My Hero Sandbox
[2011-Dec-02] Magical Mystery Tour
Welcome back ... at the end of the last installment,
... wait a second - last installment was over a freakin'
year ago!?!?! Oops sorry about that, looks like another one of
my timeouts (I'll explain). Actually, I only realized the
Freedom Reborn forums were back up this week (they were gone for
quite a while). I had thought my audience (of like ... 5 people)
was gone forever.
I would guess the main questions for
anyone reading this - Is it done? Is it further along? Are you
still working on it?
Answers: No, not done. Yes,
much further along, though I have not touched it in about 6
Am I still working on it? Well, my posting this is a
sign that I'm at least thinking about jumping back in. (though
I'm not sure about Tommy, who is pretty critical)
any case, back to the story:
I had left off around July 9,
2009. Things were rolling on the SuperSquad project. Tommy
and I thought ...3 , maybe 4 months ... we're done and we
release the game, become famous, and get hired by a game company
to make more games.
And then everything stopped. What
happened? Well, blame The Beatles.
Back in Dev Diary #1,
I mentioned my guitar/songwriting hobby. I had just picked up my
guitar again in 2008 after many years. Well, 2009 was the year
of the Beatles' comeback . All the albums were remastered and
Beatles: Rock Band came out. Seeing all the Fab goodness,
reminded me how they had gotten me interested in being a
musician all those years ago. The pic shows part of my
guitar collection (the Beatles part!)
I started spending more time rediscovering the
guitar and the Beatles' genius and less time coding Super Squad..
I started jamming with friends and even with people on the internet.
I started writing a song a day..
Honestly, I think I was also feeling
burnt out on the Panda and coding. I needed a break..
Interestingly, Tommyman was also feeling the same , I think. Without
really saying anything we just stopped doing as much. Even though we
still chatted about other topics, the game was not mentioned as much
Until Jan 5, 2010 ....
That day, learned of a new update to Panda. Also the Panda site itself had
been transformed to be more user-friendly and the documentation had been
updated (to make more sense IMO). I continued to look and learn with
some trepidation, as I was insanely busy at work (and still doing
Finally, in early March I took the plunge again and
by April 8, 2010,,I had coded a title screen and had the
beginnings of a character editor. (well ... at least I could show a
list of hero files from a folder, pick one, and have the model pop
I worked to add a screen with all the fields in the hero
file to the editor , so you could .... y'know ... edit them. I also
reminded the few people who knew about this that my target date for
finishing this game was still 2012. (Hmmm... that's kinda close now))
By the end of April, the editor was working, along with
Resistances, the ability to save, copy, and delete characters (all
of this was trickier than it sounds)..
To do these screens, I
was learning the Panda 2D GUI interface objects - something called
DirectGUI. Which is a massive pain in the ass. Really. I love so
much about Panda but this specific part of it is hard to work with -
it uses a different scale than 3d objects, there are very few built
in objects, you have to construct things out of parts. For example,
in order to have names pop up that I could click in a scrolling
list. I had to write a routine to add button objects for the names.
And routines to scroll a page at a time, etc. Not fun! I tested it
with up to about 2,000 hero files. It got really slow after that.
Made a note to optimize it more in the future..
But it got
A note on game design: I had mentioned this
previously, but I designed it so you have direct control over character
This has several advantages over FF (IMO)::
can customize defense very specifically (more combinations than FF))
no wasting attribute slots (I call them "traits") to bump up your cold
defense, etc. You just set it here exactly how you want it..
passive defenses at all, freeing up power slots..
- "0" is standard.
You can go 5 above and 5 below to choose whether you're very
invulnerable or vulnerable to a specific attack. (Again more levels than
what FF offered))
A reinvigorated Tommy started producing tons of
art - new meshes, improved meshes, new animations, skins, and objects..
August 2010, I had gotten back to the main part
of the code and had greatly improved the AI as well as cleaning up my
code by removing unneeded functions and cutting down its size..
I added the feature that made me "famous" in the FF world
in the first place (and a personal favorite) - "watch-mode" by pressing
Ctrl-W, All the characters would now just go at it until one side
(heroes or villains) were completely defeated. All melee punching of
course, nothing fancy. But all the characters who could - were
flying and running faster than others (remember all their hero files had
stats which the game was using for speed, strength, etc. - only
resistance was not taken into account yet) So it was a battle to behold!!
I had no limits on squad sizes (still don't) so I was watching 8 vs.
8 or 15 vs. 1, whatever I would set my map file to. And Tommy kept
cranking out more and more meshes. Every time he did, a new warrior
joined the fray..
At this point, I added the capability for
characters to grow, shrink, and turn invisible. In the pic at the left,
you can see examples of this. All these meshes are the same size (and
visibility) normally. I simply wrote code to have them grow, shrink, or
go transparent when the player clicked the right button (And if the hero
file had the right trait in it)..
Tommy was innovating plenty himself. He took a
break from the characters and whipped up some buildings. By editing the
simple map text files to place the buildings, he created a quick city
that made the battle scene even cooler..
Tommy also figured out
the lines of Panda code that could make the game go into slo-mo mode.
Perfect for capturing some great superhero action shots with the
screenshot function I added..
There's a Plan
At this point, I had a rough roadmap
written down..All the goodies to date comprised version 0.3 of
Version 0.4 would add::
- Basic (very basic) projectile/beam combat
- Clean up the hero editor a bit (more
pulldowns, power editor))
- Add a "Set up city battle" screen - you pick your squad , the foes and
then you fight. (rather than having to manually edit the map file
- Add energy costs to powers and replenishing
Version 0.5 would add:
- Bug fixes (we had plenty of those)
- Better AI - better tactics (use power properly, AI editor)
- Keep implementing traits (had fly, grow, shrink, invisible,
and fast healing so far)
Story modes and missions would follow
This Dev Diary has gone on for quite a bit, so I'm
gonna wrap it up and promise to do another one before too long.
Yes, I will not wait another year!!
One last feature to mention:
on Aug 30, 2010, I was able to add dynamic speed
trails. As you can see in the Flash pic, a character running with
this feature turned on leaves a "trail" behind him , much like what you
see in comics. This is done completely with code I put together, There
is nothing special about the mesh, no special art file required. You
simply give a character this trait and they do this when they run.
Coincidentally, this was around the same time that our little
project was "outed" on the FR forums. Suddenly, everyone knew what Tommy
and I had been doing. Is that good or bad? Time will tell.
with that, I bid you adieu.
Freedom Force Info
Alex's Hero Conversion Tips
JLA v Avengers - Once and For All!
The JLA Mod
Setting The Scene
Making a list, checking it twice ...
My Hero Sandbox
A little background
Fast and Furious
Magical Mystery Tour
They pull me back in!
By The Numbers