Fences have been long on the game’s todo list. Being a really neat feature described by a single word, it comes with a lot of problems to solve. How does one approaches a feature like that?
First the “wants” had to be outlined. Fences might have a number of variants and uses in the game:
Short crossable fences can be used to designate grain fields and orchards. Purely aesthetic
Medium breakable fences. Can be a weak fortification, slowing down enemy advance. Maybe they can also be used to keep the cattle
Tall tough fences can be a better fortification. More expensive and harder to break
If we think about it, fences around house building sites are somewhat related too
Next comes the problems and features exploration phase. Here’s a short FAQ I did on fences before starting the work. Each line poses a problem and has a solution below. The FAQ is not final and solutions can be changed to accomodate for unforeseen problems, but for now I’m quite happy to have most of the questions answered:
How are fence plans placed
New plan type. Placed between tiles. One side must be walkable/reachable. Cursor magnets to nearest edge and outlines it.
How fences get built
By builder. He arrives on adjacent tile, digs for a while, waits for timber and hammers the fence in place
What do fences cost
At least one wood or stone
On which side of the fence should the builder remain?
Let the fence plan direct from which side it gets built
Do builders walk through fences?
Maybe they don’t. Let the player manage the sides from which to build.
We could allow Builders to walk through fences. But this would break all the immersion and logic. Unless we show Builder hits a fence several times to remove it, walks though and then builds it back again? Builders do walk through small house plan fences though..
How fences get demolished?
Instantly in a puff of dust
How fences get destroyed?
Adding hp would be complicated. Let it be just a chance-based instant destruction.
Maybe we can have a breaking animation and fence remainders on the ground?
How tough are the fences?
We can “roll dice” each hit. Chance of destruction can be linked with warriors attack.
How do we discourage extensive fortifications, are they a problem?
Likely not. The cost is quite high after all.
Whose property fences are?
Fences belong to a player (so warriors know whose fences to break and whose to walk around)
How do fences interact with houses?
Fences should be allowed to make perpendicular contact with houses
Fences could be allowed to go alongside house border later on, but likely it ’s not needed
How to build fenced area for cattle?
To become cattle yard it needs to be enclosed
Area can be built by builders
What is a yard?
Any enclosed area of size 4+ touching the house (e.g. side). Max size is .. ?
How do animals appear inside the yard
Breeder can bring them from the house
How do animals disappear from the yard
Breeder takes them out
How does Breeder carry the animal?
Animal goes by itself on a whistle?
Animal gets “follow” order?
Animal is taken into hands? (as in KaM)
What if fence gets broken?
Yard becomes ordinary terrain
Animals can walk away
What if fence gets restored (or is built around existing animals)
Area becomes yard again
Breeder can access animals in the yard
What if player builds several yards
If they are accessible by Breeder – he can use them
What if there are odd units/animals in the yard
They remain there, if they can not escape
How do animals breed?
Breeder brings them in
What do animals eat
Grass and grain brought by Breeder
How do animals grow?
Cows/Horses grow +1 for each grain eaten
Sheep remain at the same size and just grow more wool
Do we always need fences
No, if the area is naturally enclosed it should be fine too
This FAQ covered the player-side of things. Having that done the coding could begin. The code was written in a separate SVN branch to allow for easier comparison of before/after and overall changes made.
There was a number of cross-dependent problems in implementing of the fences. Here are some of the solved ones:
Fence edges block diagonal unit passability across a vertice between tiles (just like trees and such). However a fence has 2 endpoints, so code had to be updated to let 1 object block 2 vertices.
Fences go along tile edges and thus block unit passability. All the passability/pathfinding methods had to be updated to check the edges between tiles for passability
Unlike roads and fields, fences need to be built from specified side. Fence plan list had to account for that.
Enemy fences should be breakable, so the passability for warriors had to “ignore” the fences and still plan paths through them, knowing that warrior will break the fence on approach.
Breaking enemy fences should not interrupt current warriors order
Warriors should not break allied fences. Which means the terrain traversability now had to account for player alliances.
Breaking a fence should take some time (1-3 hits depending on warriors strength). Had to come up with a simpler formula for that
There needs to be support for different fences (visually and mechanically) at least for mapmakers. Thus the fences are planned to have properties and types.
Had added dynamic script commands to add or remove a fence.
Fences had to have player color markings on them. Since terrain render is already overly complex and overlay render caused some Z-fighting bugs, fences had to be made to render via a different approach that allowed for colors.
