Designing Westside and System Updates – Living The Deal – Development Update 05

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As I pointed out in the last post, our current focus of the game right now is on the map layout and basic character features. Wayne has been tirelessly working on assets since then and I’ve managed to make good headway on laying out one of our first areas of the map. 

Westside, is the more industrial sector of Cedarwood City. Host to a number of industry and low-end service buildings that the player will be able to invest in, this portion of the map is mostly made up of warehouses, freight depot’s and factories.

I’ve also been working on some of the other sectors of the map. This is the beginning or the Northwoods area. Which is where the player will start. Their first apartment will be here and their first set of investments will be available in these districts.

Additionally, I’ve began work on a few back-end systems. I overhauled how our content management tools work slightly, making it easier and faster for us to implement/handle game data. Nothing to exciting but some crucial work moving forward.

Doing this though, helped create our “Travel Times” system. If you weren’t already aware, the entire game is psuedo turn-based where specific actions in the game take up an amount of time in your day – making breakfast in the morning, for instance, might take an hour out of your day but will fulfil your hunger needs, making you happier. Anyway, the travel times system means that each building/location are mapped from one another and the amount of time, or money it takes to travel there based on your current location will naturally fluctuate. Previously, it was a generic time & cost for tall buildings – travelling by foot would take one-hour, yet a cab would only take 10 minutes but cost £20 each time. Now though, if you’re closer to the next building you’d like to go to, it’ll take significantly less time and money to travel there, than to get to somewhere on the complete other side of the map. This system is interesting because it should force the player to think a bit more about how best to navigate around the map during their daily activities.

While waiting on assets from Wayne for further map design. I’ve been implementing prototypes and early versions of a few other systems. Here’s a little look at something I worked on yesterday, this is the first pass of a shader effect for when the player enters “trading mode”. This is essentially an effect to transition between the two modes. Once complete, buildings and various other aspects of the UI will also be included in this effect.

Another thing we’ve been experimenting with is representations of the player and  characters in the world. One thing we felt was missing during some early testing of our prototype was a presence of the player, as well as the presence of other NPC’s in the world (After all it’s supposed to be a living city with businesses and life!). So we’ve been working on a couple of solutions. We don’t want the player to be distracted by too much visual clutter, and adding extras into the scene – with no real purpose seems a waste of resources to massively visualise. So we want to represent the life in these environments without too much diversion of the players goals (using items or talking to actual game characters). So we came to trying out an idea of “ghost” extras in these environments, filling the spaces and making the scene look lively but clearly just there for background purposes. We’re not sure yet if it’s the ideal solution, but it’ll do for now at least and makes the environments feel somewhat alive.

 

So that’s more or less where we’re at right now, Wayne is tirelessly working away at the rest of the assets we’ll need for the map as we focus on the final parts of Cedarwood City’s design, Chris is building the main soundtrack themes and aside from map stuff I’m implementing smaller features/systems ready for the next phase in just under two weeks time. I’m confident by then we’ll be in a really strong position to start the dev-vids back up and showing off some serious progress.

Until next time,

Matt

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