Category: "R:WM Dev Blog"

Changing Keys

Modulation (changing the key of a song, or changing where the "home" note is) is a technique used in many, many forms of music. Some musicals go up a half-step every 8 bars, some pieces have the same harmony for hours on end. The particular kind of modulation that I did in this next clip is not very common: down a half step. I'm not sure why, but it came to me pretty naturally in this song. Here are two clips to compare: one from the beginning of the track, so you can hear what key I started in, and the second with the climax and part of the outro of the song, to hear where I went. Enjoy! (and of course, there are more French horns in this clip!)

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Holidays and Conventions

Happy belated Holidays to everyone.  While I wish I had more to show, between holidays killing a lot of progress, and going and preparing for MAGfest, I don't have screen shots to show.  However, there has been a lot of background updates.  Screen Maker, which is the tool we created to more easily design UI screens, got several upgrades to preserve other sections of data that would normally be in the created text file.  Meaning, controls with lists, need a list to fill it, and that would be stored in the text file screen maker creates, but before screen maker wouldn't preserve that data, so one would have to manually copy that information back in each time to test.  So basically a lot of quality of life updates to make the process chain as smooth as possible.  Even something as simple as Copy/Paste was added to make things cleaner.  Other updates that are in the works are to migrate all the screens to the screen maker format, rather than the "by hand" format some (most) are currently in.  Even screen maker was "by hand", so it's been transformed.  What this is now allowing is easily made custom pop ups on other screens, to greatly improve the UX.  So as time goes on, this will become the normal rather than only in screen maker having pop up controls and windows.  This is already happening in the Asset screen.  Obviously, there were some bugs to be fixed with the UI layouts, and some of them have already been fixed.

Currently, I am making the multiplayer able to have "drop-in" joins.  Meaning, right now, one can only join during the lobby phase.  If something happens with the connection or the client crashes, that player would have to stay out until the host resets and goes back to the lobby screen (which means everyone else would have to exit too).  Obviously, this isn't ideal.  Currently, I'm working on a way so that if a client crashes or is disconnected, and then restarts and rejoins a game in progress (or even at the lobby screen), that the server recognizes them, and just puts them back into place, as well as sending the current game state to the reconnecting client.  This makes recovering from disconnects a lot easier.  But also, I hope to allow new players to join an existing game, so they don't have to wait until the lobby screen again to join.  This is more difficult because not only does the new player need the game state, but the other already connected players need to have their data updated to know about the new player and their assets (which would have to be created and structurally linked in correctly).  In anycase, this will greatly improve the playability of the muliplayer, since while crashes or problems dont happen often, they do happen, and this would allow a player to more easily reconnect and not miss much of the action!

And as an annoucement, we will be at Game Connection (and have a booth there!), and GDC in March.  So if you want to see everything in person, there is a good place to see us!  Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Join our Discord, or Follow us on Twitter!

MAGFest!

MAGFest!
MAGFest!
MAGFest!

Ok, no coding update today. Today, we have pictures of our first introduction to the main public in a public setting at MAGfest.  We weren't able to get a booth in time, but even in the short time we had at "Quick Play", I think we got around 40 people interested in what we were showing, and many of them played.  They all said they enjoyed themselves, and I ended up having long discussions with some about the less obvious features.  Here are some examples of how things looked. :)

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Chilling Out

I love making music that has a lot of intricate rhythmic layers. But, having a lot of different parts to pay attention to may not be the best choice for a video game. Music plays a supportive role in Rank: Warmaster (instead of a more complex role in more narrative-based games), so I wanted to try and make some music that was a little simpler than I usually write. It still has my own flair to it, though. Here is a little clip!

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Two More Warmaster's progress images

Two More Warmaster's progress images

More progress work of the Warmaster. Pose titles are "think" and "idea".

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New Hexagonal Targeting Reticle

New Hexagonal Targeting Reticle

We've been busily updating Rank: Warmaster's HUD lately. The newest addition as of this week's livestream is the hexagonal targeting reticle.