Refactorings had to be made along the way to adjoin similar methods encountered throughout the code.
Remaining problems and features:
Own fences need to be demolishable. There’s still no support for that yet. Not sure if this should be done with a confirmation or not.
It would be nice to have own and allied fence lines to be permeable without destruction. Should the gates be added, and if yes – that’s another bunch of problems to solve
It would be nice to have fence breaking animation
Cattle yards are a whole new can of worms. They will likely be implemented as a separate feature after the fences development is complete.
Fences are available since Alpha r8455. There’s already been some testing going on and a small bunch of bugs fixed.
Campaign menu is one of the menus that received the least attention during Alpha development so far. Why is that? Well, it’s not as important as the main game or map editor – it’s rarely used and serves a small role of allowing to click “Start mission” or choose to replay the previously beaten mission. It lagged so much behind now that it’s subpar even by Alpha standards. By requests from mapmakers it’s finally getting some dev time. Along with that campaigns are also getting some new features (campaign scripting, yay!)
What campaign menu should look like? The big idea is to have it in 3D as a sort of map laid on the table, with heights and 3D banners.
However this is far from priority, since it’s better to have a more developed game, rather than campaign menu, right? So for now, campaigns are getting most of their planned mechanics, but still retain its simpler (and easier to develop) menu.
Following features and customization abilities have been added already:
Chapters. Each chapter has its own background graphic and subset of missions.
Customizable mission flags. Each flag has 3 states that can have custom graphics – locked/normal/won. For example now you can denote fighting only missions with crossed swords and normal missions with city icon.
Nodes between flags
All these custom graphics can be png files in the campaign folder. If not supplied – the game will use default stand-in images.
New campaign format is mostly self-explanatory (just open the info.xml in a text editor). Images and texts are now referenced from within the campaign spec (info.xml) – less hardcode rules, more customization.
For the technical side – campaigns got scripting support! It’s made of two parts:
Persistent data storage between missions. Now mapmakers can record data from one mission and use it in the other. Did you help that rebels town in mission 2 – now rebels can send reinforcements in mission 4!
Campaign scripting. Mapmakers get control over which missions get unlocked and when. Did you choose to side-track to the mountains to help the miners or to chase the bandits and let the miners take the usurpers side?
There’s also another neat addition – Campaign Builder – a tool to create and edit campaigns for the game. From now on it will be included in the pack. The tool is rather basic in its look and function, as it’s not the main dev focus. Still it’s handy to set up the template for the campaign and especially the flags/nodes placement.
Give it a try!
If you are a player – check it out and report bugs/feature requests
If you are a mapmaker – start creating your campaign! (and report bugs/feature requests too)
Cinematic controls are being added to the Knights Province.
These are commands that allow to block the player input, do the fade out to black, move the camera and change its setup, fade in from black at new location and pan/zoom around, while showing text and subtitles. They will become accessible from dynamic script. Of course this is all mixable with existing dynamic script for playing WAVs and spawning units. This will allow for more atmospheric mission intros and story/campaign elements.
Firstly you need to enable the Cinematic mode with CinematicBegin, then it will be a good idea to store the current players view with CinematicViewStore and show the movie bars with CinematicBarsShow. Then the cinematic can play out, finally being ended with CinematicEnd.
Example script for the mission intro cinematic will look much alike:
So far cinematics are enabled only for Single-Player.
Feedback and suggestions for new commands are welcome!
Alpha 11 is still in works, but I wanted to share a couple of new interesting things about it.
Firstly, there is a new map made by Klassix that takes advantage of new game features and dynamic script commands. Namely the messages with buttons to allow to choose difficulty level.
Here’s description by the map author – Klassix:
In the map you have to defend an old Romans Fort for as long as you can. You have to develop a working economy while fighting off waves of enemies that randomly spawn from one of four directions. As you progress in time random leather-tier and later iron-tier-troops, start to join the offenders and attack from multiple directions. There are various resources spread across the map just waiting to be picked up by you, but watch out for wild animals and deserters.
This map features:
– Handcrafted terrain – Two selectable difficulties on mission start, – An ‘Incoming Attack’-Indicator which tells you from what direction the enemy attacks, – An acoustic warning signal by your scouts as soon as hostile troops move into the map, – Randomly generated attack directions and troop constellations every time you play, – Tons of pickable resources that need your attention and – a lot of care for details and balance.
Have fun holding your fort!
Bug reporting is very welcome.
Another neat addition are new music tracks by Juan – Dark Banners, Harvest. There’s also a third yet unnamed track, which is my current favorite and which I will add as soon as the name is chosen. I’m very happy with how the game gets more and more great music!
I’m really excited to have Knights Province Steam page registered!
It took a while, but finally it’s there. So far only a page. There’s no known release date and no “Early Access” there yet (you know where it is ;-)). The game is listed as “coming soon” and it means ~2024-ish or so, given solo development tempo xD.
So .. add the Knights Province to your wishlist and keep on following the project in here, on Discord, Patreon and now on Steam!
A long ago requested feature from mapmakers and player is to have a choice in missions. It is coming to Knights Province Alpha 11. With this new feature missions can ask player in a convenient way to make some choice. No more “enable this house repair to get A and train a scout to get B”.
Let’s explore the details. This is how the typical script for the interactive messages going to look like:
procedure OnMissionStart; begin Actions.PlayerMessageWithButtons(-1, 'MessageWithButtons prompting player to choose an option', ['Option 1', 'Option 2'], [1,2], True); end;
procedure OnScriptButtonClick(aPlayer: Integer; aTag: Integer); begin Actions.PlayerMessageOpen(-1, 'Player ' + IntToStr(aPlayer) + ' has chosen button #' + IntToStr(aTag) + ' how cool is that!'); end;
The script above has 2 main parts: message instantiation and click event handler. Instantiated message looks like so, with up to 8 buttons for now:
When a button gets clicked, the message closes itself and sends an event to the script. In our example we just show another message with the event arguments, but mapmaker can write any other script (give wares, destroy houses, spam enemies, reveal fog of war, proclaim victory or defeat and much more):
And now to some technical details for mapmakers – click event has to be separate from the message instantiation (aka asynchronous) because of several reasons:
Dynamic script occurs within the main game update loop, which is separate from UI loop. This means that script can request a message to be shown, but the message can be shown (and processed) only after the game tick is done.
All player input has to go through recording mechanism (which is required for replays) and that mechanism basically works as <game update> <player input> <game update> <player input> … Since button clicks are player input, then need to go into the next tick.
Messages can be blocking (modal) or non-blocking. With non-blocking messages player can click the buttons at any time later in the game (or do not click any of them at all).
Since messages do not get deleted, player can click the same button over and over again. Emitting the click event again and again.
Last, but not least – given multiplayer architecture, player input needs to be sent to all other players and acknowledged before it can be executed. This can take up to several dozens of ticks
Finally, this is just a prototype. If all goes well, choice and interactivity can become much more sophisticated. Dialogs, other kinds of controls (text inputs, checkboxes, etc.), controls in the overlay area, etc.
Some time ago I was reworking fishing mechanics. Biggest flaw that had to be fixed – unnatural fish depletion. Now fish slowly regenerates. To make it work, waterbodies had to be made to keep track of their fish reserves. One additional benefit is that building a dozen of fishermans houses would not increase overall catch amount, but only affect speed at which fish gets caught.
Having this mechanics for a while, made me realize that I’m not entirely happy with it, but can not put a finger on what exactly feels wrong. From game mechanics point of view, it works as it should – providing good starting nutrition source that is slowly depleting, but never too much to cause Fishermans houses demolition to be a good move. Mechanic itself is a bit less clear, fish count increments are a bit vague, but still on par with old approach. UI display – that’s what requires the most attention and work!
Current display (numbers on terrain) was totally unnatural for the games visual style and has to be reworked. But how? The idea is to mix a heatmap with a fluid. Let it be a bit vague and flow-like.
These are work-in-progress shots. First attempts at visualizing fishcount with a very blurred texture sharply cut at certain value and filled uniformly red. Done in special preview-tool dedicated to water effects:
Checking that all the tiles align well between texture and the terrain:
Two separate layers, to indicate higher fish density:
First in-game shot:
Tweaking transparency and density:
Fish can not be caught anywhere nut the shoreline, so it makes sense to show the effect only there. Also trying out different scale – looks interestin, but too noisy. The water should be calm:
Applying Fog of War effect
Trying out fishcount effect without blur – looks good for a Minecraft clone:
The system is hierarchical – there are top-level “Global” hotkeys that work everywhere (e.g. opening dev menu with F11), lower level hotkeys that work in the game/maped and lowest-level ones that work only in gameplay/replay.
Army hotkeys were rigged, but I havent mapped default values to them.
There are also 2 new MapEd hotkeys to bring decals and map objects palettes now: