June 2007

Good news for owners of old graphics cards and more on AI

Project As some people over at a forum I’m active in noted that they wouldn’t be able to play Projekt “W” cause their graphics cards don’t support shaders, I decided to spent some time on implementing a renderpath that works without shaders. Especially the globe uses a more complex shader and recreating something at least similar with the fixed function pipeline wasn’t that easy but in the end I got something that works on old cards and still looks good enough.
This actually means that the former lowest-end card for Project “W”no more is the Radeon 9700 but that it’s also playable on a GeForce 4, with the limitation that the card needs 128 MBytes of VRAM. I tested on an Athlon XP 2600+, 1 GByte of memory and a GeForce 4-Ti4400 (128 MBytes VRAM) and with lowest possible details and at 1024×768 it ran with about 40fps which should be enough for a turn-based strategy game. The screenshot in this news posting btw. was taken exactly on that system!

But this is also good news for owners of old cards that are capable of doing OpenGL shaders but that are actually too slow. This mostly includes the Radeon 9500,9700 and 9800 as well as the whole GeForce 5-series that has a bad shader performance. So you’ll be able to start the game without shaders if performance with shaders is too bad on your system.

And I also shouln’t forget to mention that I did put some more work into the AI of the game and I’m almost 100% happy about it (at least for now, I may add some more things for the final relase). The AI has now different personalitites that are changing certain factors and are assigned random if you start the game. This means that no game plays the same and after “watching” some CPU-only games it really made a difference and the outcome was very different each time.

Manual and soundsystem

As the project is already close to finish I started to write the manual several days ago and just finished the english one (the game will include german and english languages, so a german manual will also be included) and it’s roughly 15 pages long. And as this game is a bit more complex than most of my other games it’s really recommended to read this cause otherwise out would be hard to play.

In addition to that I also finished the sound system. Amongst other things it can now directly stream background music from the virtual file system and the tracks are also faded out and in to make a smooth transition between the different tracks that are played during the game. Most of the sounds are also in although it’s not easy to find all the different sounds I need for the game.

More playtesting, balancing, bughunting and AI

Project The title exactly sums up what I’ve been doing on Projekt “W” the last couple of days. After an extensive round of playtesting I squashed the last few remaining bugs and problems I encountered and was finally able to play a whole game without any troubles, crashes or other things that disturbed a smooth gameplay experience. It took me around 90 turns to finish a whole game, playing the oceanic front. Though it’s the smallest nation in the game it’s also the only one with only one bordering enemy nation, so though you’ll have to work with fewer ressources at the beginning it’s easier to defend (and maybe turtle for some time) and makes up for a calmer style of gameplay.

But one thing I noticed during that full game was the weakness of the computer-controlled nations, so I also started to put some more effort into the AI-controlled enemies in order to make the game more challenging, also giving the AI different factors so that each game plays slightly different. I’m not totally done with this but since this is an important part that adds a lot to the final gameplay experience I’m trying to get this done as good as possible (in the end I’m no AI-specialist and this is my first complex AI for a game).

And I also got something else done that was almost haunting my mind, the last remaining 3D-background for the oceanic front. It’s hard to create some kind of background that resembles certain aspects of a world’s region if you don’t know much about it so after googling around a lot I finally got a vision on how it should look like and the result doesn’t look that bad though I’ll still have to finish some things. Just take a look at the shot in the upper left and you can see an in-game shot with the new background.

Well, it’s getting closer and closer to release and playing the game is now a real swift without all the bugs, exploits and crashes I fixed since my last posting!