid - note the "I": this is no longer a team of three people, I'm alone working on it, and if three were few, one is less and the task is harder to complete.
I appreciate your urgency to see something finished and I think you'll be rewarded anyway. And yes, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, but that's a limit I must overcome if I don't want to slow down the project too much.
The last year has been very tough, not only beacuse I'm the only surviving member of the team, but also for the birth of my son Alessandro, the most time consuming device for the once perfect "nerd life" that now isn't so nerd anymore but finally IS perfect and complete. Thank you: you take time, yes, but you give joy. Much joy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More pleasure in the Pleasure Temple

I can already foresee an increasing number of comments on this post. Who knows why?
Maybe it's related to twi'leks... But the real deal is inside!

I'd like to point out that each game 'room' has a lot of animations which can't be displayed in these static backgrounds. The few who tested the alpha version of SOTE's first chapter witnessed the great amount of things moving up, particularly in the streets of Worlport, Ord Mantell's main city. Today's expanded background it's just from Worlport's casino quarters.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A wider, bigger, better, cooler Ord Mantell

I know, it's just another post about graphics (that's what I'm working on these days, so live with it or click away!).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Scaling up and widening the good old stuff

Just a little update to show the results of the process of scaling up and widening our backgrounds from 640*480 to 1280*720. Here you can see the Ord Mantell landing point where Dash Rendar's Outrider waits, 'parked' in the immense space junkyard.

It's a matter of adding detail to an upscaled image (only rarely it's been recreated from scratch), redesigning parts of it and adding scenery to fit the widescreen aspect ratio, which forces us to show more of each location.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

32-channels sound engine

The previous incarnation of SOTE was somehow limited in the sound department: Adventure Game Studio didn't offer much control over channels and volumes.
Now, the new sound engine in Multimedia Fusion 2 uses 32 channels and controls each one of them and their volumes one by one.
Channel 1 is devoted to the main background music;
Channels 2-3 hosts occasional secondary musical cues mixed with the first one;
Channels 4-7 is used for diffuse environmental sounds;
Channels 8-12 for audio sources with volume calculated upon the distance from the player;
Channel 13 for footsteps with volume calculated upon the perspective scaling of the player and different step effects based on the type of terrain the player is walking upon;
Channels 14-32 are used for other simple occasional sound effects.

Everything can be done easily, supporting once again the goodness of a difficult choice, the one which led us from a well known program, AGS, to another one, MMF, completely different and not ready to create graphic adventures before having spent much time developing a proper engine.
From a certain point of view, we're recreating AGS inside MMF plus building a SOTE engine.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A new GUI

Upscaling the game to the shiny 1280*720 had a cost that became evident very soon: the GUI (Graphic User Interface, for the anti-nerds), designed for the 640*480, couldn't be used any longer. So, instead of trying to stretch it, basically doublesizing it (you can figure out the awful result we would had got) I've taken a more radical approach.

I've redesigned it completely, taking advantage from the higher resolution to get better graphics and even some additional functions. One in particular -the map- was conceived years ago but never actually inserted into the game. It's meant to help the player to keep track of visited places and possibly to let you teleport there skipping long walks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SOTE goes hi-res

...almost. During the process of rewriting the game engine in Multimedia Fusion 2, we (well, I should say I by now) came to the decision to upgrade the game resolution from the obsolete nostalgic 640*480 to a more up-to-date 1280*720, which at the same time is a higher resolution and has a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.
Most of the graphics I created in the last few years can be easily ported to the new resolution and many locations will scroll a bit less; which is good news, since they'll show more right from the start. Many rooms and even open-space locations should seem less claustrophobic.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A new beginning for SOTE

SOTE is ALIVE. Just to let you know some news... The Adventure Game Studio, whom we've joyfully used since 2004's Tech Demo, has been discarded. Our team coordination problems, the time-consuming job of our programmer and the actual difficulty of programming on a tool that requires advanced scripting skills, making it impossible to replace our code man, have pushed us to leave AGS and start using a more flexible, easier to use and more powerful program, not conceived for point'n click graphic adventures but for any type of multimedia application: ClickTeam's Multimedia Fusion 2.

It's powerful, it's totally customizable, easy to use (even a non-programmer can use it) and it's capable of any type of hardware acceleration effect (multiple layers, parallax, alpha blending, pixel shaders, etc.).
SOTE's new engine is now under development, but we're not starting from scratch, since all our stuff is gonna be reused in a new authoring context. Dusk is determined to complete the code implementation of our stopped chapter, Hunting the Hunter, on Adventure Game Studio, but its' clear that Multimedia Fusion 2 represents the future of SOTE which Boba Fonts will create going on with the rest of the story.
That's the best way to make SOTE more beautiful visually and to accelerate its completion.