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D2TM Progress


stefanhendriks
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I have made a screenrecording of a playtesting session I did. This gives you an impression of what 0.6.0 is going to be - although it is bugged (and in demo mode, so the gameplay is very fast due to 1 second build times).

Nevertheless it might be interesting :)

https://dune2themaker.fundynamic.com/2021/05/01/playtest-session-youtube-video/

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Good Job!

My thoughts:

Something looks off about the concrete slabs, lacking some of the 3D shading effect I believe.

Explosions look really nice as does the animated mouse cursors actions, I will say the explosions appear blocky maybe that could be improved some.
 
Many of the flying units seem to want to strafe at strange angles when flying in straight lines 😮

Flying units seem to fly under the smoke effect 😮
 
I love the unit path lines, I'm assuming this is a debug feature but should be gameplay IMO

Carryall shadows are nice but i feel are maybe too dark? should have some level of transparency IMHO, similar to the one used by smoke.

Frigate Shadows seem to be inconsistant from the caryall shadow angle, maybe thats just me.
Like the carryalls appear to fly while the frigate seems to just hover slightly above the ground.

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Quote

Something looks off about the concrete slabs, lacking some of the 3D shading effect I believe.

I noticed this as well. Could perhaps be the zooming feature with 1 pixel offset missing.

Quote

Explosions look really nice as does the animated mouse cursors actions, I will say the explosions appear blocky maybe that could be improved some.

Thanks. They didn't really change that much but yeah I mix the original Dune 2 explosions with something adding a light effect. Just adding a touch. But then again, it could be improved (ie spawning more particles with debris perhaps?)

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Many of the flying units seem to want to strafe at strange angles when flying in straight lines 😮

Yeah that looks ugly, I agree. It is the most easy/straightforward implementation at the moment.

 

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Flying units seem to fly under the smoke effect 😮

Nice catch!

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I love the unit path lines, I'm assuming this is a debug feature but should be gameplay IMO

Those are debug mode lines yes, but perhaps it could be added as a feature for normal gameplay. Not sure how that would improve things, but visually it could be interesting.

Though there are 2 approaches. Currently, the units draw their paths. In C&C RA2 and such you have a direct line to the destination.

Quote


 

Carryall shadows are nice but i feel are maybe too dark? should have some level of transparency IMHO, similar to the one used by smoke.

Frigate Shadows seem to be inconsistant from the caryall shadow angle, maybe thats just me.
Like the carryalls appear to fly while the frigate seems to just hover slightly above the ground.

 

 

You're right about the shadows. They are inconsistent and they are wrong even. I want to simulate height by playing with the shadows. But I didn't finish anything there. 

The frigate has no changed code regarding shadows, so it renders in DEMO 4 mode. But Carry-Alls render differently. I created a ticket to deal with that. 

 

Thx for the feedback btw. I try to post some YT videos about in-between versions so people can still see progress. From your response I guess you also saw some YT videos ?

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Posted (edited)

Yea I saw the YT video :) watched to the end when u struggled to find the last Rocket Trooper and he got killed by your base.

With regards to the line feature, I only wish it was gameplay for one reason and one reason only.
Units like to path over spice blooms, knowing if they intend to do this before hand is a good thing.

I do my best to follow you're tweets but i'm not a twitter person really so YT is a good place to post :)

Edited by Rippsblack
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Posted (edited)

Been thinking about the line implementation thing.

Upon further consideration I now understand why the C&C RA2 line paths are direct lines to the destination rather than showing the full path the unit takes, this is simply to stop the unit AI revealing too much about the terrain ahead through the magic of its path finding.

I feel like I've come up with a solution to keep everyone happy, Draw the path upto the fog of war than make the line direct from there revealing no terrain infomation.
I dont know how hard that implementation would be or if its even worth the effort, but w.e 😛

A Few other things that occurred to me:


Do you think it would be a bad idea to increase the credits counter display by an extra digit?
The scale of the maps are increasing so the demand for larger spice stores would increase too don't you think?

Explored map edges look ugly, can we use the fog of war effect to make them wavey?

Friendly structure selection lines, the highlights around the building whatever you u wish to call them don't always go away, I noticed a number of your structures had them on almost permantly, specificly the factory structures.

Unit selection boxes seem to be drawn not quite right and missing the right edge, I only noticed this a third time through the video, and it seems to dependant on the zoom level. similar to the concrete slab problem.

