Worklog Entry – The Shining Source http://www.shiningsource.org Home of the Shining Style! A great place for developers of shining force fan games to hang out, exchange tips and share their projects. Sun, 24 Dec 2017 12:15:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Project Update – July 19th, 2016 http://www.shiningsource.org/2016/07/project-update-july-19th-2016/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2016/07/project-update-july-19th-2016/#respond Wed, 20 Jul 2016 00:54:13 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.org/2016/07/project-update-july-19th-2016/

It seems like every project update usually contains a bunch of notes about boring engine internals. So here’s a screenshot of Demo 5’s first battle instead.

Some of the graphics are still placeholders, but it’s slowly starting to look like a game. And it wouldn’t be the same game without a bushman to ruin your day.

Read more on Project Update – July 19th, 2016…

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It seems like every project update usually contains a bunch of notes about boring engine internals. So here’s a screenshot of Demo 5’s first battle instead.

Some of the graphics are still placeholders, but it’s slowly starting to look like a game. And it wouldn’t be the same game without a bushman to ruin your day.

One thing I really wanted to improve on from previous demos was how the battlefield affects movement. There are already some slow and defensive paths, as well as some aggressive but risky ones.

Internally there have been some big improvements made. Basic character inventory and magic screens are up and running, although they’re rather ugly and will be getting a redesign at some point.

I also spent some time building tools to help with development. Seeing as I spent so much time trying to make everything data-driven, it seemed silly to have to restart the game to load new changes. With that in mind, I built three tools:

  • blamit – Listens for changes to a directory, and when a change occurs will execute one or more build targets. This is used to listen for changes to the various data folders, and then to re-pack everything and copy it to the project directory.
  • listener – Starts a server and listens for changes to a directory, and sends a message to every connected client when a change is made. The main game connects to this server during startup and will reload resources when a message is sent. If an interface screen is showing (such as the character summary screen) it will reload its definition file and redraw itself. This makes it much quicker to tweak screen layouts.
  • slime-server – This is built into the engine as a service. When running, slime clients can connect to the game and run script commands. This makes it easier to spawn entities or move them around without recompiling or reloading things.

Even though they took a while to develop, they’ve made development go a little quicker. But more importantly, they’ve made some of the boring parts much more pleasant to create.

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Project Update – February 3rd, 2016 http://www.shiningsource.org/2016/02/project-update-february-3rd-2016/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2016/02/project-update-february-3rd-2016/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 02:57:59 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.org/2016/02/project-update-february-3rd-2016/

The last couple of months have been a bit quiet on the development front, but this year I really want to release the elusive Demo 5. There’s still a lot of pieces that need to fall into place, but every hour spent on the project brings it a little bit closer to release. At least that’s the theory.

Read more on Project Update – February 3rd, 2016…

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The last couple of months have been a bit quiet on the development front, but this year I really want to release the elusive Demo 5. There’s still a lot of pieces that need to fall into place, but every hour spent on the project brings it a little bit closer to release. At least that’s the theory.

The biggest feature I’ve been working on lately has been the status menu framework. It’s one of those things that seemed simple on paper but ended up taking far too long.

Screen stacking was definitely the biggest sticking point. Players need to be able to navigate to new menu screens, but also need to return to the previous screen in the state they left it. Sprinkle in some interactive panels and transition animations and things start to get complex. It’s undergone two rewrites since I started, but I’m satisfied with how it works now.

At the moment the team list and character details screen are implemented, but I’m planning to have the rest finished soon™ so I can move onto something more enjoyable.

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Project Update – August 2nd, 2015 http://www.shiningsource.org/2015/08/project-update-august-2nd-2015/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2015/08/project-update-august-2nd-2015/#respond Sun, 02 Aug 2015 18:00:49 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.org/2015/08/project-update-august-2nd-2015/

It’s been a while since the last project update, mostly due to a hardware failure at the start of the year. No data was lost, but it took a while to get everything back to normal. Unfortunately that means there hasn’t been a lot of progress, but things are still moving forward.

