The current open beta of Projekt “W” – Phase 2 has been updated to revision 201. New for this release :
- Added a linux x86_64 release. From now on all upcoming releases will also be available for linux x86_64.
- Fixed a bug that stopped ecology buildings from getting finished.
- Fixed wrong global project calculation for minimum required funds to progress.
- (Linux) The sound library (libbass.so) is now loaded dynamically. If there was a problem loading it you get a corresponding message instead of the game not starting.
- (Linux) Executable bits for the start script and the game’s binary have been set.
- Fixed lots of spelling and grammar errors.
You can grab the new releases here :
(Windows) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #201 (~83 MBytes)
(Linux, i386) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #201 (~90 MBytes)
(Linux, x86_64) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #201 (~90 MBytes)
The main reason it took longer than planned to get this release out (the changelog is pretty small) was the continued work on the Mac OSX port. It’s already fully functional and playable on Mac OSX (including all OS-specific stuff like getting and changing resolutions, different timing methods). But no ETA on this yet, as there’s still a lot of testing to be done.
After hard weeks of work, february finally saw the release of a linux version for Projekt Weltherrscher – Phase. This marked the first step on my journey to go multi-platform, something to too easy for a game that was made on and for windows (with an IDE that actually only runs on windows).
But those that are into multi-platform development know how close Mac OSX and linux are in terms of coding (OSX is based on Darwin which is based on unix), so after getting the game to run on linux the next (natural) step would have been porting it to Mac OSX. But different to linux you don’t just set up a virtual machine, install a free distro, your IDE and start porting, no, you need something that actually runs a Mac OSX operating system, and that something is ideally a real Mac. But now I finally have access to a running Mac OSX with all my development tools (lazarus, FPC, xcode) up and running.
So I used the last weekend to start porting the game to Mac OSX, and as I initially thought most of the stuff that makes the game run on linux also works on OSX. I had to comment out a few things that I still need to implement, like iterating display modes, changing to fullscreen mode, etc. but the game is up and running native on OSX for the first time!
So yes, Phase 2 is coming to Mac OSX some time in the not too distant future, and I hope that there are some Mac users out there that are up for some serious strategics 😉
Later than expected (partially due to a power supply failure on my PC) here’s the new beta release #190 of “Phase 2”. As usual it’s available for windows and linux :
(Windows) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #190 (~83 MBytes)
(Linux, i386) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #190 (~80 MBytes)
Here are some highlights from this release, for a full list of changes take a look at the changelog :
- AI Builder for regions
- New soundtrack, including the game’s very own theme song
- New and improved sound effects
- Several improvements to the user interface / gameplay :
- Visual warnings for regions with low loyalty or high pollution levels (right to the region’s flag on the globe)
- The region list can now be sorted by different criterias (economic power, population, pollution level, etc.)
- You can now have the units placed by the computer on the battlefield (by simply ending the placement phase)
- Unit health is now displayed for deployed divisions in regional view
- Almost two dozens of fixes and minor improvements
- One of these fixes includes full support for render-to-texture on older graphics cards (earlier releases would crash in certain parts of the game)
So this release doesn’t only add to the game’s overal atmosphere with the new soundtrack and improved sound design, but also adds some finish with lots of bugfixes and small improvements to the user interface. What’s still missing from the sound design is the battlefield. Units currently don’t have any sounds assigned, but that’s planned for a future release. It’s sadly kinda hard finding military unit sounds that sound good and won’t cost any money.
Also on the list are some missing features like the whole politics area of the game (it’s partially there but disabled for the current build) and the different game modes that I intended to add at some point during game design.
I hope you enjoy this new build of “Phase 2” even more than the recent ones. And a big thank you to all the people that send me their valuable feedback on the game. That’s what actually keeps me motivated 🙂
After all the years that Projekt “W” has been in development the game finally has it’s very own theme song! While adding in new sounds (and replacing old ones) I found the music of the current build to be kinda unfitting and decided to dig through the depths of the internet to find some (free) tracks that would be a better fit for the game’s mood (especially with the new space backdrops).
And while searching through different sources for free music tracks I stumbled upon YD‘s collection over at opengameart.org and quickly found several public domain songs that would fit the game very well. So I decided to put them into the game (replacing most of the existing songs), and send him a notice about the usage of his tracks in “Phase 2” of Projekt “W”.
Not only did he give me permission to do so (I know, the tracks are public domain, but I still wanted to let the artist know about me using them) but he also decided to create a theme song for the game. And not only does it sound great, it also perfectly fits the game’s mood. You can listen to it over here.
So starting with the next release (which is planned for either this or the next weekend) the game will not only come with new (far less annoying) sounds, but also with several new music tracks including this new theme from YD!
Usually I’d add some nice screenshots to show off progress on “Phase 2“, but this time it’s an area of game development that’s pretty hard to show off in screenshots : Sound design.
