I’m a bit late getting this post up, but I’ve still got some exciting stuff to talk about!
I made a new video highlighting some of the bigger changes in 0.19 and I hope to continue making videos like this. Here’s the full changelog below:
These changes were mostly centered around improving the game’s visuals — both in terms of how it looks but also how the game communicates gameplay information to the player.
Up until now, the map has been identical on both the friendly and enemy sides. The geometry is still symmetrical for balance, but I created a system that lets me assign a gradient to geometry via vertex colors so that each area can have a different color scheme and change gradually -- and because this stuff isn't baked into the art assets, I can still have everything be relative to the local player.
So both players pictured above are in the bottom player's home base, but it looks completely different. No matter which team you're on, your base will always look friendly and the enemy base will always look.. less friendly. When you switch teams, the colors swap. I might use this system for other effects in the future, but it does have limitations.
To compliment this, I've also made a shader that lets me shift the skybox gradient depending on player position to help give different areas a more distinct feel.
Also added a new medium sized building asset -- nothing fancy, but better than the placeholder box I had before. As I add more details like this, I hope to do a better job communicating the player scale since you’re actually piloting a mech that's about 3 stories tall.
Also replaced the placeholder bridges with this energy bridge thing. That gradient is driven by the shader -- a bit more expensive to render, but it means I don't have to spend time creating different texture assets for different sized bridges. Later I'll probably try to create a system to export the result into an actual texture to save on that runtime rendering time, but in the meantime I'm trying to optimize my workload more than the game itself so that I can squeeze more into each update.
These new team-based force fields use a similar shader effect. Because I'm designing everything -- the maps, weapons, equipment etc -- around the custom progressive CTF game mode, I think these turned out pretty neat. When the enemy's flag is off the flag stand, your forcefields go offline and this opens up some pretty neat possibilities.
Big changes came to the magnet surfaces -- special surfaces that exist in zero gravity that you can land on and stick to, move around, jump off of, etc. I have it so that your mouselook is oriented to your particular magnet surface's up direction -- because zero gravity lacks conventional reference points (trees, sky, etc), this can make it hard to aim effectively. So now I have the skybox gradient dynamically change to help with that. There's a gradient that's oriented to that surface's up direction, darker near bottom, lighter at top, even some horizontal lines that line up with mouse movement. I got into more details in the video so I suggest watching that (starts around 1:30), but this is one of the many challenges I've come up across trying to make a game with mixed gravity and I'm glad to finally have a workable solution for this particular issue
Current State of Balance
Along the way, I’ve also made some small balance tweaks. I think things are a bit more settled and we’re seeing good variety in matches, but I expect more issues to naturally arise as the game gets more playtime.
I think Eye of Jupiter will be my next target for refinement. I think Storm Shot is a little extreme right now. I also think the visuals need work — the thunder effect needs to have more volume to better represent the hitbox and I want to make some improvements to the thunder particles. I also want to make the thunder hitbox width start out thinner and expand the longer your charge it.
I also want to add width to the Multicannon projectiles. I think right now the MC can be a bit inconsistent and this should help — the damage might need to come down a bit once it’s easier to land shots, but I’m going to try and keep its effectiveness about the same. This work is mostly done, but there’s a couple small bugs I need to iron out before I put it in.
Right now I’m busy preparing for GameOn in Vilnius Lithuania, the largest gaming expo in the Baltics. I’m excited to have Arms of Telos be playable there as the game’s first international showing. The update for November will probably be a bit light because of this.
However, once I get back I want to start working on an exciting new game mode for the game. I haven’t given many details, but there’s some discussion here:
I know it’s been tough to find a full match to play in (though we did have some nice full matches last Skirmish Saturday), so this new game mode should help with that. I’m going to experiment with a few different options to see how scalable I can make it.
As always, let me know what you think!