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UA 2008: Traces of Illumination - Multiplayer

Discussion in 'Made With Unity' started by jashan, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
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    My entry to the Unity Awards 2008:

    EDIT 3: Fixed &quo in title ;-)

    EDIT 2: Changed subject to "UA 2008: Traces of Illumination - Multiplayer 'Beta' Started"

    EDIT 1: Name change:

    JC's Unity Multiplayer TRaceON
    Experience the Unexpected!

    is now:

    Traces of Illumination
    Experience the Unexpected!

    (see postings on page 4 ;-) )!

    Based on an almost ancient game idea (say "Snake" ;-) ), TRaceON is strongly focussed on the multiplayer and commUnity experience. There will be 12 levels, with a progression towards more team-play and bigger game groups ("game group" is a group of up to 20 people playing together, split up to 4 teams of up to 5 players).

    While the last level seems to be the end of the game... well, I have to say that there are also 12 vehicles planned, and I guess it's probably trivial to guess what you need to do to get the next vehicle...

    The business model is "subscription based", with a single-player evaluation version that includes persistent high scores for players who have registered with the Website.




    Level Overview

    Level 01-03: Each player must have been "the winner" one time. These levels can be played competetively – but as long as one player in a game group has not “won”, the whole game group won’t get to the next level (so it's obvious what many people will do ;-) ).

    Level 04-06: Time Limited team-collection levels: One player of each team must "get something" within the maximum time for that level; there’s no more competition because if one team fails, all teams fail – but there’s also no explicit cooperation

    Level 07-09: Survival Levels - all players must make it to the end (this is basically the "opposite" of 01-03: there, you must be the last one standing, here, you must make sure everyone plays 'til the time is up), while in 04-06 you had to fear that time runs out before you made it, in 07-09, you’re looking forward to time “running out” (because that’s when you win), there’s explicit “inner team cooperation” in level 09

    Level 10: Team-Level-Support-Level: Each Team must support the other teams, each player of each team must "pick up something"; basically, the teams must support the other teams for all to get to the next level

    Level 11: Individual-Level-Support-Level: In this level, each player can and should support each other player, teams are irrelevant - you are now one big group of 20 players trying to achieve a common goal. Time is the only "opponent" (if you wish to think in such terms): The time is so short that only well-organized cooperative play of all players will let your game group see the last level (welcome to the nightmare of balancing ;-) ) ...

    Level 12: Not to be spoken about except among those who have been there!

    Current Status

    The first three levels are finished, and I've "pretty-much" completed the "evaluation version" (which is just single player, plus Website integration - the evaluation version only has three levels by design). It's already online and I've given it version number 0.999 because the tutorial is still missing ;-)

    So, the main work that's left to be done is 9 more levels (4th level currently in progress), and 10 more vehicles. And of course a lot of polishing to make it shine bright ;-)





    Project Website

    See www.ramtiga.com for development Blog, game demos and participation in the beta-test.


    Beta-Test

    Everyone's invited ;-) ... the thing is: Some of the more advanced levels need a full game group of 20 players to even be played, and the server is designed to be able to take "as many players as the machine can take", so I'd also love to do some serious load-testing for which I have a special beta-client feature ("AI-play lets you play as many players as you have machines ... or processing power on your machine to run multiple games at the same time ;-)"). Currenty, I have 15 registered users on my site - I need a lot more, and it'll be a lot more fun ;-)

    History

    Oh well - it all started when I got Unity mid of December last year. See my first demo. That's about 9 months ago... The last major milestone was in May: Announcement of JC's Unity Multiplayer TRaceON V0.88 ;-) ... and for those interested in numbers: when I add it all up (game design, sound design, implementation, play-testing, building the accompanying Website and so on and so on), I'm almost 88 person days into this project (86.2 to be exact ;-) ).

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  2. jashan

    jashan

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    ... hehe ;-)

    Now is a really good time to register with the site and do a little playing because you've got a very good chance to make it to number one in the high-scores ;-)

    Play TRaceON!

    To register, simply click the "Join!"-link in the top right section of the page, next to the search and login (if you happen to start up in German, that would be "mitmachen!").
     
  3. drJones

    drJones

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    looks sweet jashan!

    i'm working now but can't wait to try it out in a little while.

    and thus the UA competition heats up ; )
     
  4. drJones

    drJones

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    ok so the jump powerup is awesome - maybe a bit too empowering (does the ai jump yet?) but man that is a ton of fun! there's alot of room for novel gameplay that can come from this. i like the flashy cycle intro too - in general the extra polish is coming along nicely.

    notes:

    -the camera is a bit rough on level 2, very hard to get your bearing with it jerking around.

    -when you die on level 2 you should start again on level 2 ; )

    -what are the controls for the other powerups? maybe i just missed them but i didn't use anything except boost.

    very well done ; )
     
  5. jashan

    jashan

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    Thanks for playing - and thanks for the feedback!

    The AI currently doesn't use any of the power ups. They do collect them, so they in a way take them away from you - but that's about it. I might some day play more with the AI-side of this, but my main focus currently is on multiplayer. The first multiplayer-only level is in fact "Level 04: Jumping Jack", and I guess the name says a lot. In that level, jumping is an ability you need to master to actually see the next level...

    I might put up an in-between build with multiplayer once I've got Level 04 finished (and fixed some problems in networking I had introduced with the new "power-features") - that'll only be available "in the beta-test", though, i.e. you'll have to first register with the site ;-)


    Thanks for the feedback on the camera - that's a good reality check ;-) ... it's much better than it was before, but I guess I might still have to do some magic to smooth it out a little more. Creating a good 3rd person camera really is quite challenging. I wouldn't want to keep the camera "steady", though, looking through walls. In a way, the "ceiling topology" of Level 02 was created in order to make the camera more challenging.

    One thing you can do is use the keys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 to control the camera distance (1 is "cockpit view", 5 is "very distant overview"), the keys Q and E to look left and right, A and D to turn the camera left or right until the next turn, or Y to lock the camera behind the cycle (this toggles it on and off).

    So you do have a lot of control over the camera, and one part of becoming an excellent TRaceON player is using that control.

    I'm hoping to get the tutorial finished this week-end, cause that will explain this "hands on" - and my feeling is that it's too much to remember it all just by reading some manual (or forum posting ;-) ). I'm also in the process of preparing another screencast which shows this in action (that's kind of equivalent with the tutorial).


    The keys for the powerups actually are included in the power-up icons that you see on screen once you've collected a power-up. But I'm noticing that almost nobody notices - so while this is also a part of the tutorial, that's probably an area that needs polishing. A short primer until that's all set up (you need to collect any of these before you can use them - and you can only use each power up one time after you've collected it; but they "stack", so you can literally farm power-ups to become really powerful ;-) ):

    Jumping is space bar,

    shooting is X,

    bullet time is activated with T (that's really my favorite - and it does also work in multiplayer, obviously slowing the time down for everyone in the game group but - and that was a technical challenge - it does not have an effect on any other game groups on the same server)

    there's one power-up to remove your own wall activated with R (not sure if that's available in the first 3 Levels, though, might be quite rare there, because it's really more a cooperative thing)

    F creates smoke behind your cycle

    M opens the map

    Finally, "up" (cursor up) and W is for using "speed-up"

    and "down" (cursor down) or S is for using "slow-down".


