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Hero Sandbox


[2010-Sep-3] #2 - Fast and Furious!

Welcome back ... at the end of the last installment, Tommyman had discovered plutonium ... that is, he'd successfully converted one of his meshes to Panda format.
A flurry of activity occurred over the next several days as we poured over the Panda documentation and learned all we could.
The Thing vs The Hulk in Panda 3D
Tommyman converted more meshes and started adding animations. He gushed over the capabilities of the Panda engine - bump maps, blending animations, half-body animations, sharing animations among meshes. All things that we knew FF couldn't do, but could be achieved with Panda.

I started looking at how to code this thing. The Panda documentation is all online and I just started working through the introductory tutorial. In 2 minutes and using only Notepad, I had a panda walking across the screen. Something I hadn't done in 2 years with other game engines.

Tommy threw his Hulk and Thing meshes into one of the Panda sample programs. It was great fun discovering how easily we were seeing amazing things on screen. I played around with the code that controlled camera movement to make it work more like FF.

Tommy and I both set out to start building our dream superhero games, agreeing to share art assets (which was very nice of him as I had none :) ), and help learn the coding side (ah, I can help there ... :) )

As I think he's stated elsewhere, his was more action-oriented, i.e. Marvel Ultimate Alliance or even fighting-game like. Mine was Super Squad, more like Freedom Force, RTS-style. Remember, I had designed all this in my head as a turn-based game years ago. FF just made me see how a real-time version could work.

The Coming of Super Squad
On April 5, 2009, I coded the initial version of SuperSquad. And here it is:
FILE- MAIN.PY
from supersquad import *

loadMap("world")
hulk = loadChar("hulk", (0,0,0), .5,.5,.5)
thing = loadChar("thing", (5,5,5), .5,.5,.5)
run()
This code also requires a supersquad.py file which I created:
FILE- SUPERSQUAD.PY
import direct.directbase.DirectStart
from direct.showbase.ShowBaseGlobal import *
from direct.interval.IntervalGlobal import *
from direct.gui.DirectGui import *
from direct.showbase import DirectObject
from direct.actor import Actor
from direct.task import Task
from pandac.PandaModules import *
from direct.showbase.PythonUtil import *
import random, sys, os, math, glob

def loadMap(mesh, pos=(0,0,0), hpr=(0,0,0), scale=(1.00,1.00,1.00)):
print "Loading model: " + mesh
map = loader.loadModel("art/objects/" + mesh + "/" + mesh)
map.setPos(pos)
map.setHpr(hpr)
map.setScale(scale)
map.reparentTo(render)
return map

def loadChar(hero, pos= (0,0,0),h=0,p=0, r=0, scale=(1.00,1.00,1.00)):
char = Actor.Actor("art/characters/" + hero + "/" + hero)
char.setPos(pos)
char.setHpr(h,p,r)
char.setScale(scale)
char.reparentTo(render)
return char
Panda 3D Superheroes!My thought was to write a library of functions (supersquad.py) that "issue" files would call.

I'm kinda embarrassed to post this as it doesn't do much - just makes 2 characters appear on a flat map. Plus, it is quite sloppy code (too many imports, too many parameters as I would learn). Still it showed me that I could start getting the hang of this. I quickly added loading of animation files and a moveTo function to get these dudes moving around.

Around this time, Tommy went Panda-exclusive (stopped doing FF stuff for a while) as he was learning how to best export meshes and creating all-new geometry, animations and skins. We agreed that we wanted everything in the game to be original, that is created for the game itself. We didn't know if there would ever be a finished game, of course, but we wanted it to be something we had done. That being said, moddability, was (and still is) high on the list of things to deliver. We want people to do stuff with it in the future.

I quickly did a new version of Supersquad that read little text files (i.e. "hero files") from a folder and used the information in them (name, mesh, skin, stats) to know how to load a character and their animations.

I added WASD controls to walk around, put up little portraits (can't click em, but they look cool), and you could press the number keys 1-8 to choose which squad member to control. Yes 1-8! Unlike FF, I wanted there to be the possibility of having big squads. A 7-man Justice League needed to be possible, dammit!

You can see the fateful initial screenshot of the original lineup to the right! As you can see, Tommy had converted more meshes and animations.

And it was now April 11, 2009. The first week of Panda excitement had come to an end.

TO BE CONTINUED ...


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