Monthly Archives: May 2013

Pelagic Creatures

Some say that the ocean is a dull place in Survivalcraft. In 1.22 I am trying to change that. Here’s how:

http://youtu.be/AGAHFhzFDKo

It’s a big creature, and the first one of the kind. It will kill you in one or two jaw snaps. Because it’s so big, there have been issues with it. The engine does not handle it very well and the movement is not as smooth as I would like to, but I hope to get them resolved.

For the last few days I’ve been tweaking pathfinding. Alas there are still cases where it does not work, or rather where steering fails to follow the path properly. It takes a lot of time to fix that, because when I correct one snag, it makes some other case break. If only phones were as powerful as PCs…

Now for something completely different. Tomorrow finally I am going for a holiday, yay! I will not have access to the internet for about 9 days. Please don’t be alarmed if I don’t post anything during that time.

I will be back :-)

When I am back, I will start on the big new secret feature I wrote about last time. Hopefully, I will have a lot of time during the holiday to think the details through.

Hunger

The final survival mechanic for 1.22 will be hunger. This is in addition to stamina and need to sleep, which you saw in the earlier posts.

I haven’t made a video today, because there’s nothing visual to show. Instead, here’s how hunger works in 7 bullet points:

  • Food no longer restores health; health restores slowly on its own
  • When you don’t eat for about a day, you will get a message saying you are getting hungry
  • The messages will get more frequent and alarming the more hungry you get over the next day
  • After about two days without food, you’ll start to slowly lose health
  • When you eat, a message will tell you whether you want more, or are stuffed (in which case you will not be able to eat any more)
  • Jumping, fighting and digging speeds up the need for food, but not by too much
  • You need to be well fed for the health to restore. If you’re hungry, it will not.

In addition to that, I am thinking of forcing the player to eat a balanced diet. I.e. if you only eat eggs, eventually (after a long time) something bad will start happening and you’ll have to get some other type of food. I haven’t decided on it yet. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

To balance out hunger, I also want to introduce a new, large game mechanic. I have thought about it for some time, and have a rough idea where to start. It’s big and a lot of people ask for it. For now I want to keep it secret, in case it does not work out.

Forum Down

I have noticed that the forum has gone down. I am trying to clarify the situation with Lefora support – will let you know as soon as I know anything.

22530914

 

[EDIT]

That’s the reply I quickly received from them:

We apologize for this inconvenience. The engineers have been made aware of this, and we’ll have this sorted out as soon as we can. Again, we are sorry about this interruption in service. Please be patient, we’re working to get it fixed.

And now the forum seems to be back up again :-)

Horned Beast

I am still working on the better survival AI. I need to make the dangerous creatures seek you out from longer distances at night, even if you’re hidden somewhere. We’ll see how it goes. There’s only so much CPU power on the weaker phones to spend on AI nastiness.

To take a small break from this complex stuff, I decided that today I’ll do something easier. So here you have a new animal:

Rhino

It is a rhino, and it may get quite unpleasant when you meet one. They will be rare and live in warm areas, but these are known to be very bad tempered. They charge fast and hit hard. Think of it as a bear on steroids.

Still to do is the overhaul of the knockback system, when you hit an animal. At the moment you can easily knock back a bear or a bull. This will likely no longer be so in 1.22. What I want to do is that attacking a big animal without some preparation (e.g. planning the escape route or making a trap) is suicidal business.

More new animals yet to come in 1.22, some of them quite dangerous as well :-)

Pathfinding

In the last couple of days I have made good progress with pathfinding. It still has some rough edges, but it’s almost good enough for the first release.

As usual, when there’s something new and cool, there’s a (lengthy) video: http://youtu.be/ZaO8gDLwZeM

A full pathfind, in a complex environment on a slow phone, may take as much as 150ms. This of course happens on a separate thread, but if your phone is single-core, this thread will share the CPU with all the others. That means the game would slow down a bit for short periods while the animals are pathfinding.

To combat this, I made the AI to use pathfinding as little as possible. With this on, I hope the slowdowns will not be noticeable. If they are, there’s always room for optimizations and tweaking. We’ll see.

Need To Sleep

The next survival mechanic is need to sleep. As stamina, it will only exist in Challenging, Cruel and Adventure. What it boils down to is that you can function for about 2 game days without sleep. After that, you will lose consciousness and collapse, wherever you are. Most likely, the animals will then make a hash of you :-)

Here’s a little video (condensed from 2 game days) to show you how it looks in the game:

http://youtu.be/xRMqcL0aavo

No, the yellow lines and dots in the earlier post was not Pac-Man mode :-) As many of you noticed, it’s pathfinding. There are a few issues with it, though.

First of all, it’s quite costly (i.e. needs a lot of CPU), so the animals try to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Second, at the moment it does not work very well. The pathfinding itself (the yellow line on the screenshot was the path found by the algorithm) works perfectly. What doesn’t work so well is the animals navigating the real world along the path. The world in Survivalcraft is quite complex and 3D. Things like doors, narrow or low passages, sticking out corners, dangers (magma, cacti etc.) make it quite difficult to  get it to work reliably. But I am trying.