    Concerning the "level advancement": Originally, I thought this was all way too easy and everyone would see the third level about the first time they play, in incredibly short times.

    That said, I have to admit: It took me a while when I first put the game online to reach the end of this little game. That came as a surprise to me ;-) ...

    But in Single Player mode, it'll probably stay that way, because one of the high-scores is "how quickly you do all three levels". Another one (to be implemented) is "how long you manage to keep those AIs alive and still get to the end of the 3rd level". If I give you "repeat level after you crashed", that would be kind of tricky to handle. I'm really seeing this as "one session" (in single-player) - when the session is over, you start over, when you reach the end: You might be famous ;-)

    In the full version of the game (available to beta-testers and later to paying players), you have random access to the first 3 levels in a practice mode, in which you can also control how many teams there are and how many players per team. So you could set up Level 01 with 19 AIs, or play Level 03 all on your own. You can watch this in action in my first screencast.

    For multiplayer, the rules are quite different: Once you have reached a level with a specific vehicle, it is yours to keep (Level 12 being the exception - but don't talk about it ;-) ).

    With multiplayer, there's a different dynamic going on, though: The whole group only gets access to the levels that each player in the group has access to. There's a voting system implemented to select the level - but it offers only those levels that everyone has access to.

    So, if you want to play the advanced levels, you either need to make sure you play with people "on your level" - or you need to support players on a lower level to get on your level ;-)

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  6. jashan

    jashan

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    Just checking: Is everyone getting along with the registration process on the site? I noticed that of all the people who recently signed up, no one completed the registration process :-(

    I've applied some changes to make this a bit easier, but maybe double-opt in is not such a good idea? Let me know if you didn't receive the mail-message with the verification code; and I can easily unlock your account ;-)

    Sometimes, these message get lost in the Spam-Folders, so in case you didn't receive it - maybe it's there...

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan

    PS: The tutorial is "half-ready", probably I'll be done with that by the end of the weekend... but now's party-time 8)
     
  7. drJones

    drJones

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    i registered yesterday i think (under drJones of course ; ) - just checked now and no email in my inbox or spam folder.
     
  8. jashan

    jashan

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    Oh - that's not good, but at least that explains all the unauthorized users...

    I've just authorized you manually, so you should now be able to log in.

    But I guess I'll need to do something about my mailserver: First, I had the problem that I couldn't receive messages - now it seems there's a problem that some messages seem to not reach the recipients...

    I'll be sending you a separate mail-message to your mail-address, let me know if you receive that...

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  9. drJones

    drJones

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    was able to login now, just replied to the email i received ; )
     
  10. jashan

    jashan

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    Hey cool, congratulations! You can now consider yourself my first "successful support case" ;-) I've received your message via mail, so that seems to be working in both directions.

    And I'm also able to reproduce the problem with not receiving the registration verification mails on Yahoo (and probably other mail-providers, too). I'll look into that ASAP, but will first finish the tutorial of the game ;-)

    Another measure I've put up to face this issue is a public support forum on my site:

    TRaceON Forums

    I'm using a preview release of the forum software - so this should be considered a "forum in beta-test" (like the rest of the site), but since there's now one public forum that anybody can post into (even without first registering with the site), this at least is one "safe" communications channel because if you can read your own posting in there, it also means that I can read it (unless you're using a language I don't understand) ;-)
     
  11. Dragon Rider

    Dragon Rider

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    Looks good, Jashan. Very well-polished look.. The length of the retry timer ( when you die ) is a bit long.. I want action, and I want it now. :) Other than that, I don't have any real problems with it.
     
  12. jashan

    jashan

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    Ah - that's what I love about Unity. "Retry timer too long". Ah, okay, I'd agree to that. Changed "waitTimeGameOver aka Wait Time Game Over" from 12 seconds to 9 seconds in my SinglePlayerStateManager (same time as when you've completed a level). Took me about 5 seconds to implement ;-)

    Oh no, 9 is still to long - now it's 6, crashing is frustrating enough (took 15 seconds to find this out while playing, another 2 to change it).

    It's not online, yet, of course - but it'll be with the next update (once I have that tutorial finished - unfortunately, I got "distracted a little" today ;-) ).
     
  13. jashan

    jashan

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    Oh well - that's it with double-opt-in for now ;-) ... I've just installed the new preview release of the forum-software, and now the public forum doesn't work anymore (you need to log in to post to the public forum, haha ;-) )...

    I've changed this so you will be able to log in immediately after registration (in fact, registration already logs you in). This creates a much nicer workflow anyways: When you click the "Join to save Hi-Scores!", you get the registration form. When you fill that out, you immediately return into the game - only that now you're a "Registered Player" with the right to save your high scores ;-)


    Lesson learned: Do not put security over player fun ;-)

    Sorry for the inconvenience to anyone who suffered from that not-so-cool-technology!

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan

    PS: While I was at it, I've "authorized" all people that have previously registered but didn't complete - so you can now try to log in again, and it'll work ;-) ... now - up for some high scores, folks!!!
     
  14. Dragon Rider

    Dragon Rider

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    Oh, wait, 1 more. :) Could you just maybe change the color of the arena walls? The ones that you cannot drive on ( AKA the crash-walls ). Maybe just invert the default floor texture?

    The reason I ask is because silly ol' me saw this wall coming and thought "Well, everything in this game operates at right-angles, and the wall is at a right-angle to the floor, so I will simply start driving up the wall when I hit it." So much for telepathy. ;) I guess you could say I'm tele-pathetic. :D

    Anyway... It's a little hard to distinguish a drive-on-able wall from a crash-wall. If there are any.. Just my personal opinion. ;)
     
  15. jashan

    jashan

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    Are there walls you cannot drive on? ;-) ... (just kidding - there really *are* some walls like that)

    Have you been to Level 03 - The Cube? If you want to ride up a wall, you either need a transition (as you have it in Level 03 - you can't miss it because when you start the level, you're riding right towards one, and it's marked by up-arrows). Or you need one of the very advanced vehicles (that are not yet available to the public and only will be available to those courageous ones who have completed a couple of cycles - pun intended ;-) ).

    Even with such an advanced vehicle, you can't simply ride up any a wall, though (usually, walls are considered "obstacles").

    You need to land on it! 8)

    That's when the game gets really trippy...


    But for almost all cases "up-turns" are and will remain possible only while you're up in the air (that's why the name of the 4th vehicle will very likely be "Airborne" - but don't quote me on that) ;-)


    Let me know if the first TRaceON Screencast works for you - that shows a little bit of the more crazy stuff. But keep in mind: Even once the game is fully implemented, you'll need to work your way through to be allowed to do any of this crazy stuff. And some of the things you'll have to do to get there will require quite a bit of practice and patience (and a good team of fellow players).

    Well, the difference is what you mentioned before: If the wall is at a right angle, you can drive on it (the difficulty may only be getting there, if there's no transition as you have it in Level 03 ;-) ).


    But I think it's a good point you're making: I should probably change the texture of the tilted ceilings in level 02, as these really aren't available for a ride no matter how cool your vehicle is (and not everyone will simply know that anything in that game that's not rectangular is very dangerous ;-) )

    And: I'll add one thing that was still missing in the first tutorial (so your telepathy seems to work pretty okay - I already made "room" for that, but so far, I only had one line of text telling you that walls are to be avoided - I guess I'll add some "experience" to that ;-) ).

