Friday, October 5, 2012

Next Step

Now that a playable version of the first tutorial is up, I have to figure out what's next.  Right now, the next step is to polish the tutorial by adding the remaining objects, correcting the placement of the waypoints and tweaking some gameplay elements.  This will take some time and effort in 3D Max.

I need two additional game objects to complete the tutorial.  The first will initially be a static game object of a mining station in orbit around a mineral rich dwarf planet in the Caprican system.  The second is a relatively detailed dwarf planet.  The dwarf planet will be relatively big.

In addition to these two objects, I need to place various asteroids throughout the map  The asteroids will provide the player with a visual reference point necessary to gain the feeling of movement.  Each waypoint will have two nearby, but not too nearby, asteroids.  I want to minimize the chances of a collision with an asteroid due to poor piloting skills; these asteroids will remain some distance from the actual waypoint. 

To accompany these asteroids, some asteroids high above and below the "starting" plane will be necessary to avoid "void" areas where a new pilot will lose his or her bearing.  Beyond these asteroids, more asteroids will placed in less visible areas radiating out to 40,000 game units (meters).  In future versions, there will be a 10,000 warning zone and a 15,000 disengagement zone.  Past 10,000 meters, the player receives a warning to stay within the parent battlestar's range; past 15,000 meters, the instructor ends the training mission.  In away, this will serve as an artificial map. 

Other than asteroids, I do plan on adding some mining ships and a combat air patrol (CAP).  The CAP will be a Scorpion fighter piloted by a regular, non-instructor, NPC pilot attached to the battlestar.  This will mostly give the scenes of animation and some action.  Consequently, I will have to finish the "ftr" instantiation process at this point in the cycle. 

Once all of these elements are added to the first tutorial, I will create another program.  This program will be a design development tool.  Basically, it will be responsible for accessing and updating the game's database.  The current method of maintaining the database is cumbersome.  I have to delete the database and run an database load scene.  The database load scene has one game object that loads the database via programming code.  The data is hard coded into the lines.  To add an object, I have to add at least three lines of code.  This future design tool will make entering data more efficient and is an absolute necessity in the creation of future missions.  The current tutorial will provide the benchmark test data necessary to test the new tool.

Once these items are addressed, I will revisit the trigger manager to make it more dynamic and less restrictive.  In addition to the current triggers, I already see a need for a delete trigger feature.  The delete trigger feature will be a trigger designed to delete other triggers.  As an example, the first command given to the player is to turn left.  If the player turns right, a trigger should be included to inform the player to use "the other left". The "other left" trigger should be deleted when he or she completes a left turn.  The delete trigger feature will allow the trigger manager to emulate a multi-path system. 

There may be other triggers that need inclusion, and that is one reason I am going to work on it last.  I want to give myself some time to reflect on what features need to be included in the system.

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