Read more on Project Update – August 2nd, 2015…

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It’s been a while since the last project update, mostly due to a hardware failure at the start of the year. No data was lost, but it took a while to get everything back to normal. Unfortunately that means there hasn’t been a lot of progress, but things are still moving forward.

  • Website rebuilt — The new shiningonline.org looks pretty much the same as the old one, but there are a lot of changes under the hood, mostly aimed at making it easier to publish game content to the web.
  • Scripting engine improvements — The script engine now supports some very basic editor integration, so scripts can be rebuild and reloaded whilst the game is still running. I expect this to be a huge help in the future
  • Lots of screen designs — UI development is my least favourite task, but it needs to be done. Various menu screens are starting to come together, and soon it will be possible to actually manage inventories and teams without using debug commands.

As always, more detailed notes can be found on the Development Notes section of the Shining Online site. Until next week!

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Project Update – January 20th, 2015 http://www.shiningsource.org/2015/01/project-update-january-20th-2015/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2015/01/project-update-january-20th-2015/#respond Tue, 20 Jan 2015 20:50:28 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.org/?p=1448 I was hoping to have this entry posted last year, but there were still some bugs and ugly bits I wanted to iron out before writing about what I’ve been up to.

Read more on Project Update – January 20th, 2015…

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I was hoping to have this entry posted last year, but there were still some bugs and ugly bits I wanted to iron out before writing about what I’ve been up to.

It’s been a busy few months, but progress has been good. The largest task I’ve been working on is the scripting system, and there’s finally enough of it implemented to be able to “play” a short part of the game. There is still a huge amount to do, but I’m pleased with how things are currently working.

Previously I was using a system of triggers, conditions and actions to run scriptable events. This worked well enough for simple things, such as an NPC that says one line of text, but it started to struggle once more complicated actions and cutscenes were required.

In the end I felt the best course of action was to build a scripting language into the game, rather than trying to turn the existing system into something more powerful. It took a few weeks of development, but it’s finally usable. Here’s a comparison between the old and new systems:

Before:

[template_triggers] {
    [*] {
        event*     = EVENT_INSPECT_ENTITY;
        condition* = global_flag_equals('vagabond.has_spoken_to_tensai', 0);
        action*    = display_textbox('[Text goes here]');
    }
}

The above configuration would add a “template_triggers” component to the entity, and assign a single trigger that would listen for the EVENT_INSPECT_ENTITY. When the entity receives the event, it would then check to make sure the “vagabond.has_spoken_to_tensai” flag, and would then display some text if flag wasn’t set.

It’s good for simple things like doorways and one-line NPC’s, but it quickly gets unreadable once more complicated decision trees are needed. You can very quickly end up with a dozen or more repeated conditions. Not good.

After:

(listen :event-inspect-entity
  (when (not (global-flag? "vagabond.has_spoken_to_tensai"))
    (message-box "[Text goes here]")))

I went with a Lisp style syntax, mostly because there is a wealth of information about writing Lisp parsers. The plan is to have a few dozen commands baked into the engine, and then the rest defined in the script engine itself. So far it has worked pretty well, but I expect I might not be so optimistic in a few months.

Probably the hardest problem was pausing the various script processes without blocking the rest of the application. The original script interpreter would run all functions sequentially, which made it easier to implement but impossible to pause a script for external input. In the end I added a stack-based VM and a very (very) simple “process” system, which allows multiple scripts to run in parallel. Processes can pause themselves (and other processes), which makes for some interesting possibilities.

It was a lot of work, and probably not the best way of handling things, but it’s now possible to create some more interesting behaviour purely through scripting.