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  16. jashan

    jashan

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    Alrighteee - TRaceON V0.999a (evaluation) is ready to be played ;-)

    I've added a tutorial for Newbies (explains the basic controls and that you should avoid walls ;-) ), and one for Amateurs (explains almost all camera controls - I've only not included wasd+mouse-cam because that's really ultra-advanced, so nothing for amateurs ... you can try by hitting ctrl+. while playing, it's "pretty unpolished"). Especially the second tutorial should be pretty helpful even for people who have played games of that genre before.

    I've also shortened the times after game over and between levels, so now you get more fun in less time ;-)

    I've also *tried* to improve the camera, but some things are really tricky now (when you ride towards a wall, the cam switches perpective, which can be really confusing). So I guess that still needs more immediate polishing...

    <edit>I'm just uploading another version that fixes this, and also one very ugly bug that kept some of the sounds from playing (only happened in the Web player, not in the editor).</edit>


    Oh, and I've added some high score types to the Website. So now you can also show off with longest time in b... <cough> TRaceON, and you can also show off by simply playing many many times and storing the time every time because there's a "most active players" high score, too (and by showing off in that way, you help me show off with how many people play my game ;-) ).

    Oh, btw: Congratulations to burnumd who's currently second on Level 01: The Square - Quick Play, with 25 seconds. That's really cool. Who's gonna beat us (my best time in Level 01 is currently 22 seconds, I'm sure this is not the shortest time possible)... And hey - am I the only one who completes "Level 03 - The Cube"?

    8)

    Have fun - play!

    (... and don't forget to login before playing so you can store your times)!

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  17. burnumd

    burnumd

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    Hey Jashan,

    My suggestions were pretty much along the lines of previous commenters. The time it took to get to the menu after dying just made me stew about what I'd done wrong (despite your admonition to not take it seriously). I didn't realize either that there even were manual camera controls but the default camera was nice except when there was a ceiling directly overhead. Also, I ran into the sloped wall the first time I was on level 2 as well because I thought, "Hey, the AI never comes up here, I'll just drive around here and be totally safe!" Wrong. It's a lot of fun and definitely difficult. I haven't spent too much time with it, but I only beat level 2 once, and I forgot to save my score. :( Nice work!
     
  18. jashan

    jashan

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    Do you like it better in the current version? When I remember correctly, I've more than halfed that time (from something around 16s I think to 6s now).

    I can imagine that's somewhat difficult for new players. That's really the great thing about others reviewing one's own work - fresh eyes simply see more ;-)

    Do you guys think that people will try the tutorials (the first two of three are online now, inside the game)? If they do, I would hope that these things clear up quite quickly, but I have no idea how many people feel like doing game tutorials...

    The last section of the second tutorial should give you an impression of what the camera does when there's walls and ceilings (it still reveals areas to be polished more, but I think it's "okay enough" for the moment). And after doing the whole second tutorial from start to end, it *should* be intuitive to switch to 2 ("close camera distance") when one doesn't feel like letting the camera do its "auto-adjusting" due to the ceilings ;-)

    Ah - so you jumped up in the inner area? That's cool, and I think it's not that easy to do that! And in fact: Once you successfully made that jump, you are "pretty safe" up there. Only that it's somewhat narrow ;-)

    I'll definitely change the textures of all sloped walls, because allowing riding on those is simply beyond my vector-geometry skills (who knows, maybe in TRaceON 3.03, but I doubt it) ;-)

    Originally, I wanted to "auto-save" those high-scores. But then I felt like people might feel intimidated if I put up their times on the public area of the Website without having clicked an actual "I want this"-button beforehands.
     
  19. burnumd

    burnumd

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    I'll try it out tonight after work. What might be nice is a "Return to main menu" button when you crash.

    Yeah, I don't know why I didn't bother to try anything to manage the camera. I played Tron 2.0 yonks ago and it had primarily two camera modes, one of which was controlled by the mouse, and I tended to stick with the default camera anyway, so I don't think I thought to bother looking for anything.

    Haven't tried 'em myself, but I tend to find tutorial levels boring (I just downloaded Bionic Commando from XBLA last night and played the tutorials to see if there was anything new and grew tired of them after about ten seconds) and just prefer on-screen hints whenever some new weapon/feature is available.

    It took me a couple tries to get up there, but I can get it pretty regularly now. I just ahve to remember to turn immediately or I try to cycle around the upper area and end up running into the wall I made when I first got up there.

    I think that's the best approach.
     
  20. burnumd

    burnumd

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    Hey, I finally got a chance to play the updated version. It's really nice. The tutorials are pretty good. Just as I was about to jot down a note to suggest you add the ability to look left and right in cockpit mode, I was prompted to try 'Q' and 'E' to do just that. The close-up cameras show off the detail in the trails, and they look great. I actually really like the maze at the end of the second tutorial. Is there a level in the works that's like that? A first-person maze where you also have to worry about the bikers nearby would be pretty cool.
    One thing, and it may be an intentional decision or I'm mistaken about what happens in-game, but I thought I'd mention it. IIRC, the original game mechanic was that if rider one hit the side of rider two's vehicle, only rider one was blasted (ie, your bike is treated as part of your tail save for the front bumper). It allowed for some more adventurous play when two riders were neck-and-neck. I'm not certain your game works differently, but it seemed that way in my playtime and I was curious if you chose that method of play. Another thing that makes those neck-and-neck chases interesting is if turning cut your speed briefly. It forces the rider who's ahead to think carefully before they cut someone else off.
     
  21. jashan

    jashan

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    Cool! That's exactly the kind of effect I wanted this to have ;-)


    Yeah ;-) ... in the third tutorial (still in the works), I'm mentioning one level where you really need the map (and there won't be a Map power-up available in that level, so you have to keep one from the other levels ;-) ).

    Hehe, that level has the name "Claustrophobia", because it'll really be "narrow" ;-)

    I'll probably also have some "complex narrow difficult passages" in some of the other very advanced levels.

    Haha - now you got me ;-) ... I'll have to admit that the reason I chose the current way was just "simplicity of implementation". But you're right: The other approach would be more interesting, and also more fair.

    I have to work on that area, anyways, because there's still one bug where under certain circumstances, it's possible to actually go "through the wall" if you hit the area between the cycle and and wall. The reason for that is that there's one section where I intentionally have no collider - but that'll be fixed in one of the upcoming releases, so don't waste too much time practicing that cheat ;-)

    That sounds like a cool idea. It might also make things a bit simpler for multiplayer. The moment when a cycle turns is obviously the most complex from the networking perspective (and it's surprisingly complex). When there's significant lag, this is really a non-trivial situation. On the other hand, any change of the speed also complicates things, I guess I'll have to be very careful with that ;-)

    For "experienced" players, there'll also be "vehicles" with a bit of a different behavior when it comes to turns. Those will be faster, but that will come with a little difficulty for turns, too.


    Btw, you can also add ideas, suggestions etc. to the bugtracker (it's linked from the front-page when you've logged in; or you could directly go to http://issues.ramtiga.com - you authenticate with the same username/password as on the main site).

