Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Sprint Update 23.6.2015 - A.I. Guards have needs too!

Once again we’ve had a longer sprint, with plenty of new things and changes added to the game.

Motivational breaks

This sprint we’ve been working on adding a bit more depth to our artificial intelligence. The idea is that based on character personalities, they have different needs and default values, keeping track of their motivation, alertness, amount of coffee needed for them to stay awake and so on.
So, to start building complexity, our AI guards will now keep track of their current motivation level, decreasing it slowly as they do their normal, boring patrol duty. And once the motivation level reaches zero, they really don’t feel like patrolling any more and instead decide that it’s time for a short break.

Obviously just standing around wouldn’t be enough to restore one’s working motivation, so instead we set up a break room for them in our prototype office level. As soon as the guards decide it’s time for some rest, they’ll find their way to that room (eventually to sit down for a bit and get some coffee, but for now just to stare at a soda vending machine for a while).
While pretty early in development, this already mixes up the gameplay a bit, as the player can’t just memorize the guard’s patrol routes and rely on them endlessly circulating the same route. Instead you need to pay a bit of attention or otherwise you might end up running straight into a guard who’s on his way to some deserved resting time.

Of course this also results in new opportunities for sneaking past difficult places as soon as the guard leaves his patrol and heads for the break room.
In the background we’ve been steadily working on giving the player more direct (and indirect) ways of affecting the guard through this same system, for example sabotaging the coffee machine in the break room would force the caffeine-addicted guards to look further to get their cup, keeping them out of player’s way for longer time, or permanently decreasing their alertness. Or sending a spoofed SMS to a guard, telling that their salary has just been cut by 50%, to make them decide that they don’t actually care about their patrol duty any more etc. As you can probably guess there are going to be myriad ways to demotivate or engineer an adversaries behaviour…

Local data scans

We also tinkered a bit with how the data view works in the game. Now turning on the PRISM app will by default give you a short-range scan displaying only data very close to you. The short range scan is also slower to track, so you can leave it enabled for much longer times than before, making it easier to deal with data points around you or following a data trail through the level.
The far-range scan covering most of the level is still there, now it’s just a trigger press away. We mapped the right trigger to data scan range, so the harder you press it, the longer the data scan range is. And the faster you are being traced…

Encrypt your files!

Talking about data, you also need to be able to manage the data you have collected through the game. We improved our file manager, adding a new file viewing window, and a popup menu for different actions you might wish to do with your files. There’s also some new popups to inform the player about file transfers and other operations.

…and, of course, encryption. How could we make a game about data privacy without having the ability to encrypt and decrypt files? The file actions menu allows you to decrypt files if you have the correct key, and also encrypt any files (although for now only with your own key, but we’ll change that later…)

Finally, any files you really shouldn’t remove or encrypt (for quest progression & story reasons, getting stuck is not fun) are now protected.


We’ve been working on taking our roughed out animated intro and turning it into a playable level so that the player is eased into the control system with some narrative carried tutorialisation. Still some work to go, and kinda wishing Unity would hurry up with their ‘Director’ addition to the engine feature set so we don’t have to write this code and then replace it in a few months time when better tools come through, but hey ho, that’s game dev eh! For now it will certainly work as a test.

This process has opened up some core questions to do with the overall story and how to frame elements of it in the early sections of the game, so there has been some time away, reading, researching, and and writing with a good old pencil and paper!

Cleaning stuff & bug fixes

With creating new scenes comes more asset management tasks, continuing to work on optimising materials use and cleaning up legacy 3D models and our import pipeline from the bad old days when, while we were itereating on the gameplay so rapidly, stuffing features in as quickly as possible was the imperative. Now that the mechanics are really starting to settle we have been able to focus on making the project and its pipeline nice and scaleable for when we start rapidly throwing more levels and content at it!

We fixed a bug that has caused both laughs and groans when demoing the game, getting rid of an issue where pressing the run button while in menu (or exiting the menu) caused the character to sprint immediately as the menu closes, and sometime lock into a sprint in the direction you were turning in, making the character run around in circles… kinda like homer does sometimes, whoop, whooop, whoop, whooop, whoop. (hence the title pic of this post…)

Other things

If you wanted to support the game’s development, but using PayPal and your credit card didn’t feel right, we are now able to handle Bitcoin donations through our web page - we still need your e-mail address, though, so we can drop you a line when the game is ready - if you are a true sleuth just send us a phoney one :P.

And also make sure to check/comment/discuss our reading list of books, movies, games and other interesting things related to the topic in Reddit!
Catch you soon!

No comments: