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Improved cover system

2 Comments August 14th, 2014 by Christian Knudsen

You may or may not have seen the screenshot I posted on Twitter and Facebook last Saturday for Screenshot Saturday. But it showed the new cover system I’ve been working on.

It started when I wanted to optimize frightened AIs searching for cover to hide behind. Before, they’d check all tiles in a given radius and see if they provided cover by doing line of sight checks for each and every tile. That was quite wasteful. A simple way to improve that system was to have each tile already hold information about the cover it provided — and just fill in this information when loading a map and update it accordingly when doors are opened or closed, and so on.

It also improved performance by not having to do as many line of sight checks in the rest of the code. Because with this improved system, if I’m on a tile that is designated as providing cover in direction X and the enemy I’m checking line of sight for is also in direction X, he doesn’t have line of sight and there’s no need to go through the more performance-heavy process of tracing his eyeline and checking if it intersects with any objects.

And now that I had information for a tile’s cover on hand, it was easy to visualize this information by borrowing XCOM’s shield indicators. The small difference being that in XCOM, your soldiers automatically crouch behind low cover, while in Hidden Asset you have to do that manually, so there’s a crouch icon that shows if you have to crouch behind the cover:

Combined with the shadowcasting from all characters, these cover indicators in Tactical Mode make it a lot easier to sneak around and avoid being spotted. So not only did I improve the AI cover finding, I also made it easier for the player to understand the cover system. Two birds with one stone!

Assets and Contractors

0 Comments August 6th, 2014 by Christian Knudsen

I recently added another character with a unique look to Hidden Asset. Unlike the bouncer and Tony Vargas, however, this character will also show up later in the game. He’s what is referred to as a Contractor in the game’s world.

When a company needs someone killed, they don’t get in touch with the assassins, or Assets, directly. Instead, they contact a Contractor that deals with the company-end of the deal. This Contractor then gets in touch with another Contractor who deals with the Assets. This double-middleman arrangement ensures that nobody knows who hired who.

So in the above screenshot, that’s the company’s Contractor talking to you, which is unusual. But the company (or whoever it was that hired you) insisted that their Contractor witness the hit in person, since you’re a rookie in the assassination business and they wanted to make sure you were up for the task before hiring you for a second job.

This anonymity between employer and assassin is a core part of the game’s story. The plot kicks in when you’re forced to find out who hired you to carry out a specific hit.

Back from vacation

2 Comments July 28th, 2014 by Christian Knudsen

I got back from vacation about a week ago but have only now had time to write a new blog post. First of all, I had an awesome week in Berlin. Germany won the World Cup the evening we arrived, so we just managed to catch Super Mario G├Âtze scoring the winning goal and then went out into the street to celebrate with the rest of Berlin. What a great way to kick of a vacation!

But anyway, one of the big reasons for this late blog post is that this site (and a few other of my sites) was hacked on one of the last days on vacation. So the first couple of days back was spent cleaning up this hack, which was a result of a security hole in the MailPoet newsletter plug-in for WordPress. This security hole has since been fixed in the plug-in, which is why I’m still using it, but it resulted in all php files across this and other of my sites being infected with some code that was most likely meant to redirect to less sober websites but just messed up WordPress completely and resulted in blank pages.

It took a couple of days to clean out all the injected code as well as a couple of backdoors — and reinstalling some parts of WordPress and the forums. Since the Ascii Sector site also got infected, I decided to use this as an opportunity to merge the forum over there with the Laserbrain forum, since the Ascii Sector forum was an old phpbb forum that’s no longer supported and could prove a risk in itself in the future.

With all that being said, I did manage to do a bit of work on Hidden Asset in the past weeks. Mainly bug fixing and minor things I could look at whenever I had an hour’s time in an airport or between sightseeing. I also managed to complete the nightclub on the first map of the game, so your first target is now chilling and celebrating his birthday in the nightclub’s lounge before he meets his untimely demise at your hand:

The sitting poses for the randomly generated characters are a bit stiff, but I’ll be adding some more relaxed poses in the future.

Next, I’ll be working on the final part of the map — some old train tracks that have become a small village for homeless people. In the opening cutscene, your character will be walking past this area as part of introducing the economic crisis that’s ravaging the game’s world. And when that’s done, I’ll be diving into fixing a bunch of A.I. jankiness.