The 'Power' bar uses the letter 'P' to represent electrical power, which is fine, but could we not use a more classical lightning bolt symbol.  I am guessing the use of the letter 'P' was a simple solution to draw a character instead of a graphic since you've used the '$' symbol to represent the spice storage in the same style.

The AI units don't seem to re-evaluate threats and I noticed you took advantage of this fact once or twice by luring the enemy combat tanks into your rocket turrets.
Maybe thats a future nit pick though, But i was thinking each units AI could check the surounding area for threats and re-evualuate its targets each time the AI unit takes damage.  This could prove to be far too effective so maybe just have it recheck whenever its health bar changes colour, which is probably about when the average player would take action anyway.

I'll probably have more thoughts later on, hoping to get my hands on the demo soon ;)

Edited by Rippsblack
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On 5/29/2021 at 3:46 PM, Rippsblack said:

Yea I saw the YT video :) watched to the end when u struggled to find the last Rocket Trooper and he got killed by your base.

With regards to the line feature, I only wish it was gameplay for one reason and one reason only.
Units like to path over spice blooms, knowing if they intend to do this before hand is a good thing.

I do my best to follow you're tweets but i'm not a twitter person really so YT is a good place to post :)

Ah makes sense, another way to reach/follow me is at Discord (see the website for discord invite). YT has less updates (it takes quite some time to make content)

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4 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

Been thinking about the line implementation thing.

Upon further consideration I now understand why the C&C RA2 line paths are direct lines to the destination rather than showing the full path the unit takes, this is simply to stop the unit AI revealing too much about the terrain ahead through the magic of its path finding.

I feel like I've come up with a solution to keep everyone happy, Draw the path upto the fog of war than make the line direct from there revealing no terrain infomation.
I dont know how hard that implementation would be or if its even worth the effort, but w.e 😛

Yeah makes sense. I think the solution you describe might work. It won't be trivial to build I think.

4 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

Do you think it would be a bad idea to increase the credits counter display by an extra digit?
The scale of the maps are increasing so the demand for larger spice stores would increase too don't you think?

I haven't thought about it. In theory the credit bar could be made flexible (in width). I believe currently it has 6 digits, so max amount would be 999999 credits. (although it is purely a rendering issue, the real amount of credits you can have is much more.

4 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

Explored map edges look ugly, can we use the fog of war effect to make them wavey?

Hmm, I guess it is taste. I quite like the sharp edges at the very boundaries of the map. But, yes, they can be made like FOW; the map has an 'invisible' border so I could render that and draw Fog Of War there probably. Though I am unsure if it will look as nice. Especially since I'm unsure if there are tiles for rendering the corners properly (inwards, instead of outwards).

 

4 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

Friendly structure selection lines, the highlights around the building whatever you u wish to call them don't always go away, I noticed a number of your structures had them on almost permantly, specificly the factory structures.

The engine draws the selected structure all the time. You mean you would expect it to be deselected when you are selecting any units?

 

4 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

Unit selection boxes seem to be drawn not quite right and missing the right edge, I only noticed this a third time through the video, and it seems to dependant on the zoom level. similar to the concrete slab problem.

That sounds like a similar issue, yes.

 

4 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

The 'Power' bar uses the letter 'P' to represent electrical power, which is fine, but could we not use a more classical lightning bolt symbol.  I am guessing the use of the letter 'P' was a simple solution to draw a character instead of a graphic since you've used the '$' symbol to represent the spice storage in the same style.

It is as you said. I tried to draw a lightning symbol but it sucket to be honest. So I stuck with a P. Perhaps if @nemafakei was still around (not sure?) I would ask him 😉 , as he and others contributed to the current gfx of D2TM. ( @Timenn as well I believe, but also others).
 

4 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

The AI units don't seem to re-evaluate threats and I noticed you took advantage of this fact once or twice by luring the enemy combat tanks into your rocket turrets.
Maybe thats a future nit pick though, But i was thinking each units AI could check the surounding area for threats and re-evualuate its targets each time the AI unit takes damage.  This could prove to be far too effective so maybe just have it recheck whenever its health bar changes colour, which is probably about when the average player would take action anyway.

I'm unsure how it works right now. I do know any guarded/moving units will retaliate when fired upon. How would you expect it to work? Ie, do you mean the tank should stop chasing my units to my base? Or the tank has to start attacking the enemy turrets perhaps (when attacked, and still chasing the unit?). 

