March 2012 blog archive

This page contains all the blog posts from march 2012. To read the most recent blog posts, click here.

25/03 - New Abilities and XM

Further work on HD:X focussed on preparing the current ability code for ability mechanics. Firstly, it's now possible for the code to properly identify the source of an ability. Until now this was only needed for ship vs ship combat as damage might trigger a retaliate effect. Extending this mechanic to include all abilities will allow to create cards that for instance are invulnerable to damage or effects from a certain cardtype or race. Kind of a selective resistance or cloak. It's also possible to give cards additional effects if they for instance deal damage to another ship. It will also allow a base to have retaliation, so it can deal damage to any ship that deals damage to it (directly or through an ability).
Preparations have been made to also allow additional targetmodes. A targetmode is tied to abilities and basically tells the game what kind of targets this ability might have. This in turn shows the player which cards are valid targets when that player plays a card or activates an ability. The new targetmodes are a bit more complex code-wise and require a popup in most cases. Some examples of what's possible with this :

  • Look at opponents hand, choose a card and that card will be discarded or returned to deck.
  • Look at the top X cards of your/opponent's deck or scrapyard and target a card to apply an ability or action to it.
  • When playing cards from hand that have a random cost, this popup will allow the player to choose what energy should be used to pay the random cost.

A first alpha for HD:X will take longer than originally planned, as it should include the replacement of the challenge system from HD:S as well as a number of new cards to test the above new mechanics. First i'll take a short break from HD:X to work on XM.

18/03 - Abilities

Sooner than expected, all the ability & actions related code has been completed. All of these abilities still need to be tested, which will take some time. For starters, the AI might need better decision making code for some abilities, or AI decks need to be hardcoded in such a way that the cards being tested are played at the right time.
In previous versions of HD, all abilities existed twice in the game, once for the AI and once for the human player. In HD:X, the human player and the AI player are identical objects in the game and both now use the same ability code. Technically this means that testing abilities only needs to be done from the point of view of either the AI or the human player. Since there is no deck editor in the game yet, whatever side will do the testing will require their decks to be hardcoded for each test.
When this internal testing phase is over, the next steps are : complete the AI, add in a deck editor for player decks, create a random deck generator (for AI and human players) and with those elements added, an early alpha is technically complete and ready for testing. This first alpha testing phase will focus on mechanic testing primarily and AI secondary. A second testing phase will include challenges and environments and the first batch of some 150 planned cards and will focus on balancing the new cards and abilities as well as the challenges, environments and AI difficulty settings.

11/03 - Combat Phases

The combat phases mechanic has been completed and the computer opponent has been given a simple AI so it can play a few ships and structures, allowing to test the various combat phases.
Click here for a screenshot.

With this system in place, work can begin on the remaining card abilities and a proper AI. The code for card abilities will be rewritten for the most part, but i can still borrow a lot from previous versions. The AI, on the other hand will require more work.

04/03 - Combat Screen

The combat renderer is currently capable of rendering the static graphical elements of the combat screen (i.e. the non-moving interface parts and basically everything that is not a special effect).
Click here for a screenshot.

A few things have changed compared to previous versions of Hidden Dimensions :

  • more room vertically between card slots, possibly to be used for status/effect/ability icons
  • cards in hand will no longer overlap as they have more room, they will also always remain centered on the screen
  • the HP, deck and hand counters of the bottom player are moved to the right side of the screen
  • bigger end turn/attack button
  • the energy generation slideout panel has been replaced by a '+E' button who will show the energy generation in the same panel that shows the energy stock. This is now also available for your opponent.
  • scrapyard cards will be moved to the right of the rightmost structure slot
  • a new base image is available for players who choose random as their base energy type