It's basic mode surrounds potential targets with a color-coded hexagon: blue for friendly, red for enemies, yellow for neutral. As you get closer to an object, the reticle expands, so as not to hide that object. It also features a movement indicator. As in the screen shot above, if you're moving toward something, smaller lines will appear on the inside of the reticle; the more lines, the faster you're moving toward it. If an object such as an enemy ship was moving away from you, the lines would appear on the outside of the reticle, and again, the more lines, the faster the movement.

We've begun live-streaming our multiplayer tests; check them and more out at our Youtube channel!

Sidechaining

I have been training as a 'classical' musician my whole life, but I have only learned how to compose electronic music recently. One of the techniques that I learned for the soundtrack to Rank: Warmaster is sidechaining. If you listen to EDM a lot, you may have noticed that the kick drum cuts through the texture, while some of the other sounds get softer. I've always noticed this technique when I listened to EDM, but I never knew how to do it. It turns out that it's pretty easy to do in Ableton Live 10! 

Here is a little clip of what sidechaining sounds like. Listen for how the kick drum cuts through everything, and for the 'hopping' synthesizers after each kick drum hit. 

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HUD Updates and much more!

HUD Updates and much more!
HUD Updates and much more!
HUD Updates and much more!
HUD Updates and much more!

A lot of updates have happened since my last post.  We’ve had a live stream, updated HUD elements, solid multiplayer testing, and lots of fixes.  The last post was about Monitor elements which now have been mostly finalized, as you can see from the screen shots.  What has been added is the first round of adding in other indicators.  Currently, on the left is your speed indicator.  The Blue meaning your current velocity, and the green meaning what you have it set to.  When they overlay, you get a CYAN blue.  On the right, is the weapon capacitor (energy) in blue.  So when this is drained, you can’t fire.  Further to the right are the individual statuses of each weapon.   Green means it can Fire, Red means it’s recovering to fire (either from a lack of energy or the normal cycle time that is typical with pulse weapons).  Pulse Weapons also have a Blue overlay which indicates how much ammo is left for that weapon.  I have yet to put in a different look for when an individual weapon is destroyed.  I’m aware that the new HUD arcs don’t exactly fit.  I have to see if I need to move them over, or squash them in so they fit better.  I haven’t decided yet.  But everything in stages and progress is being had. 

 Also, please subscribe to our new YouTube Channel to see how all this works out!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXex4ualUNFdSVHJhtxDsWg

The Warmaster's progress

The Warmaster's progress

Another short update from me but here is progress of the warmaster action portraits. 

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The gwobs are coming...

The gwobs are coming...

As of this week, Rank: WarMaster is running entirely off of our custom file package format, the gwob. This means that any image or sound file the game needs, it now reads out of dedicated single master file. For example, all sound effects now come from a file called, appropriately, "Sound Effects.gwob." We even have a custom-built program, Gwobster, just to create our gwobs; you can see a screen shot of Gwobster in action above.

It wasn't necessarily easy to get it working, though. The toughest bug involved a small subset of files that wouldn't read properly no matter how many times I verified that they were present and uncorrupted in the gwob. It turned out that the gwob was the the problem after all, but not because the file was bad; the bug occurred because the gwob was correct. It turns out that Windows doesn't distinguish between capitalized and uncapitalized files, so that two files named "cat1" and "Cat2" would be alphabetized intuitively, first "cat1," then "Cat2." This makes sense for a file system. But because of how computers represent letters, you can alphabetize things in other ways, one of which the game uses instead. Internally, the game sorts letters ordinally, which means via the numeric codes that computers use to represent letters. Alphabetizing ordinally, "Cat2" comes before "cat1," which prevented the game from seeing a small number of files in the gwob. It took a lot of careful reading of log files to figure this one out!

We've begun live-streaming our multiplayer tests; check them out at our Youtube channel!