Saturday, 24 January 2009

WAIN (Where Am I Now?)

Following yesterday's post, the navigation aide (now named WAIN) can load information from an object in the environment - specifically a UUID for the map, and a list of landmarks. Time for a video - including an unnecessary overlay that I just learnt how to add.

To be a useful system users would need to know where to get these updates, and so I've created a logo to identify WAIN info points. A user arriving in a new location and spotting one of these signs, would then know that some map information is provided.

I have the code to take SL's internal Sim maps and apply it as the texture (taken from a wiki example originally I believe), but the Lindens seem to be in the process of changing the way maps work so I might leave it for a while.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Virtual Navigation Aide

Navigation in virtual worlds is a similar challenge to navigating through the real world. You often need to identify the purpose of buildings and environments through visual cues, and identify a route that leads to your goal location. The nature of Second Life makes lots of people lazy complacent about supporting navigation, generally offering teleport coordinates to a specific location without considering how people will move around once there. Buildings are generally labelled (though often just a vague company name), but there is a distinct lack of directions.

This is to be expected through most of the mainland where ownership is fragmented, but many times I've landed in private Sims and had little clue what was North/South/East/West. Where are the "You are here" maps, the paths with signposts, the guide leaflets, or other examples from the real world? A reasonable answer is "Explore", but to have the desire to do so a person must know that there is something there that they want. If you go to a website, and nothing on the homepage hints at what you're looking for, you'll go somewhere else. Sometimes wandering is the goal, but builders should ask themselves "do I want to help people find things?".

The waffle is due to a navigation HUD that I've been inspired to make (below), which shows your current position and orientation within a Sim (represented by the blue arrow). You're probably wondering why it might be necessary when there are map tools built into the client; but one feature of this tool is that a Sim owner can include their own annotated map, highlighting the different areas. And there's more...

The HUD includes the option for setting landmarks, which are shown on the map as the user cycles through them. These are hard-coded at the moment, but ultimately I aim to have them added dynamically. A user could arrive at a sim and be given "todays" landmarks. If you have generic meeting or teaching rooms, then the landmarks could be for the specific meetings or lessons of that day; if a commercial sim has changing store rentals, then the landmarks could update to the current sellers etc.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Pocket Battlers - Generation 1 prototypes

At the moment I'm just getting a few ideas out of my head, and into working prototypes. One of these is Pocket Battlers, in which you control a small 'Battler' (as a sub-avatar?) that can move around and launch various attacks. A major feature is that these Battlers can be very different, for example in the first generation with be a tank, a pirate ship and a faery; all with appropriate movement and unique attacks.

The second major feature is the power bar, through which attacks are activated. Power gradually accumulates over time, and each attack requires a certain amount of power before it can be used. When an attack is used then a portion of the power is used up. You can see it in action at the end of the video below (there's no sound so don't go fiddling with your volume control).

They still need a bit of dressing up, but after a few small tweaks they'll be at the stage where they can be fought against each other (I just need to add in area-effect damage).

Credits: The particle systems used for the faery are based on free examples available at 'The Particle Lab' in SL, and the faery's wings are by Jane Mc Carthy.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Cannoneer turn controller

Shown above is the turn controller for Cannoneers. Players can click on it to register; the owner of the device can use a dialog menu to join/start/reset the game; and player order is randomised.

It was fairly easy to lock player controls so that only one person can move at a time; and that turns ends either after 10 seconds have passed, after they have moved 5 metres, or (soon) after they have fired (I still have it allowing multiple shots for final testing).

Also shown in the image is the HUD for switching between the two ammo types: shells that explode on impact (small area, large damage), and grenades that explode after 5 seconds (wider area, low damage).

Friday, 9 January 2009

Cannoneers - Early Development

One of my current projects has the working title of "Cannoneers". Ultimately it will be a turn-based game where players run around shooting at each other, along the lines of the 3D versions of Worms. Shown below is the Avatar I've built for it, which should give an idea of the style I'm aiming for.

I decided to go with "tiny" avatars, because it adds a sense of fun to things. It's also good practice with the anim overides, squashed anims and invisi prims that tiny avatars rely on.

The animations are done, and cannon power is controlled by how long you hold the mouse down. The next big feature will be controlling turn taking.