It’s the Ramjet Anvil Show! This bi-weekly video series is where we keep you up to date on Volo Airsport, it’s development, and the ideas behind all of it. Got questions? Leave them in a comment, and we’ll get to them next episode.
Last month we’ve been busy working on multiplayer and rendering performance. This blog post is all about the challenges we encountered so far while writing Volo’s netcode.
Right after we released v3.5 we moved on to the last big subsystem we still have to build: multiplayer netcode. We don’t have anything playable for you yet, but we’ve done a huge amount of work and I’m going to tell you all about it.
Ack! Forgot to post this new video on the blog. Here you go:
Video time! This one shows of some quick footage of flying relative to other players.
I’ll post more stuff this week, promise! 🙂
High time for an update, methinks!
I have been demoing the game to more and more people, and I’ve been streamlining the feel of the game according to the feedback I’ve received so far. The design principle I’m trying to use is something you can call ‘layered complexity’. I’m making sure that the basic flight manoeuvres are easy to use; you can now perform broad banking turns using a single analogue stick, for example. Fancier stuff (for harsh turns, flips, barrel rolls) will be accessible by using the other controls, turning off assists, and using the basic controls in new ways. The crucial things is that you will have all those things available from the start, and you can explore them at your own pace.
I presented the game in playable form at Joint Venture: Check de Technique, which was an event in Amsterdam about games, audio and technology. Many people liked the basic control scheme, and noted that while it felt really solid, they also liked the sense of growing instability at high-speed manoeuvring. Jarno proposed hosting a playtest session in the AirRebels office soon, and I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re in the neighbourhood of Rotterdam, let me know!
Also, wingman (which is what we call our courageous stick-figure) now has elbows, and he has gotten a tiny bit smarter. New video soon.
I’ve been working on the framework for the game, which consists (among other things) of:
- Editing, saving/loading player settings
- Game types
- Event system
- Runtime assembly loading (for mods!)
Networking is coming along slowly but surely. It’s requiring a lot more study than I thought beforehand, and I’m starting to understand why networking experts get paid so handsomely. I’ll get it done though, I’m sure of it.
The other major thing I’m trying now is loading .NET assemblies into the game live, as described here: http://eej.dk/angryant/general/tipsandtricks/downloading-the-hydra/. Long story short: That trick allows you to build mods for the game using normal Unity scripts. If everything works out I think I can make the workflow such that you can build a mod using the unity editor, compile your custom code using Visual C#, and tell the game to load your compiled mod at startup. How cool would that be huh? Now, I don’t think there has been a Unity game that uses this trick so I’m unaware of any caveats, but since this is coming from one of Unity’s own developers I recon it has serious potential.
That’s it so far, cheers!
I’ve been a little too quiet lately! Here’s a collection of Volo-related tidbits that have been going on.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve put the game in the hands of a bunch of friends. They played a slightly more updated version of this:
In short, they loved it! This is the first version that really engaged them in a just-one-more-go kind of way. This means that the game is intuitive enough to pick up, deep enough to provide a lot of choices and room for skill development, and contains enough feedback for people to identify things they are doing right or wrong.
Amongst all the feedback I’ve gathered several things were key:
- While control feels smooth and fairly intuitive, precision is often either too coarse of too fine. This depends on what they wanted to do of course. When you are performance flying you want to use the full range of your input device for generating very small but very precise moves. Coarse input here means that your movements get exaggerated, which can throw you off course and make you lose altitude fast. I had added some tricks to dynamically alter your precision, but apparently I’ll need a more rigorous solution.
- Gametypes, ranging from real-world (think proximity flight, formations) to very game-like mechanics (think James Bond action scenes). Many people would also like to see the game’s scope include normal skydiving and basejumping. I’m aiming for the game to be flexible enough to allow all kinds of game types, created either by me or by modders. By keeping my code well-organised and by paying special attention to possibilities for code reuse, hopefully you will even be able to do some hanggliding or skysurfing.
- Multiplayer! This is by far the most requested feature. As well it should be; skydiving is hardly a solo activity, right? Since this feature is so important it has become a top priority to get some netcode fixed.
- A replay/ghost racing system. This will get in right after the netcode is done, as it will use a great deal of its functionality.
Some of these features are also based on discussions on the community forum. Check out the Ask The Developers and Wishlist threads to see all the features that the forumites have come up with so far, they’re all very good food for thought. And while you’re there, why not drop in some of your own ideas; we can always use more!
In other news, a couple of graphic-design buddies have started brainstorming about Volo’s graphical style. The logo is their first point of interest and I’m very curious to see what they’ll come up with. Many thanks, and good luck to them!
That’s it for now. I’ve got some course-work related deadlines this week, so I’m not sure how much work I can get done, but we’ll see. 🙂