 

4 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

I'll probably have more thoughts later on, hoping to get my hands on the demo soon ;)

cool! Always good to read feedback. I'll create GH issues out of them later; as I still had some questions :) 

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8 hours ago, stefanhendriks said:

Hmm, I guess it is taste. I quite like the sharp edges at the very boundaries of the map. But, yes, they can be made like FOW; the map has an 'invisible' border so I could render that and draw Fog Of War there probably. Though I am unsure if it will look as nice. Especially since I'm unsure if there are tiles for rendering the corners properly (inwards, instead of outwards).

oh yea.... thats a really good point about the inward corners, I guess this really just a non-issue, point of taste really but when I think back to play Dune2 on the amiga the map wouldnt actually pan further than the edge or corner, this probably only worked because of the one resolution used and I get this kinda breaks when you consider larger resolutions than the map you're going to have some ammount of black space or a very focused and limited zoom.

8 hours ago, stefanhendriks said:

The engine draws the selected structure all the time. You mean you would expect it to be deselected when you are selecting any units?

Yeah thats basically right, I expected it to be like in real Dune 2. Deselecting a structure for a unit removes the highlight.

 

8 hours ago, stefanhendriks said:

I'm unsure how it works right now. I do know any guarded/moving units will retaliate when fired upon. How would you expect it to work? Ie, do you mean the tank should stop chasing my units to my base? Or the tank has to start attacking the enemy turrets perhaps (when attacked, and still chasing the unit?). 

I think theres a few possible approaches;

Continue chasing the unit but fire at the target dealing the unit most damage.
Disengage the unit and focus entirely on the higher threat.
Fallback to the base or other friendly units. or basically go back to where it came from.

My personal choice would be to disengage and target the new threat.

I'd just like to see the AI take better care of their units really, I don't know if you could add something like a high cost path for units that try to move near known enemey turrets so they try and avoid doing that.  this is moving near an enemy turret is less likely unless its been specificlly targeted by the units AI. again not sure how much effort to worth ratio that would be but just a thought.

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10 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

oh yea.... thats a really good point about the inward corners, I guess this really just a non-issue, point of taste really but when I think back to play Dune2 on the amiga the map wouldnt actually pan further than the edge or corner, this probably only worked because of the one resolution used and I get this kinda breaks when you consider larger resolutions than the map you're going to have some ammount of black space or a very focused and limited zoom.

I think it would look better to have a different kind of 'fade-in' at the edges. So not fog of war, but a little different. That could work, only requires a few 'tiles' so to speak, and makes the transition smoother. And yes, it has to do with the zooming ability and that maps can be smaller than the resolution (combined really). I've made a github issue for this.

10 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

Yeah thats basically right, I expected it to be like in real Dune 2. Deselecting a structure for a unit removes the highlight.

Ah yes. I've created a github ticket for that too (will be picked up after 0.6.0 though). 

10 hours ago, Rippsblack said:

I think theres a few possible approaches;

Continue chasing the unit but fire at the target dealing the unit most damage.
Disengage the unit and focus entirely on the higher threat.
Fallback to the base or other friendly units. or basically go back to where it came from.

My personal choice would be to disengage and target the new threat.

I'd just like to see the AI take better care of their units really, I don't know if you could add something like a high cost path for units that try to move near known enemey turrets so they try and avoid doing that.  this is moving near an enemy turret is less likely unless its been specificlly targeted by the units AI. again not sure how much effort to worth ratio that would be but just a thought.

there are a few things to untangle here.

One is how the enemy AI should react to threats, and another how unit behaviour in general should be (ie also for human players).

I've created yet another Github ticket to re-evaluate this and spec further. I do agree the units are dumb at the moment, they just chase and do not care for other threats enough. The AI in general should be more aware that a chase should be given up as well.

 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, stefanhendriks said:

I think it would look better to have a different kind of 'fade-in' at the edges. So not fog of war, but a little different. That could work, only requires a few 'tiles' so to speak, and makes the transition smoother. And yes, it has to do with the zooming ability and that maps can be smaller than the resolution (combined really). I've made a github issue for this.

The main reason i suggested using the FOW effect was that the graphics were already drawn, but if you want to create a unique effect that would actually be better as then there would be no chance a player might confuse the edge of the map with unexplored terrain.