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  22. Charles Hinshaw

    Charles Hinshaw

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    1. I suck at this game. I swear that the walls have it in for me.
    2. You have done an awesome job at keeping everyone up to date on this -- multiple updates without replies sometimes, which is great because I always hate when an update doesn't really need a reply and then you wonder if the person stopped updating because they thought nobody was reading their updates. Good work on keeping everyone in the loop.
    3. I told you off the forum, but I will repeat here... interactive tutorials like this that aren't obtrusive and don't prevent you from just jumping in are great. I love their conversational tone and that a lot of the things I tried to do to break them were anticipated. ("you were supposed to crash -- turn right")
    4. You need more beginner levels. Maybe this is just because I suck at this game, but I got past the first one barely and the second one was impossible -- I want to see more cool things without investing massive amounts of time in a game that I'm pretty awful at. I think that in another context, I would probably get frustrated. I'm not suggesting to stick more levels in the middle, because I'm sure that people who are good would get bored, but I would love if there was some kind of beginners circuit that would let me see and do cool things without the frustration of dying all the time. This could then be skipped by people looking to rack up high scores in the serious game.
     
  23. jashan

    jashan

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    Hi Charles,

    thanks for playing and thank you for the feedback!

    Hm... that's a very interesting point. The idea of this "single player evaluation version" is really to get people into the multiplayer game, in which I would guess that the first 7 levels are quite a bit easier to reach. In particular because for the first 3 levels (those available also to single players - and the only 3 currently finished), the only thing you need are a couple of friendly players who'll let you win those levels you haven't won in yet, and then you're free to choose which levels you want to play ;-)

    For Levels 04 to 06, one really good player per team is enough as long as the others don't keep that player from achieving the team's goal in those levels. What I'm trying to create here is something where people are not that much focussed on getting to the end of the game but having fun in those levels that they like best. People might even choose to play level 03 a couple of times until every player is packed with power-ups, before they play level 05 where they'd use this abundance of power ups.

    By the way these levels will be set up, there's even a "play style" supported where the fun in playing the game is simply supporting others to see more levels.

    The levels beyond that will be more challenging, but Level 07 (which should be comparatively easy to get to) will be a party level anyways, and who wants to leave a party? ;-)

    More good news: In multiplayer mode, your achievements are persistent, so once you've finished Level 01, you can always jump right into Level 02. Even if you log back in a week later - you never lose that. And when you've been to Level 07 once, you can always jump right into Level 01 to Level 07 randomly (as long as at least half your game group votes for the same level, of course ;-) ).


    But: If people get frustrated with the evaluation version already, they'll never get to see that. So that's a big problem I need to solve somehow...


    So, I guess I'll "nerf" Levels 01 and 02 for single player, so everyone easily gets to see Level 03. Level 03 would then have a somewhat significant "jump" in difficulty so that it's still challenging - but you'll know this is the last thing you'll see in the single player evaluation version anyways. And I might also make that quite a bit easier than it currently is. I've practiced this game a lot, and I myself only finished Level 03 two times since I've put the single player version is online, so I guess it's too difficult ;-)

    Hm... maybe I'll use Level 03 twice for the single player version: Once with 11 AI cycles, and when that is completed, you'll still get to see that same level with 19 AIs (20 cycles is the maximum).

    Or, I could use all 3 levels that also work with single player with different numbers of AI players. Like: We could first have Level 01 to 03 with 3 other players, which should be very easy. Then, you get Level 01 to 03 with 9 AIs. Finally, all 3 levels with 19 AIs ... Then I guess I'd need a way for people to jump into the second or third "wave" right away, though. On the other hand, 19 AIs tend to create a somewhat "messy" game, so I might drop that ;-)


    Besides, once I have the third tutorial finished, I think you can actually have quite a fun time even in the tutorials ;-)

    Ah, I really wish I had a lot more time for this ;-)

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  24. ugur

    ugur

    Joined:
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    i already played this a few times before and its getting better and better everytime i try it, congrats :)

    Overall its lots of fun and the presentation is sweet, too so i only have nitpicking points:
    -Is there a pause button?
    -Could there be an upgrade to the map item which is a static instead of a rotating map?
    -What about making the info update texts ingame have a dark outline, right now they fade too much into the groound lines i think
    -could the powerups have an own item next to the name label? i´d like to go for certain items but its hard to distinguish them from the distance.
    -couldn´t the map item get auto activated?

    anyway, keep it up, very cool so far :)
     
  25. ugur

    ugur

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    oh,yeah,one more thing: although that is a bit against the basic one hit rule of tron i´d like it if there was an option to have a lifebar so one can take a few hits.
    You could also make this part of the difficulty raise curve in single player, let´s say have a longer life bar in earlier levels and then it gets shorter each level.
    Or in multiplayer there could be upgrades to make the life bar longer.
     
  26. ugur

    ugur

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    well,i hope its fine to post a slightly offtopic thing after two ontopic posts in a row :)
    Just noticed where you are living, nice :)
    For some naive reason i thought i was the only unity guy anywhere close :roll: :)
     
  27. Charles Hinshaw

    Charles Hinshaw

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    Don't nerf anything ... get more new player opinions on difficulty. I found the challenge to be a bit past the line were I was truly having fun most of the time. When it was fun, it was great, but that fun was too short and ended too frequently. I am going to do another test on why I think this was hard for me though -- I might end up with a suggestion.

    That might be a clue :wink: although if you aren't getting a lot of feedback saying "hey, Jashan, this is fun, but it is kinda difficult", maybe everything is fine.
     
  28. waldo

    waldo

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Posts:
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    Very nice, smooth and professional looking! Great fx, sounds, music etc!

    One gripe and keep in mind I skipped the tutorials. There were "floating things" around the map with I think text labels. I had no idea what they were and there's no way I could read them. I even ran into one and it did something (bonus?) but I have no idea what.

    Assuming those things are some kind of powerups, it would be nice if they were iconic. For example if you had a "slow motion mode" powerup, use a clock icon.

    Lastly. Full screen mode on a Windows dual monitor system. I had the web browser in the secondary monitor and went full screen. The game never popped up at all, and locked me out of my web browser.
     
  29. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
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    ... in somewhat mixed order ;-)

    Well, the thing is that the game starts to become "somewhat interesting" in single-player mode when you get to Level 03. Before that, it could look like "just another clone" (even with the power-ups). So I think I should really make sure that almost everyone who plays the evaluation gets to see Level 03 (better without the almost).

    And AFAIK, most people aren't particularly patient when it comes to playing games ;-)

    I could, of course, start with Level 03 - but I wouldn't like that because of "Experience the Unexpected!": Ideally, people will think "hm, nice" in the first two levels, and then "oops, WTF!? whoa - now I really didn't expect THAT!" when they enter Level 03 - The Cube for the first time.

    I'm looking forward to the suggestion you might come up with! :)


    Cool, and thanks ;-)

    Not yet. Good point - I had been thinking about this a few times but never implemented it because it wouldn't work in multiplayer. In the "evaluation version", which is currently online, the game is "paused" when the browser loses focus... but your time keeps on running ;-)

    I'll look into where I could add such a thing ... I'll probably keep the time running, though, to avoid hi-score cheats based on "stop-play-stop-play" (I doubt anyone would try that - but you never know, and it's good to be cautious about creating opportunities for cheats) ;-)

    Actually, the rotating Map is the upgrade ;-) ... originally, the map was static, but that doesn't work in the third level because there, you can ride up the wall - so the Map needs to "follow" you somehow (more specifically: follow your rotation).

