Weekly Update - Plans for 2023

In this week's update I'd like to present my plans for 2023 and what's next for Antilia.

Last week was the first developer meeting of the year and a good time to discuss what comes next for Antilia in 2023. Something I was focusing on in 2022 was getting Antilia to the point that we had regular closed testing again, but most importantly that the game starts to become fun and engaging. We've had a few closed alpha tests, but I'd say we're still not entirely there on either account. I'll save a review of 2022 for the upcoming video update.

Plans for Development in 2023

In this week's post I'd like to focus on plans for 2023 and what I plan to work on next. In last week's meeting I asked the question "What does Antilia need to become more fun to play?" and was happy when the first responses back echoed my own thoughts - combat and crafting. Right now Antilia has a lot of game systems roughened in, but offers no challenge. There's nothing preventing the player from fully exploring the terrain and opening the scattered treasure boxes, so there's no sense of accomplishment or fun in doing so.

So here is a rough agenda for 2023. Work on Antilia always takes longer than I like, so don't expect me to fully meet this timeline - the timeline is just here to set a pace and keep things moving.

First Quarter

Before I stop my current tasks and dive into a new set of goals (the shiny new toy) I'd like to spend a couple months wrapping up some of Antilia's current loose ends.

NPC Conversations & Quests

Obviously I'm still working on the NPC conversation system and a very rough system for jobs or quests. I'd like to get this system a little more functional before moving on. Items still on the to-do list include:

  • Multiple Text "Pages" - You've seen this before in a number of games, where the game presents one line or "screen" of text at a time and waits until you press a button before proceeding to more dialog.
  • Playing Animations - Each page of text can play an animation on the character who is speaking.
  • Variables & Conditions - A system for setting variables, limiting response options based on conditions, and inserting variables into text. (Such as having the dialog include the player character's name or title.)
  • Lua Scripts & Quests - I'd like to be able to execute Lua scripts based on dialog selections, as well as add/remove items to a Quests list on the game menus.
Building System

The Building System was disabled for our initial test releases to reduce memory usage and ensure everyone could get into the game successfully. We've gotten that far now - everyone I've invited to help test can get fully in-game without crashing. I'd like to turn the building system back on and address some of the deficiencies of that system so that everyone can get in-game with the buildings in place.

Current deficiencies include:

  • Local Caching - Nearly a hundred building layouts have to downloaded from the server every time a player joins and then be converted into mesh geometry. The data is fairly small, but the conversion takes time. We need a caching system that stores the layout and mesh data locally to avoid this step every time. This would greatly reduce network usage and speed up loading. (It'll still have to happen the first time you join a new server or from a different PC.)
  • Reduce Theme Complexity - The bamboo building style looks neat, but the resulting high-res version of the buildings end up using hundreds of thousands of triangles, require a ton of RAM, and use a lot of GPU time to render. Currently the all the large building in Maulei Beach are fully loaded at their highest LOD even while standing in Tasii Garden. I'd like to reduce the triangle count in the building theme and improve the LOD system to only generate/load the high-res versions when nearby.
  • Finish Interiors - The interior tile parts are just barely functional. I'd like to expand the tile set with more options so that interior rooms can look different.

We probably won't quite get to the point that players can own properties and change them, but I think that should wait until after combat anyway. I just want this system in a state where buildings are rendering again and NPCs can enter their homes. (Doing this should reduce the number of NPC merchant tables and objects that have to be rendered in the towns.)

Second Quarter

In the second quarter of the year I'd like to start work on a combat system. This will include:

  • Basic Combat Actions and Game Modes - The basic melee weapon mode can probably be adapted from the existing mode for felling trees. Over time this might expand to include some combo chains or such, similar in spirit to what I started in the MMO. I'd also like to see a projectile weapon mode for weapons like bows that allow the player to aim (maybe with a first person or over-the-shoulder perspective) and then fire.
  • FBX Animation Import - Something that's been lacking in my tool to import FBX files (meshes made in Blender and such) is animation support. I've looked into it and this shouldn't be too difficult, I just have to sort out a bit of math.
  • Projectiles System - This is one that has me a little more worried, especially for multiplayer. I'm trying to keep a "never trust a client" mentality like I did with the MMO server, but in the case of fast-moving projectiles and collision detection on the server this one will be a challenge to get right. (Worst case scenario I can't use real projectiles and instead they and up being an animation that plays out like in some MMOs.)
  • Combat AI Behaviors - Creatures and NPCs will need aggressive and defensive AI behaviors. The existing AI Behaviors system should give me a good foundation, and we should see more advanced behaviors than we did in the MMO. (Which admittedly is a pretty low bar...)
  • Player and NPC KO State - With damage finally being dealt and taken creatures and characters will at some point need to go into a KO state. Shouldn't be difficult.

Second Half of the Year

We're getting pretty far out at this point, and past this point the timeline and plan is likely to change. There will without doubt be some weeks or months where Antilia needs debugging and improvement before I can move on.

Once we have combat is in place and working good I think it'll be time to open the doors for full community testing. (Mind you I still want to slowly invite more people to test over the first half of the year as well, but it won't be an open invention yet.)

After combat I think the next gameplay systems to add will be some crafting systems, and possibly if time permits I'll start work on the magic systems to compliment crafting and provide some puzzle challenges in dangerous areas like ruins.

That wraps up my plans for 2023 - please let me know what you think of this in the #development channel of the Discord chat!

Antilia 0.12.6 Release and Test

Last week I focused development on putting together a new build of Antilia ahead of our monthly developer meeting. This version included the fixes made for AMD graphic cards and a variety of small bug fixes.

  • BUG FIX - Graphic shader improvements for AMD GPUs
  • IMPROVEMENT - Added collision meshes for terrain ceiling and roof (for caves), clutter on ceiling and roof.
  • IMPROVEMENT - Environmental override system that makes it possible for caves to appear dark inside while it is sunny outside.
  • NEW CONTENT - Added new Fishing Poles for purchase at Torliia's Fishing Boutique
  • NEW GAMEPLAY SYSTEM - First look at the NPC conversation system (Torliila only)

The test also discovered some new issues that'll need to be fixed in future updates. Many of those issues were known, just not recorded in our bug tracking channel.

NPC Conversations

The NPC conversation system also received some additional improvements, fixing a few markup bugs and a new system for setting variables when a player selects a response.

Last week I also added two new NPCs to the world with full dialog trees. One of those characters was Medai da'Lantros, who had previously appeared at the Two Pools Camp in the Antilia MMO. (He is now stationed at the Isle of Mist).

Medai makes his return to Antilia, and has a wealth of exciting information to share with you about Taipii Monohorns!

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