The Final Stretch(es)

Hey folks,

Things are coming down to the wire now, both for my book and my school projects.  On the book front, I’ve seen several covers so far, and although the final isn’t quite ready yet, I should have a version in the next week or so.  While I’ve been waiting for that, and when I haven’t been directly editing, I’ve been adding some extra content to Book II.  This includes a brand new appendix with some extra lore for those who really love to dive in, and some resources for those who want to be able to flip to the back for a quick refresher at any moment.  Early signs suggest it really helps out and adds to the quality of the read, so I’m pretty excited about showing all of that soon.

On the school front, we had our Alpha presentations this week, and overall, it went pretty well.  We’ve put in a lot of time over the last week improving the game, and it looks significantly better from the last version.  We’ve got most of our art in the game at this point, although there a few things that still need to be done.  There are some areas we want to touch up and make a little more appealing, but the art is present in the actual engine.

Besides that, we added a bunch of content, including a boss battle, which has been a big hit with a lot of people.  You can see it in the video below (this video has sound effects and music, FYI – be ready to adjust volume):

The boss represented quite a bit of work – creating an AI state machine to run through its attack routine, change its damage vulnerabilities, spawn enemies and items, and finally, self-destruct at the end.  In case you’re not familiar with the term ‘state machine’, its a term used by programmers to make themselves sound really smart.  : )

Basically, its simply a term that means you create a system designed to mimic a real system.  For example, you can be sleeping, eating, or working.  Each is mutually exclusive (mostly), and you can’t be in two different ‘states’  at the same time.  A state machine is a method of organizing code and criteria so that everything works in sync. Getting it all to work effectively is another matter, but the term sounds a lot more impressive than it really is.

As for the boss itself, we’re still tweaking it – it’s actually way too hard right now.  I know beat the boss rather quickly in the video, but I still died once, and I’ve got a lot of practice playing against it at this point.  Beyond that, we also need to accentuate the special parts of the battle, like the fact that when the ‘Siege Engine’ (the boss) fires its super weapon, the castle actually gets damaged, as well.  If you don’t eliminate the boss quickly enough, the battle ends when it destroys the castle.  That’s what the second giant green bar  under the ‘Seige Engine’s’ health is supposed to represent, but we need to make it more visually striking for clarity.  We want to add a score screen for the end of the game, and obviously still need a better victory screen, a less sudden transition, and some ending music.  So quite a bit left to do actually.

But there you go.  It might not look like much, but it is still a neat feeling to know I programmed the thing and it works pretty darn well.

Other than that, things have been relatively quiet – things are going to be super busy for the next four weeks.  Next week, there won’t be a post because of projects and the book, but I’ll have a big update for everyone over the Thanksgiving holiday.  To all of you, have a great and safe time with your families.  See you soon!

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