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Project Update – August 8th, 2014 http://www.shiningsource.org/2014/08/project-update-august-8th-2014/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2014/08/project-update-august-8th-2014/#respond Fri, 08 Aug 2014 08:05:26 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.net/?p=1244 It’s been a while since my last worklog entry. I’m currently working on improving the scripting system so that it can handle more complex stuff like cutscenes and actual interaction. It’s a bit tough and is taking longer than I’d like, but that’s how these things go. I was originally using a simple trigger/action system, but it didn’t really support some of the more complex things I needed. I have a habit of getting distracted I guess.

Read more on Project Update – August 8th, 2014…

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It’s been a while since my last worklog entry. I’m currently working on improving the scripting system so that it can handle more complex stuff like cutscenes and actual interaction. It’s a bit tough and is taking longer than I’d like, but that’s how these things go. I was originally using a simple trigger/action system, but it didn’t really support some of the more complex things I needed. I have a habit of getting distracted I guess.

I also spent far too long rebuilding the entity system to separate the graphical representation (the actual sprite image) from the logical position (co-ordinates on the map). The main reason was so the server doesn’t need image libraries in order to run. Plus it doesn’t really need to know the actual image details, just the position of the character. I probably wasted a week getting it all switched, but I think it’s better to do it now than later.

Another thing I’ve been working on is getting the various menus up and running:

Shining Online - Demo 5

This is my first effort at the status screen. It’s a little different from the usual Shining Force style, but I think it works. There’s still some changes I’d like to make (such as the health bars), but overall I’m pretty happy with the layout.

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Project Update – January 19th, 2014 http://www.shiningsource.org/2014/01/project-update-january-19th-2014/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2014/01/project-update-january-19th-2014/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2014 01:26:13 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.net/?p=1185 Shining Online - Demo 5_003

Nothing too exciting in this update, as most of the work lately has been on getting the scripting system working in a nicer fashion.

  • Treasure chest now stores its state in the game session, which can then be checked during trigger evaluation. In other words, it knows if it has been opened

Read more on Project Update – January 19th, 2014…

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Shining Online - Demo 5_003

Nothing too exciting in this update, as most of the work lately has been on getting the scripting system working in a nicer fashion.

  • Treasure chest now stores its state in the game session, which can then be checked during trigger evaluation. In other words, it knows if it has been opened
  • NPC’s can respond to events and display messages (as seen in the screenshot)
  • Cleaned up the rendering system so screens don’t have to access the render service directly. Each screen has its own render group which it can add items to, and these are automatically added and removed from the global queue

Like I said, nothing too exciting, but progress is progress.

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Project Update – December 27th, 2013 http://www.shiningsource.org/2013/12/project-update-december-27th-2013/ Fri, 27 Dec 2013 18:51:41 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.net/?p=1178 The holiday break is always productive for me, and this year was no exception:

  • Added a new trigger-based event system to the overworld
  • Added basic actions for playing sounds, animations and displaying messages

Read more on Project Update – December 27th, 2013…

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The holiday break is always productive for me, and this year was no exception:

  • Added a new trigger-based event system to the overworld
  • Added basic actions for playing sounds, animations and displaying messages
  • Added basic session service, so that entities can store some state information between play sessions
  • Updated the treasure chest script – it now plays sound and animates as it opens
  • Lots of little bits of internal code re-shuffling to try and make things easier to manage

So far I’m quite pleased with how things are going. The whole kernel-based system has really helped, and coupled with the entity system approach I’m finding it easier to add the basic game functionality. It’s still tricky to add some of the more complex stuff, such as shops and cut-scenes, but overall it’s starting to look a little more like a game each time I work on it.

