A Burst of Speed: Barren Planet Progress in May
Wednesday, 1st June 2022
After a couple of months of slow progress or no progress, May was a refreshing change, with progress on a number of fronts in Barren Planet. Play-by-mail games are now fully implemented, leaving me to get on with a number of other aspects of the game.
I've begun planning of the computer player. The easy way would just be to adopt the computer player from The World at Strife, and port it to Barren Planet. But that player has many shortcomings, the most important one being that the units don't work purposefully together. So I'm designing a computer player that identifies and prioritises enemy targets, then intelligently allocates units of its own to tackle them. It needs to choose intelligently when the time comes to build new units. And it needs to do all this without advance knowledge of what the unit types actually are, because future DLC may use alternative units and the game needs to handle that.
The title screen is progressing well. I've been going through the units one-by-one, creating 3D rendered versions of them using the venerable POV-Ray ray-tracing software. These units are put together in a scene which will serve as the title screen and the cover for the manual. I may also put greyscale renders of them in the manual. Still to do are some of the units, and the more interesting terrain.
I've finally added pew-pew noises! These use the PC speaker, so don't get too excited about them. A literal pew-pew laser noise is made when one unit attacks another. My best attempt at a boom happens when a unit is destroyed. And when it's the next player's turn in a hot-seat games, they'll hear a little comms beep. I haven't yet decided whether to add a sound for selecting and moving units: that may end up being a bit too irritating and encourage players to turn the sound off. And that would be sad. I've also begun encoding some music for the title screen.
There's been a lot of work on adding scenarios to the First Landing campaign. The whole campaign now has a fixed plan for sixteen scenarios. The plan details the order of scenarios, what terrain each will feature, and at what point larger units and features like repair and building will appear. For each scenario I need to then create the map and the unit roster, and the briefings and debriefings. A scenario has six pieces of text, and despite each piece of text being a couple of tweets long, the storytelling is quite time consuming. I have so far created six of the sixteen scenarios.
In June I hope to continue to make progress on these things. My aims for June are to: start coding the computer player, make progress on the title screen and manual cover, finish any remaining noises and the music for the title screen, add some more scenarios to the campaign, and do a bit of optimisation on areas where I've already identified poor performance. At this rate, unless the computer player gives me significant trouble, I hope to have the game ready for testing in July or August. But as this is a hobby project, real life and other things can intervene, so that date is not set in stone.