Recently I ran into a design problem. Some enemies in the game will be immune to bullets and you’ll have to use grenades. Of which you can only carry a few. What if you miss and run out? You’d have to restart the level.
For a moment I considered loot drops. For something you’d be required to get they seemed too random and potentially frustrating. Instead I shamelessly copied Half-Life and added a grenade dispenser!
It’s a box full of… grenades. Just walk up to it and get a refill. The lid opens automatically to indicate you’re not supposed (or able) to break it like the regular ammo crates.
I’d love to see the game running on Steam Deck one day. Until then, I’m using an Xbox controller for testing.
Some menus were impossible to navigate with the gamepad or keyboard. I’m not building any sort of generalized UI framework but this needed to be fixed.
Each menu item contains links to its neighbors and pressing ←↑↓→ changes focus accordingly. In most simple cases, such as the main menu, the autogenerated links were enough but in more complex layouts some were omitted. So added a way to create the missing links manually.
Now I can get right into the game using just the controller, which is cool.
I still really like the base grass texture that I made when updating the tileset.
To add more variety I added a few patches of tall grass here and there. Those are animated and move with the wind. It took a while to make it blend in with the existing graphics but I’m really happy with the result.
Exploding barrels are a nice addition to any game. Devastro 2 already had some but I wanted to make them more fun. Decided to add a burning phase that would indicate a barrel is about to explode.
The fire animation was created in Blender and the smoke is a particle system running live in the game.
Explosion chains are now much more fun too.
This time I focused on the “aim” part… adjusted range and accuracy to make each weapon more unique. There are also new crosshairs which resize based on the accuracy.
The one in the video is my current favorite but there are other options…
The alien AI was a mess. It tried too hard to be clever. The code was fragile and the behaviour unstable.
I threw it all out and implemented a simple flock / boid algorithm. The aliens will stick together and try to approach the player in natural looking groups.
A* pathfinding is gone too. Instead, the player character drops invisible scent markers with a limited lifetime. If aliens cannot get a clear line-of-sight to the player, they will look for the scent dots and follow them. That can eventually lead them back to the player, even around corners etc. It makes it look like the aliens know what they’re doing. Which, of course, they don’t.
The new tileset is coming together nicely. I made a “master sheet” with all the tiles to keep things organized.
I implemented a new material system for tiles. In addition to the visible texture, each tile had a lower resolution bitmap which defined the material at a given spot. This was used for special FX like bullet impacts that vary based on the ground material they hit.
I got rid of that and switched to a polygon based approach which plugs into Box2D. Material polygons are created as invisible objects in Blender and exported into the game.
I also changed the way fences are placed on the map. They are now baked into tiles, so map editing is much easier.
The metatile system is still in place but without the editor. I get enough variety from Blender & Pixelmator alone, so it wasn’t so useful. However I now use its multi-layer feature to draw the fences, because they need to have separate ground / shadow / foreground layers for proper z-ordering.
The first voice recording session for Devastro 2 is over! 200 lines of dialog, 2 different characters, 30 minutes of voice recorded.
The session took place in a professional studio and was handled by Tomáš Karásek aka gaex. Both characters were voiced by the talented James Harries.
Big thanks to you guys!
To keep track of everything, I have a Google Sheets table with extra information about each line, such as the character name, output filename and a number of “tags” that connect the line to in-game events or other dialog lines. This metadata is exported into the game and helps me build dynamic conversations or reactions at runtime.
There’s also a column to generate the audio using the “say” command. I can run all of them in a batch and get all the audio spoken by a synthetic voice for testing before going to the studio.
I played with the main menu title a little bit. To hammer home the “gun being loaded” idea, I set the materials on the “2” to resemble a bullet. Small change but something new to look at every time I launch the game.
I’m still planning to do another pass on the whole thing, fix letter spacing and add a few more details.
Currently I’m working on the dialogs for the game. After watching some footage from Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, I knew I had to have subtitles just like that.
Here’s how it works: if a subtitle comes to an empty screen, it goes to the top line. The second one will go to the line below. Any following subtitles push the existing ones up; the top one disappears. After a short delay any subtitle simply fades out.
Getting this right was quite a challenge. It took me over 3 hours to figure out all the edge cases and make the animations robust enough to handle them. I had a lot of fun making this and I’m happy to have such a nice little system in the game.