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Vectronic: Week 7



Sorry for the whole week of silence, I ran into quite into a number of issues the previous weeks, but I'm ready to talk about them more, and how I it got resolved.


Newton Physics (Or how Leadwerks uses this physics engine) has a problem when a non-physics object collides with a physics object. You expect that if a entity using the Move() function would use it's own shape to push anything out of the way. What actually happens is that since the entity has no mass, the entity pretends the physical object isn't there, and just clips right through it. This is most likely like this by design, but for Vectronic it was a huge issue.


The advertised way of doing platforms is to use the Joint class so the entity will have mass and interact with other physics objects. However, the Vecboxes need to be heavy, I'm talking about setting the mass to 80 to prevent the object from bouncing like a kickball. Increasing the overall world gravity effects the player, and I want the box to be lighter when it's activated by the 0g Ball, which makes it easier to throw. Problem was that if a box was to go on these platforms with the mass I need them to be, the box would overwhelm the joint, and break it.


Platforms is something I see important to the project as by now (in the earlier puzzles) they are used for demonstration of how the 0g cube works, and are in the majority of maps I have already made. If platforms can't work, I was afraid I was back on the bus of looking for another suitable engine for the game. Luckly Einlander came to the rescue and set me something that worked better than all my other attempts.


Einlander's script moves the object from it's resting point to another position similar to the sliding door script. It also updates it's Physics Position and Omega in a function called in UpdateWorld. The result was exactly what I want minus a slight jitter in the box, but I'll take it. After experimenting with it though, I noticed that if a box was only partially on it, the platform would ignore the box, and go right through it; a similar problem I kept having. My fix was to create a trigger that's spawned with the platform with it's shape to handle this case, and behavior with the 0g cube. It's still not 100% perfect, but it's better than what I had before. The project was now back in gear.


Another concern I was having was questioning "How much fun is my game, or is it just work?". Running around, shooting power balls at boxes so they change their properties sounds like a good concept on paper, demo maps, but imagine a full 2 hour game of just that? I was worried that just focusing on that would get really boring; so boring that it might even make people to stop short and refund the game.


As if it was not clear already, Vectronic is a tribute to Portal as if it wasn't for that game, I would not be here talking to you right now. I started to think about Portal, and I started to look at it from a weird light: How would Portal be if momentum (Flinging) wasn't part of the game? There are five chambers, and the BTS areas that require or focus on using Portals to fling over gaps, and a good chunk of code is dedicated to make sure the momentum multiplies when going through each portal until the player or object hits it's max speed. But imagine if the game didn't have it, you'd have a game where you walk into walls to move mostly boxes around. Again, this might not seem so bad, but imagine playing it for 2+ hours with only the original elements; it will be similar to what I have now with Vectronic.


The issue I think is the lack of Player Mobility. From my observations, people like to use their weapon to get to an extreme height. Join any Team Fortress 2 server and you'll see Soilders and Demomans blast jumping, and Scouts double jumping everywhere. With PUNT had something called Punt jumping which was like Rocket Jumping, but you could only do it on certain materials. From the feedback I got, people were most excited about that. Only issue is that it required skill, and it was never fully taught.


I'm currently experimenting with this bounce jumping idea. Imagine rocket jumping only on certain materials, but all you need is to double tap Space. I've got only one map done as a proof of concept and to introduce the idea to others to see if it worked. Two days ago, I shipped the build early while this was still being figured out to see if it was worth the effort. I got a positive vibe from their feedback, I got told it was fun, although they didn't fully understand how to control it. Regardless, this might be because I was calculating how high the jump should be based on the time you're falling, not the speed, but it shows that it's not perfect yet.


I should have more information about it next week (hopefully!). I want to go back and forth with my pre-alpha testers until it's a fun and fully understandable mechanic.

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