Working on 2nd edition of my book

So this past month I haven’t worked a ton on my strategy game. I wasn’t just being lazy; I’ve started working on the 2nd edition of Unity in Action! That’ll probably take most of the summer to complete, so in the meantime I probably won’t do much on my game. Which is annoying but that’s life; I didn’t know in just a few months my publisher would be asking for a 2nd edition when I started on my game.

That said, I really like working on this game so I can’t stay away from it completely. First off, I’ve done a bit of work figuring out how the UI system will operate. Nothing worth showing off, just creating popups in HTML and writing JavaScript to control them.

Second, I’ve been looking for and playing simple strategy games for research. I know, haha “research”, but seriously I’ve been making a concerted effort to find other games similar to what I have in mind and/or which will give me new ideas. For example, I learned of Crown and Council, which I really wish I could play directly but it’s PC-only so I’ve watched playthroughs on YouTube. Similarly, I’ve been googling terms like “free web strategy game” and “simple html5 strategy game” to find more examples. There are two in particular I want to talk about:

I recently discovered 50 Years. It’s very similar to my plans: it’s a very simple game but very engaging (for me anyway). It reminded me a lot of A Dark Room actually, and I hadn’t been thinking about that game so that was a useful connection to make. 50 Years is also similar in terms of the business plan: it had a web prototype released for free on itch and then a commercial release on Steam. The game mechanics are very similar to what I’ve been planning for my game, only my game will have a map and 50 Years does not, so that difference gives me food for thought…

Anyway the other game I recently discovered is Ocean Tribes. In this case, I wasn’t so much learning from the exact mechanics, as I was learning from how to build a simple game from those mechanics. In particular, I noticed Ocean Tribes was a lot of fun at first, but was an interminable grind part-way through. I’m going to need to be watchful for that happening in my game, and plan how to avoid that issue.

For starters, since the victory condition in my game will be defeating a specific enemy rather than conquering the entire map, that’ll help mitigate any boring period where it’s clear you are winning, but there’s a long war of attrition before you claim victory.

Dividing the Map into Regions

So in my last post I had a pretty good randomly generated island. My next task was to split it up into selectable regions to make the map for my strategy game. As mentioned last month, I ended up not using voronoi cells after all to generate the island; well, I realized that could still be a good approach to generating the map regions, just layered onto the more organic looking island.

Here are a couple examples of the end result:

split-island1.png

split-island2.png

I may want to make the borders more irregular later, but overall not bad for a prototype! Incidentally, the colors are just random for now in order to test the look: the red and blue regions would be the colors of different empires, while the dotted lines are unexplored regions.

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Generating the Island

Since I’m making a light-weight strategy game with a screen size map, I implemented some basic procedural generation techniques to create the random map. I now have fairly nice islands being created randomly; here are three examples:
island1.png

island2.png

island3.png

I probably need to polish it more for the final game (for starters, the beaches imply a scale around an island nation, but I may want more like a continent) but for now I’ll probably leave it like this and move on to other parts of the game. I’m aiming to have a prototype in players’ hands soon so that I can start gathering feedback, and I don’t really need anything more than the island outline for that initial prototype. Plus the publisher of my book just contacted me about possibly doing a 2nd edition, so I may be busy with that soon.

At any rate, here’s how it’s done:

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New blog, New game

I’m pleased to say I’ve started working on a new game! It’s a simplified empire-building strategy game with an rpg-style narrative and quest system. By “simplified empire-building” I mean something like Risk, but my game will procedurally generate both the map and quests. I just started developing the prototype, and here’s a screenshot of the world map so far:

bw-hexmap.png

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Post Zero

I’ve registered this new blog because I’m going to start a new project shortly, and I wanted a place to post updates about what I’m working on. I wrote a couple entries at a shared developer blog and decided I wanted a place of my own.

To kick things off, I’ll just point out some Python scripts I wrote recently, for both Blender and Maya, that export data (JSON or XML format) about all the objects in the scene. This is good for quickie level editing, since the data includes their names and positions:

Dropper (for Maya)

Dropper (for Blender)