Hello there, my it has been a while.
First of all, I would like to tell those followers of our project that aren’t very close with the development team that all is well. We haven’t given up on the project, and things are progressing nicely. What has happened is that my computer had broken (so no new art from me). I had it repaired, but also bought a nice new desktop also. Making models should be easier now, and I have two computers so it shouldn’t happen again. I also went to England and moved. As such, I’ve been mostly offline for about 3-4 weeks. I’d like to mention that I’m also back in school now at The University of Waterloo, but I think I still have time to work on projects in my spare time. Besides, what is life without working in the community
Risujin had been mostly very busy during the time that I’ve been gone. He’s added a lot to the game, which I’ll cover below. However, he too went on vacation for some 10-14 days or something like that. He too is back just recently and is rapidly getting back into the swing of things. He’s really awesomely self-motivated, and we’re all jealous of his speedy output.
Amanieu, our programming apprentice has been swamped with school work, also went on vacation, and is just finishing up his exams now. I think he’ll be back in action soon-ish, but I don’t really know. Anyway, things are great.
Yeah, I know, blah blah blah, heh. Here is the part that you people care about, the changelog with images! Prepare to be amazed, my friends. I will now write a tour of the game so far.
The first thing you see when you start up the latest Plutocracy client is this screen, what Risujin refers to as “Limbo Mode.” This is somewhat equivalent to what you’d see when you first start up most games, but with as slight twist. The plan is that the UI of the game won’t change modes — ie. you’ll always have the menus that are displayed, you just won’t be able to use them in some cases. As a continuation of this, the server browser will be available at all times, which Risujin has convinced me is a good idea. For example, you’d be able to check if there are people online on another server that you like, or see where your friends are. In related news, we’re contemplating a “buddy list” for the UI as well, so you can keep track of your mates. Anyway, here is the Limbo screen:
So then after you look at the Limbo screen, you’d probably want to get into the game. To do this, you will have to use the Game Menu. It looks like this:
After you click “Host” (or eventually “Join”), the darkness in the middle of the globe and the Plutocracy logo will fade out. And you will meet with the actual game. Theoretically, the game at this point would quickly connect to the server (or start the server) and display the game in progress. This will look roughly like this (but, with, you know, models and players and a completed UI):
I’ll show you some pictures of what the globe looks like at this point. Some things I’d like to point out. We have a moon and sun, both of which emit light (of different colours). As you look at the globe, the stars, moon, and sun seem to rotate around you. The game is slated to have dynamic night and day, with different visibility conditions. In fact, at this point, if you watch one point long enough, you will see the night become day and then night again. It’s all very pretty.
Also, please appreciate the fact that since Lambdanaut left the team, Risujin has rewritten the globe and island generation algorithms. They both work really well now and are very fast. Also, the islands are now well controlled in their creation, meaning that you’ll never have an island that is super massive and annoying to get around. In fact, islands now have size limits. All of this is very impressive to programmers who recognize what a huge task that must have been.
Finally, I’d like to mention that Risujin put a considerable amount of effort into the atmosphere and tile texturing system. You’ll see that there is a aura-like atmosphere around the globe, which not only looks nice, but also simulates the diffusion of light, softening it and spreading it out. Another challenge was the fact that the entire globe is made of triangular tiles. Risujin came up with a cool blending system which makes triangles look like a coherent land mass. Kudos for that, it took some time. Check out the globe and comment what you think. I expect something along the lines of “OMG NICE!”.
I’ll also show you the UI that is currently available. It should be pretty self-explanatory, but I’d like to mention that the console has tab completion which is pretty handy. As in the screen shot, if you hit r_TAB, it’ll show you the possibilities. Our system also actually tells you what the variables do, which makes the console way more user-friendly. Can you tell I’m proud?
Also, we (I think Risujin, Kasuko, Amanieu, and I all had a hand programming this feature) have excellent multi-language/internationalization support now. It’s like seriously very nice. I’ll not bore you with the internals of how it works, but something I’d like to mention is that we have a source parser that finds all the strings that need translating and generates the file for you, so that all you have to do is type in your translated strings into the blanks. The script is slated to have some improvements that will handle merging changes and deleting old entries eventually. Kasuko will probably do it eventually. To change languages, for the moment what you do is type “c_lang ‘LANGUAGE CODE’” into the console, where the LANGUAGE CODE is something like ‘fr’ or ‘ru’. Anyway, here is a screenshot of Plutocracy with the partial French translation:
As for me, I’ve been doing some sketching and plotting for how to change the art style of the game somewhat. I have quite a few ideas laid out and have made some early models. More about this later when I actually have some more things to show. Should be pretty exciting.
Anyway, we’re not dead. In fact, we’re doing really well, and morale is still pretty good as far as I can tell. As the game starts to take shape, it just becomes more and more exciting to work on it. There is a starting time when everything is just a vague mental image, something that is a bit foggy. You reach for it and grab it, mould it until you can see it clearly enough to design. As you design it, more fine-grained ideas start to come to your mind and momentum builds. Eventually, you get something for all your hard work and it’s exciting to finally see clearly that which seemed so surreal a while ago. We have the framework. The globe works. The internationalization works. The model loader works. The user interface works. The game is ready to be born. Hold onto your stomachs, friends. You’re about to witness a baby come into this world.