The Initial Game Plan

This is just a small post to go over some of the initial game planning.

Lightmaps

Right now I’m working on adding lightmapping support to my editor. Initially I will focus on static sector geometry, but will later add static lighting support for static “instanced” objects as well – in the form of static vertex colors. I think that lighting will provide a lot of the game’s atmosphere, so there will be a lot of focus on making it look good and making sure that dynamic objects mesh well.

Lighting for dynamic objects will be handled by using a 3D light grid system, in the same vein as Quake 3. The light grid will generate a colored directional – based on the dominate, brightest light direction – and a simple hemispherical ambient. Basically when the normal is pointing down, one ambient color is picked up and as it tilts upwards it is interpolated to another color. To see how it works, think of an outdoor scene. You have the sunlight which is captured with the directional, the sky color which is captured from the “top” ambient and the color of light reflecting off the ground – the “bottom” color.

I think that if the light grid is combined with simple fake shadows that are simple (precomputed) shapes but are oriented on the ground using a planar projection – that the dynamic objects will fit very well. Features will be scaled as needed for the various platforms, of course (approximating the light grid with 3 directional lights plus an ambient for OpenGL ES 1.x for example).

The next post will be about the results of the lightmapping implementation.

Level Design and Art

The game itself will technically be split into many levels, but these levels will be inter-connected to form a single world (like Metroid games). The levels will serve to keep the memory consumption manageable while not limited the overall size of the world. In addition the world will be split across 6 major themed areas – each being unique and different looking from the rest. These areas will inter-connect, you could go through a small part of one area to get to another part of the first, or find shortcuts through areas, etc. I’ve not decided what all these areas will be like yet, but I do have the first three planned out.

The first area that you will experience is part of the surface and top-level cave structures. This will be composed of exterior areas and “natural” caves – with a few constructed rooms and other technological elements. The second area that you’ll see is a network of power stations and tunnels, controlling power for the machines on the planet. This will be technological in nature – lots of machines, power conduits, metallic hallways and so on. The third planned area (though probably not the third area you’ll see in the game) is inside the spaceship… more on this part later. 🙂

So the goal, once the basic lightmapping is in, is to start building the layouts, textures and other art for the beginning game experience. Basically from the point you are planet-side to acquiring your first item. Then I will work on the basic game systems to make that part of the game playable – collision detection, doors, object manipulation and player control. (I do have player control now, but have to refine it and add features beyond just looking around and moving).

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~ by xlcontrol on March 20, 2010.

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