Cartographer

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Cartographer

Yesterday I got into The Castle Level, and now little numbers are once again slowly spreading across the layout I’ve, um, laid out. Unlike the last time I’m finding the process a little slower than normal. First of all I can’t start at the beginning like I want, since the level is designed to be started hanging precariously above a highly lethal fall (Pun!). So I started at the bottom of that fall and started working my way up. The issue is that the level has double backs and multiple pathways and multiple doors that go to multiple places. So anything I place I need to double or triple check with the areas around it to make sure that the subtleties of its’ placement don’t totally dog screw the subtleties of a different puzzle. So it’s a little like when I built the Caves. The good side is that once I’m halfway done, the rest should already have a considerable amount of work done.
The other thing is the traps. I have to design the areas to have traps that aren’t programmed yet. So, lets take the Spinning Blade trap. I have no idea how tall the bloody things are, so when the little map shows me to make a platform as high as the spinning blades, that leads to a problem not easily solved. So, what I’m doing is taking a ton of little measurements and trying to be consistent. Later I’ll inevitably have to go back in and make some modifications but I’m trying to keep it as correct as possible on the first go ’round.
The other cute thing is I have to leave spaces for enemies to play. The engine is a little stupid sometimes. Basically it wants art for everything, otherwise it crashes like a Jamaican bobsled team, which is to say quickly before being made into a Disney film (no I will not link that). The enemies are then organized in the databases by type, so different enemies have their own files for stuff. The problem is that the enemies in this stage are of the tougher Knight and Guard varieties, and there are no animations yet for Knights. So I can’t put them into the levels yet, cause like I said, it’ll crash and make the level unplayable.
It’s odd, building around the things that will be there eventually. It’s like having a room mate you never see.

– Right then, to the title. I’ve finally got a general map for The Walls that I’m happy with. Built as a 3D maze I find it just a little tricky to navigate. Since that’s how it in on paper, with lines, that I drew I’m pretty confident that once in the game with fully realized puzzle platforming it’ll be the quasi-3D path finding challenge that it’s supposed to be. Either way I’m putting that on the back burner for now. There are 2 different levels that need doing because I can’t cut them. The Walls do not have that particular luxury, so they await execution or salvation by being, um executed well? Damn doublespeak.

The Composer had asked if there was any gameplay footage available recently. I immediately thought that it certainly wouldn’t hurt. Flashes of trailers (that I could put here even) quickly filled my head with an assortment of awesomeness. So I went about figuring it out. What I came up with was to write everything to a different buffer like the screen capture works in ThiefEd, draw the resulting image so I can see what the hells is going on and then save the image in a folder I cleverly called “movie.” Once I was done the idea was to import those all into an animation program (the Jasc one I’ve got with Paintshop came to mind) and build a .avi or something with the resulting, delicious, animation.
On a basic level all that crap I just said works. It works like evolution though, in that it takes fuggin eons. Since it captures every frame in the game it reads and saves to the hard drive 30 something times per second, or tries to. Truthfully it does it maybe twice per second and makes the rest of the damn game wait until it’s finished, rendering the game unplayable. It’s like playing the game in super slow motion, in a glacier, after eating a months worth of Vicodin. Interesting, but hardly how I want to play the game for any stretch of time. So I’ll figure something else out.
Not all was failure though, since watching the game happen at the speed of 1 frame eventually showed me a quick selection of very, very subtle bugs. First of all the Portal Rectangles were doing something stupid. They were moving the character and loading the new level, but not in a correct order in terms of the rest of the game loop. So basically there was a single frame where the character was jutted across the screen to the new position and the old background was shown. I mean, this happened in a 30th of a second. Not even Barry Allen on a coke bender would notice that in normal gameplay, but I fixed it to death anyway. Now, just after loading the level the Portal Rectangle function draws the new background over the old. So for a 30th of a second there are 2 backgrounds with the new one on top.
I also found that when jumping The Thief’s little feet go into the floor just a couple of pixels before the standing around or running functions trigger and it looked bad. So I scooted up the animation a couple of pixels to compensate. Now es muy bien.