    Personally, I also found the "static map" somewhat confusing because if you're going "south", you'd "turn left" in the map when you're "turning right" in the game (I could live with that, but I noticed that friends who played it got a bit confused with it).

    You could try this old behavior in V0.88, which is still available (only Multiplayer won't work, because I don't have the old server online anymore; and - be careful: this might "crash" Firefox 3.0 due to uncaught exceptions - I released that before Firefox 3.0 - but any other browser does fine, just tried it in Safari):

    TRaceON V0.88

    The GUI you'll see there is the "full game GUI" that you'll also get on the beta-test (I've simplified this for the evaluation version since that provides only a subset of the available features).


    One possibility might be to add a button (and a keyboard shortcut) to switch between the two map behaviors, but it's not easy because I'd have to find a "static" approach that works with the "riding up walls" levels, so this probably won't make it into the game until everything else is finished (1.1 or 1.2 I would guess).

    Yeah - to be honest: This has been bugging me, too. I'll see if I can somehow add an outline to a font used in UnityGUI. Doesn't seem "easy", but probably worth a try. I also considered adding same "layer below" to darken the background a little bit; but that doesn't really look good with the animation :-(

    In the current (upcoming) version, I've completely redesigned the power-ups, so they look a lot cooler. However, that probably won't help that much with distinguishing the different types of power-ups. It actually may be better because I've made the font much biggger (but at the same time using a less-readable font).

    But anyways, while I was working on that, I considered using "icons" that are easier to distinguish at a larger distance. Maybe I'll color-tint them or something like that.

    At the moment, only "Bullet-Time" looks somewhat special, but probably only noticable when you're somewhat more close.

    On the other hand: The powerups are always at the same locations in the levels - so when you're more experienced, you'll know where to go. Probably, I'll try to make it so that when you're "somewhat close", you'll know what it is (without having to read the actual text).

    Anyways, it's a good point, and also along the line of:

    I'll see what I can do about it. I'm really looking forward to finding out what you think about the new style of the power-ups ... so ... I really need to get that new version out! ;-)

    Ah - thanky so much for reminding me! I actually wanted to add a little "bump" effect to the power-up "icons" in the HUD when you collect a power-up. But then I forgot about it. That should help a lot with that (even though I'm afraid the images of the power-ups in the HUD are probably not easy enough to understand).

    That would be tricky. There'll be at least one level where the Map is very helpful - but you deliberately won't find Map power-ups in that level (maybe you will, but that would be in hard to reach locations). So the solution to this is to collect the Map power-up in another level, so you'll have it available when you need it.

    I give a hint to that in the third tutorial, when introducing the Map power-up (currently in development).

    Ouch, that's very bad news. It might be because I have "capture single screen" activated in the player settings. This only captures a single screen in fullscreen mode on dual monitor systems (while usually, the second monitor would be "turned off").

    The reason why I switched that on was that a few times, Web players had locked me out of my computer when the resolution was changed when going to full-screen. I'd just have a black screen and no return (except for hard reset). I couldn't reproduce this reliably enough to file a bug report, yet.

    I'll build the next version without that switch, it would be great if you could retry it then ...

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  30. Charles Hinshaw

    Charles Hinshaw

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    Ok, so this is my theory as to why walls are so difficult for me with this -- see the attached picture:

    Optical challenge one - the grid doesn't tile from where the floor and wall meet. Since it is translucent (I can see the wall's vertical line continue through the floor) and since the tiling doesn't meet at an edge here, the horizontal row that runs below the floor and represents the bottom of that partial tile is throwing off perception just enough to make me doubt whether I am as close as I can be to the wall. In the case of this photo, my turn actually puts me part of the way into the first square, and I know that my reflexes aren't fast enough to turn in closer to the wall, but most of the time I end up being some distance out into the second square. With multiple horizontal lines (one representing a bit of a false floor) it is harder to gauge the actual distance to the wall. This is greatly compounded by optical challenge two -- look towards the right side of my picture -- the floor tiles look very square. The top row on the far left, however, appears very rectangular. The distortion of the camera completely throws off the perception of distance to the wall here, especially with multiple lines crossing.

    99% of my crashes occur with walls -- I can almost always avoid the trails of other drivers and can effectively maneuver to lock them in with my trail in open areas. It is quickly judging distance with camera distortion and grids on multiple unaligned semitransparent planes that keeps getting me.

    The good news is that you probably don't have to nerf anything -- if other people aren't finding themselves steering into the wall, we can just consider this to be some perceptual limitation that is unique to me. I'm usually really good at gauging size and distance. I can usually pick quite a large object and bisect it by sight within a millimeter of the actual measurement. I can look at two walls and tell you when one is an inch longer than another and be right. In this game, however, my sense of distance is completely off.
     

    Attached Files:

  31. jashan

    jashan

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    Wow - thank God I don't have all the levels finished, yet!!! I did try to make that grid fit well, but this is something that has a tendency to break very easily on level geometry changes, so it's kind of messed up at the moment. It's much easier when this is "done right" right from the beginning of designing a level, so I'll pay close attention to this on the upcoming levels (and will probably fix it in the current levels).

    Actually it's reflective ;-)

    Ah, Field of Vision = 60° is probably not quite ideal. I've just changed that to 75°, and this might already fix that problem. And in my opinion, the game looks *much* better with FOV = 75° (even though this creates a bit of a bug in cockpit view).

    I might add a control for the FOV in the beta, to find out what people like best. And for some real fine-tuning, I might even have varying FOVs for the different camera views (I'll have to try that - it might just end up being very confusing, but it might also be very nice and look pretty cool ;-) ).

    It's really great to get all this feedback!!!


    ... btw, the power-up icons in the "HUD" now "bump" when a power-up is collected. That way, it should be easier to realize that by collecting "these things" you actually get something, even when you haven't done the tutorial (I'm hoping to get that current version online this week-end).

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  32. jashan

    jashan

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    There's one more thing I wanted to mention ;-)

    Actually, getting closer to the wall is not that much about reflexes. The trick here is to hit "left-right" almost simultanuously. If you hit them simultanuously, nothing will happen.

    Nothing happening on simultanuous left/right-keypresses, btw, is a fix to the very first bug in this game that gave me a serious headache - taumel had found that one: In the very first four versions of the game, it was possible to create "gaps" in the walls when you hit left+right simultanuously. As I finally found out what was causing this, I simply blocked simultanous left+right keypresses.

    Ah, that was such a nasty bug. Took me until V0.5 to finally find and fix this (was found in V0.3). I just tried it again in that old version and I can reproduce it with my Mac keyboard, but not with a Logitech wireless keyboard. Interesting stuff ;-)

    Anyways, the trick to move just a bit left or right is to do it "almost" simultanuously. That'll move you "just a little bit right" or "just a little bit left" depending on which key you hit first. Basically, what you do is "hit those keys" with either the index finger or ring finger just a little bit "delayed". That's one thing definitely worth practicing ;-)

    And, if you need it "just a very tiny little bit", you need to apply this "trick" while in bullet-time. That really gives you tremendous control to navigate out of even the most difficult situations.

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  33. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
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    Ooops, almost missed those two: Yeah, Munich is cool, and there's in fact a few Unity users in this area ;-) We might consider starting "MUUG", the Munich Unity User Group (in memory of those cool ancient analog synths) ;-)

    A life-bar is basically a cool idea - it only creates a bit of a problem concerning what to do when this is used. With trails, it's "kind-of-okay": You could either run through those trails and just lose your own trail (as it is happens the tutorial whenever you run into something) - or actually destroy that section of the other trail.