 

10 hours ago, stefanhendriks said:

Ah yes. I've created a github ticket for that too (will be picked up after 0.6.0 though). 

Good Job!

 

10 hours ago, stefanhendriks said:

there are a few things to untangle here.

One is how the enemy AI should react to threats, and another how unit behaviour in general should be (ie also for human players).

I've created yet another Github ticket to re-evaluate this and spec further. I do agree the units are dumb at the moment, they just chase and do not care for other threats enough. The AI in general should be more aware that a chase should be given up as well.

Shame we cant just copy the unit behavior from one to the next but I feel like each unit class would need its own behavior types.
For example rocket tanks should try and keep some distance between them and their target.
Rocket Troopers also have a unique AI feature I've yet to see be recreated by any Dune 2 Clone and that is due to the fact they have two weapons to choose from
In the original game you could reduce the damage taken to your tanks by rocket troopers by standing in the very next adjacent tile, forcing them to use their pew pew machine guns at the lower DPS.

I took advantage of this all the time but for a modern game I feel like the troopers should be able to move back a square and keep firing their rockets.
I aint 100% sure but i believe the pew pew machine gun was actually more effective at taking down other infantry, so the opposite was true if you wanted to use your rocket troopers effectively against other infantry.

I dont think anyone even uses infantry in games these days, they are just useless once you get combat tanks and sadly overlooked.
this is probably because combat tanks and all heavier vehicles just path over infantry and slaughter them, maybe some simple logic to allow infantry to attempt to move out of the way might balance this. Who knows...

I'd like to see the infantry units get more use somehow, perhaps by giving them their own unique functions in addition to the capturing of enemy structures. Honestly finding it quite hard to brainstorm for ideas with regards to infantry the only thing I really thought of would be splitting the unit cap into two functions - one for vehicles and another for infantry.
Something I feel should probably be optional so we can still play as close to Dune 2 style as possible.

Edited by Rippsblack
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Posted (edited)
Spoiler

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Love this tooltip, probably want an option to turn it off though ;)

I have more thoughts about this tooltip after about watching 10 minutes of the gameplay from the latest YT video, In the original game, the sidebar used to display all kinds of infomation about the selected structure - most of it useless (not for back then, but for example wind trap info is now handled with a nice power bar).

However one unit did have stats that were useful and probably still would be today, the Radar Structure, it showed the current known population count of both friendly and enemy units. Sadly it did not distinquish between factions but still - good enough. Could we have that infomation back on the radar somewhere? or perhaps in this tooltip?

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Mentant appears to be shorter than he should be? maybe this is good and stops him looking so low res 😛

 

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dune-ii-the-building-of-a-dynasty_18.gif

 

I'm also noticing much of the detailing graphics are missing from or doesn't match that of the original Dune 2 'Select your next conquest' Screen.
looks kinda empty as a result :(

 

Spoiler

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I really really love these particle effects on the carryall, my only thought is they are very hard to see and something you might not even notice, they're even harder to see when flying over concrete, perhaps a different particle colour dependant on the tile its flying over might be a good idea?

You units seem to have a really hard time obeying orders to shoot a spice bloom 😮

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pretty sure you noticed this ;)
 

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DId smoke always behave like this? if not... Good Job! I like it

I know I'm meant to be looking at the AI here, but still:

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Hello

 

Is this the AI moving to defend their base? If so good job!

Spoiler

 

Edited by Rippsblack
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Should'nt have done this; Crippled the AI's ability to rebuild before showcasing if it could 😛

Spoiler

 

Are the Saduarker carryall's meant to be glowing white on the minimap? they look like sandworms, I also have a little trouble spotting the saduarker trooper blips on the radar being so close to the blue of your base. I kinda feel like the radar itself is missing a lot of polish, the most notable being the lack of radar activating animation that displays.  I feel like more could be done to show the emergance of the saduarker carryalls as in real gameplay that would be catch me unaware.

This is strange;

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Whats going on here? Its like he exists in the square above the conyard and is rendering inside the refinery and got stuck?

Also I feel like this may be in error?

Spoiler

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Shouldnt the fire be under the smoke?

Otherwise....
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wow such feedback, thanks! I've got to take some time to read all of it in detail. But you're correct in most cases. All playtesting bugs, except:

 

- the select your next conquest screen is more empty due the higher resolution. I tried to center some stuff here and there and not blow up some gfx, but the result looks more 'empty' yes. (if you have any suggestion to improve upon this then I'm all ears)

- fire drawn over smoke, yes a known issue (no z-ordering, so you get these errors)

- harvesters stuck, yes, no idea why

- units not attacking spice bloom is obviously a bug. Weird! But yes , noted in github...

