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Zombie fading is… in!

Wasn’t happy with the way zombies would pop into view as you swept the room with your awareness arc. Thanks to some coding hoodoo, they now fade in quickly and fade out slowly. It’s a really nice effect I’m hoping to show off soon.

The code also did something unexpected but extremely neat – zombies fade into view as they move adjacent to a survivor, so it looks like they’re coming out of a fog to attack you. It’s quite terrifying.

I know a lot of this sounds like gobbledygook as combat has changed so much since the initial video, but I wanted to let everyone know ZH2 is definitely alive. Well, as alive as a zombie game can be. Once you play the combat demo, it’ll all make sense. Trust me!

I’m moving onto the firing code tonight, because it’s been bugging me for a while now. I’m trying to figure out an elegant solution to adding bursts into the existing system, but I’m concerned I’ll need to rewrite it. Which would suck, as I’ve already rewritten it once.

Ah, to refactor or not refactor… that is the question!

Zafehouse 2: Zombies glow red now

When you’re standing next to them. Just so you know which ones are going to bite you if you don’t move somewhere safer. I’m also adding a fade effect when you do room sweeps so zombies don’t “pop” when they appear and disappear. It just looks better.

Fiddling around with the firing logic too. At the moment, survivors try to guess how many shots it’ll take to kill each zombie in their line of sight, starting with the weakest. I thought it was cool until someone pointed out that it’s not realistic. At all. It’s also annoying when a survivor guesses a zombie should take two shots to kill, they fire those two shots and… one of them misses. Cue unexpected flesh-munching.

What (trained) people usually do when they fire a gun is use bursts. The new firing logic will go “Okay, I’m going to fire x rounds at the closest, weakest zombie I can see. If it dies, move onto something else. Otherwise, fire another burst”. The x is determined by the weapon and experience level of the survivor.

Once the combat demo is out, I’ll be curious to hear how people find the auto target selection/shooting done by survivors. I wanted to add more control, without entirely sacrificing the feel of the first game.

My old job is back on the market

David Wildgoose has decided to leave Kotaku AU after almost two years at the helm. Which means Allure’s on the hunt for a new editor. Hey, that’s totally something I could do! ;)

Seriously though, the idea of going back to journalism is appealing. But, I know I’ve found my home in the games industry. It’s more fun to make ’em than write about ’em. At least for me – I think a few people get hooked on the freebies and junkets and lose sight of what being a journo (let alone a games journo) is all about.

It’s great when you accept that you want to move on; it’s even better when you actually do. That’s the hard part.

Best Dominion random card picker? Let’s find out

I’ve been playing Rio Grande’s Dominion for a few weeks now and it’s rather awesome. Donald X. Vaccarino’s deck-building card game features one of the most elegant mechanics I’ve ever seen – unlike Magic: The Gathering or Legend of the Five Rings, players construct their decks during the game and the base set (and expansions) come with all the cards you need so you’re not shelling out megabucks every six months for boosters.

Once you’ve gone through the recommended setups, you’ll hunger for a random draw of kingdom cards. Now, you can shuffle and use the included template cards to come up with a fresh combination… or you can jump online and have a website do it for you in seconds.

Sure enough, more than a few people have constructed online Dominion card randomisers and, inevitably, not all turned out equal. I’ve written a couple of short reviews of the ones I’ve found, and ranked them from worst to best.

So, if you’re curious as to which randomiser you should be using, hit the jump!

Continue reading ‘Best Dominion random card picker? Let’s find out’

Pizza, zombies and… kiwis?

This series of interactive YouTube videos straight from New Zealand puts you in the shoes of a pizza delivery dude stuck in a zombie-infested city. I’ve seen it described as “Zombieland meets Beached As” and, having watched a few clips, it’s a darn accurate assessment.

Could my homeland be any more awesome? Probably, but not by much.

Where’s that Zafehouse 2 combat demo?

Excellent question!

Truth is, I underestimated how long it would take to debug. I managed to get the demo feature-complete, but the polish just wasn’t there. I’m really disappointed I didn’t get it done, but I’m continuing to work hard to get it out as soon as possible.

On the upside, setting a deadline helped me focus on what was important and it’s looking good. It also made me chop and change parts of the design that weren’t working, and combat plays a lot better as a result.

The biggest change is the addition of awareness arcs. Originally, each weapon had a firing arc that would determine bullet spread. As time went on, this arc made less and less sense, and the only weapon it applied to in any significant capacity was the sub-machinegun. I wanted to keep the arcs, but disconnect them from weapons while buffing their usefulness.

The result is the awareness arc. Each survivor can be in a focused, normal or heightened state of awareness. These states determine the width of that survivor’s awareness arc. A focused arc grants increased accuracy, but reduced defenses against zombie attacks. A heightened arc reduces accuracy, but the survivor has a better chance of avoiding zombie attacks.

The other big change is that zombies not inside an awareness arc are hidden from view. Each combat you will have to sweep the room using your survivors’ awareness arcs and set where each one should look. This means the cop can be focused on killing zombies, while civilians can make sure he doesn’t get attacked from behind. It also reflects that a lone survivor is more likely to be attacked than a group. Survivors are always aware of zombies directly next to them.

Obviously, a focused arc doesn’t let you cover as much of a room as the heightened arc. Survivors will have access to different arc states depending on their experience level, with a character like the cop able to select from all three and newbies being stuck to one (the normal state).

Melee combat is implemented and working, but I’m not 100% happy with how it works. I’m likely going to cut it from the demo, but it will be the first thing I put back in for subsequent releases. Really, the combat demo will represent an alpha test of the game.

I hope you guys can tear it apart and make it even more awesome.

Protect heritage arts! Burn the heretical new ones!

That’s pretty much what I took away from this piece by Richard Mills on The Age.

The article itself is an extract from a series of essays for the Australia Council, so I’m not entirely sure how it ended up on The Age. It’s possible Mills is completely unaware that his diatribe is being viewed by eyes outside of his regular professional circles, and as such, open to criticism from the industries he so flippantly denounces.

Mills’ piece focuses on the New Media Fund, or specifically, its demolishment. More broadly the article puts forward the need to hold on fiercely to our artistic heritage and that all resources, primarily monetary, should be funnelled into is preservation at the expense of the new, regardless of form or credentials.

You’d think the essay would be entirely academic. Not so. In fact, Mills’ is happy to take low shots at anything he deems “nonsense”:

I opposed it [the New Media Fund] vehemently – and in vain – as it seemed to me just another example of meretricious, self-serving claptrap, which confused content with process, masquerading to the weak-minded as new, with a healthy sense of entitlement to whatever funds might happen to drop from the perch of government.

For a man so deeply involved in the performing arts, an industry propelled by creativity, this is an exceptionally narrow-minded view and, to put it bluntly, an immature one. I cannot see how anyone right of mind would approve of stagnation for any discipline, let alone embrace it with open arms, flowers, and a jar of body chocolate.

That’s not the end of it, however.

Continue reading ‘Protect heritage arts! Burn the heretical new ones!’

The Walking Dead

A shakycam trailer of The Walking Dead from Comic-Con 2010. Colour me excited, or whatever palette you feel strongly signifies happy.

Is This Zombie TV Show Tipping Its Hat To Dead Rising? [Kotaku AU]

Deepwater spill hurts sales of indie game Oil Blue?

If this sad story over at Gamasutra is anything to go by, I can only hope we don’t have a zombie apocalypse between now and the end of the year.

Mind you, if the undead do start bashing down our doors, downloads of Zafehouse 2 will be the least of my concerns!

How much do indie PC devs make, anyways? [Gamasutra]

Zafehouse 2’s audio engine: ADPCM versus xWMA (or Much versus Muchness)

I might have mentioned somewhere that I’ve converted Zafehouse 2’s audio engine from Managed DirectX to XAudio2 under SlimDX. I don’t believe I mentioned it here, though.

First, history. The original Zafehouse lacked many elements one normally expects from a game. Graphics, a proper tutorial. Sound. These are slowly being rectified in the sequel. Graphics are being taken care of handily, and a tutorial will be implemented once, well, the game is.

Sound… sound was an interesting one. There are many ways to play sounds in Windows and .NET. You can use the basic, in-built functionality in My.Computer. Or you can venture into the slighly more complex world of System.Media.SoundPlayer.

Both, sadly, are kind of garbage if you’re trying to make a game. That is, a game with more than one or two sounds playing at once. There’s also the problem of being limited to PCM as an audio file format. Hey, if I was willing to have Z2 weigh in at a couple of hundred megabytes, then PCM would be fine. Hilariously so.

Continue reading ‘Zafehouse 2’s audio engine: ADPCM versus xWMA (or Much versus Muchness)’