 

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Project Update – October 8th, 2013 http://www.shiningsource.org/2013/10/project-update-october-8th-2013/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2013/10/project-update-october-8th-2013/#respond Wed, 09 Oct 2013 02:05:11 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.net/?p=1137 I’m afraid it’s another boring update. The last few weeks have brought some good progress, and it’s starting to feel like the seed of a game is in there somewhere. There’s still a very long way to go, but each week brings a little more functionality. Recent changes to the engine include:

Read more on Project Update – October 8th, 2013…

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I’m afraid it’s another boring update. The last few weeks have brought some good progress, and it’s starting to feel like the seed of a game is in there somewhere. There’s still a very long way to go, but each week brings a little more functionality. Recent changes to the engine include:

  • A new camera system for the town — Previously it automatically centered on the player’s character, but if you’ve played Shining Force II you’ll know the camera has an almost elastic quality to it. It took a while to get everything working the way I wanted it to, but it’s pretty faithful to Shining Force II.
  • An NPC — They don’t move (yet), but I plan to add path-based movement so the game can finally have people walking around.
  • Something interactive — The first level now contains a treasure chest that can be inspected. Nothing happens in the game, but internally it recognizes the action and can keep track of if it’s been opened. It’s all data-driven, too, so nearly all the behaviour comes from the scripting system. There’s a lot more to add to this part of the engine, but the basics are there and seem to work quite well.

That’s it for now. I promise the next update will have something to look at!

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Update – June 14th, 2013 http://www.shiningsource.org/2013/06/update-june-14th-2013/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2013/06/update-june-14th-2013/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 00:24:04 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.net/?p=1127 A nice short worklog entry today. Here’s a picture from the latest build.

Nothing exciting from a graphical point of view. It’s exciting for me though, because this is the first time everything has been loaded from disk and not hard-coded. All the graphics come from the resource manager and everything is rendered using the new (stupidly overcomplicated) render pipeline. The entities (Cody and the chest) are built from templates loaded off disk, which is defined in the story file.

Read more on Update – June 14th, 2013…

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A nice short worklog entry today. Here’s a picture from the latest build.

Nothing exciting from a graphical point of view. It’s exciting for me though, because this is the first time everything has been loaded from disk and not hard-coded. All the graphics come from the resource manager and everything is rendered using the new (stupidly overcomplicated) render pipeline. The entities (Cody and the chest) are built from templates loaded off disk, which is defined in the story file.

It’s the small victories that matter :)

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Update – April 29th, 2013 http://www.shiningsource.org/2013/04/update-april-29th-2013/ http://www.shiningsource.org/2013/04/update-april-29th-2013/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2013 13:40:30 +0000 http://www.shiningsource.net/?p=1118 So it’s been a little while since the last Shining Online development diary. As usual, there’s been no activity for a long time, but recently things have picked up so it seemed like a good idea to make an update whilst I’m in the mood.

Read more on Update – April 29th, 2013…

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So it’s been a little while since the last Shining Online development diary. As usual, there’s been no activity for a long time, but recently things have picked up so it seemed like a good idea to make an update whilst I’m in the mood.

Engine-wise things are shaping up nicely. As I’ve mentioned in the Shining Online update thread, the engine data is extremely flexible right now. Weapons, armour and items are all loaded from template files rather than being hard-coded. Since then, things have been updated so all resources (graphics, sounds, maps etc) are all loaded from resource files as well.

This has added some overhead (and probably explains why things have been so slow), but it’s made modifying the game much easier. Adding a new weapon is now a matter of updating the weapons file and adding a sprite resource. All of this fits in nicely with the new kernel-based game loop, so resources and content can be loaded during gameplay, either when a file changes or manually through the debug console.

Along with the new resource and content setup, there’s also a new render pipeline and entity management system.

The rendering system isn’t particularly complex, but it handles stuff like rendering tilemaps and sprite animations. And yes, animations are handled by the resource system so they can be tweaked in realtime :)

The entity system is a topic for another day. Right now it’s still a little early, so the details haven’t been nailed down, but there’s already support for player movement as well as NPC’s. The NPC’s don’t do anything yet, but with a bit of luck they’ll be walking around soon.

The game isn’t the only thing that’s been receiving attention lately – the website will be getting an overhaul as well. The design probably won’t change (I still suck at that), but the backend is being re-written to handle the online features and tie everything together.

Until next time!

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