Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Sprint Update 23.03.2015 - Last of the Winter Bugs

We weren’t only dealing with software bugs, we were dealing with ones that cause runtime errors in the human body. Rich got a fever that put him down for a large part of this Sprint and so most of what we got completed was down to Pontus’ herculean efforts.


While Rich was whining about how he needed some kind of transplant, the kind of operations we worked on were strictly business. There was some useful biz dev done by Rich on the phone with his croaky voice, which might mean an exciting announcement in the near future, and we got a load of operational admin out of the way including imaging and moving our version control servers from Oregon to Ireland - no thanks to Amazon’s total lack of documentation mere humans like us could understand on migrating between servers! This had the handy symptom of fixing some of the Unity version control issues we had been experiencing so if you are a Unity Dev suffering from something similar (files not checking out, meta files not being checked back in, faulty submits etc.) try and reduce your server lag.

We paid up for our Companies House Annual Return and stumped up our hosting fees, so the websites will be up and running for the foreseeable, and used funds from the Off Grid donations account to cover it so that was fun! Thanks to all the folks who have sent funds our way, you keep us operational and make it that bit easier being a bootstrapping indie!

Data Hacking

We really are ‘hacking’ when it come to overhauling the data mechanics, we made some head way restructuring the data systems, namely pushing in new differences between types of data and how different sources handle and display them, as well as what that means for player access and gameplay.
We improved DataPoint visibility and differentiating between various types of data by setting up datapoint types, and using different 3D models to visalise different data types. This meant retrofitting existing all data sources to set data types and some general finagling.

Because the game is so much about how much data you can an cannot see we often play with the level of visibilty data has, and colour schemes have a big part to play. This sprint we changed the PRISM and DataPoints code to have a way to define color for non-character data sources, its the sort of thing that sound inane but has a bit impact on difficulty and playability. To make it simple, it means we can make it easier for the player to track different devices, not just characters.

Big Fat Lazy Guard

It was time to fix the HugeGuard, as although we have an element of lethargy in our AI he was just not bothering to search for the player after chasing him, we decided he should at least try! We jjst had to increase his motivation value and search radius a bit and now he should at least make an effort to catch you…

Defining objectives

We got to push a few changes that mean the development of some of the gameplay objectives, including setting DataPoint visibility based on the player’s access level. This meant changing datapoints to compare the player’s access level / DataPointInfo access level and enable / disable renderers on different levels of data in accordance.

We then had to change PRISM to not display data points that aren’t currently accessible to player and change the quest script in server room to change player’s access level to match with being connected to internal WiFi network. Sounds complex, plays out relatively simply in the game, and is an indicator of how much work changing an element of the data mechanics can have. I suppose it’s a good allegory for the connected world we live in, data pretty much effects everything in the game!

Last port of call for making the server room interactions have more feedback was adding a data trail leading from server room to the next objective, the journalist’s laptop. Good use for tracking non-character data mentioned above, and makes it a lot easier for the player to find out where the laptop is.  - coming to a tiny screen near you!

Pontus worked some CSS magic on the Semaeopus associated websites, after our overseer Mr Google sent a scolding email asking why we hadn’t done it yet. We now pass the test and so you can purr over a mobile-friendly layout for the Off Grid web site next time you need to check us out on the move.

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