FE coding from the trenches

By on February 1, 2012 10:13:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Based on a lot of the posts I read, I think some people have an overestimation of my involvement in FE. 

On the one hand, I am definitely spending a lot more time on Fallen Enchantress than I ever got to with WOM. But on the other, I'm not that involved on the design part. I give lots of suggestions and ideas but it's Derek's call.

The biggest design problem with WOM is that it started out, in my mind, as MOM2 and then morphed into trying to be all things to all people and ended up not being very good at anything. As you read the suggestions in this forum, you can see how quickly the game would be destroyed if we tried to implement even a fraction of the suggestions.  And yet, if I were the lead designer, I would probably have tried to have a bunch of the ideas implemented because I'm not a game designer, I'm a game player and I love most of the suggestions I read.  But being a game designer means making choices and explicitly deciding not being all things to all people.

My focus on FE is on the code. I don't override Derek on design and he doesn't override me on development requirements.

So here's a quick update on the coding parts:

1. We've made great strides on improving the memory foot print.  This won't mean anything for 80% of you but for people running Windows XP, it's a big deal.

2. The strategic AI is significantly better in our internal build now.  It will surrender now if its situation is hopeless.  

3. The tactical AI is starting to get some love. I'm awaiting an API that will let the AI look at upcoming spells (like fireballs) that are in the queue so it can counter spell it.

4. There's been a lot of gameplay changes that I won't go into but I think people will be pleased with.

5. The stability should be substantially better. Keep crash reports coming in.  It's amazing how different systems will expose different flaws in the code.

6. Performance, especially late game, is massssiiiiivvveeelly better. Night and day.  One badly written function that gets called a lot can do real harm.

7. The next beta, Beta 1B (so still beta 1 series) is expected to be out a week from tomorrow. But we may delay it if necessary depending on how the team is feeling about stability, visuals, and balance.

8. The FE specific art is now being integrated (the terrain was still from WOM in Beta 1, beta 1B will have a somewhat different look).

9. I am hoping that beta 1B will reach release level quality in terms of stability, performance, and memory usage. It'll be a big deal (and something that absolutely should be reported) if it crashes on anyone.

10. Game within a game is still a pain in the rear. 

11. Sound system got a lot of coding love this week.

12. While multiplayer won't be in FE 1.0, we've been making the internals much more effective for handling it in a possible future update (i.e. more event driven stuff).  MP support is high on our list of things we want after release.

13. Garbage collection has been moved into its own thread so that it doesn't interfere with the smoothness of the game.

14. Modding will likely be officially sanctions starting with beta 2.

15. Lots of music and sound stuff going in.

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February 1, 2012 10:21:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Question:

 

event driven stuff.  Does that mean you are planning to implement GC2/FFH-style random events?  That's a feature I really want to see added.

 

 

 

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February 1, 2012 10:27:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks or the information.

Greatly appreciated

4. There's been a lot of gameplay changes that I won't go into but I think people will be pleased with.

A spark of hope

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February 1, 2012 10:42:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the info. I'm a bit disappointed I have to wait so long for the next patch, but I'll live. Looking forward to it.

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February 1, 2012 11:04:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Alstein,

event driven stuff.  Does that mean you are planning to implement GC2/FFH-style random events?  That's a feature I really want to see added.
 

No, he's almost certainly refering to how the back-end architecture handles notifications from an external source (another player).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_handler

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February 1, 2012 11:18:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am strangely excited to see how much you changed in the AI tags. I was kind of starting to agree that everything is worth 5. 

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February 1, 2012 11:19:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

But being a game designer means making choices and explicitly deciding not being all things to all people.

Amen.

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February 1, 2012 11:40:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There's been a lot of gameplay changes that I won't go into but I think people will be pleased with.

Typing & posting......

then

Hey, Derek, figure out some gameplay changes!  I'll be pleased.  So will your boss.  So will the owner.  So will one user.

 

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February 1, 2012 11:49:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

13. Garbage collection has been moved into its own thread so that it doesn't interfere with the smoothness of the game.

OMG seriously wtf..

Whats the point of a beta if your going to ignore our input and give garbage collection its own thread.

(I'm sure someone suggested not to do this... wait no? no one? oh well whatever I'm sure someone would have suggested not to do it if we had known you were going to )

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February 1, 2012 11:54:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is a neat post, and I didn't realize you had such limited design control.

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February 1, 2012 11:57:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There is so much cheer in these comments, but we are only laughing so that we do not cry over having to wait another week. 

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February 2, 2012 12:02:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Fistalis,

13. Garbage collection has been moved into its own thread so that it doesn't interfere with the smoothness of the game.

OMG seriously wtf..

Whats the point of a beta if your going to ignore our input and give garbage collection its own thread.

(I'm sure someone suggested not to do this... wait no? no one? oh well whatever I'm sure someone would have suggested not to do it if we had known you were going to )

 

This was hilarious but I think a little too meta for most people....

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February 2, 2012 12:03:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm glad that you are holding off multi for now for a better game and also glad you might add it down the road. Ya more often then not I will play turn based games by myself though on occasion I will play a game with my buddies and its really fun. Also thanks for the update!