I find this is one of the hardest parts as far as game design goes, at least for me. I do all the parts of game development on my own (design, code, content, etc.) but when it comes down to sound design, the result is usually so bad or bland that (I guess) most people just turn it off. I remember searching for and creating sounds for a shmup some years ago that took weeks, and when I heard the combined result of that effort running in-game I knew that I just had wasted a lot of time. It was just horrible. Though I don’t have any problems imagining how certain aspects of the game should look and feel, I usually don’t have a clue about “how” a game is actually supposed to sound.
As for the sound design for Projekt “W” – it’s pretty much non-existant. All the sounds in the current build are the same as on the first release of “Phase 1”, and these few sounds don’t add anything to the atmosphere and some of them (like the menu swoosh) are downright annoying. So during the last few weeks I played through some smaller indie games (mostly from IndieDB) and payed close attention to the sound design of these titles. I then quickly noticed that even a few simple GUI sounds can add a lot to the atmosphere of a game, and if you combine them with a fitting soundtrack (I’m still searching for new background tracks, more in the ambient vein) they quickly become a real bonus to the game’s atmosphere.
And since people think that the graphics are pretty good for a one-man hobby project I’d like to get the sound design to a similar level. So for the last few days I’ve been collecting and creating new samples for the user interface (with samples for actions, units, projects, etc. to follow) and even though I only changed and added half a dozen basic UI sounds (button clicks, menu transitions, confirmations, etc.) the sound design has already become a much closer fit for the game’s visuals.
So hopefully the new sound design (that’ll at least partially come with the next release) will add even more atmosphere to the game!
And since I’m sure that a few (hobby) game deves read this : How do you handle sound design? Do you have the same troubles, or is there any easy way to get this part of game design right?
The next public release of “Phase 2” will include a new feature, the AI builder.
Managing your regions (constructing and upgrading buildings) becomes more and more tedious the longer a game has been going on, and once you own dozens of regions later on in the game that you’ll have to manage, this task gets very repetitive and takes up a lot of your time. And since monotony can do a lot of damage to the gameplay I decided to add the option to let the AI do the construction and or upgrades for your regions. And since most of that code was already in place (for the AI controlled nations), getting this feature into the game didn’t take to long.
So starting with the next public release (sorry, no ETA yet) you’ll be able to set up an AI builder for each of your regions with the following options :
The default state. The AI builder won’t interact with that region and it’s up to the player to construct and upgrade buildings.
- Constructing buildings
The AI builder will construct new buildings on free building spots. Once all buildings spots are occupied he’ll switch to passive mode and keep an eye on pollution and happiness in the region. If one of thess crucial factors reaches a dangerous low the AI builder will try to change the building layout of the region to e.g. counter high pollution levels.
- Upgrade buildings
Upon ending a turn the AI builder will check if any of the buildings in it’s region can be upgraded to a better (newer) version. If that’s the case he’ll start constructing upgrades.
- Construct and upgrade
The AI builder will first fill up all available buildings spots with suitable buildings (with priority towards economic power) and then start to uprade existing buildings.
This new feature will hopefully take out a lot of the repetitiveness in the later parts of the game, making it more fun to play. But note that the AI isn’t perfect and that it’s using predefined upgrade paths for the different building types, so if you need the best region layouts possible you’ll still have to do it on your own.
And one thing I’m still not sure about is wether I should implement some kind of penalty when the AI builder is active in a region. Maybe there’ll be a penalty on economic power, having the region output less funds per turn if the AI builder is enabled or something similar. And I’m also not sure yet on wether the AI builder will be available from the getgo or wether it’ll be implemented as a technology that you’ll have to research first before you can active it. What do you think?
It took much longer than initially expected, but here comes a new release of Phase 2, both for linux and windows :
(Windows) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #170 (~74 MBytes)
(Linux, i386) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #170 (~78 MBytes)
Selection of screenshots :
As hinted in my last postings this release includes the new space backdrops as well as the extensive ingame tutorial that’s aimed at both beginners, as well as experienced players that wan’t to know about the details. Due to the extensive nature of that tutorial (70 chapters, ~ 25,000 words in two languages) it took me almost 3 weeks to get it done, and I plan on adding some more chapters and details in the future.
I also changed some parts and visuals of the main menu, getting it more in line with the new space backdrops. And the new game screen now also shows the options on the nation selection screen, so no more clicking through two different screens for starting a new game.
Other than the above changes there were some bugfixes and small additions (e.g. correct display of special characters on Linux). You can find the changelog for revision #170 here.
Now with that release out of the door I can hopefully start to implement the last few missing features, add some more content and do some balancing, getting closer to a final release.
Now that the open beta of “Phase 2” has been downloaded a few times (with a 10:1 ratio between Windows and Linux) it seems that people like it. But one thing I’ve heard several times now was the lack of a tutorial. Since the game is pretty complex, especially compared to the current games, many people are finding it hard to get into the gameplay and actually win a game (I guess it’s the same thing I felt when I played my first matches of “Panzer General” almost 20 years ago).