    Where it really gets tricky, however, is with the level walls that are tormenting Charles ;-)

    When someone runs into a level wall and doesn't crash, the question would be what to do. Running through the wall would be equal to crashing (you'd fall into nothing and explode once you're exceeding a certain "falling-velocity").

    One possible solution: In Level 03, I needed to "take control" if a player "side-approaches" those wall transitions that allow you to ride "up the wall". There was one specific way in which you could go there "from the side", and then get "very close to the wall", and then by making a turn you could run through the wall without triggering a collision. To avoid this, when you get this close to the wall in that area (it's probably only possible in Bullet Time - I play-tested this with constant Time.scale = 0.1), when I notice you are inside the wall transition collider but didn't do the transition, I let the AI take control, which basically has the effect that your cycle will make a turn away from that wall, kind of like "bouncing off" the wall.

    If I ever find time for that, I'll create a screencast of this - it's somewhat interesting concerning what kinds of bugs open the doors for "cheats" and how one could solve that; and it's not really something that can easily be explained with just text.

    A similar approach could theoretically be used for solving the "life-bar against level wall"-issue: When you "hit" a wall, instead of "hitting" the wall, the AI kicks in and makes you go left or right, and you lose "a life".


    But: I'm having an idea for one of the very advanced vehicles that goes somewhat into that direction of not letting the vehicle crash when it hits "something": Basically, that will replace the "shoot wall" power-up and turn the vehicle into a controllable projectile for a short period of time, similar to the life-time of projectiles. But that's some very advanced stuff and it might turn out that it simply doesn't work for those reasons above of "what happens on impact"; but I'll try to find a solution ;-)


    Originally, I wanted to mention something else, though: ;-)

    One trick here is to use "lock behind cycle" (that's on Y) and a close camera distance (2 is probably best, 3 still works most of the time, and cockpit view on 1 should also do). One of the reasons those power-up texts are very hard to read is because usually the camera follows the vehicle left or right, so the power-ups "move left/right" when you approach them.

    When the camera is locked behind the vehicle, this effect is removed, and it's comparatively easy to read the text while your approaching the power-up (at least in the new version).

    I've just experimented a little bit with the "large distance views" (4 and 5), and when you approach the power-ups in the right way with 5, they're also "pretty okay" to read from top. It's probably something one needs to practice a little bit to really be able to use it: Controlling the camera in such a way, that you can read the power-up texts while in overview mode.

    Tutorial 2 should give you a first hint of how to do that ;-)

    I hope that next version fixes your fullscreen-problem. Fullscreen also helps quite a bit ;-)

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  34. ugur

    ugur

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    I see regarding the map, yeah, makes sense as it is then :)
    And regarding outlined text: yeah,such things are a bit annoying to do, if you use unity text then yeah,you´d probably have to have several layers of text which maybe are not ideal performancewiseeither, dunno. Seems like a case where a bitmapfontplotter is needed (or the vector text/flash support i beg for often, but yeah, that could take a while :) )
     
  35. jashan

    jashan

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    Lucky me - so there is a chance I'll make this in time (I'm currently "suffering" feature creep, so any feature I can cut is quite relieving) - but I'm more or less done with Tutorial 03 (for TRaceON Pros), so a new version is "almost there" (TM). ;-)

    As a side-note: My brother (who is a dedicated WoW-player) recently commented my concerns about my own release dates kind of like "you're really a noob, bro - don't you know?: not releasing at your own official release dates is part of the tradition of the game industry! If you want to play this smart: Announce the month when you want to release; but simply don't tell anybody the year!"

    :roll:

    That's the way I'm doing it, and in this specific case, I think the performance hit is not an issue. After all, it wasn't that hard. Something like (posRec is obviously the position rectangle of the text, and msg an object which carries the messages):

    Code (csharp):
    1. GUIStyle style = new GUIStyle(GUI.skin.FindStyle("systemmessagefont"));
    2. GUIStyle styleOutline = new GUIStyle(style);
    3. styleOutline.normal.textColor = new Color(0.0F, 0.0F, 0.0F, 0.8F);
    4.  
    5. for (int x = -1; x <= 1; x++) {
    6.     for (int y = -1; y <= 1; y++) {
    7.         if (x != 0 || y != 0) {
    8.             Rect posRecOutline = new Rect(posRec.x + x, posRec.y + y,
    9.                                           posRec.width, posRec.height);
    10.             GUI.Label(posRecOutline, msg.text, styleOutline);
    11.         }
    12.     }
    13. }
    14.  
    15. GUI.Label(posRec, msg.text, style);
    For huge texts, this might not be a good idea for performance - but since I'm only dealing with single lines, I think it's the smallest issue I have to face performance-wise ;-)

    Thanks again for bringing this up! I was really surprised at how easy it was once I tried, and how much better it looks:



    ... and while working on that, I also noticed that the color settings of my "system messages system" were actually quite messed up (hadn't touched that in months), so I also fixed that, and now things look muuuucho better ;-)

    Yeah, advanced vector font handling would definitely rock. The fonts I'm using add quite significantly to the size of my Web player, and in general, it's not nice that those fonts can't easily be scaled for different screen resolutions (without scaling artefacts). I think Flash support is a little too much to ask for - but vector fonts with some options to add candy would be lovely!
     
  36. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
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    Posts:
    2,963
    JC's Unity Multiplayer TraceON V1.0 Alpha - Evaluation

    ... at last ;-)

    Since the last version, I've been creating a lot of nasty new bugs, and hopefully have been fixing more than I had created ...

    To jump right into the game: Public Version of TraceON V1.0 Alpha - Evaluation

    Login to play as registered user (allows saving hi-scores; you need an account at www.ramtiga.com to login)

    Register first to be able to save hi-scores when you play (with this link, you will first create the account, which is free, btw ;-) )

    Once you've registered, you can also access the bug reporter (which requires login) ... of course, you can also post bugs right here! By registering, you'll automatically be assigned to the beta-tester user group once the beta-test starts, which will then give you access to the multiplayer beta-test builds ;-)



    So what's new in V1.0alpha Evaluation?

    Here comes the list of things you can actually see in the "official version" (I've done a few more things, but those are only visible in the multiplayer beta-builds to be released soon, so I'll announce those separately):
    • Tutorial 03 is finished! That's BIG news, because I think Tutorial 03 is almost a game of its own. Have fun, enjoy - and don't forget to let me know what you think! Tutorial 03 is for "TRaceON Pros", and it shows you all power-ups and how to use them. That's one of the reasons why this took so long: To show someone how to use a power-up, I needed to create situations where the power-up is useful... that was fun, but took its time!!! ;-) ... And don't be disappointed if you don't make it right away: Some of this was designed to be a little challenging. After all, this is the "Pro-Tutorial"! Well, more information on this Tutorial is available in the tutorial ;-) ... the key idea behind creating this tutorial was giving all players an "equal start" for multiplayer because I noticed some people where actually too shy to play multiplayer because they thought they weren't good enough. Well, that excuse has now been taken away from them :twisted:
    • Power-Ups now have quite a different look. I simply couldn't see those old power-ups anymore ;-) ... they are now also very obvious in the map (but be aware: in the map, everything seems larger than it really is). I have no screenshots with the Map enabled, as this looks awful in the low-resolution I'm using for screenshots.



