Friday, 29 October 2010

Stellar Forces: First Tutorial Video - Deployment

I'm going to start creating some tutorial videos for Stellar Forces to help new players get a head-start on the finer details. Here's the first one: a tutorial on deploying units.

UPDATE: I've remastered it (as we in the movie business call it) to a higher quality. The video is still boring though, unless you want to know how to deploy units.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Stellar Forces: Smooth Moves

I've just been adding smooth movement and animation to Stellar Forces. S'all.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Stellar Forces: Gameplay Video

I've finally got round to creating some gameplay videos for Stellar Forces. This is just a quick demo of a recent turn in one of my games. (I hope my opponent isn't watching this.)

Monday, 18 October 2010

Operation SNAFU: Autoposy

A while ago I blogged about a new kind of mission I was creating for Stellar Forces. In a nutshell, the missions were in the usual Stellar Forces style (e.g. destroy the computers on the moonbase) but the difference was that it was a secret to the other players which side was actually the one tasked with destroying the computers.

And the first game of the first version of this kind of mission (which I've christened SNAFU [warning - pdf] missions after the Paranoia mission that inspired it) has just been completed. The "saboteur" is randomly chosen, and as luck (?) would have it, I was the one chosen to be the saboteur. What are the chances eh??

Anyway, playing the mission was (in a good way) a bit like a game of chess: the units on all four sides were jostling for position to get the best view of the computers, so that when the saboteurs struck, they would be discovered. I realised that my best hope for success might be to actually kill some units instead to create confusion and give me some space. [Un]fortunately, that's exactly what happened: the first enemy unit I killed (making sure I wasn't seen by any other units) happened to have a Death Grenade, which explodes when the unit holding it dies. This grenade took another of my units out, and severly wounded the first.

All that action pretty much gave away my position, so after that, I was a sitting duck and soon got wiped out. All in all it was a great tactical game but too short (due to my impatience). Next time (if I'm the saboteurs) I might just stick to destroying computers.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Stellar Forces: Practise Missions

Player Hardwired had a great idea for Stellar Forces last week that is so obvious I can't believe no-one (including me) hadn't thought of it before: a practise mission!

One thing that prevents new players appreciating a game like Stellar Forces is that it can seem a bit daunting at first. Add to that that fact that players are always playing against another human player (so they may not want to look too much like a beginner) and it probably puts a lot of people off.

The practise mission aims to address that. It's basically a 1-player mission where the player can walk about, shoot weapons and use equipment without worring about waiting for another player (or another player waiting for them) and get to grips with all the controls before starting a proper game against a real opponent.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Hurray for Open Source!

This is just a plain-old thank you to the creator(s) of the excellent UFO:AI, and in particular, the creator of the unit models, without which Stellar Forces probably wouldn't have existed, at least not in the semi-decent form it is now. (It would probably look more like my previous efforts - warning: your eyes will bleed).

That's the great thing about Open Source: it allows people to get a massive head-start on whatever project they want to create, and it doesn't diminish anything else. It allows a huge range of games to exist which wouldn't in a purely commercial world, meaning there is almost certainly a free game out there for everyone. And if there's not, why not create it?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Stellar Forces Map Editor

When starting a new project that requires some kind of map layout, OpenOffice is always my first choice: it's nice and simple, and using cell colours it pretty much does everything you could want from a map editor, while the map file format stays simple, anyway.

But as features get added to games, sooner or later the map file format contains so much information that it becomes too fiddly.

And that has become the case with Stellar Forces. As well as just the texture of the floors and the location of doors and deployment squares, the map file also needs to store the owner of squares (for the multi-player Moonbase Assault missions and others), "escape" squares (for the Alien Escape mission and others) and of course scenery codes.

So that's why I've created the Stellar Forces Map Editor. It's a fork of the old Java version of Tiled (there is a new .Net version, but I know Java much better) and uses the same textures from the actual game which gives a very good 2D representation of what the map will look like. It's highly beta though and still has a few quirks, but should make creating maps much easier for everyone.