Weekly Update - Testing Plans, Respawn Character, Polearms

This week's update includes some details about our first upcoming test phase, development work on character respawning, improvements to the scene object editor, and some new polearm weapons!

To start off this week I'd like to share my current plan to bring Antilia back to testing.

Testing Plans

Starting on November 1st I plan to start testing weekly builds with a small testing group. Now to be clear, Antilia still needs a lot of work before it will be in state comparable even to the Antilia MMO when it comes to stability and having everything in a tidy working state. The purpose of these early tests will be to help me get Antilia back to that state again, with fewer bugs and frustrations. We'll focus on just a few systems each week, starting with the main menu and connecting to a server and then slowly work to debug and improve specific game systems like character creation, movement, game interfaces, inventory, etc.

Initially I'll invite the freelance developers, moderators, and a few people who are close to the project to help out in testing. As things become more stable I will invite members from Antilia's Discord community, but that might not happen until late in the year or early next year. Antilia isn't based around an MMO architecture anymore, so I don't yet know how many players the server will handle at a time. We will have to test that sometime!

I don't have many details beyond that for right now, other than we'll probably be testing on Tuesday evenings. Tuesdays appear to work about the best for me, as weekends are my best development time and Mondays I post these weekly updates. After each update on Monday I'll upload the changes and we'll test them for a few hours each Tuesday.

For everyone that isn't invited to the initial tests - well, you're not missing anything besides a lot of glitches and bugs. These initial tests will require extra patience, skill at following instructions, and communicating clearly. There will be a lot of bugs which I don't want or need reported until we are specifically focusing on it. I need to take care that I don't overwhelm myself with a lot of anxious players reporting the same issue (which can take time away from fixing things), but I do want everyone to know that Antilia is progressing and we're working to get it there.

I plan to focus my development efforts for Antilia in October on tidying things as much as I can for these initial tests, but there will still be some content and "off topic" work in these weekly updates along the way. Some things are already in progress and at times I just get a bug in my head and need to try something out.

Development Progress

Development this week focused on crossing things off my whiteboard list of issues, but there were a few unplanned features that crept in as well -

Respawn Character

It is currently easy to get your character stuck in Antilia, and when testing that's a problem that needs a solution. If your character slides down a steep slope into a rock you'll get stuck. If you fall down the well in the Burning Sands ruins, you'll get stuck. If you explore a work-in-progress area you are likely to encounter a pit that can't be climbed out of, etc. Down the road I'd like to add an "Unstuck" option that moves the player to a nearby safe point and of course start recording positions where players get stuck for fixing in the world editor. For now simply re-spawning the character at the nearest Takadynn was a simpler solution. This function can now be accessed from the escape menu.

Terrain Engine Improvements

Similar to the ongoing networking improvements (which I continue to work on), I've also need to give some attention to the terrain data and download size. For the initial tests I think it makes sense to limit the terrain download to just the Isle of Kasau - a fraction of the 20 GB that Antilia and surrounding seas currently require. Antilia will still be visible from Kasau (limited to the lower detail "distant" meshes), but I don't see a reason right now to include the high-detail data for vast areas that are only roughed in and mostly empty.

I've also started work generating the missing collision and clutter data for the "roof" and "ceiling" layers of the terrain (used in areas which contain overhangs like caves).

Editor Support for Game Object "States"

For some time now Game Objects in Antilia could be set up with multiple states. An example of this would be the fire pit, which has a "lit" and "unlit" state. When a firepit is lit a light is enabled, a sound plays, an extra particle effect is rendered, and the object broadcasts a "flame-damage" message to objects in close proximity. But I haven't made very good use of this feature as the Game Object Editor didn't provide any features for editing those settings - they had to be hacked into the object's JSON file by hand.

This week I encountered a scenario when world building where I not only needed states to be accessible in the editor, but I also needed to extend the states system with changes to node positions. It wasn't really in the plan to work on last week, but it's the kind of feature that once I had it working I wished I had added it much sooner - it is a very versatile function to have. Technical: States decouple the C++ logic code from knowing how a Game Object is designed. For example, using States the IgnitableBehaviorComponent doesn't need to worry about lights, sounds, or particle effects. When ignited it sets the GameObject state to lit, and the object designer can decide what the lit State of the object looks like and what other behaviors are enabled!

While editing a Game Object State in the Antilia Editor it will highlight components, nodes, and individual component values which are changed for that state. A reset button makes it easy to reset values which were changed back to their default value.

Interactions with Attached Items

For a while now there's been a limitation to the game client that when mousing over an "attachment" there was no way to interact with that object (such as a tool or weapon a character is holding, or the fish sitting on a cooking grill). This annoying limitation was finally resolved this week. I don't have many specific interactions working yet, but the first test case was to get the status panel to appear for fish sitting on the cooking grill. Fixing this limitation was a prerequisite for an upcoming gameplay feature of more significance than watching fish cook. One that involves looking through items sitting on tables or shelves and being able to interact with them...

Players can now monitor fish on a grilling rack by simply mousing over the fish instead of clicking on the grill and watching them from the Container screen.

World Building - Polearms

The improvements made to the Terrain and Game Object portions of the Antilia Editor were made for content projects which aren't quite ready to show. I did manage to add another pack of temporary decorative weapons, this time polearms.

A sampling of the new polearms.

Also included is this chefs knife with an extra long handle for handling Taipii "foods".

That's all I have for this week, thanks for reading!