- About the smoke: No I improved it. I made a shadow (mirrored the smoke, and made it in an angle) and I made it fade out. Looks kinda neat 😉

 

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1 hour ago, Rippsblack said:

Are the Saduarker carryall's meant to be glowing white on the minimap? they look like sandworms, I also have a little trouble spotting the saduarker trooper blips on the radar being so close to the blue of your base. I kinda feel like the radar itself is missing a lot of polish, the most notable being the lack of radar activating animation that displays.  I feel like more could be done to show the emergance of the saduarker carryalls as in real gameplay that would be catch me unaware.

air units are glowing pixels on the minimap at the moment.

The radar surely needs polish. In fact, with the higher resolution (pixels are smaller) and even bigger maps it gets harder to distinguish stuff. So perhaps use the Dune2K color scheme to improve upon that? 

Also, I think some kind of "warning" / flashing when your base is under attack would be nice. (kind of like how Emperor does it)

 

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40 minutes ago, stefanhendriks said:

the select your next conquest screen is more empty due the higher resolution. I tried to center some stuff here and there and not blow up some gfx, but the result looks more 'empty' yes. (if you have any suggestion to improve upon this then I'm all ears)

I see... I think i understand what you mean the graphics being used just don't scale and centre right with the dynamic resolutions of modern monitors and stuff.

Could just approach this differently by including more infomation in the empty space, bump up the dialogue bar and use the lower half to display mission statistics such as spice mined and units destroyed, rank achieved and score.  You never really get to see this stuff until you finish or lose a game so mission by mission details would be very welcome and probably already being tracked by the engine so... maybe theres that?

 

40 minutes ago, stefanhendriks said:

The radar surely needs polish. In fact, with the higher resolution (pixels are smaller) and even bigger maps it gets harder to distinguish stuff. So perhaps use the Dune2K color scheme to improve upon that? 

I played dune 2000 a lot but probably not as much as I should have, I cant really remember what colours were used in that game with the exception that ordos used a much paler green.
Its probably a good solution though, Flying units on the radar in modern games are usually upwards pointing triangles so maybe we could do that?

 

42 minutes ago, stefanhendriks said:

Also, I think some kind of "warning" / flashing when your base is under attack would be nice. (kind of like how Emperor does it)

I played even less of emporer 😛 or remember even less.
Something simple like a radar ping (expanding circle) shown for 1 or 2 seconds near a structure taking damage would be good enough?
Could even write a note in the message / status bar but I seriously think that would be missed in most cases by the player so something eye catching on the minimap i feel is the best way to go.

 

48 minutes ago, stefanhendriks said:

About the smoke: No I improved it. I made a shadow (mirrored the smoke, and made it in an angle) and I made it fade out. Looks kinda neat 😉

Yea this looks fantastic, I wonder if you could do something similar for infantry to cast shadows?

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1 hour ago, MrFlibble said:

I was wondering... Once you complete the engine, would you consider making this into a completely new game with original art, sounds etc. instead of using Westwood's stuff? I mean, if you find the artists willing to make replacements for you.

Yes that is a goal that is in the back of my mind. In fact, thats also a reason why I want it to be able to mod-friendly as well.

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"spends 20 years"
 

I don't really think that can be applied. Because we all know that you had breaks for years.

Same story for me trying to get a board game done, based on RTS. Taking very long breaks too.

It often feels like a hobby at certain points, doesn't it?

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11 minutes ago, X3M said:

"spends 20 years"
 

I don't really think that can be applied. Because we all know that you had breaks for years.

Same story for me trying to get a board game done, based on RTS. Taking very long breaks too.

It often feels like a hobby at certain points, doesn't it?

If you're talking about "has spent 20 years every day on the game up till this point". Absolutely does not apply. We all know that is not true. In fact, I told the dude who interviewed me. Elaborated about other side projects (distractions), basically a 10 year gap (dune2themaker4j happening, etc). But alas it didnt make it in the article. 

If you just look at the start date and compare that with today. Well  you could say it has been going on for 20+ years now. 🤷‍♂️

It feels like a hobby for sure sometimes 😉

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