September 8th, 2014 by Christian Knudsen
I’ve finished the art assets for the last remaining area of the first map, which is this small homeless village right on the edge of the map. You won’t be interacting with this area, so it’s mostly there as world flavor, since this game’s world is in a deep economic crisis. I’ll also be scattering these assets across other maps, so most maps will have a few homeless people hanging out.
So beyond a final art pass to add a few missing details here and there (and additional frames of animation so that some of the homeless guys will be warming their hands against the fires or sitting on cardboard on the ground), this means that the first map of Hidden Asset is pretty much done.
Next, I’m going to work on fixing some AI issues. I’m thinking I’ll be doing a short series of development videos of this process with each video first demonstrating the issue and then the fix.
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!
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.