Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Project 1 Day 5 - Give My Creation Life!

No blog post yesterday? No, but I do need to take some manner of break sometime. Still, I managed to get started on one of today's tasks: developing the NavMesh for Level 1. Actually everything I've done lately is for Level 1 alone - I wanted to get something fully playable quick. Plus learning the full level development process on a limited area means building levels 2 and 3 will be so much quicker. Well, that's the theory anyway.

So, NavMesh! What is it? A floor-hugging sheet of red polygons that tells NPCs where they can go. It follows the walls and skirts around the larger clutter like tables and barrels. Fairly simple process but fiddly and time consuming, so it was good spending some time yesterday starting it instead of spending a full day on it. Then cover elements must be identified, which is far simpler: just click two icons and hey presto, done.

Next was choosing sensible NPCs (I've gone with a few various Talon fighters). They will mill around, attack and chase if left like that but further touches are required to add some real life. With a combination of 'idle markers', which say where a person can sit, lean, do push ups or whatever, and navigation paths the NPCs can be made to live out little facsimiles of intelligence. For example, one of the characters in Khalith's Cell spends some time typing at a terminal in the office, wanders down the east corridor, pauses in the central hall, leans against a wall and then returns to the office. If the player is sneaking their way around and not disturbing the Talon Company thugs, they will see such silent plays, where as purely randomly walking figures would break the sense of immersion.

In order to finally get this cell working, players have to be able to get in to it. It took a while trying to work out where to put the access point, including a whistle-stop tour of the Wasteland looking for blank walls or cliffs and the like. Eventually I came across a suitable looking rocky nook to the NE of Vault 108. And then things got weird.
Somebody had already put a cave entrance there. Hidden behind a single large rock was a perfect cave door, neatly aligned with the surrounding cliff face and, now I looked again, with a rough sort of dusty pathway leading almost up to it. Perhaps it was the way in to the nearby Vault at some point during the game's development? Or maybe it was to be part of some other location cut in its entirety? Either way, I counted myself lucky and wondered again that I came to the same conclusions as someone in Bethesda.

So that should be enough for today, I think. What to do tomorrow, hmm... ah, yes! Optimise! And then move on to Level 2! And do all this over again. Oh boy.


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