 

Actually I do want to talk about something else. Now we all have our opinions on how champs be (not going there now), I am just wondering about soldiers, ie they only get better when you upgrade them with new tech or they level up and get more HP (you been doing only hp bonuses since GCII come on I know you wanna  ). Can we give them some other bonuses when they level (no where near champ leveling abilities). Say every 2-3 levels they also get a random small bonus to their attributes, and or ever 3-4 levels they get low level perks and or abilities. Someone else wanna get this ball rolling with their ideas?

 

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February 2, 2012 12:05:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What I wanna know is, when are you going to release another video of you ambushing a developer with a camcorder?  I love those.

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February 2, 2012 12:09:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Not really the right thread for troop leveling discussion. Maybe start a new one?

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February 2, 2012 1:42:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Fistalis,

13. Garbage collection has been moved into its own thread so that it doesn't interfere with the smoothness of the game.

OMG seriously wtf..

Whats the point of a beta if your going to ignore our input and give garbage collection its own thread.

(I'm sure someone suggested not to do this... wait no? no one? oh well whatever I'm sure someone would have suggested not to do it if we had known you were going to )

 

He really needs two threads: one to mark the problems, and another one to sweep them under the rug.  (previously, they tried just putting all the problems in a box and throwing them out if they didn't cause trouble for a while, but that took up a lot of floor space and made the office smell like Jacoffee)

 

You can all groan together now.  Really, feel free.

 

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February 2, 2012 1:52:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

14. Modding will likely be officially sanctions starting with beta 2.

There's a thread by Heavenfall with XML tag functionality requests. Some of them are pretty generic and would greatly expand the possibilities of modding; I don't know how long it would take to implement them, but some should be relatively low in man-hours. Is there a chance we might see some of these implemented?

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February 2, 2012 1:52:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am starting to wonder if everyone understands garbage collection. I think he was speaking to optimization. 

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February 2, 2012 1:58:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,


6. Performance, especially late game, is massssiiiiivvveeelly better. Night and day.  One badly written function that gets called a lot can do real harm.


 

Amen to that brother, amen to that. I feel and understand your pain.

 

edit: garbage collection and thread... rofl.  No, really. That, or fire your janitor. Appearently he sucks at coding

Another week? *sigh*

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February 2, 2012 1:59:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,
I am starting to wonder if everyone understands garbage collection. I think he was speaking to optimization. 

yes garbage collection is related to memory management.. I figured my post would go over some peoples heads though.

 

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February 2, 2012 2:56:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
 And yet, if I were the lead designer, I would probably have tried to have a bunch of the ideas implemented because I'm not a game designer, I'm a game player and I love most of the suggestions I read.  But being a game designer means making choices and explicitly deciding not being all things to all people.

This is a sound policy, of course. But it implies something else: those things that end up being IN, while other things are being left out, should be entirely nailed, flavour- and implementation-wise. No illogical mechanics, things that make little sense and so on. Otherwise, it's failure again.

I'm writing this since this comment looks a little bit like the ones we used to read for WoM. "You just have to trust us, the game is fine, even though of course we know we can't please everyone".

Well the game has improved a lot, it's undeniable and we're all happy for that. But there are DEEP issues still. Don't try to be all things for all people, ok on that... but many of the suggestions that are coming from the community would help the game being at least "something" solid and more based on logic than it is now. I say take the most from them now that there's still time.

 

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February 2, 2012 3:29:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


We reference Brad a lot in our posts because he is an easy target

Ahem.. Whether or not you can answer this, what I do want to know is what are the core gameplay mechanics of Fallen Enchantress?

The equipment menu of the champions? Their trait leveling system? How and where you find them?

The three branches of research? The open space tactical map?

The infinite casting restricted by mana supply?

Endgame-Sprawling empires? Cities boxed in by monsters at the start?

I'm not going to touch on balance issues nor is this the full list of gameplay functions. I'm well aware the intention of this beta is to find the right numbers to get things to work properly, but is that the only intention of the beta? If there are mechanics that are not going to change due to time constraints, a considerable ammount of effort is being wasted on attempting to invent new systems that could instead be used to improve the ones currently in place.

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February 2, 2012 3:49:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

14. Modding will likely be officially sanctions starting with beta 2.

Thanks for thinking about us! I'm looking forward to having access to the workshop.

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February 2, 2012 5:47:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

3. The tactical AI is starting to get some love. I'm awaiting an API that will let the AI look at upcoming spells (like fireballs) that are in the queue so it can counter spell it.

 

eh.. how does a player tell when ai is casting or going to cast a spell?

 

perhaps tactical spells should all have a casting period rather than instant cast?

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February 2, 2012 5:53:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Some spells do have a casting time. The AI is gaining the ability to see when this is happening, so that it can counterspell.

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February 2, 2012 6:04:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Mass damage spells like fireball and blizzard should require at least three actions to cast, since being Impulsive effectively gives you 2 right at the start of combat, effectively allowing them to cast instantly.  Maybe they should even require four actions?

However, I think it would be better if all surviving units on both sides must have at least 1 action after the initial cast, before any super powerful spell is released.  This would essentially mean you have to defend your caster, and resist any counterspells, for one full "round".

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