After all of the insanity I endured these last few weeks, and yet more debugging, I was finally able to successfully spawn a character on my new landscape. The sense of relief almost brought me to tears. I floated on my little fluffy cloud while my character ran across the land for the first time.
The land itself is nothing special... its just land. No buildings, no trees, no animals... nothing but soil and grass, hills and valleys, and a few interesting landmarks. The sky and weather systems, together with the microvegetation bowing to the wind, lent this otherwise barren land a certain serene beauty. It is an undeveloped, unspoiled frontier.
My sense of relief at finally getting this to work was short lived. Feelings of accomplishment are very much like a drug, especially in that it simply does not last very long. I was of course left yearning for more.
This landscape is a quite a bit smaller than I had originally planned. Because exploration, treasure hunting, and player constructed buildings are key concepts in my game, I need vast landscapes to support it. To get a proper sense of the scale of this land, I started at the west edge of the land and set my character auto-runnng to the east edge. I put on some music ( I listen to jpop mostly ), sat back and enjoyed watching the land pass by as a bright sunny day became ever more cloudy, then dark. Rain fell, lightning lit the clouds. Unfazed by being nearly naked and exposed to the elements, my character continued to run at a pace that would make a marathon runner cry. 26 minutes after starting this journey, my character found herself at the east edge of the land. The rain clouds dissipated, and the sun was shining bright once again.
Size does matter...
This landscape was built twice as long as it is tall ( looking at it in 2D ). To me, it seemed a bit small, especially for my specific plans. I decided that I would probably use this area for a tutorial or beginner area, and a playground for gameplay testing. ( The original test landscape has been disabled for new characters, but will remain a place for my own experiments. )
Taking what I learned from building this land, I began construction on the next one. Considering my plans again, I built the next land just over twice the size of the one I recently built. I might have built it larger, but since I don't know the exact upper limits that the build pipeline can handle, I was reluctant to take any big chances. If I calculated it correctly, it should take an hour to cross it from east to west, and a half hour to north to south. This should give plenty of room for the first phase of the game.
Take it slow...
While building this new land, a certain thought kept creeping into my mind. Player character running. After all the time I spent playing games, the thought of a character being able to just run and run, run everywhere, never getting tired... seems ever more stupid. To me its almost as bad ( but not quite ) as people bunny hopping everywhere. Now I understand there is a certain amount of impatience and "need for speed" in mainstream MMOs, but to be perfectly frank all those grindy games where people run and jump their way everywhere really bother me. Its very difficult to become immersed in a game with such absurdities.
There are some good examples of games that were quite immersive, yet dispensed with much of the unreal player movement characteristics. Even though its not an MMO, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas gave me a good example and a lot of inspiration. I really like that the player can walk, jog, or for certain amounts of time, sprint... but the player gets tired. I would like to do something very similar... except even jogging reduces stamina. Eating and resting should be important, after all.
So how will I appease the less patient, zoom zoom type players? That is what vehicles are for! I hope to be able to implement multi-occupant transportation... but that will be a lot of work. I am going to have to limit the use of vehicles in some way, since the game engine is operating with full collisions. There will not be any players walking through each other, or through mobs or NPCs, and vehicles will be no different. This could potentially cause a mess if there are too many vehicles in any specific area. I have considered having a set number public "rental" vehicles, and making personal vehicles a premium item. It is still quite up in the air.
Currently the latest landscape is being processed by the build pipeline. I started the process yesterday at 11:30am, and it appears to be around 70% done. Large landscapes sure are a pain to process. I'm going to have to plan carefully when I test and tweak, since any adjustments to the physical landscape are going to require another run through this process. Waiting 2 days to see the results of some changes is a bit painful.
Well that is all I have to report for now.
Looking forward to next time...
the Undead Dev