I think it’s important that I get this done. I have been planning it for a long time. Without it the animals are like little insects, only seeing a block or two around them.  With pathfinding they will be able to penetrate into your builds if you leave a hole open (or forget to close the door). They will also be able to do other things that I plan for the future.

The Other Side Of Survival

Comments and emails tell me that stamina is a hugely controversial feature.

Apparently the first issue is the panting sound, which was annoying. I have now replaced it with a better and quieter version. I also made it sound more natural by introducing more random frequency and volume fluctuations. It should not sound like a train any more. Hopefully you’ll like it better.

Second, the entire stamina system came under heavy attack. Some even claimed that it brings nothing to the game. That’s not true. At the very least it will force you to build stairs and ladders down your shafts and up your towers, and to get a horse for longer travels. It will also make it more risky to mess with fast, dangerous animals. And you will no longer be able to swim for miles :-)

Anyway, in an attempt to make everyone happier I increased the amount of running and the number of jumps you have to take to get exhausted.

Please keep in mind that the last video focused on the exhaustion. I have specially chosen situations where the player is winded and cut the other parts, to keep the video shorter and less boring. In real gameplay it’s not so easy to get panting as the video might suggest. Especially with the changes I now made.

I think the final test will come when I release it for Google Play. If there is a massive backlash, there will still be time to revise it in a quick update before submitting to Windows, Amazon and Apple.

Leaving the stamina aside, here’s a debug screenshot from the new mechanic I am working on. It will make the animals more clever (and dangerous), giving a boost to the neglected survival aspect from another direction. I’m sure you’ll guess what it is :-)

Feature

Stamina

The survival mechanics I’ve been working on for some time are roughly done, they just need some tweaking. Here’s a video showing how stamina (which is one of them) works:

http://youtu.be/nJjV5WqZw3k

This will only be active in Challenging, Cruel and Adventure modes. Harmless and (obviously) Creative stay as they are.

What do you think? Is it not too annoying?

If you haven’t read my earlier posts about survival: the reason for stamina is so that it’s not so easy to run away from the animals that chase you. It also adds more player immersion (pun intended) and makes the world more dangerous, which is badly needed.

Right now I am working on something new that will make animals a lot more dangerous and realistic than they are now. If it works out, together with stamina, hunger and sleep, 1.22 will really flesh out the survival aspect. I’ll tell you more in another post.

Thank you for all the magnet recipes. I still haven’t decided which one to use. Especially the lodestone concept is cool – never thought of that! But I don’t want to add a new mineral just for the sake of one or two items. Unless I come across an idea on how to use lodestone sensibly somewhere else, I’ll sadly have to skip it. Ideas welcome.

At the moment I think the recipe should be just that:

Magnet
But it seems too simple…

In the meantime daverave40 published 19th episode of his Let’s Play Survivalcraft series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zCrtziB0II

[EDIT]

Here’s some numbers to help you better judge the stamina system:

  • You can run about 300 blocks until you start to pant and slow down (on level ground)
  • After about 400 blocks you’re fully exhausted and move at 50% speed
  • About 40 jumps in quick succession will get you exhausted and unable to jump any more
  • It takes just 3 seconds of rest to restore you to full performance
  • About 10 seconds more of rest will make you fully rested (i.e. able to run another 400 blocks / make 40 jumps).
  • Walking on stairs/ladders counts like moving on flat terrain.

 

Finding Way Home

I am still working on the new survival mechanics. Hopefully will be able to show you something shortly. Don’t worry – at the moment the idea is that they will only work in Challenging and Cruel. Harmless will stay as it is, or at the very least will have a much nerfed variant of the survival.

Having so many of you to bounce ideas against is great. You spotted something which I haven’t even thought of. If I make it so that the player needs to sleep regularly, he will be forced to sleep outside of his house while on long journeys. This will invalidate the last spawn position, and the compass will no longer work. Finding the way home will be difficult.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to fix this:

Magnet

 

 

A magnet is a new block being introduced in 1.22. Once placed, the compass will point towards it. When more than one is placed, they will point to the nearest one.

It will be crafted from iron (obviously), but I also want to add some other ingredient, and I’m not sure which yet. If you have any good ideas for magnet recipes, please post them below in the comments (preferably the whole recipe, including the shape).

Fence Gates

A lot of people are screaming for these, so here you go. In 1.22 you get proper fence gates that you can arrange in single and double variants. The video with all the gritty details: http://youtu.be/Af0wI61y9Vk

Have you noticed Survivalcraft was at #1 for some time in the US marketplace? Now it’s at #2. This is beyond amazing, reaching #1 in AppStore five days from launch.

Here’s the snapshot of Top-5 matrix in the US taken at that crazy moment:

Rankings

Mount Everest of mobile publishing conquered! Of course I hope we’ll stay up there for some time, or at least somewhere nearby :-)

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