So I started (re)implementing an interacitve ingame tutorial. “Phase 1” had such a tutorial, but it was pretty basic and since so much changed for “Phase 2” I decided to start from scratch. My plan is to have an ingame tutorial that teaches you all the important parts of the game so that you can hop in the game and win after working through the tutorial.
And as usual this turned out to take much much longer than expected. At first I hoped to get it done in a week (after my work), but I’m now in the third week and I’m roughly half-way through. The index of the tutorial contains 70 (!) chapters, and that number may grow while writing the content and scripts for the tutorial, and it already contains over 10,000 words for the tutorial texts (not including scripts and such for each tutorial step). And since I’m doing the tutorial (like the rest of the game) in two languages (german and english) it takes ages to get it done. I’m even spending my breaks at work to translate chapters from german to english to get it done.
Technically the tutorial is stored in an xml and divded into several main chapters with tutorial steps as their subchapters. Each subchapter contains a text and a subnode for commands that are executed when this tutorial step is started. These steps include opening up a window, changing the game’s view, highlighting UI elements, creating divisions, constructing buildings, etc. So the tutorial contains a very light-weight and simple scripting engine that allows it to be interactive instead of just text explaining stuff. I’m also thinking of expanding the tutorial so it can work as a contextual help too, so that you can e.g. open up the help on the tutorial window and you get the content and highlight from the corresponding tutorial step, which could be a nice addition for players not to keen with the gameplay.
So the next release of the game will finally (again) include an interactive ingame tutorial (which is much better than the external html manual), along the new space backdrops and some bugfixes. Though I don’t have a date for you yet, but my estimate would be “within the next two weeks”.
The backdrops of the different nations have always annoyed me since I started to work on a 16:9 (and currently 16:10) widescreen display. When I created them way back for “Phase 1”, I made them with Corel’s Bryce (a pretty old version) and rendered them for 4:3 and 5:4 displays. And I always wanted to redo them since starting to work on “Phase 2“, which has been some time now, but never actually got around this and never had a clue what to do.
And after witnessing how bad they actually look on a big screen I decided it was time to replace them, and also to get rid of the water plane. Though the water plane was a nice visual gimmick with it’s shaders and reflections, it always felt unnatural to have the globe float above an infinte waterplane. And it also hindered gameplay somehow since it could obstruct the lower regions of the globe.
So along with the old nation backdrops I also removed the water plane and went with a gorgeous space skybox instead (I used this great open source tool to create the skybox). It feels far more natural to watch earth from space (though the nebulae around it is pure imagination and not near relity), with a backdrop that actually rotates with the globe (instead of the old static nation backdrops) and no oddly looking waterplane that the globe could be “dipped” into. Just take a look at the screenshot and you see what I’m talking about :
And if you take a close look at the globe you may notice that it looks a bit better than in the last release. That’s because I worked on the globe’s shaders to make it look more realistic, and also tuning colors and saturation of the different textures. Also note that I restored the old day/night-line that moves over the globe like in the real world again.
And along with tuning the visuals of the globe I also got rid of some fixed-function stuff that’s now done in the shader like the cloud cover. For years this has been an additional sphere that was just layered on top of the globe. I added that functionality to the globe shader (which is now using 6 different textures) giving a slight performance boost.
So what do you think of this new backdrop? I like it much more than the old ones, and it feels more natural. Note that I’ll try to get a video of the updated graphics up in the next few days, as it looks even better in motion.
It’s not completly finished yet (I quickly implemented the changes yesterday and this evening) and I want to add some dynamic objects to the scenery. E.g. a glowing sun in the far background as well as the moon circling above the earth. And yes, I even plan to use that moon as part of a global project 😉
Believe it or not, but after a month of hard work (and only very little sleep), the first open beta release of “Phase 2” for linux (i386) is finally here!
Only a few small issues had to be fixed since my last posting about going multi-platform. No big deal, only a few visual glitches, missing staff images and (very annoying) a missing flood fill algorithm. I use flood fill to generate the colored territorial maps on each turn, and lazarus doesn’t implement this for the linux widget sets, so I had to write one on my own that isn’t slow as hell. And then I did some final game testing this afternoon and only found the game to be perfectly playable, so I decided to finally release the linux version.
(Linux, i386) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #142 (~65 MBytes)
Important : Please run the included “startprojektw.sh” script instead of the application itself as the game needs a certain library to be in the search path to run. If you run the application itself without libbass.so (which is what the script does), the game won’t launch!
Also note that I updated the windows release too :
(Windows) Projekt “W” – Phase 2 – Open Beta rev. #142 (~60 MBytes)
So if you’re a linux user and haven’t been able to play my latest game, you can now run it without using something like Wine. But please note that there may be bugs not present in the windows release, and that I only tested on one linux distribution, so I can’t tell about the other numerous distros out there. So if the game is running for you feel free to comment with your linux distribution so I can see where the game is running and where not.