    • I've introduced power-up areas. I need these for some levels where you need a power-up to get to certain places. So instead of having a power-up that is gone when the first person has collected it (which would be big trouble with 20 players in a level), a power-up area is active as long as you're inside of it. You can get a first glimpse on this in the "Jump-Tutorial"
    • Power-Up Icon Fly-In: Collecting power-ups now lets the power-up icons for the HUD "fly in". This should make it more obvious what those "funny blueish electro-things chillin in those levels" are there for (for people who don't do tutorials ;-) ). Besides, I think it looks much cooler.
    • Improved HUD Power-Up Icons: The power-up icons in the HUD are a little more colorful now. Fits the overall look better (but is still one thing I might polish more)
    • VERY IMPORTANT: Changed Field of View from 60° to 75°. If you've played TraceON a lot, this might be confusing at first. But I myself got used to it within 10 minutes and would never want to go back. Let me know how you feel about this change! It should actually make the game easier to play! I might offer changing this in the beta-builds.
    • Wall-Warning Colors: The sloped walls in Level 02 now have the "usual warning color", which is the texture I'm using for everything the player is not supposed to ride on or into. Orthogonal walls can be used, so they keep their old textures - but you need a feature of the advanced cycles for this (what happens when you run into a wall is explained in Tutorial 01 for Newbies ;-) ).
    • I've also added an easter-egg. That's actually one thing that has been requested as a feature in this thread, and I said I was probably not gonna implement it. Now I ended implementing more than was asked for ;-) I'll leave that as "undocumented" feature. Well, it's not exactly undocumented - you just need to do the third tutorial once more after you have successfully completed it; so it's a little reward for people who RTFM (IMHO, a tutorial is simply a "modern manual").
    • Balancing Difficulty: The first level in single-player mode now only has 3 AI cycles in it. That's the original design. I had just added more cycles to that level before the first release because I thought it was too easy. But it wasn't ... so I went back to the original plan ;-)
    • Balancing Power-Ups: In particular in Level 02 - Plus Ceiling. Four Bullet-Time power-ups might look cool but really don't make sense when you're in the upper-level, possibly without a jump-p-up which you'd need to go back down. FIXED. Instead, you now get two jumps and - very cool: Two "remove own wall" which supports playing coward-style hiding from the AIs who don't know how to use power-ups unless I told them how to do it (as I did in the tutorials, but that's scripted). Oh, and as a secret for people who read long release-notes: The wall "falls down", so when you time it right, you might actually hit one of those AIs from above (but to be honest: I haven't tried this myself, so it may not work - let me know if it doesn't, I have ways to make it work ;-) ).
    • Outlined Font for Game Messages: As obvious from the previous posting: The game messages now have an outline which much improves readability. I've also worked a little on the colors of those texts ;-)
    • ... well, the greatest changes really are Tutorial 03, but there's a few surprises in there, so I don't announce them ... so that you can: Experience the Unexpected!



    Known Issues
    • The Web player has almost doubled its size. From 7MB to 12MB. That's due to the content in the Tutorial. As a "quick fix", I've rearranged the order in the streamed Web player, so that the tutorial is loaded last. So if it doesn't come up "in time", you can already play a single-player round, and most likely, when you get back, the tutorial should be there. I'll probably split the tutorial so that it consists of 2 scenes (Tutorial 1+2, and as a separate scene, Tutorial 3). Another thing I might do is stream in some assets "on demand". But that's both a bit of work to implement and has a somewhat lower priority on my list. Sorry to all who have a low-bandwidth connection - I'll do my best to fix this in the final polishing round.
    • Performance ... let me know how this works for you ... in particular, at the end of Tutorial 03, I'm kind of pushing it to the limits. I think there's some room for optimizations. This is particularly important because when the framerate drops too low, some of the collision detection breaks, and also some of the AI cycle scripting breaks, which creates unexpected - but unlike the other unexpected things in the game - also unintended behavior.

    Next Steps
    • Fix some things I broke for multiplayer in the current releases, finish Level 04 - Jumping Jack, and get the first beta-release out so we can play this together! ;-) ... if things go well, I might arrange an "inofficial beta-contest". So stay tuned and practice!


    Well, have fun and let me know what you think!!! I might push out one last "quick service release" for this evaluation version based on forum feedback - if there's any severe stuff - but am now shifting my main focus back to the multiplayer part of the game (and get some rest during the week-end ... yesterday was really an intense and long day; got up at 5am, went to bed at 4am).

    Tutorial 03 really was a pleasure to create (in the end, after I had rewritten significant parts of the tutorial code a couple of times ;-) ). It was kind of surprising where the "flow" took me on this. But now, I'm also very much looking forward to going back into the multiplayer business ;-)



    ... oh ... one final thing: Make sure to have sound switched on. The louder, the better ;-)

    HAVE FUN!!!

    Jashan
     
  37. IPete

    IPete

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Posts:
    414
    Jashan,

    Brilliant fun! Love the powerups.

    IPete2.
     
  38. zambezi

    zambezi

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Posts:
    40
    Really cool, a lot of work has been done, since I saw it the last time,
    I really like the interactive tutorials (even when I´m not able to pass the 3rd one), but I`ll keep on trying, till I´m a pro :)
     
  39. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Posts:
    2,963
    Thanks for the feedbacks!

    Where do you get stuck?

    Btw, you're already a pro when you have finished the second tutorial. The "logic" is: As a newbie, you do the first tutorial - after which you are an amateur. As an "amateur", you do the second tutorial, after which you are being called a "TraceON Pro" ;-) ... so, you enter the third tutorial as a Pro, and when you've finished that tutorial ... well, I won't tell ;-)

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  40. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
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    2,963
  41. Marc

    Marc

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Posts:
    499
    I get an insane amount of weird graphics blinking even outside the unity player window. Are you using render textures? Looks like garbage from them spreading to the entire screen. It does not start until i press enter single player mode.

    Running an iMac on Tiger.

    Edit: Oh and there seem to be some game lag, when people die when the white screen effect apears caused me to crash into wall once.

    Edit: Using FF3, which it now also managed to crash with a critical.

    Regards,
    Marc
     

    Attached Files:

  42. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Posts:
    2,963
    Hi Marc,

    Yes. That looks not nice at all :-(

    I guess I'll post a Web player with the full user-interface shortly. That Web player has a lot of settings available, including Quality settings. Below a certain QualityLevel, I disable RenderTextures, so that way we can easily test if the RenderTextures are the "bad guys" ;-)

    Yup, that's where the reflective floor comes into play. Does the tutorial work? In the tutorial, the floor is not reflective.

    The water in the startup screen is using RenderTextures, too, but the reflective floor uses a higher resolution, so that might be the explanation.

    So the explosions push down the framerate - I'll look into that. If all else fails, I might provide an option to switch some of the effects off (either adaptively at a certain QualityLevel, or manually for more fine-grained control).

    That might be an uncaught NullReferenceException. I did quite an amount of testing for those, but I may have missed the one or other. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, those exceptions don't get logged when they occur in Firefox, so the only way to track those down is playing a lot in another browser and then studying the logfiles. Do you have an approximate idea what you did when that happened?

