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:
Making AI to attack neutral aggressive animals (and their dens) proved to be more complicated than I thought. Why is that?
Existing AI attacks work quite simple – AI has a list of attacks it needs to run at certain times (or periods), which are “nearest unit”, “nearest house”, “go to location”. Then AI checks if it has enough troops and launches the attack. To this time, I have planned for neutral hand to own both inert and hostile animals and houses. Which means that in order for AI to attack “any” enemy, it needs to check all enemy hands assets and also to check all neutral hand’s assets individually (to pick only hostile ones). Which is sub-optimal both from programming and from code-design point of view (especially the “individual” alliance setting).
Hence I’m looking into splitting neutral hand into two separate hands: inert and hostile, so that alliance settings between hands become simple again (either “ally” or “enemy”). Rules go like in order of priority:
Hand is always ally to itself
Neutral Inert hand (Ni) will be ally to anyone
Neutral Hostile hand (Nh) will be enemy for anyone (except self and inert)
All other alliances are governed by mapmaker and mission setup (except listed above)
And I get rid of that temp “it depends” alliance setting )
New problems arise though. Currently in Game and in MapEd all hands are tightly packed and each hand can be of any type atm. It’s a good time to fix this too. E.g. you can have 1 human hand and 7 separate neutral hands. Which is a waste of space really. Now there needs to be up to 2 different neutral hands – Ni and Nh (if hand has no assets it gets skipped). Still tightly packed on save and always on the right side of the hands palette in MapEd. Reordering hands is a bit complicated since hands hold a lot of cross-references (e.g. Goals/Objectives/Alliances/etc). Processing example goes like so: load a map into MapEd with 1/2/3/Nh hands. Append 8 more hands. Make the last hand Ni. Swap hands around for Ni and Nh to occupy the 11th and 12th slot. Do the map editing. Remove hands without assets before saving.
Another complication: previously I stored hand type in 2 fields in mission data: allowHuman and allowAI. 4 combinations of which described 4 hand types that were – Human, AI, Skirmish and Neutral. Now 5th type is needed, to split Neutral. For that I’m planning to add allowNeutralType flag/command.
There are other minor issues of course (and some bigger ones I haven’t stumbled upon yet), but overall I’m feeling confident and happy about this refactoring – it will make things a bit more complicated in one small area (Ni and Nh management),but much more simple in other broader areas (since larger parts of the game work with alliances).