What I did
Quite a productive sprint this time, all but one item completed. The biggest one I finally tackled was the health bars which plagued me last sprint. Each one displays just above a character and rotates it constantly so they point towards the main camera. They’re looking pretty good now although there’s still a couple of issues. When you switch into aiming mode the health bars stay pointed towards the original camera, which doesn’t look too great. Shouldn’t take much more to figure out a solution to that problem. The current character’s health bar still shows in aim mode too, which gets in the way a bit. This also shouldn’t take much more work to finish off, but that will have to wait until next sprint.
I’ve also improved the shooting mechanics, so that now you get a (really primitive) projectile shooting out at your target, hopefully hitting it. There’s a couple of seconds delay now too so to give you chance to learn about if the shot was successful before play moves to the next character. That one took a lot of rejigging of code to get it working, and could probably do with some more tidying up later. In fact, one thing I’m sorely in need of is a major tidy up of my code to stop them from getting too bloated. Not sure that’ll be for another sprint or two though.
I managed to get a some extra screens sorted so that you don’t just jump straight into the game. When you boot the new tech demo linked to below, it’ll take you to a title page (the image will come later), and let you view the game controls from either there, or within the game itself. There’s also a pair of game over screens, one for each time, although they also need a fancy image to go with them.
I mentioned in my last report that one thing I wanted to do was spend a day focused on playing through a built version of my project when I’m ready to release a new tech demo, which I made a point of fitting in this time. This led to this update going up a little late, but I think it’s worth it in the long run. I did discover a number of small, easy to fix issues that would’ve gone completely unnoticed before, like the wildly different scales before scenes, the health bars disappearing when aiming at someone from above (the movement circle was getting in the way), and that I’d forgotten to hide the big grey hit boxes attached to every character. None of those were particularly tricky to fix, but it’s nice to get them out-of-the-way sooner than later.
Lastly, after finishing up the health bars and some other areas I’ve now released an updated tech demo. Working towards this over the past month has helped me push myself to make sure it’s that bit more polished than the last version, on top of trying to get all the big features done. With that in mind there’s no reason for me to not release a new one in two sprints time.
What I didn’t do
The one task that I didn’t manage to get done this sprint was to take a proper look at the cover calculations and see what’s up with them. That’s not going to go away any time soon until I do, so that one’s on the top of my list next sprint. I’ll need to create a new level specifically so I can aim at characters at different angles and different levels. Other than that it was a pretty good sprint.
What I will do next time
I’m going to make sure I get the leftover problems from this past sprint polished up and out-of-the-way. First on the list is that cover calculation problems which I just mentioned. After that I’ll fix up the health bar issues I mentioned before, namely them needing to point at the aiming camera when you switch to aim mode, and hiding the current player’s health bar to free up the view somewhat.
When looking up other items to add to this list I realised that it’s run surprisingly low, which mostly bug fixes and clean up work left. The game isn’t anywhere near that complete, but I’ve neglected to spend much time thinking about what’s left. The biggest stand outs are the following:
- Networking – Will allow you to play the game online. I’ve done nothing for this so far.
- Combat – Ranged combat, now that it sort of works, needs expanding to more than just one weapon type, possibly including some form of mêlée attack too.
- Interface – The number of giant grey buttons everywhere is starting to get a bit silly. This needs redesigning to become something a bit more pleasing to the eye.
- Code refactoring – I need to take a serious look at my code and refactor a lot of it and start writing some unit tests.
I’m not going to have a great deal of time over the next couple of weeks, but this time I’m sticking to a 2 week sprint and will work on fixing up the bugs mentioned earlier and see what how much I can do to make the ranged combat a bit more varied. I’m also going to start working on refactoring and writing unit tests each sprint. It’s work that will prove invaluable later on, but it’s not the sort of thing that I want to spend an entire sprint on at this point. I will try to do the same thing I’ve done for my pre-tech demo releases and spend a day or two dedicated to writing up unit tests to make my code that bit more solid.
As always, you can see how my current sprint’s going on my Trello board.