In the next wip build, settings location will change from games folder to “My Documents\My Games\Knights Province”. According to GDSE, this is the most popular location games save their data to. This way settings wont reset each time you download and play new wip version 🙂
Alpha 11 is nearing its completion and is looking for beta-testers.
It is the most worked-on version of the Knights Province yet (except for Alpha 1, of course). Last release was 7255 and this one is going to be at least 8930. Means that a whole 1600+ bits of changes and improvements went into it.
Main features of the new version are:
Manned towers. Now each tower can be manned with 1-3 warriors who will pick up bows inside and shoot from atop at the enemy. Warriors will request food to be brought in by Serf when hungry, otherwise they will stop “working” and walk out, just like citizens do. It is yet unclear how warriors specialization will affect his performance in the tower, or if warriors inside could take a fraction of damage from enemy archers. At the moment, all warriors shoot with the same strength, distance and frequency and stay 100% protected inside.
Buildable fences. Now you can build and destroy your own fences (and enemy fences too, of course). Fences cost wood to build and block passage for citizens. Warriors can break fences on their way with several blows. So far it is quite a weak obstacle, but with more playtesting that can change. In the future fences are also planned to be used for cattle.
Real Fog of War. From now you can see only what you have surveyed. This is how fog behaves in the majority of the games. Implementation was quite tricky, but the end result is well worth it.
Early stages of multiplayer accounts. Registration and mission highscores allow you to compete with other single-player players. More on that is covered in the previous article.
New and updated campaign missions. Campaign scripting and persistent script storage between missions, customizable icons and maps. Now allows for more varied custom campaigns. Check updated tutorial, Intro and Hostages missions.
Added Russian localization as a test of a text translation engine. More localizations can be made later on.
Configurable shortcuts/hotkeys are finally here as well. Almost everything is configurable and Ctrl+Alt+Shift are supported as well.
Restyled fish count calculation and display in water bodies. Now it is smooth and informative.
Smaller features are:
Return of the fraction of building materials on house destruction. Nice bonus or last chance at building a Stonecutter’s – you decide.
Revised several house models (still temp).
Finally added some leather background to in-game forms. It’s still a work in progress though.
Added cinematics and speech bubbles support in missions.
Allowed to make terrain highlights (invoked from script).
Decal and Objects palettes for the MapEd. As well a couple of new objects.
Added support for Buttons in dynamic script messages. Your choice can now directly affect mission flow.
Changed how coalmaker’s house works, now the coalpiles need to be set outside.
Made AI to attack animal dens
A lot of effort went into refactoring alliances. Neutral hands. Players instantiation and mission setup
Reiterated and improved AI in Skirmish (GDP +17%, Starvation -30%)
A whole lot of bugfixes and improvements
New music by Juan (Dark Banner, Harvest, Over the Hills)
Campaign Builder tool is included with the game now.
Knights Province Alpha 11 is going to be ready soon and it’s time to talk about one more unique feature that it is going to have: Knights Tavern!
Knights Tavern (KT for short) is a codename for the accounts server we have been developing since 2019. Accounts were one of the more often requested features in KaM Remake, but we never had expertise or bravery to actually implement it (well, for numerous reasons). Attempts were made for the KP, but they did not succeed until recently, when a lucky chance has arrived (in form of an article (https://habr.com/ru/post/491272/) and a code repository (https://github.com/Cooler2/ApusEngineExamples)). Now, knowing that the backend server can be developed in the same language as the game, KT is finally taking its chance to come true.
Neat thing about KT, is that it can be used for both KaM Remake and Knights Province. Both games are very much alike in terms of accounts info they provide and can benefit from. So we can safely build KT in such a way that it allows for a single account for both Knights Province and KaM Remake. Register once and play twice. KP is our testground for the KT. Once it is sufficiently tested, KaM Remake can be upgraded and start using it too.
You can help with KT playtesting right now, but more on that later.
Basic auth functionality is mostly covered: KT has player accounts that can be registered, activated, logged in to and logged out of, forgotten passwords can be reset.
For a proof of concept, KT can report how many player accounts it has and how many players were active within the last hour.
The first useful feature in KT are mission highscores. If a single-player mission was prepared by the mapmaker in a specific way (2 lines of script, one dynamic and one static), the game can submit the mission’s winning score to KT and later on show the player his ranking in that mission.
Word of caution, KT is still in beta and might have bugs in all different areas. We hope to iron them out over time. That’s why we start testing with simple functionality, so flaws in the authentication (which there must be) can be fixed. So, since there might be bugs and weak spots, do not use your everyday life passwords for KT.
It needs to be coded in an asynchronous way, so that data requests do not slow down or freeze the game.
Player data needs to be passed and stored securely (we already use salts and hashes)
We will need to preserve the players data on upgrades and between game versions
Best of all – you can already try out KT and help us improve it! See the latest KP wip builds (available on Discord https://discord.gg/cEwJFSY). Please report any bugs or flaws. We are also open for suggestions on KT functionality. It can steer it into many directions and it would be best to pick ones that are more wanted.
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!