    Thanks for playing and thanks for the feedback!

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  43. Marc

    Marc

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Posts:
    499
    Tested a little further seem to not happen, if i shut down my unity editor. Maybe the editor and a player dont mix, maybe UT is doing something under the hood that is not quite clean around the edge.
     
  44. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Posts:
    2,963
    Thanks for the update on this! It's quite relieving to know that it's probably not happening in "usual scenarios". I remember once getting a very very weird effect that basically trashed my whole desktop even after closing Unity. I could still work and shut down the machine, and this never re-appeared, but it was quite odd.

    Concerning the frame-rate drops: I've decided that I'll definitely add an option to switch off the effects on the explosions of the other cycles. It's just eye-candy and the problem on slower machines is that it can in fact give you a major disadvantage when the framerate suddenly drops.

    I do have an adaptive quality manager, i.e. when the framerate goes below a certain threshold, I change the quality level (and the other way round) - and depending on the quality level, I change render texture resolutions, particle effects, cycle poly count (I have two models for each cycle, hi-poly and lo-poly) etc.; but that only kicks in after about a 1/2 second. So for the sudden drops caused by explosions this doesn't really help.

    In fact, the explosions kind of throw the adaptive quality manager off-track because it might switch to a lower quality a while into the explosion and then switch back when things have cooled down, which is not really ideal ...
     
  45. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
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    Posts:
    2,963
    Any feedback on Tutorial 03?

    Is it too hard to play, too hard on your computer, or too weird? ;-)

    Do you find bugs?

    The best sequence if you're not very familiar with the camera controls is probably first doing Tutorial 02 and then Tutorial 03 right after that ;-)

    Let me know what you think!

    Here's again the link:
    http://www.ramtiga.com/tabid/122/Default.aspx

    Did anybody get to the end, yet? ;-)

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  46. Charles Hinshaw

    Charles Hinshaw

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Posts:
    1,070
    I got to 9/9 but things sort of fell apart there -- it kept telling me not to try to cheat, but I couldn't tell exactly where I was supposed to go and it looked like walls that I had made were blocking the area that the AI cycles made -- it got frustrating at that point because it kept making me start over and I would lose all the stuff I collected, but everything wouldn't disappear and so it kept getting messier and messier and eventually I gave up.
     
  47. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Posts:
    2,963
    Oh, that's not good news ...

    The "cheat" warning happens when you make a right or left turn on your way to the "corridor" that the two other cycles create. What you need to do is just "relax and go straight". So that obviously needs to be stated more clearly.

    The walls and cycles not disappearing is no good. Actually, when the tutorial "failed", everything should be cleaned up before starting over - but it seems that this doesn't work under certain circumstances.

    I'll fix those issues and post a new build. There's a few "extra secrets" hidden across the tutorials now, too; so it's always a good idea to repeat the tutorials once they are finished.

    Basically, the idea here is that there are a few features that are not "absolutely necessary" but very nice to have - so when you repeat the tutorials, you get some extra information ;-)

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  48. Charles Hinshaw

    Charles Hinshaw

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Posts:
    1,070
    But if I turned when looping around to pick up items, the other cycles can create a corridor on the other side of my own wall -- in which case "straight" isn't an option without using up shots.

    I also noticed that in 6/9 the slow items don't clear when you fail, and at least once the maze didn't clear quickly enough so that I was still trapped in it when the slow items were dropped outside it.

    edit: Also -- and this is more personal opinion. I appreciated the conversational tone through the first two tutorials, and in the beginning of the third, but by the end of the third it seemed a bit much. I would maybe like to see the seriousness of conversation increase as the seriousness of the tutorials increases -- that way in the beginning when everything is new, the tutorial is really a friend, but by the time I've figured things out, it doesn't seem to get in the way with extra chatter.

    edit 2: I also noticed that the tutorial links don't appear until the level loads, but that the start playing link is there from the beginning. I wonder if this leads many people to skip the tutorials because they don't know that they will be there?
     
  49. forestjohnson

    forestjohnson

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Posts:
    1,370
    I want you to know my heart was warmed by your tutorial writing ;)

    The only problem I see with this is that my FPS drops to like 3 whenever someone dies. Whatever you are doing there really kills my graphics card (GeForce 7300 GT).

    Because this is a multiplayer and browser based game, you should probably be extra careful about what you are rendering and try to maintain a steady framerate. Even if it means turning off your wild full screen effects by default :)
     
  50. jashan

    jashan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Posts:
    2,963
    Hi Charles, Hi Forest,

    thanks for the feedbacks! They are greatly appreciated! Due to your feedbacks I've already implemented quite a few improvements to the tutorial but will still do some more polishing and have 2 or 3 friends test this "on location" to see if there's still other things that might need to get fixed. If you still have any comments about the tutorials, things you ran into, things that were confusing, approaches that didn't work - please let me know!

    I'll probably put the new version online Saturday or Sunday.

    A little overview of what's coming:

    What's already done:
    Code (csharp):
    1.  
    2. - Fixed a bug in the bullet-time DOF effect that caused environment reflections
    3.   to be white instead of camera bg-color or skybox
    4. - Polished some texts and added some "secret texts"
    5. - Generally made tutorial 3 much more robust and intuitive
    6.   + Removed "cheat" comment and instead explain what to do and what not to do
    7.   + Before new "stuff" spawns (especially other cycles), own trace-walls
    8.     except current one are removed
    9.   + Added an "ideal line" to the maze of the slow down tutorial
    10.   + Slow down tutorial maze now immediately disappears on crashes
    11.   + generally made sure "things" disappear when they're not needed anymore
    12.    to avoid trouble later on (like speed up cycles boxing player
    13.    even though the player had already left that step, which would be
    14.    bad because he would not get his speed-up power-up to escape)
    15.  + fixed a bug that accidentally caused the last step in the last tutorial
    16.    to be marked as "finished" even though the player had crashed and
    17.    did not see the end (which would result in not showing the first "real"
    18.    end-sequence at all)
    19. - new camera view "look behind" on key 0 ("undocumented" ;-) )
    20. - Made explosion-effects end quicker, and somewhat less hard on hardware
    21. (but it still slows down too much, so it's still an open issue)
    22.  
    Still open:
    Code (csharp):
    1.  
    2. - Add a checkbox to switch off camera explosion effects in all builds
    3.   (evaluation, registered evaluation, beta)
    4. - While loading levels / tutorial, don't hide buttons but disable
    5.  them instead
    6.  
    To sweeten the wait time, let me introduce you to the second cycle in multiplayer, which is already integrated into the multiplayer-version of the game of which I'm hoping to release a first current beta next week:

    The Airturn Cycle



    The name hints at the most special feature of this tracer: It can do turns in the air, while you're jumping. In the final game, this cycle will be the reward after completing the first "cycle", that is: all 12 levels. The next "cycle" is completing all 12 levels with this cycle, which should be comparatively easy (unless you use the power this cycle has to trash your friends, which would result in them no longer wanting to play with you ... which would make it hard to finish the advanced levels that require 19 fellow players) ;-)

    However, for UA 2008, I may have to cut some levels, so it'll probably be much easier to get to play with the Airturn Cycle, so don't miss that opportunity ;-)



    There's another change coming up ... but ... that'll have a separate announcement (probably with the upcoming single-player version Saturday or Sunday).

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan